William Barr, President Donald Trump’s choice for the next Attorney General, earlier this year questioned whether the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division’s motivation for attempting to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner was political.
Barr, who served as Attorney General under George H.W. Bush, has been a member of the Time Warner board of directors. Time Warner was renamed WarnerMedia after the merger was completed in June.
In February, just as the antitrust case was being readied for trial, Barr gave a sworn declaration about a key meeting held between Time Warner executives and Justice Department officials in November 2017, just before the DOJ sued to block the deal. Barr’s account of the meeting conflicted with that of Makan Delrahim, who is in charge of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division.
In his own affidavit, Delrahim said that at the meeting, Time Warner general counsel Paul Cappuccio got up from his seat at a conference table “and said that if the Antitrust Division goes through with this, the case will be ‘a s—show like you’ve never seen,’ and that it would be like ‘Jimmy Hoffa and the firing of Jim Comey.’”
Andrew Finch, the deputy assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division, also filed a sworn declaration describing the same details of the meeting.
Barr was also at the meeting and in his affidavit, Barr provided a different account of what was said, characterizing Delrahim and Finch’s version of events as “incorrect.”
“Mr. Cappuccio did not stand up and wag his finger at Mr. Delrahim and I do not recall any references to either James Comey or Jimmy Hoffa. No reasonable person could have attributed Mr. Cappuccio’s comments as a threat that the companies would personally attack Mr. Delrahim or anyone else in the event of litigation,” Barr said.