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 TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future 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 NadlerPoll: Majority wants Trump out, but not through impeachment Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment GOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' MORE (D-N.Y.) and Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineFirst House Republican backs bill banning assault weapons Hillicon Valley: O'Rourke proposal targets tech's legal shield | Dem wants public review of FCC agreement with T-Mobile, Sprint | Voters zero in on cybersecurity | Instagram to let users flag misinformation Democrat calls for public review of T-Mobile-Sprint merger agreement 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 says US will hit China with new round of tariffs next month Gary Cohn bemoans 'dramatic impact' of Trump tariffs Press: Acosta, latest to walk the plank 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.