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

The White House is rejecting a request from top House Democrats for information that would shed light on whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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 NadlerDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton's 'deleted and acid washed' emails Trump tweets conservative commentator's criticism of FBI director MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineJustice to recommend blocking T-Mobile-Sprint merger: report The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push House Democrats press leaders to start Trump impeachment 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 CohnTrump officials slow-walk president's order to cut off Central American aid: report John Kelly had to break up argument between US trade officials: report The Hill's Morning Report — Dem ire at Barr intensifies 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.