Democratic lawmakers are alarmed at a report that President Donald Trump told top advisors to pressure the DOJ to file a lawsuit to block the merger of AT&T and Time Warner. The New Yorker reported Trump ordered Gary Cohen, then director of the National Economic Council, “to pressure the DOJ to intervene” and told Cohen and then-chief of staff John Kelly he wanted the transaction blocked.
The report re-inflamed concerns the president sought to improperly target the merger because of his rancor toward CNN, a Time Warner property that is now part of AT&T, according to Politico.
In response, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) tweeted that “Congress must find out” whether Trump tried to meddle with the antitrust review “to carry out his vendetta against the press.”
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted, “Sixteen months later it turns out I was right.” She was referring to her original tweet in which she asked rhetorically if Trump, “was really going to make the DOJ use antitrust law to force the sale of a cable channel because the President doesn’t like its news coverage? You can dislike consolidation but still find this extremely disturbing, if true.”
AT&T and the DOJ did not comment to Politico — but President Trump appeared to respond to the report Monday. He tweeted: “It’s hard to remember that not so long ago America had prestige media outlets, but not anymore. The American media has changed forever. News organizations that seemed like a big deal are now extinct. Those that remain have now degraded themselves beyond recognition, like the New Yorker – or they’ve been purchased by Jeff bezos (sic) to conduct unregistered lobbying…”
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March 6, 2019