Sessions refuses to say whether WH intervened in AT&T merger discussions

Sessions refuses to say whether WH intervened in AT&T merger discussions
© Camille Fine

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsData confirm that marijuana decriminalization is long overdue The FIRST STEP Act sets up a dangerous future The Sessions DOJ is working to end the great asylum hustle MORE on Tuesday refused to say whether he has discussed the pending AT&T-Time Warner merger with anyone at the White House.

“I’m not able to comment on conversations or communications that Department of Justice top people have with top people at the White House,” he said in response to a question from Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHouse GOP refuses to boost funding for election security Sparks fly at hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech Live coverage: FBI agent defends anti-Trump texts in tense hearing MORE (D-R.I.) at a Tuesday House Judiciary Committee meeting. 
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The White House and Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department's antitrust chief, have both denied that there has been any interference in the merger negotiations.
 
Cicilline, visibly angered by the response, unsuccessfully tried to get the chairman to compel Sessions to be more forthcoming.
 
"Either you’re invoking the Fifth Amendment or you’re invoking executive privilege," Cicilline said. "You just can’t decline to answer because it’s uncomfortable."
 
According to multiple news reports that emerged last week, the Justice Department's antitrust division had demanded that AT&T and Time Warner sell off CNN in order to get their merger approved. CNN is a Time Warner subsidiary.
 
Earlier in Tuesday's hearing, Sessions declined to comment on the merger discussions but threw doubt on the reports.
 
"I would just tell you that I would not be able to accept as accurate news reports that have come out on that," he said.
 
Critics have raised the possibility that demands to sell CNN may have been part of President Trump's personal vendetta against the network. And Trump ally Rupert Murdoch has reportedly offered to buy CNN.