Theranos CEO: Wunderkind to Federal Indictment

Federal prosecutors have indicted Elizabeth Holmes on criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and the public as the head of the once-heralded blood-testing startup Theranos. Federal prosecutors also brought charges against the company’s former second-in-command.

Holmes, who was once considered a wunderkind of Silicon Valley, and her former Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Balwani, are charged with two counts conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California said late Friday. If convicted, they could face prison sentences that would keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives, and total fines of $2.75 million each.

Technology a fraud

Prosecutors allege that Holmes and Balwani deliberately misled investors, policymakers and the public about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood-testing technologies. Holmes, 34, founded Theranos in Palo Alto, California, in 2003, pitching its technology as a cheaper way to run dozens of blood tests. Once considered the nation’s youngest female billionaire, Holmes said she was inspired to start the company in response to her fear of needles.

But an investigation by The Wall Street Journal two years ago found that Theranos’ technology was a fraud, and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests. The story raised concerns about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood testing technology, which put patients at risk of having conditions either misdiagnosed or ignored.

“CEO Elizabeth Holmes and COO Sunny Balwani not only defrauded investors, but also consumers who trusted and relied upon their allegedly-revolutionary blood-testing technology,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alex Tse said in a statement.

SEC charges

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil fraud charges against Holmes and Balwani three months ago. Holmes settled with the SEC, agreeing to pay $500,000 in fines and penalties. Balwani, 53, is fighting the charges.

As the charges were announced Friday, Theranos said Holmes would step down as CEO of the company and its general counsel, David Taylor, would become the company’s next CEO. Theranos laid off most of its staff earlier this year and is widely expected to file for bankruptcy. Holmes remains the company’s chairman.

The company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Friday’s indictments.

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Poll: Ticked at Trump, Canadians Say They’ll Avoid US Goods

Seventy percent of Canadians say they will start looking for ways to avoid buying U.S.-made goods in a threat to ratchet up a trade dispute between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump, an Ipsos Poll showed Friday.

The poll also found a majority of Americans and Canadians are united in support of Trudeau and opposition to Trump in their countries’ standoff over the renegotiation of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Amid the spat, Trump pulled out of a joint communique with six other countries last weekend during a Quebec summit meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized democracies and called Trudeau “very dishonest and weak.”

Trump was reacting to Trudeau’s having called U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs insulting to Canada. Trudeau has said little about the matter since a Trump Twitter assault. 

Despite the tensions, 85 percent of Canadians and 72 percent of Americans said they support being in NAFTA, and 44 percent of respondents in both countries said renegotiation of the deal would be a good thing for their country.

While the poll showed support for a boycott of U.S. goods in Canada, pulling it off could be difficult in a country that reveres U.S. popular culture and consumer goods over all others.

Canada is the largest market for U.S. goods.

Trudeau over Trump

The poll showed 72 percent of Canadians and 57 percent of Americans approved of the way Trudeau had handled the situation, while 14 percent of Canadians and 37 percent of Americans approved of Trump’s behavior.

More than eight in 10 Canadians and seven in 10 Americans worry the situation has damaged bilateral relations.

Canada has vowed to retaliate against U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum with tariffs against a range of U.S. goods, a move supported by 79 percent of Canadians, according to the poll.

By contrast, Americans opposed escalating the situation.

Thirty-one percent of Americans said they favored even stronger tariffs, and 61 percent said other elected U.S. officials should denounce Trump’s statements.

Canadian respondents also signaled approval of the united front their politicians have shown, with 88 percent saying they welcomed the support of politicians from other parties for the Liberal government’s decision to push back on tariffs.

While Canadian consumers appeared ready to boycott U.S. goods, 57 percent of Canadians and 52 percent of Americans said Canada should not overreact to Trump’s comments because it was just political posturing.

