Despite a refusal by the White House to turn over records on communications between President Trump and various executive branch officials related to the merger of AT&T, Inc., and Time Warner, Inc., House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) and antitrust subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D., R.I.) today pledged to “continue to pursue” their oversight of President Trump’s involvement in the Justice Department’s decision to try, unsuccessfully, to block the merger on antitrust grounds.
Last month, the lawmakers had asked the White House and the Department of Justice for documents or communications related to the proposed AT&T–Time Warner merger, which was consummated last summer (TR Daily, March 7).
In a letter dated yesterday and posted to twitter by Chairman Cicilline today, Pat Cipollone, counsel for the president, pledged to “continue to work in good faith to accommodate the Committee’s legitimate oversight interests while at the same time respecting the separation of powers and the constitutional prerogatives of the President. … 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 advisors, particularly his most senior advisors such as the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.”
In a joint statement, Reps. Nadler and Cicilline said today, “Antitrust enforcement is law enforcement. It must be guided by the rule of law, not used as a political cudgel to reward friends and punish enemies or to retaliate against the press for the exercise of its First Amendment rights. In what has become a troubling pattern for the Trump Administration, the White House Counsel 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 cone of secrecy.”
They added, “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. 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.” —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
MainStory: FederalNews Congress MergersAntitrust
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