Report: Trump Pressured The Justice Department To Oppose The AT&T Warner Merger

The New Yorker is reporting that President Donald Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then Trump’s chief economic adviser, to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger last summer. If true, the action could raise an additional allegation of the abuse of power and a direct lie to the American public. Months later, Trump expressly denied playing any role in the decision to sue to oppose the $85 billion merger. Trump’s intense dislike for CNN (owned by Time Warner) had been a long source of speculation that he was seeking to punish the cable network for its criticism of him and his Administration.

Trump is quoted as directly ordering the lawsuit and expressly frustration that the order was not carried out. He reportedly told Cohn and then White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that “I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened! I’ve mentioned it 50 times. And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!”

Reportedly Cohn later told Kelly not to call the Justice Department because “We are not going to do business that way.” Indeed, it is not supposed to work that way. The White House has always maintained a separation from decisions of the Justice Department to avoid the politicalizing of our legal system.

In November 2017, Trump was asked directly about the merger and possible lawsuit to oppose it. Trump said that he opposed the merger as “not good for the country” but he was “not going to get involved, it is litigation.”

Last week an appellate court upheld a federal judge ruling that the merger is lawful and did not harm the public.

The issue however is not the merits. Not only is Trump accused of attempting to pressure the Justice Department but just last November he expressly denied applying such pressure.

93 thoughts on “Report: Trump Pressured The Justice Department To Oppose The AT&T Warner Merger”

  1. The New Yorker piece is completely ridiculous – these are the same people that turned a blind eye when the Obama Administration was openly barring Fox News from attending events, and turning down dozens of interviews with Fox News hosts. It’s also a part of how the machine works. The New Yorker runs this – to call it a report is charitable at best, shame on you Turley! Then the DNC says they are banning Fox News from covering their Presidential debates. See how it all works together.

  2. Are we supposed to be shocked a President of the United States wants to do something that may not be within his authority to do? What would be shocking is his own administration stopping him. Yet they did.


    1. OLLY, boy was I wrong about you, You do have a sense of humour. First, he knew damn well interfering with that merger as POTUS was wrong, he’s dumb, but he ain’t that stupid. What is shocking is that the most incompetent administration in recent history did stop him. Maybe the lawyers at FOX NEWS told him to back off. After all he listens to them better then his own lawyers and intell chiefs.

  3. Well, looks like the merger is going through.

    Did you see that Jeff Zucker is out as President of CNN News? He’s been reassigned to the sports division. About time….Jeff did a bad job, letting journalistic standards drop to dangerous levels of opinion-shaping garbage. The next President should fire Jim Acosta.

  4. No harm no foul. Reverse it and that cannot be said.

    Just another in the long tiresome litany of the left trying to compare CNN to journalism and protect the lefts major propaganda machine.That’s like trying to say the Socialist Party is worthy of the name Democrats in a country that has never been a democracy. by a group who have never been democratic.

    What we have is, has been, and will never be anything more than an attempt to reincarnate the last page of the Declaration of Independence.

    That being the case any and all attempts to expose them should be applauded and any effort to support them, in the words of the famous Black Avenger bring the light of truth, justice and the American Way and correctly described them as egg sucking dog liberals.

    Hamblin like any good constitutional centrist included all of hem from Schumer and Pelosi, from RINOs to DINOs and the C,,,,Non-news Network

      1. it’s all propaganda, or to be nicer, advocacy.
        just a question of degree & direction

  5. There is no end to the standards the Trump stooges will drop in defense of the Dear Leader.

    They can take solace in the fact that no one will resurrect these comments in a few years when they will not admit they supported Trump. Ever notice how hard it is to find someone who admits voting for W?

    1. i voted for Dubya, big disappointment, he turned 100% around from election promises to avoid nation building into screwing the pooch in iraq

          1. Me? Absolutely. Patriarchy, hierarchy, order. Hail the Unconquerable Sun!

        1. i sat it out entirely. a few elections i voted and only cast state and local votes. i had formed the conclusion prior to donald that our federal elections were all frauds.

          I thought he would lose, in light of that conviction, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when he won. 2016, a momentous year!

          i do remain dubious however about our two party system especially. but it’s probably better than a one party system.

  6. “The New Yorker is reporting that President Donald Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then Trump’s chief economic adviser, to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger last summer. If true ….”
    Silly rabbit! Tricks are for kids.