The Ipsos Poll of 1,001 Canadians and 1,005 Americans — including 368 Democrats, 305 Republicans and 202 independents — was conducted June 13-14. It has a credibility interval of 3.4 percentage points.

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Top US Ethics Official Seeks Expanded Probe of EPA’s Pruitt

The top federal ethics officer asked Friday that an internal investigation of Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt be resolved quickly so he can determine whether “formal corrective action” is needed and make recommendations to President Donald Trump.

David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, also asked the EPA inspector general to expand its probe of whether Pruitt is violating federal ethics rules to include allegations he used staffers to do personal chores during work hours and seek business deals for his wife.

His letter to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. was released hours after Trump gave conditional support to the embattled agency administrator, saying his unhappiness with Pruitt was overridden by the “fantastic job” he was doing at EPA.

In his letter, Apol said the American public needs to have confidence that allegations of ethical misconduct are investigated.

“We ask you to complete your report as soon as possible so that we can decide whether to begin a formal corrective action proceeding in order to make a formal recommendation to the president,” he wrote.

Pruitt is the subject of several investigations over his use of first-class travel, round-the-clock security and spending.

Recently released emails show Pruitt had aides reach out to Chick-fil-A about a “business opportunity” for his wife, inquire about getting a used mattress for him from the Trump International Hotel and arrange for him to attend batting practice at a Washington Nationals baseball game, among other favors. It also has been disclosed that he got a sweetheart deal renting a Washington condo co-owned by the wife of a lobbyist who had business with the agency.

Federal ethics codes prohibit having staffers conduct personal errands and bar officials from using their position for private gain.

“I’m looking at Scott,” Trump told reporters in a question-and-answer session on the White House driveway. “I’m not happy about certain things,” he said, repeating the same phrase three times in all.

But at the same time, Trump praised Pruitt’s performance at the EPA, where the administrator has initiated numerous overhauls of Obama-era regulations.

Asked if he thought Pruitt was using his position for private gain, Trump said, “I hope not.”

Trump did not refer to the scandals specifically.

Growing numbers of Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats in withering condemnations of Pruitt’s ethics troubles.

As the allegations swirl around him, Pruitt has continued his work targeting regulations put in place by the Obama administration, pursuing a pro-business mission for which he is careful to credit Trump.

On Friday, the EPA announced it had wrapped up a proposal expected to narrow the scope of an Obama-era rule on what kind of waterways fall under the protections of the federal Clean Water Act. Pruitt’s official Twitter account signaled the news Thursday night, showing a 2017 photo of a beaming Trump watching Pruitt sign a document starting the process of changing the rule.

The move accomplished a promise that Trump had made, Pruitt’s tweet said. He concluded by saying, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President!” Thursday was Trump’s 72nd birthday.

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US Lobsters Are a Target of China’s Threatened Tariffs

A set of retaliatory tariffs released by China on Friday includes a plan to tax American lobster exports, potentially jeopardizing one of the biggest markets for the premium seafood. 

Chinese officials announced the planned lobster tariff along with hundreds of other tariffs amid the country’s escalating trade fight with the United States. China said it wants to place new duties on items such as farm products, autos and seafood starting July 6.

The announcement could have major ramifications for the U.S. seafood industry and for the economy of the state of Maine, which is home to most of the country’s lobster fishery. China’s interest in U.S. lobster has grown exponentially in recent years, and selling to China has become a major focus of the lobster industry.

“Hopefully cooler heads can prevail and we can get a solution,” said Matt Jacobson, executive director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. “It’s a year-round customer in China. This isn’t good news at all.”

A Chinese government website on Friday posted a list of seafood products that will be subject to the tariffs, and it included live, fresh and frozen lobster. The website stated that the items would be taxed at 25 percent.

The announcement came in response to President Donald Trump’s own increase in tariffs on Chinese imports in America. The Republican president announced a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday.

The news raised alarms around the Maine lobster industry, as China’s an emerging market for U.S. lobster, which has gained popularity with the growing middle class. Maine lobster was worth more than $430 million at the docks last year, and the industry is a critical piece of the state’s economy, history and heritage.

