Top House Dem calls Trump administration's handling of AT&T deal 'very disturbing'

Top House Dem calls Trump administration's handling of AT&T deal 'very disturbing'
© Greg Nash

Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineSenators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Democrats seek to cool simmering tensions Hillicon Valley —Apple is not a monopoly, judge rules MORE (D-R.I.) said Sunday that the Trump administration's handling of the AT&T-Time Warner merger is "very disturbing."

"[The administration] ought not in any way be attempting to influence this merger review in the antitrust division at the Department of the Justice," he said during an interview on CNN's "Reliable Sources."


Cicilline's remark came after he and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, last week sent letters to administration officials expressing concern about a report in The New Yorker alleging that President Trump pushed for DOJ lawyers block the merger.

Nadler and Cicilline also requested records detailing how the administration handled the merger.

Cicilline said Sunday that Congress has "a responsibility to call in witnesses, to make document requests, to get at the truth."

"We need to protect the rule of law and make sure people have confidence that this is being done in the appropriate way and pursuant to the appropriate guidelines in the Department of Justice," he said.

"We're going to get to the bottom of this and make sure we can ensure that the American people that we are not permitting any political interference by the president or members of his administration to punish people he perceives as enemies and to rewards friends. It's completely inappropriate," Cicilline added.

Trump was thought to be opposed to the merger because of how it could benefit CNN, which is part of Time Warner. Trump has often accused CNN of unfair political coverage.

The New Yorker reported last week that the president ordered Gary Cohn, his former top economic adviser, to have the DOJ sue to block the deal.

"I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened. I’ve mentioned it fifty times. And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!” Trump reportedly told John Kelly, his former chief of staff, during a 2017 Oval Office meeting.