  7. Can’t have an elected official inserting himself into insider scams worked out between the Justice Department and the federal judiciary. That’s Just Not Done.

    1. lol good one. how dare he have an opinion!

      I’m glad to hear he gave them trouble. corporate media needs a check.

  8. Resign on the 4th, now it’s beware the ids of March. That seems more realistic.

  9. Merge you burge. Choose you loose. Trump was supposed to resign on the 4th. What happened?

  10. “The New Yorker is reporting …” Stop. The media has no credibility. None. I enjoy reading your analysis and opinions, Prof. Turley, even when you launch into a discussion assuming the fake news could possibly be real news … but don’t forget your disclaimers. In my circle of personal and professional acquaintances there is NO ONE who believes a professional news media exists. They have lost all credibility with normal (i.e., non-D.C.) people.

    Imagine what the community of lawyers would be like if they were not professionally held to account for Federal and State rules.

    So, comment away but let’s presume it’s all “fake news” you’re commenting on unless by coincidence a news outlet stumbles onto something that is partially accurate. I close by suggesting Trump is the predictable result of a news media rigorously exercising their free speech rights but with no commitment to professionalism.



    It would be perfectly in character for Trump to oppose a merger for political reasons. Especially if the deal involves CNN.

    But I question if Warner Brother wants a marriage with AT&T. And I question if consumers want one conglomerate active in ‘all’ forms of electronic communications.

    My intuition would be to keep AT&T ‘out’ of the Film & TV. Trump might share my sentiments. His most recent career was in TV.

    Now Let’s Examine This Exchange From Sunday Night:

    Enigmainblackcom says: March 3, 2019 at 10:04 PM

    Like every Republican on the House Oversight Committee, not a word in defense of Trump or suggestion of actual innocence. Just find someone else to attack.

    Princess Trohar says: March 3, 2019 at 10:25 PM

    Are you still driving your black friends and relatives to get their abortions, to push the black abortion rate ever higher above the current measly 45% rate?



    Princess presumes that because Enigma criticizes Trump that automatically links him to every liberal position including abortion rights. Therefore Enigma supports ‘infanticide’ which
    makes him reprehensible. A stone-cold baby killer!

    Princess reasons that because Enigma supports ‘infanticide’ she is perfectly justified in being totally mean-spirited. “You can’t be nice to killers!” That’s what’s in her head.

    Princess goes on to note Black women have higher abortion rates than Whites. Which is true. But one suspects that Princess feels this fact reflects horribly on Blacks. “They’re all baby killers”. ‘You can’t be mean enough to people like that”.


    Black and Hispanic women are 5 to 6 times more likely to seek legal abortions than White women. But Low-Income White women have abortion rates much higher than educated, upper middle-class White women.

    These facts strongly suggest that more often than not, abortion is an economic choice. Certain poor women cannot afford to ‘carry’ a pregnancies. It might threaten their job. And they might need that job to support children they already have.

    These realities completely escape opponents of abortion. To the contrary opponents regard abortion as a ‘social disease’ of the lower classes. Like those women are poor ‘because’ of low moral standards. “If they avoided sex they wouldn’t have to murder”.

    Liberals could play the same rhetorical stunts. Liberals could say, for instance: “Conservatives want cancer patients to die”. That ‘could’ be said with some element of truth!

    Those who are uninsured, with no access to doctors, are more likely to die of cancer. It’s a fact. You can’t afford to get cancer ‘without’ health insurance. Obamacare sought to address that grim reality.

    Yet conservatives feel that preservation of free-markets is actually more important than human life. Conservatives on this blog have argued that health insurance is a ‘privilege’. Those arguments are usually accompanied by inane comparisons to Venezuela.

    Therefore a not-too-deluded liberal could say, “Conservatives want cancer patients to die”. And they could use that as justification totally mean-spirited to ‘any’ Republican or Conservative. The logic is really no different than that which Princess employed.

    A not-too-deluded liberal could say Republican support of Second Amendment Rights has contributed to mass shootings and school shootings in particular. “And the school shootings make Republicans complicit in the slaughter of children”.

    Again, liberals could play the same rhetorical games conservatives play with abortion. But I think most liberals share my belief that rhetorical games like that are evil and stupid. America is finished as a nation if everyone uses ‘murder’ to demonize political opponents.

    Murder is hate speech when employed as a rhetorical stunt.