The U.S. isn’t the only country in the lobster trade. Canada also harvests the same species of lobster and is a major trading partner with China.

“Anything that affects the supply chain is obviously not a great thing,” said Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. “The lobstermen obviously are concerned with trade and where they go.”

The value of China’s American lobster imports grew from $108.3 million in 2016 to $142.4 million last year. The country barely imported any American lobster a decade ago.

China and the U.S. are major seafood trading partners beyond just lobster, and the new tariffs would apply to dozens of products that China imports from the U.S., including salmon, tuna and crab. The U.S. imported more than $2.7 billion in Chinese seafood last year, and the U.S. exported more than $1.3 billion to China.

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Apple Nabs Oprah as Top Talent Flocks to Digital Entertainment

Apple Inc on Friday announced a multiyear deal with Oprah Winfrey to create original programming, a coup in the battle for A-list talent and projects in the booming digital entertainment market.

“Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world,” Apple said in a statement.

Apple gave no details of the type of programming that Winfrey would create, the value of the deal, or when it might be released. Winfrey had no immediate comment.

Winfrey, 64, an influential movie and TV producer who also publishes a magazine, is expected to appear on screen, a source familiar with the deal said.

Apple has not said how it plans to distribute its programming, to which it has committed an initial $1 billion. The partnership is the biggest original content deal struck by Apple so far as it aims to compete with Netflix Inc,

Amazon.com Inc and Time Warner Inc’s HBO. Netflix, which has said it will spend up to $8 billion on programming this year, in May struck a multiyear deal with former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle to produce films, documentaries and other content.

Netflix, the world’s leading streaming entertainment provider, has also lured prolific television producers Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes away from broadcast television.

Amazon said in November it had bought the global television rights to “The Lord of the Rings” and would produce a multi-season series that explores new storylines preceding author J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Earlier this week, Amazon also announced a development deal with

Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman’s production company for movies and television.

For its part, Apple in November ordered two seasons of a dramatic series with Hollywood stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, looking at the lives of people working on a morning television show.

Other projects Apple has announced include a remake of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s science fiction anthology series “Amazing Stories,” based on Isaac Asimov’s influential “Foundation” science fiction novels, and a drama from “La La Land” movie director Damian Chazelle.

Under the deal with Winfrey, she will remain chief executive of cable channel OWN, which she launched in 2011 in partnership with Discovery Inc. Winfrey in December extended her contract with OWN through 2025, OWN and Apple said.

Under her contract with OWN, Winfrey can appear on camera on other platforms on a limited basis.

Known in the United States by millions on a first-name basis, Winfrey rose to fame as the host of her own television talk show, using it to build a media empire that spans magazine publishing, movie and television production, cable TV and satellite radio.

Born into poverty, she is one of the world’s wealthiest women and has been nominated for two Academy Awards.

A rousing speech by Winfrey at the Golden Globes awards ceremony in January triggered an online campaign to persuade her to run for U.S. president in 2020.

She dismissed the notion, telling InStyle magazine in an interview, “It’s not something that interests me.”

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Justice Department Initiative Aims to Protect Houses of Worship

The U.S. Justice Department will intensify its efforts to bring up lawsuits against municipalities that discriminate against religious establishments, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday.

The initiative, called the “Place to Worship Initiative,” is centered on bringing cases against towns and cities that use zoning laws to prevent houses of worship — churches and mosques, for example — from building.

“In recent years, the cultural climate has become less hospitable to people of faith and to religious belief,” Sessions said. “Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.”

The announcement came during an event for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center — an Orthodox Jewish advocacy group — in Washington, D.C. Sessions also announced the Justice Department would be filing a lawsuit against a New Jersey town for denying the building of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue.

“Religious Americans have heard themselves called deplorables,” Sessions said. “They’ve heard themselves called bitter clingers.”

