On Tuesday, the White House rejected requests from the House Judiciary Committee to submit documents regarding any discussions the administration had with the Justice Department over the AT&T-Time Warner merger, according to Bloomberg.
In a letter, White House counsel Pat Cipollone told Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and antitrust subcommittee chair Rep. David Cicilline (D-R) that the White House would not be supplying the documents that the lawmakers requested in a letter to the administration early last month.
Chairmen Nadler and Cicilline received this letter from the White House on their request for documents related to DOJ’s involvement in the AT&T merger. Statement to follow shortly. pic.twitter.com/ZJ9s57GqzG— Cicilline Press Office (@RepCicilline) April 16, 2019
“As I have conveyed to the Committee before, we stand ready to work to accommodate all congressional committee requests for information related to a legitimate legislative purpose,” Cipollone wrote. “We cannot, however, provide the Committee with protected communications between the President and his most senior advisors that are at the very core of the Executive Branch’s confidentiality interests.”
In March, The New Yorker reported that President Trump pushed former economic aide Gary Cohn to urge the Justice Department to block the $85 billion merger deal. Reportedly, Cohn resisted Trump’s request. Around the time The New Yorker report went up, Democratic leaders were beginning to prepare a series of letters probing the administration on a variety of issues and perceived scandals. The New Yorker report likely prompted this investigation.
“It appears the White House Counsel believes that the President has unfettered discretion to use law enforcement as a political weapon,” Nadler and Cicilline said in a statement on Tuesday, responding the White House’s denial. “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.”
Cipollone redirected lawmakers to the Justice Department, saying that officials would answer their questions in “due course.”