White House rejects House Dems' request for documents on AT&T-Time Warner merger

White House rejects House Dems' request for documents on AT&T-Time Warner merger
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The White House is rejecting a request from top House Democrats for information that would shed light on whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE tried to sway the Justice Department into opposing the AT&T-Time Warner merger.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler to miss a day of impeachment trial due to wife's cancer treatment Impeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' Trump defense team signals focus on Schiff MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Smaller companies testify against Big Tech's 'monopoly power' Living in limbo may end for Liberians in the US MORE (D-R.I.), chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust issues, in a letter dated Monday that the documents requested by the lawmakers were shielded under confidentiality protections afforded to the president and his advisers.

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“As I have conveyed to the Committee before, we stand ready to work to accommodate all congressional committee requests for information related to a legitimate legislative purpose,” Cipollone wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Hill. “We cannot, however, provide the Committee with protected communications between the President and his most senior advisors that are at the very core of the Executive Branch's confidentiality interests.”

The letter was first reported by Bloomberg.

The Democrats blasted the response in a joint statement on Tuesday afternoon.

"It appears the White House Counsel believes that the President has unfettered discretion to use law enforcement as a political weapon. That view of presidential power not only disregards well-established policies and norms that prohibit the White House from interfering in law enforcement activities, but is also incompatible with our democracy," Nadler and Cicilline said in the statement.

"As Members of Congress, it is our constitutional duty to conduct vigorous oversight of the administration to ensure that the President faithfully executes and enforces the law. We will continue to pursue this matter."

Nadler and Cicilline made their request last month after The New Yorker published a story reporting that Trump had pressured Gary CohnGary David CohnSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Gary Cohn says Trump's tariffs 'hurt the US' Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request MORE, his former top economic adviser, to press the Justice Department to intervene on the merger. The president was reportedly against the deal out of spite toward CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.

The two Democrats asked both the White House and the Justice Department for detailed records of discussions involving the $85 billion deal.

The department eventually sued to block the deal, only to lose at trial and during appeal.

The administration has repeatedly denied that there was any political interference in the Justice Department’s review of the merger.

 

Updated: 4:34 p.m.