The United States Department of Justice sued telecom giant AT&T on Monday in a bid to stop its acquisition of mass media conglomerate Time Warner Inc, Reuters reported. The US Justice Department said the $85.4 billion (Rs 5,55,783 crore) deal could reduce competition and increase prices for television subscribers.

The US Justice Department argued that AT&T would use Time Warner’s films and movies to force rival companies to “pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year to access Time Warner’s networks”. United States President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised Time Warner’s CNN news unit. He had opposed the AT&T and Time Warner deal before the 2016 US elections, saying it would concentrate power.

AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson told federal anti-trust enforcers that the company would see them in court, Bloomberg reported. He said the lawsuit “stretches the very idea of anti-trust law beyond the breaking point.”

Stephenson said he was ready to negotiate for a deal that the federal government would agree with, but would not sell CNN to appease Washington. “When we announced this deal, the best legal minds in the country agreed that this transaction would be approved since our companies don’t even compete with each other,” he said. He added that the Justice Department’s action “defies logic and is unprecedented”.

AT&T’s attorney Daniel Petrocelli said the company is prepared to go to trial within 60 days.