Randall Stephenson, chief executive of AT&T (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

AT&T is ready to go to court against the Justice Department to defend the telecom giant's $85 billion megadeal for Time Warner, according to its top executive.

“Since the day this deal was announced, we have been preparing for litigation,” AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said at a conference Thursday hosted by the New York Times. "If we're going to go to litigation, our preference would be 'sooner is better,' and we're prepared to litigate now.”

Stephenson's remarks are likely to put pressure on antitrust officials who have been weighing a lawsuit intended to block the acquisition.