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In quest to block AT&T's Time Warner deal, Justice Department finds few friends

  • AT&T's $85 billion deal for Time Warner has been caught up in a prolonged anti-trust review by the Justice Department.
  • Sources tell CNBC that the Justice Department reached out to 18 state attorneys general and sent a draft lawsuit to at least seven, but none has committed to join the case.

The Justice Department is still likely to proceed with a case to block AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner despite failing to secure support from multiple state attorneys general.

Sources told CNBC that federal officials reached out to 18 state AGs and sent a draft complaint to at least seven of them, but so far no states have committed join the case. The DOJ is still likely to bring one, the sources said.

The $85 billion merger was announced last year but has dragged on as the government reviews it for anti-trust matters.

CNBC earlier reported last week that the government could sue to block a transaction unless AT&T agrees to sell Turner Broadcasting, owner of the CNN cable news channel, or its DirectTV division. But the Justice Department has pushed back on the idea it is trying to force a sale of either of those assets, and AT&T's CEO has said he has no intention of selling CNN.

Last year, the Justice Department under the Obama administration teamed up with 11 states to challenge Anthem's $54 billion acquisition of Cigna, and with eight states to block Aetna's $37 billion of Humana. Both deals were canceled earlier this year.