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Protect Democracy continues investigation of improper White House interference in AT&T merger as antitrust trial date nears
Two of the most important pillars of American democracy are independent law enforcement agencies that answer to the people, and not to the personal or political whims of the President, and robust enforcement of the First Amendment, which permits citizens to criticize the government and hold it accountable to the Constitutional limits of its power. From the day he took office until now, President Trump has made clear his disdain for cable news network CNN, and has repeatedly threatened to use the Department of Justice to punish CNN for the content of its coverage of him and his administration. Likewise, he has expressed admiration for autocrats from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who suppress speech and abuse their powers in exactly the same way.
Last November, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block a merger between AT&T and Time-Warner, CNN’s parent company, a move that surprised industry experts. The President’s many statements denigrating CNN, his threats use DOJ’s merger review process to punish CNN, and his more favorable recent treatment of a merger involving his friends at Fox News, have raised serious questions about the motivations for DOJ’s attempt to block the Time-Warner merger and whether the President is abusing his power to quash dissent.
Last week, House Democrats from the Oversight and Judiciary Committees sent a letter to the Attorney General for information about why the Department of Justice is suing to block a merger between AT&T and Time-Warner Communications, the parent company of CNN. We agree that the citizens of a fully-functioning democracy have a critical need for that information, which is why Protect Democracy has been investigating the White House’s role in DOJ’s review of the merger for months, starting with FOIA requests we filed in July and November 2017, and a lawsuit that we updated last week, for documents that will shed light on whether the White House has improperly interfered in the merger. We will let you know what we learn, and we will fight back against any attempt by the President to use the DOJ as a tool to silence his critics.