    1. Opposition to safe health care for all women is just mental compensation for the guilt men have for their own enjoyment of killing, attacking, destroying animals and other humans. Why some women oppose safe health care for other women, I do not understand at all.

    2. “Murder is hate speech when employed as a rhetorical stunt.”

      Murder is murder when a healthy baby is killed after it leaves the mother’s womb. There is no other way of defining such a death.

      1. Yes, context doesn’t matter. Ignore context, it’s the path to moral simplicity and unencumbered self-righteousness. Facts and circumstances?….just useless clutter.

        1. Anon, it has happened and that is the problem. (1)Do you believe that up to a few years ago and possibly up till today it didn’t happen in France and Switerland if the baby was less than a certain weight or height?

          (2)What is your objection to passing a law preventing it from happening?

  12. In today’s news, the New York Times learned from an insider that Trump doesn’t flush after he urinates. According to insider reports, Trump pays a “flusher” to following him around.

    That’s scandal I’m waiting to read next. Yawn.

  13. As I read the original article, Trump told Cohn to get the DoJ to kill the deal. Cohn did not contact the DoJ. So, yes, he “attempted” to apply pressure but he did not; he told some to but pressure was not applied. Stupid, but not illegal. So, if the question is: “Mr President, did you apply pressure to the DoJ to have them kill the merger?” And he says “No.”, is that a lie? Or are you saying that he should have said, “No, but I wanted to and I told someone to.”? Even the New Yorker just let the “incident” pass as an anecdote to illustrate Trump’s love of Fox News and his dislike of CNN. Calm down, Professor. Take a walk,

    1. He didn’t “attempt” to apply pressure. He applied it and was ignored. If failing makes it okay, I guess we should take attempted murder off the books, or hiring a hit man that turns out to be a cop? It isn’t a case of no harm no foul. he tried to use the power of the government to ham a private business. If you don’t see what’s wrong with that? Pretend Obama did it and it will suddenly become clear.

      1. enigma….You’re joking, right?! PRETEND??!! HELLO!!! Earth to Enigma! Obama abused his powers and misused his DOJ to spy on Trump and private citizens, lie to FISA Court…..and on and on..Just how deep IS that sand your noggin is stuck in? Jeeze..LOL
        Thanks for the levity….I’m serious!

        1. I was talking about the President going after a private company to support another he likes. Maybe I should have been more specific and said if he prohibited a merger that Fox News wanted to support NBC it would have been more spot on.
          Obama and the FBI, CIA, and foreign intelligence agencies did follow up the leads of Russian interference and went where the leads took them. They happened to take them to Kushner, Papadoupolos, Manafort, Flynn, Trump, Trump Jr, and several others, who met with Russians and lied about it. If they weren’t conspiring with Russians, they wouldn’t have come up.

          1. enigma…”Follow the leads”?? They WERE the leads! LOL
            This conversation is what you get when only one person has bothered to embrace the facts.
            Not to be rude, but maybe Disney World is having an adverse affect on your critical thinking capabilities.
            I would beseech you to, occasionally, step-away from Goofy and the gang.

              1. discussions are not illegal collusion whatever that means

                speaking of collusion. the clearest instance in which it is an actual crime, is in antitrust. to the point: corporate news does not need further mergers and aquisitions to make it into a total duopoly. it’s already too close to that

                gee, look who else doesnt like the merger.
                Bernie Sanders
                for good reasons!

                1. Note I didn’t say collusion, I say conspiracy, which is illegal. I’d say let the lawyers and Feds sort it out but I believe they’re already doing just that.

                  1. conspiracy to do something illegal. talking to russians is not illegal. lying to the fbi about talking to russians is, which apparently has gotten some people in trouble. but talking to russians is not illegal. in fact it’s laudable.

                    as the late artist fka as Prince said:

                    Ronnie talk to Russia before it’s too late
                    Before it’s too late
                    Before it’s too late
                    Ronnie talk to Russia before it’s too late
                    Before they blow up the world
                    You go to the zoo, but you can’t feed guerrillas
                    Can’t feed guerrillas
                    Left-wing guerrillas
                    You can go to the zoo, but you can’t feed guerrillas
                    Who want to blow up the world
                    Ronnie if you’re dead before I get to meet ya
                    Before I get to meet ya
                    Before I get to meet ya
                    Ronnie if you’re dead before I get to meet ya
                    Don’t say I didn’t warn ya
                    Ronnie talk to Russia before it’s too late
                    Before it’s too late
                    Before it’s too late
                    Ronnie talk to Russia before it’s too late
                    Before they blow up the world
                    Before they blow up the world
                    Don’t ya blow up my world
                    Don’t you blow up my world
                    Songwriters: Prince Rogers Nelson

                    1. Talking isn’t but if you accept help in a campaign from them in form that can be valued monetarily without paying for it, you have violated campaign finance laws against foreign involvement in our electoral process.

