Dems push for hearing on Trump's involvement in AT&T-Time Warner merger

Dems push for hearing on Trump's involvement in AT&T-Time Warner merger
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Two top House Judiciary Committee Democrats are pushing the panel to hold a hearing examining the White House’s role in the “troubling pattern of potential political interference by President Trump” in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) review of AT&T’s merger with Time Warner.

DOJ sources recently said that antitrust officials had rejected an offer from AT&T to divest from CNN in order to win approval for the $85 billion deal. AT&T officials flatly denied that the offer was ever on the table — or would be.

The top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersPortland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father Conyers's son in danger of missing ballot in Michigan MORE Jr. (Mich), and Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Maine Senate candidate arrested outside immigration detention center Trump admin releases video of detention center in Texas MORE (D-R.I.) expressed their concern with Trump's possible involvement, noting that he “has repeatedly criticized CNN for the nature of its coverage of him.” In their letter, the lawmakers also highlighted Trump’s tweets disparaging CNN as "#FakeNews.”

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On the campaign trail, Trump threatened to block the merger if he were elected, arguing that it would lock up too much power among too few companies.

The lawmakers also contrasted the Trump administration’s willingness to comment on the AT&T-Time Warner deal with its comparative silence on the Sinclair-Tribune merger, which critics say will give an enormous television broadcast reach to the expressly conservative outlet.

Conyers and Cicilline urged Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteHouse Judiciary Committee subpoenas FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts Trump tweet may doom House GOP effort on immigration House still plans immigration vote next week despite Trump's tweet MORE (R-Va.) to hold a hearing on the matter, in light of these concerns of potential impartiality and intervention in the merger.

AT&T is also critical of the administration’s treatment of the deal. The company is reportedly seeking to learn if the White House has influenced the DOJ’s analysis of the merger, according to Bloomberg.

On Tuesday, while testifying before Congress, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump administration creating family reunification task force: report Mexican airline pledges to reunite immigrant families separated by Trump policy for free Jennifer Lopez sounds off on Trump immigration policy MORE declined to comment on if he had been in communication with the White House over the deal.

The agency is reviewing the $85 billion merger to assess any antitrust and anticompetitive concerns it might pose.