Sessions referred to comments made by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during their presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2008, respectively. Clinton made no reference to religion in her 2016 speech.

Heather Weaver, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU, told VOA the initiative was a welcome step from the Justice Department, provided that they enforce it equally based on all faiths.

“Based on past actions and policy, there are concerns that this administration will enforce that law equally among states,” Weaver told VOA, referring to the Trump White House’s signing of several executive orders restricting immigration from a group of Muslim-majority countries.

Sessions also commended the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, in which the court ruled 7-2 that a Colorado baker could refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple, based on religious freedom.

“There is no need for the power of the government to be arrayed against an individual who is honestly attempting to live out — to freely exercise—his sincere religious beliefs,” Sessions said. “There are plenty of other people to bake that cake.”

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Trump Mounts Fresh Attack on Mueller Probe

Outside the White House Friday, a media frenzy.

And at the center of it all, President Donald Trump.

“Can we do one question at a time? Wait! One question at a time,” the president scolded reporters.

Trump launched a new attack on the Russia probe in the wake of a critical report on the Hillary Clinton email investigation by the inspector general of the Department of Justice.

“I did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction,” he said. “The IG (inspector general) report yesterday went a long way to show that, and I think that the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited.”

But the report in question only dealt with how the FBI handled the Clinton email controversy.

It was critical of the man Trump fired as FBI director, James Comey, but rejected the notion of a politically-directed effort aimed at Trump.

“This report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review,” announced current FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Democrats also took note of the report.

“Anyone who is hoping to use this report to undermine the Mueller probe or prove the existence of a ‘deep state’ conspiracy against President Trump will be sorely disappointed,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said.

During his lengthy encounter with reporters Friday, Trump also defended his recent summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“They are doing so much for us, and now we are well on our way to get denuclearization,” he said. “And the agreement says there will be total denuclearization. Nobody wants to report that. I got along with him great. We have a great chemistry together. That is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Trump also lashed out at opposition Democrats and tried to blame them for recent administration actions to separate family members caught trying to come across the U.S. border.

“The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children,” Trump said.

A host of Democrats on Capitol Hill blasted the president’s comments, including Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico.

“There are no substantive defenses, no policy defenses, to their current actions separating families and taking children away from their mothers and fathers at the border. It just is another indication that they cannot govern,” she said.

Trump’s relatively lengthy encounter with the media Friday was unusual for a president who tends to favor appearances on Fox News Channel and who generally takes only a few questions at news conferences.

 

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Judge Jails Ex-Trump Campaign Chair Manafort

A federal judge on Friday sent President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort to prison for tampering with witnesses while out on bail.

Manafort was free on $10 million unsecured bail since he was first indicted last October by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign.

He is one of 20 people charged by special counsel Robert Mueller and the first former Trump associate to go to prison in connection with the investigation.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, President Trump said: “Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!”

Manafort appeared in court to plead not guilty to new charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with his efforts to influence the testimony of two potential witnesses in his case.

Federal district judge Amy Berman Jackson, citing the new charges, granted a motion filed last week by Mueller, to revoke his bail and send him to prison while he awaits trial in September.

Manafort was escorted out of the court room by deputies as he waved to his wife.

The latest indictment against him, issued by a grand jury last week, accused Manafort, 69, and a business associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, 48, of “repeatedly” contacting two unidentified people in an effort to sway their testimony.   The contacts took place between February and April of this year.

WATCH: Trump on Manafort’s legal woes

According to prosecutors, the two potential witnesses worked with Manafort in enlisting a group of former European officials to lobby both European officials and members of Congress on Ukraine’s behalf.

Defense lawyers, saying Manafort was unaware  the two people were cooperating with the special counsel, painted the contacts as innocuous.  They asked that prosecutors provide a list of people Manafort should not be contacting while on bail.

“A clear no-contact role will solve the problem,” one of Manafort’s lawyers said.  “He can be put in a position where conditions can be met.”