                    2. Talking isn’t illegal, conspiring is. Do you think all that lying (and they all lied) was about talking? Flynn for example had plenty of reason to talk to Russia with no reason to lie. Why did he lie?

              1. enigma…If by “Russians” you mean the Uranium One deal and by “crooks” you mean Clinton and Obama as part of that deal, then I’d say they came at the same time: 2010.
                And don’t forget Obama’s chiding of Romney at the 2012 debates when Romney talked about Russia being a threat…Obama replied to Romney (say it with me now) “The 1980’s called and they want their foreign policy back”.
                He made fun of Romney’s concern about Russia.

                1. Please tell us how Hillary accomplished the Uranium sale and what she got from it?

                  Do you understand that the State Dept had 1 out of nine votes on that proposal, which was sponsored by Treasury, the uranium is non-weapons grade and can’t be exported, and the Clinton Foundation is an A rated charity from which the Clintons receive no income or financial benefit?

                  1. I have no concern over “uranium one” scandal or whatever supposedly happened. selling uranium to russians is like selling snow to eskimos

                    however, if you think they receive no benefit from the Clinton Foundation, then you are really naive

                    1. I’m sure they enjoy the status and hob nobbing with decision makers all over the world – they have always been serious people involved in policy – but they receive zippo financial reward from it. If you have other information, why don’t you share it.

                    2. usually the hidden self inurement in private foundations is buried in the expenses. simple as that. you cant know unless you have their entire detail ledger up. even then it can be buried.

                      she’s an expert in following the letter of the law and not the spirit. consider that via christopher steele hillary was “colluding” with Russians herself.

                      just the “legal way.”


                    3. Sorry Kurtz but this isn’t The Flight of the Condor or Parallax View with an all powerful “them” pulling strings and pushing the buttons. If it were that you think Hillary would not be president today after winning by 3 million votes?

                      You have to come up with something to make accusations, and so far you haven’t.

                      By the way, Hillary probably didn’t know who Christopher Steele was until you and I found out – she was kind of busy in 2016 – and he was the head of the UK MI-6 Russian desk. He knows his way around Moscow and who’s a Putin mouthpiece and who isn’t. Since the DNC paid for that oppo research, it was not receiving help in a campaign from foreign sources.

                    4. yawn. talking to the new breed of online, activist Democrats. you make a point and they go back to making a new point. no conversation, just propaganda. forgive me for thinking you guys are all on a quota system. i always admire Democrats for their task orientation. never get too bogged down in conversation, just blanket those blogs with “our” content. you know the drill.

                    5. ” you have to come up with something to make accusations.”

                      No I dont! Democrats never worry about that why should I ?

                      The Meuller witch hunt. process crime convictions, money laundering from before election, all chickenscratch stuff. No Russian collusion.

                      That was just a pretext to surveill and harass a candidate before he won, and to sabotage him after.

                      This is a treasonous deep state coup. If Trump was half the tyrant you whiners pretend him to be, there would have been arrests, drumhead courts, and firing squad shootings at dawn. That would have squelched the sedition. Instead he’s tweeting about it. Sad!

                    6. I asked you for content but you don’t have any. Let me know when you do and I’ll read it.

                    7. Disappointed in Kurtz. I thought he was pretty reasonable and would respond to reasonable discussion. Now it’s all a deep state conspiracy which I am part of.

                      OK. It’s been fun

                    8. Mr Kurtz…… problem with Uranium One is the long-in-the-tooth, bleeding obvious hypocrisy of the Dems.

                  1. enigma…….sorry, kiddo, but haven’t heard any actual facts from you. Quoting Morning Joe and other intellectual invalids has not rendered anything similar to the truth.

                    1. one is a rising legislative star in your party and the other is the POTUS whom you folks are confident will be gone in a year or two.

                      So, you decide where to apply your own talents, in the public interest and in your own. and I wish you well!

