AT&T may have to sell CNN to merge with Time Warner

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"I didn't make that decision", Trump told reporters, The Washington Post reported. "That was made by a man who is actually a very respected person, a very, very respected person".

The official the president referred to was DOJ anti-trust chief Makan Delrahim, a Trump appointee who has threatened to block the deal in court unless AT&T sells off either Turner Broadcasting or its DirecTV service-the latter option impossible as it would undermine the entire basis of the merger.

According to a Justice Department official, AT&T has offered to divest CNN. The Justice Department, which is reviewing the $85.4 billion deal, recently presented the options to the companies, the source added, confirming reports from United States media and the Financial Times. Trump assailed the merger on the campaign trail, saying the tie-up would concentrate media power.

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Overall, we got through what we needed to do. "I think we can fine-tune the balance and that should help us", Vettel said.

Stephenson twice said the cable channel was not on the table. As a candidate, Trump vowed to block the deal shortly after it was announced, but has not addressed the issue publicly as president. "This way, at least you can get your word out".

In February, President Donald Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner told an executive at CNN's parent company Time Warner that they should fire 20 percent of the cable news agency's staff. "Throughout this process, I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so", he said. "So we'll see - that probably ends up being litigation maybe not, we'll see how it all plays out".

Delrahim has said he was never given instructions by the White House on how to conduct his analysis. On Wall Street, Time Warner fell 6.5 percent to close at $88.50, while AT&T shares jumped 1.1 percent to close at $33.44. As the New York Timesnoted, Delrahim insists any decision would be made on the basis of protecting competition in the market rather than politics, though the intervention is a surprise given his "more free-market-oriented Republican views".