But prosecutors argued that given Manafort’s track record of flouting his bail conditions, no new terms would ensure compliance.

“We’re in a very different situation,” said Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller’s prosecutors.  “Today, we’re talking about obstruction while on bail.  Mr. Manafort has absolutely violated the terms of his release by committing a crime while on bail.”

Judge Jackson said she had to “wrestle” with whether to revoke Manafort’s bail, but in the end she said she could not keep him free.

 “You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” she said.

 

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Trump OKs Plan to Impose Tariffs on Billions in Chinese Goods

President Donald Trump has approved a plan to impose punishing tariffs on tens of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods as early as Friday, a move that could put his trade policies on a collision course with his push to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Trump has long vowed to fulfill his campaign pledge to clamp down on what he considers unfair Chinese trading practices. But his calls for billions in tariffs could complicate his efforts to maintain China’s support in his negotiations with North Korea.

Trump met Thursday with several Cabinet members and trade advisers and was expected to impose tariffs on at least $35 billion to $40 billion of Chinese imports, according to an industry official and an administration official familiar with the plans. The amount of goods could reach $55 billion, said the industry official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the matter ahead of a formal announcement.

Stage set for retaliation

If the president presses forward as expected, it could set the stage for a series of trade actions against China and lead to retaliation from Beijing. Trump has already slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and European allies, and his proposed tariffs against China risk starting a trade war involving the world’s two biggest economies.

The decision on the Chinese tariffs comes in the aftermath of Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The president has coordinated closely with China on efforts to get Pyongyang to eliminate its nuclear arsenal. But he signaled that whatever the implications, “I have to do what I have to do” to address the trade imbalance.

Trump, in his press conference in Singapore on Tuesday, said the U.S. has a “tremendous deficit in trade with China and we have to do something about it. We can’t continue to let that happen.” The U.S. trade deficit with China was $336 billion in 2017.

Administration officials have signaled support for imposing the tariffs in a dispute over allegations that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology, according to officials briefed on the plans. China has targeted $50 billion in U.S. products for potential retaliation.

​Pompeo in China

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the trade issue directly with China Thursday, when he met in Beijing with President Xi Jinping and other officials, the State Department said. Officials would not say whether Pompeo explicitly informed the Chinese that the tariffs would be coming imminently.

“I stressed how important it is for President Trump to rectify that situation so that trade becomes more balanced, more reciprocal and more fair, with the opportunity to have American workers be treated fairly,” Pompeo said Thursday during a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Wall Street has viewed the escalating trade tensions with wariness, fearful that they could strangle the economic growth achieved during Trump’s watch and undermine the benefits of the tax cuts he signed into law last year.

“If you end up with a tariff battle, you will end up with price inflation, and you could end up with consumer debt. Those are all historic ingredients for an economic slowdown,” Gary Cohn, Trump’s former top economic adviser, said at an event sponsored by The Washington Post.

Bannon: Trump economic message

But Steve Bannon, Trump’s former White House and campaign adviser, said the crackdown on China’s trade practices was “the central part of Trump’s economic nationalist message. His fundamental commitment to the ‘deplorables’ on the campaign trail was that he was going to bring manufacturing jobs back, particularly from Asia.”

In the trade fight, Bannon said, Trump has converted three major tools that “the American elites considered off the table” — namely, the use of tariffs, the technology investigation of China and penalties on Chinese telecom giant ZTE.

“That’s what has gotten us to the situation today where the Chinese are actually at the table,” Bannon said. “It’s really not just tariffs, it’s tariffs on a scale never before considered.”

Chinese counterpunch

The Chinese have threatened to counterpunch if the president goes ahead with the plan. Chinese officials have said they would drop agreements reached last month to buy more U.S. soybeans, natural gas and other products.

“We made clear that if the U.S. rolls out trade sanctions, including the imposition of tariffs, all outcomes reached by the two sides in terms of trade and economy will not come into effect,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Thursday.

