×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

White House Refuses to Turn Over AT&T-Time Warner Records to House Democrats

WASHINGTON — The White House is refusing to turn over records of communications related to the AT&T-Time Warner merger after House Democrats demanded such information, prompted by New Yorker report that President Trump had ordered advisers to pressure the Justice Department to block the deal.

Pat Cipollone, the counsel to the president, wrote that such communications were covered under executive privilege.

“It has long been recognized that robust confidentiality protections are essential for the proper functioning of the presidency, as the President must be able to consult with and receive candid advice from his advisers, particularly his most senior advisers such as the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy,” Cipollone wrote in a letter to Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who chairs the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, and House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.)

They had written to Cipollone requesting records after a report in the New Yorker that in the summer of 2017, Trump ordered his economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and Chief of Staff John Kelly to put pressure on the DOJ to file a lawsuit to block the deal. Cohn never carried out the order, and told Kelly not to either.

The story added fuel to Democrats’ suspicions that Trump may have attempted to interfere with the Justice Department’s review of the AT&T-Time Warner transaction because of his animosity toward Time Warner unit CNN.

In his letter, Cipollone also suggests that it is within Trump’s authority to take an interest in how antitrust law is carried out. He wrote that the president “has an important role in the antitrust area. The Constitution imposes on the President the duty to ensure the laws are faithfully executed.”

He added, “Executive branch discretion flowing from the Take Care Clause applies in all contexts, including antitrust matters.”

The Justice Department sued to block the deal in November, 2017, but the companies prevailed in a district court trial and on appeal.

Nadler and Cicilline are also seeking records from the Justice Department. Cipollone said the DOJ would be “responding in due course.”

After the White House response, the lawmakers issued a statement saying that “in what has become a troubling pattern for the Trump administration, the White House has made a blanket claim that all White House communications — regardless of whether they contain evidence of improper or even unlawful activities — are protected by a code of secrecy.

“It appears the White House counsel believes that the President has unfettered discretion to use law enforcement as a political weapon,” they added. “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 it is also incompatible with our democracy.”

Before the AT&T-Time Warner trial started, the companies’ legal team attempted to gather information to pursue a claim that they were unfairly singled out for antitrust enforcement because of Trump’s animosity toward CNN, but the district judge, Richard J. Leon, rejected that line of defense.

Makan Delrahim, the chief of the Antitrust Division, has denied in a sworn statement and elsewhere that the decision to sue had to do with Trump’s opposition to the deal or disdain for CNN.

“I have never been instructed by the White House on this or any other transaction under review by the antitrust division,” he said shortly before the lawsuit was filed.

More Politics

  • Michael Portillo Making ‘The Trouble With

    Michael Portillo Making ‘The Trouble With the Tory Party’ for Viacom’s Channel 5

    On the day that British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation plans, a prominent former politician has unveiled a two-part documentary about the troubles faced by her Conservative party. Michael Portillo is a former senior Conservative politician and leadership candidate. As the starting gun is sounded on a fresh leadership race, his documentary “Portillo: [...]

  • Twitter

    Twitter Permanently Bans Anti-Trump Krassenstein Brothers, Who Deny They Broke Platform's Rules

    Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Ed and Brian Krassenstein — progressive political activists famous for trolling Donald Trump and his supporters — with the company alleging the brothers used bogus accounts to amplify their reach on the platform. “The Twitter Rules apply to everyone,” a Twitter rep said in a statement. “Operating multiple fake [...]

  • Theresa May

    British Prime Minister Theresa May Announces Resignation

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed she will step down as Conservative leader on June 7. She set the timetable for her resignation, Friday. It paves the way for a contest to decide on a new U.K. Prime Minister. She will remain as Prime Minister until a new leader is in position. The Prime [...]

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi displays

    Narendra Modi Wins New Mandate in Indian Election and Divides the Film Industry

    India has returned the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance coalition to power for a second term, with a huge mandate. In doing so, it polarized the film industry. The NDA won 351 seats out of a total of 542. The biggest democratic exercise in the world, more than 600 million Indians voted across six weeks. [...]

  • tammy brook

    FYI Brand Group Launches Social Impact Division

    FYI Brand Group, the music and fashion brand marketing and public relations firm founded by Tammy Brook, is launching a social impact division dedicated to campaigns centered around creating a call to action for social good. Organizations that have signed on to work with FYI include the American Cancer Society and Black Lives Matter; the [...]

  • Lauren Ash44th Annual Gracie Awards, Show,

    Politics and New Abortion Ban Laws Dominate 2019 Gracie Awards

    Female empowerment was in the air Tuesday night as showrunners, writers and performers gathered at the 44th annual Gracie Awards to celebrate women breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings within the entertainment industry. Sandra Oh, Patricia Arquette, Rachel Maddow and Connie Britton were among the honorees at the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly [...]

  • Jeff Daniels MSNBC

    Jeff Daniels Says 'It's the End of Democracy' if Trump Gets Re-Elected

    Jeff Daniels took a swipe at President Donald Trump and the GOP during an appearance on MSNBC on Monday. Daniels spoke with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC about his role as Atticus Finch in the Broadway production of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a story about racial politics and discrimination in 1930s Alabama, and spent the segment [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content