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Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim talks antitrust-Full Recode Interview

 |  September 2, 2018

Posted by Recode

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim talks antitrust-Full Recode Interview

By Eric Johnson

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, Makan Delrahim — the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division — sat down for a wide-ranging interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher. They discussed everything from tech regulation to biotech to the Justice Department’s attempt to halt the AT&T/Time-Warner merger.

It lost that attempt, but is appealing the ruling. Delrahim explained why he was surprised by the ruling of the district court judge, which called it “implausible” that a subsidiary of the merged corporation would change its business model to benefit the parent corporation.

“Any of those subsidiaries, every single day and three times on Wednesdays, you’d be willing to give up $1 to get $3,” he said. “Who wouldn’t? But [the judge] said, ‘No, they’ll make independent financial decisions,’ but that independence goes away when they’re owned by the same company and have one profit-and-loss balance sheet.”

He also disputed the notion that the Justice Department only sought to stop the merger because President Trump — who appointed Delrahim in 2017 — has harshly criticized Time-Warner-owned CNN.

“It makes no sense that the merger action was brought because of somehow an animus to CNN, because if you actually logically think about the case, what we were arguing was to have Time-Warner distribute Tribune, which includes CNN, as broadly as possible, because our theory is, if it’s merged then you won’t distribute broadly,” Delrahim said.

“There was a major PR effort by AT&T in this case and it was salacious enough that if people were not familiar with antitrust law and exactly what we were arguing, ‘Oh, this might be,’” he added. “But it really wasn’t and had nothing to do with it.”

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