Justice Dept. wants conversations from AT&T-Time Warner antitrust trial unsealed

Justice Dept. wants conversations from AT&T-Time Warner antitrust trial unsealed
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The Justice Department (DOJ) is asking a court to unseal bench conference transcripts made during court proceedings surrounding the recent unsuccessful push by the Trump administration to block AT&T's merger with Time Warner.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon asked AT&T's lawyers to respond by Friday to a motion from DOJ attorneys to unseal lengthy conversations between opposing counsels and the judge at the bench, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

During the conversations, white noise was played in the courtroom to avoid eavesdropping.

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The Justice Department argued in a court filing Friday that the bench conferences "addressed and resolved several substantive motions and nearly every evidentiary and confidentiality issue at these bench conferences," and that as a result "the public record, as it stands, is often unclear on the grounds for objections, the parties’ arguments and the court’s rulings."

The government is appealing the judge's decision in the case.

"[T]hird parties considering participating in this appeal as amici curiae should have access to as much of the record as possible, as early as possible," the attorneys added.

The Trump administration undertook six weeks of court proceedings in an unsuccessful push this year to block AT&T's merger with Time Warner, which Leon approved in June. The government argued that AT&T's entry into the television media market would make the industry less competitive.

“We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner,” Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Makan Delrahim said in a statement following last month's ruling. “We will closely review the Court’s opinion and consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers.”

Then-candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE criticized the merger when it was first announced in October 2016, calling it “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”