AT&T-Time Warner deal will likely get done but won't be pretty: Former FCC commissioner

There will be a lot of noise around the AT&T-Time Warner deal, but in the end it will be hard for the Department of Justice to oppose the merger, former Federal Communications Commission commissioner Jonathan Adelstein told CNBC on Monday.

The two companies announced the $85.4 billion deal on Saturday.

"In the end, I think it probably gets done, but I don't think it's going to be pretty," Adelstein said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

"The bottom line is it is not that strong of an anti-trust case for DOJ because it is a vertical, not a horizontal merger."

The potential megamerger has generated skepticism among both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, and over the weekend, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said as president he would block the takeover.

"There's going to be a huge political food fight over this, there's no doubt about it, and I think Trump coming out against it just contributes to that," said Adelstein, now president and CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association.

The deal's approval could also hinge on which agency is involved. If the FCC oversees the potential merger, it would be a much tougher struggle to get approval because the agency has much broader authority, Adelstein said.

However, he thinks the deal will probably go through the DOJ.

Christopher Sagers, a professor at Cleveland State University, believes the merger will probably get approved with substantial conditions and may get challenged.

However, he agrees the road could be difficult if the FCC gets involved.

"The general view is if FCC takes jurisdiction over this deal, it's probably not getting through at all," he told "Power Lunch" on Monday.

That's because the agency can not only look at whether it affects competitiveness in the markets, it also asks if it is a harm to competition and can also ask whether it is in the public interest, he explained.

— Reuters contributed to this report.