AT&T Merger Meddling Probe May Require Subpoenas, Democrat Says

(Bloomberg) -- Congress may issue subpoenas in probing whether the White House sought to block AT&T Inc.’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the chairman of a House antitrust subcommittee said.

Democrat David Cicilline floated the possibility of after the New Yorker reported that President Donald Trump wanted former aide Gary Cohn to push the Justice Department to sue and block the merger. Trump frequently criticizes Time Warner’s CNN news channel.

"If we are compelled to, we’ll issue subpoenas," Cicilline, of Rhode Island, said Sunday on CNN’s "Reliable Sources." “We’ll certainly bring witnesses.”

Cohn resisted the request, according to the New Yorker. The Justice Department eventually sued to block the merger and has denied political interference drove the decision. AT&T prevailed in February.

Cicilline’s panel is a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. He said he wants to make sure "that we are not permitting any political interference by the president or members of his administration to punish people he perceives as enemies and to reward friends." He and Representative Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, issued document requests in the case last week.

"There’s been a persistent attack on the rule of law, on a free press, important democratic institutions," Cicilline said. "We’re going to look at all these issues."

Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, has denied the White House played any role in his decision to sue to block the merger.

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