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 ConyersDemocrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill Virginia scandals pit Democrats against themselves and their message Women's March plans 'Medicare for All' day of lobbying in DC MORE Jr. (Mich), and Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineForeign Affairs chairman: US military intervention in Venezuela 'not an option' Greedy tort bar tarts up the CREATES Act Whitaker takes grilling from House lawmakers 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 GoodlatteIt’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end 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 nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says he was interviewed by Mueller CNN hires former DOJ spokesperson under Sessions as editor on 2020 campaign 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.