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 ConyersCongressional Ethics committees are the wrong place to settle harassment and discrimination claims Conservative activist disrupts campaign event for Muslim candidates Michigan Dems elect state's first all-female statewide ticket for midterms MORE Jr. (Mich), and Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: Manafort to cooperate with Mueller probe | North Korea blasts US over cyber complaint | Lawmakers grill Google over China censorship | Bezos to reveal HQ2 location by year's end Bipartisan House group presses Google over China censorship The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Facing major hurricane, Trump is tested 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 GoodlatteThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify Goodlatte: Administration undercut law, Congress by setting refugee cap Virginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence 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 vows to get rid of 'stench' at DOJ, FBI NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions House Judiciary on NY Times article: I intend to subpoena 'McCabe Memos' 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.