Previously, President Donald Trump and his administration have warned CNN that if they continue critical coverage of them, it could cost them their prized merger with AT&T and Time Warner. That’s blackmail, plain and simple.
Now – ethics watchdog American Oversight has launched an investigation into the Trump administration’s handling of the proposed merger, making them hand over communications, documents and other records related to the merger, as well as documentation that shows any attempts by officials to use the merger for political purposes.
“The idea that the president would subvert antitrust laws to attempt to control the media is a stunning abuse of power. It not only strikes at the core of our constitutional right to free speech, it also undermines our system of free enterprise,” said American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers. “Even if the White House has not contacted DOJ directly to interfere with the merger, Trump’s advisers are clearly trying to influence the outcome.”
American Oversight maintains that even if the White House didn’t do anything wrong yet, they have acknowledged publicly that the merger could be used as leverage in order to get what they want from CNN. That threat could turn into something far more serious if the Department of Justice ends up denying the merger, which could still happen.
While it would be hard to tell whether the DOJ denied the merger for non-political purposes, all discretion should be used to further that regard.
Evers continued, “It should go without saying that regulatory decisions can’t be made in response to presidential tantrums. Congress should exercise its oversight jurisdiction to ensure the Department of Justice evaluates the proposed merger in accordance with the law – and nothing else.”