Justice Department staff briefed Attorney General Eric Holder on their recommendation to block the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger "a couple of weeks ago," an agency official said Friday. "We said, if we go in this direction, will you support us," the official said. "And the AG said, 'Yes, I'm with you.'"
That decision by Holder made the final outcome of the transaction—which CNBC owner Comcast officially bowed out of Friday morning—nearly inevitable. The key objection, the official said, was that the enlarged Comcast would control about 60 percent of the nation's broadband connections.
At a final meeting in Washington at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, a small group of DOJ lawyers met with two Comcast employees at an agency facility on 5th Street NW, to lay out their concerns about the deal. According to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Comcast was offered the opportunity to engage in followup meetings, and to run out the official process.
But the writing was on the wall.