×
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

  • James Marsden attends the 2019 MOCA

    New Abortion Ban Laws Take Center Stage at MOCA Gala

    Forty years ago in Los Angeles, the decision to invest millions in a museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art — not to mention its formerly desolate downtown location, where the vibe was more apocalyptic than artsy — was a risky proposition. But now that the city’s cultural heart has shifted south of Hollywood, it seems [...]

  • Spectators watch the 2019 Eurovision Song

    U.S. Music Industry Delegation Convenes in Tel Aviv for Eurovision

    This past weekend, squeezed between a string of Eurovision Song Contest parties, Tel Aviv’s posh Norman hotel played host to an intimate, invite-only dinner of music industry delegates from the United States. The rooftop-set event was designed as a highlight on the itinerary of the Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) weeklong trip to Israel. CCFP, [...]

  • Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment,

    Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment, Imprisonment for Trump, Says Maybe Al Pacino Should Lead Instead

    Robert De Niro honored Al Pacino, his longtime friend and four-time collaborator (with Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “The Irishman” marking their latest pairing), at the American Icon Awards, and then called for a different type of tribute for President Donald Trump — “impeachment and imprisonment.” “You didn’t think you were going to completely get away without [...]

  • CEO of T-Mobile John Legere (L)

    FCC Chairman Backs T-Mobile, Sprint Merger With New Conditions

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a thumbs-up to T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed $26 billion merger, after the companies committed to enhanced 5G buildout commitments and agreed to spin off Sprint’s Boost Mobile. T-Mobile and Sprint first announced their plans to merge in April 2018, looking to combine forces to take on industry leaders AT&T and [...]

  • Billie Eilish and Debbie Harry

    Billie Eilish, Blondie's Debbie Harry Attack Abortion Ban

    Songwriting took a backseat to politics for the female honorees at Thursday night’s ASCAP Pop Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton. America’s rapidly spreading anti-abortion movement in states such as Alabama, Georgia and, most recently, Missouri — and resulting legal battles that could lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade — had veteran [...]

  • The Spectator Magazine Summer Party at

    Trump Pardons Former Media Mogul Conrad Black

    President Donald Trump has issued a full pardon for Conrad Black, a former media mogul who was convicted on counts of wire fraud and obstruction of justice and who also wrote a biography that praised the president last year. According to a lengthy post on Black’s website, Trump called Black and told him personally of [...]

  • Trump CNN

    White House Asks Users to Report Alleged Social Media Censorship

    Doubling down on the idea that conservative views are being censored on social media, the White House launched a web form Wednesday afternoon that asks users to report any actions taken against them on platforms like Facebook and Twitter because of their political views. “Social media platforms should advance freedom of speech,” the White House [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content