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 ConyersWoman accuses New York state senator of sexual misconduct Dissatisfaction with position of women in US hits new high Republicans on the run: Retirements could be trouble for Trump and party MORE Jr. (Mich), and Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineFour lawmakers join House Climate Solutions Caucus Deputy attorney general says Mueller probe not a ‘witch hunt’ Overnight Tech: FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices | Biden scolds social media firms over transparency 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 GoodlatteFreedom Caucus chair: GOP leaders don't have votes to avoid shutdown Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown 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 SessionsSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants DOJ wades into archdiocese fight for ads on DC buses Overnight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector 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.