Beijing has also drawn up a list of $50 billion in U.S. products that would face retaliatory tariffs, including beef and soybeans, a shot at Trump’s supporters in rural America.

Scott Kennedy, a specialist on the Chinese economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Chinese threat was real and helped along by recent strains exhibited among the U.S. and allies.

“I don’t think they would cower or immediately run to the negotiating table to throw themselves at the mercy of Donald Trump,” Kennedy said. “They see the U.S. is isolated and the president as easily distracted.”

Ron Moore, who farms 1,800 acres of corn and soybeans in Roseville, Illinois, said soybean prices have started dropping ahead of what looks like a trade war between the two economic powerhouses. 

“We have to plan for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best,” said Moore, who is chairman of the American Soybean Association. “If you look back at President Trump’s history, he’s been wildly successful negotiating as a businessman. But it’s different when you’re dealing with other governments.”

The U.S. and China have been holding ongoing negotiations over the trade dispute. The United States has criticized China for the aggressive tactics it uses to develop advanced technologies, including robots and electric cars, under its “Made in China 2025” program. The U.S. tariffs are designed specifically to punish China for forcing American companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

The administration is also working on proposed Chinese investment restrictions by June 30. So far, Trump has yet to signal any interest in backing away. 

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AT&T to Close Time Warner Deal, But Government May Appeal

AT&T Inc may close its $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner Inc under an agreement reached on Thursday with the U.S. government, which might still appeal a case seen as a turning point for the media industry.

AT&T said it could close the deal by Friday. The government has not ruled out an appeal and has 60 days to file.

AT&T agreed to temporarily manage Time Warner’s Turner networks separately from DirecTV, including setting prices and managing personnel, as part of the deal approved by Judge Richard Leon late Thursday.

The conditions agreed to by AT&T would remain in effect until Feb. 28, 2019, the conclusion of the case or an appeal.

Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled on Tuesday that the deal to marry AT&T’s wireless and satellite businesses with Time Warner’s movies and television shows was legal under antitrust law. The Justice Department had argued the deal would harm consumers.

U.S. President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of Time Warner’s CNN coverage, denounced the deal when it was announced in October 2016.

The fact that Turner, which includes CNN, will be run separately from DirecTV makes a stay unnecessary, said Seth Bloom, a veteran of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division who is now in private practice.

In its lawsuit aimed at stopping the deal, filed in November 2017, the Justice Department said that AT&T’s ownership of both DirecTV and Time Warner, especially its Turner subsidiary, would give AT&T unfair leverage against rival pay TV providers that relied on content like CNN and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

“This is clearly leaving open the door for the DOJ (Justice Department) to appeal,” Bloom said. “If Turner is run separately, they don’t really need a stay.”

The AT&T ruling is expected to trigger a wave of mergers in the media sector, which has been upended by companies like Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

The first to come was Comcast Corp’s $65 billion bid on Wednesday for the entertainment assets of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

AT&T had been worried about closing its deal ahead of a June 21 deadline if the government won a stay pending an appeal. Any stay could take the deal beyond a June 21 deadline for completing the merger, which could allow Time Warner to walk away or renegotiate the proposed transaction with AT&T.

The government may have a difficult time winning on appeal because of the way Judge Leon wrote his opinion, four antitrust experts said.

“I don’t think this would be overturned. It is so rooted in the facts that I would be surprised if an appellate court overturned such a fact-laden opinion,” said Michael Carrier, who teaches law at Rutgers.

In a scathing opinion after a six-week trial, Leon found little to support the government’s arguments that the deal would harm consumers, calling the evidence for one argument against the deal “gossamer thin” and another “poppycock.”

The merger, including debt, would be the fourth largest deal ever attempted in the global telecom, media and entertainment space, according to Thomson Reuters data. It would also be the 12th largest deal in any sector, the data showed.

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