Attorney General Says DOJ Ready to Proceed With ATandT Case

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-11-09 Print this article Print

Wright did not make his remarks available to the press, but in the past, he has been a harsh critic of the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust suit seeking to stop to merger. He has also criticized the antitrust lawsuits of Cellular South and Sprint.

All of this was happening while U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee where he said that the DOJ was "ready and eager to go to court" in the antitrust suit against the AT&T-T-Mobile merger. He also said that his department doesn't file suits it doesn't plan to take to trial. Holder was trying to put speculation to rest that the DOJ was looking for a settlement with AT&T.

Meanwhile. AT&T is pushing back the anticipated closing date for the acquisition of T-Mobile.

If this sounds like a lot of activity in one day for an antitrust suit that's not going to trial until February, well, it is. The reason for all of this activity is visible on the surface in the form of those ubiquitous advertisements by AT&T that the merger will somehow magically add 100,000 new jobs once it happens. But beneath the surface, there's a lot going on. The Attorney General is under pressure by some Republican lawmakers to resign, although not because of the merger.

But many of those same Republican members of Congress are also pressuring him to drop the antitrust lawsuit against AT&T. There is some indication in the rumor mill that the GOP is making it seem as if dropping the AT&T merger would involve some sort of quid pro quo in which those same members of Congress might go easy in its investigation of the "Operation Fast and Furious" scandal which involves the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a DOJ agency. During this sting operation, ATF facilitated illegal gun sales to suspected Mexican drug cartel members as a way to build cases against these criminal organizations.

But despite the fact that such a thing as the Republicans going easy on Holder for any reason is sheer fantasy, the idea is gaining traction in some circles in Washington. So, as a result, all sides brought out their big guns for the day Holder was testifying before his Senate oversight committee.

Will all this somehow change the direction of the antitrust action, or anything else for that matter? Of course not. The Neumark report has been out since August; the wildly inflated job claims have been public nearly as long. What's really going on is an attempt to influence the undercurrent of political pressure, pro and con, that's building up in advance of the actual hearings next year. It's also clear evidence that AT&T has millions of dollars saved up to spend on political pressure and it won't be shy about using it. 


Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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