AT&T CEO: DOJ never demanded CNN sale in Time Warner deal

Manhattan’s East Village. Credit Christian Hansen for The New York Times

"Well I didn't make that decision - it was made by a man who's a very respected person, a very very respected person", Trump added.

Previously, the president has blasted AT&T and Time Warner's merger plans - and during the 2016 election he threatened to block the companies from combining under his watch.

The revelation of Trump's son-in-law controversial comments came days after the reports that the US Department of Justice was forcing Time Warner to sell CNN before eventually approving the telecom giant's merger with AT&T.

The head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, said in a statement late on Thursday that he has "never been instructed by the White House" on the AT&T deal.

This week, Delrahim and other agency officials told AT&T that the deal as it now stands raises anti-competition concerns, and that the company will need to shed some assets, perhaps either Turner or DirecTV. And, she said, it would likely point to President Donald Trump's frequent tweets and criticisms of CNN, saying the Justice Department's stance appears political.

Sources say the Department of Justice (DoJ) may make the deal conditional on the disposal of either Turner Broadcasting - which includes CNN, Cartoon Network and sports channels - or satellite broadcaster DirecTV. "I do feel that you should have as many news outlets as you can, especially since so many of them are fake".

Rupert Murdoch is said to be interested in buying CNN. The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Kushner was particularly very annoyed with the cable news agency's "fact-checking" during the presidential campaign.

Delrahim has said he was never given instructions by the White House on how to conduct his analysis. "We'll see how it all plays out", Trump said aboard Air Force One, according to the White House's official transcript of the exchange. "It's illogical. It's why we did the deal", he said.