The Department of Justice was handed a rare defeat in court when it tried to contest the AT&T Time Warner merger. The judge approved the deal without any conditions and scathingly told the government not to seek a stay of the deal pending appeal. It was a humiliating defeat for a DoJ antitrust division that rarely loses cases, and the official in charge of the DoJ’s antitrust efforts has given the first in-detail interview about the case.
Makan Delrahim is an assistant attorney general of the United States, and the official in charge of the DoJ’s antitrust division. He sat down with Marketplace‘s David Brancaccio to talk about the aftermath of the case, and the results are worth reading.
“We learned the government is often the underdog in a lot of these cases,” Delrahim said, putting the blame on CNN and AT&T’s resources for the loss. “We have some of the best and most dedicated public servants who tried this case, but we don’t have the same resources available to us. We don’t have a 24-hour dedicated news channel to go out and spin your case to the American public and judges and others as some merging parties might.”
Delrahim also thinks the case might have gone differently were a different judge presiding. “It depends on if other judges follow the same evidentiary rulings this particular judge did and also dismiss the types of evidence we presented. I think eight out of 10 judges may have treated this case differently.”
The next big telecoms case the DoJ will have to consider is the T-Mobile Sprint merger, which is a more traditional horizontal merger, rather than vertical. The DoJ hasn’t indicated its thoughts on the deal yet, although it has been reported to be talking with leaders from the MVNO industry on the effect of the merger on prepaid wireless.