Klobuchar Warns Administration Against Politicizing AT&T-Time Warner

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has warned attorney general Jeff Sessions that any political interference in the Justice Department's review of the AT&T-Time Warner merger would be "unacceptable."

Klobuchar was responding to a report in the New York Times that White house advisors have discussed leveraging the deal against Time Warner-owned CNN, which President Donald Trump has hammered as fake news, most recently in a Tweet featuring him pummeling a figure with a CNN logo for a head.

Trump said as a candidate his White House would oppose the deal.

In a letter to Sessions, Klobuchar said that while she has "serious questions" about thbe deal's impact, questions she also conveyed to Sessions, she told him "the transaction should be judged solely on its impact on competition, innovation, and consumers, not as 'leverage' for political gain," adding: "Any political interference in antitrust enforcement is unacceptable. Even more concerning, in this instance, is that it appears that some advisers to the President may believe that it is appropriate for the government to use its law enforcement authority to alter or censor the press. Such an action would violate the First Amendment.”

She had some questions she wanted answered as well as offering that word of warning. They were: "Has any employee of the White House or adviser to the President (either official or unofficial) had any contact with any Department of Justice employee regarding the AT&T/Time Warner transaction?; If so, did those interactions comply with existing policies?;" and "will you commit to notifying the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee, should any such contacts occur?"

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.