March 11, 2019
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives continues to ratchet up scrutiny of President Trump and his administration — now focusing on whether the President personally attempted to block AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
The merger, which created WarnerMedia, was officially confirmed last month by a federal appeals court denying an objection by the Department of Justice.
Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) sent letters to Makan Delrahim, chief of the Justice Dept.’s antitrust division, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, seeking documentation regarding possible interference by Trump.
The inquiry is in response to a New Yorker story that claimed Trump personally wanted to kill the merger largely due to his dislike for Turner-owned CNN and its reporting of his administration.
“Even the appearance of White House interference in antitrust law matters undermines public trust in the Department of Justice’s integrity and tarnishes meritorious enforcement by the antitrust division,” Nadler and Cicilline wrote. “The fact of actual interference would constitute a serious abuse of power.”
Delrahim has said he was never pressured by Trump to pursue antitrust litigation.
“I have never been instructed by the White House on this or any other transaction under review by the antitrust division,” Delrahim said on Nov. 8, 2017, prior to filing the lawsuit.
AT&T originally sought to investigate Trump’s influence — a request denied by federal judge Richard Leon in the original antitrust trial. CEO Randall Stephenson called Trump’s possible interference the “elephant in the room.”