              2. Um, Enigma. Here’s a tip. Lose the losers. If you are a liberal then get with the smart liberals. They are now stating the obvious. No collusion. False. Glenn Greenwald, liberal. Jimmy Dore, liberal. Drop the conspiracy theory, Enigma!

      2. Enigma-
        “Pretend Obama did it and it will suddenly become clear.”
        Good one!

      3. ” I guess we should take attempted murder off the books”

        Enigma, though it may be difficult for you to understand murder is a crime so attempted murder is criminal as well. Freedom of speech and thought is not a crime so excercising that right is not a crime either. That you cannot understand the difference is one of the reasons you are so inconsequential on this blog.

        1. “That you cannot understand the difference is one of the reasons you are so inconsequential on this blog.”

          No one is consequential on a blog. Comments are largely a waste of time, energy and breath. But carry on.

          1. Turley is consequential Enigma and from there we have the less and less consequential until we reach your level, the bottom of the heap. In a way you are lucky for you cannot fall any further.

            1. “Turley is consequential…”

              Most of those who comment are riding coattails and not making any difference at all. Mike Appleton is one exception.

      4. he’s the top. the DOJ gets to sign off. he’s the boss above DOJ. his opinion matters. I am glad he chimed in on it. Maybe he should have made himself clearer and stronger on this point.

        Lying about it? here the truth is better than the lie anyways. so ok

          1. you say petty vindictiveness. perhaps; or perhaps he was acting on the public interest.

            1. The petty vindictiveness is clear, just listen to his words. The public interest? What has he articulated do suggest that? You would rather argue unsupported wishes rather than acknowledge what’s right in front of your eyes.

              1. There is vindictiveness, but it is not petty. Not in my opinion. And I share it. And it doesn’t take much imagination to see how news has suffered from the CNN fox duopoly. Which would not get better from even more corporate leverage and consolidation. Which is probably why Bernie opposes it. and a lot of other thinking people do too.

                you seem like you just want to score points against trump. why pick on good ideas? aim at bad ideas instead

                1. I will give you an example. Now, I don’t agree with this lady Abby Martin on everything. She is clearly a progressive, if not a left wing radical, and I am not. But she has some interesting reporting over the years.

                  I DO very much appreciate Professor De Zayas who is very respected. His viewpoints should be heard with respect to Venezuela


                  Is it a good idea to engage in military action against Venezuela? No, that’s all I’m saying. Don’t sabre rattle, just let the Venezuelans figure out their own mess and handle it their way.

                  Trump should back off the belligerent talk about Venezuela. There’s something I could say he deserves some criticism on at this time. not the merger thing. wow.

                  Good Job, Trump, on that merger thing, except you should have opposed it more strongly.

                2. Obstruction of justice is a bad idea, I’ll focus on that. Of course it might seem like a good idea if you’re a criminal and they’re coming for you?

                  1. he’s got a right to weigh in on the DOJ approval of a big merger implicating antitrust laws. doing his chief executive job is not obstruction of justice, it IS justice.

                    1. Weighing in isn’t the same as ordering it scuttled. Weighing in would be done in public. even the denizens of the swamp wouldn’t comply with his illegal order.

  14. I am curious as to how this would be improper on President Trump’s part when it is widely accepted that President Theodore Roosevelt had the authority to engage in the busting of trusts and monopolies during his administration.

    1. It is called “one hand washes the other”; I don’t believe, Teddy, personally benefited from his effort. Wish tRump, there is no other option.

        1. Sure there is. You’re just too doltish to comprehend what YNOT was saying. Teddy Roosevelt did not take a “transactional” approach to trust busting. Trump takes a “transactional” approach to everything under the Sun. BTW, “a transactional approach” is an approach that asks “What’s in it for me?”

          1. YNOT is like a shotgun aimed at nothing and might have hit a duck. Based on that you are claiming that YNOT is a great duck hunter. Coming from you it is understandable and I don’t think I have to even say why.

            1. Al, you are getting dumber by the day. Writing is clearly not your forte nor reading comprehension, QED, you are an idiot

              1. YNOT, can you point to anything intelligent you said over the past several blogs? Nothing? That will tell you your value.

      1. Hardly. He died before i was born. But history does reveal his own description of himself as the first progressive President (officially it was Comrade Woodrow Wilson who also redefined them as liberals.)

    2. Darran, of course! Antitrust law gives the DOJ a say, and the POTUS is the boss of the boss of the DOJ. So he has a say!

      and many liberals dont like the merger either. like bernie.

      bernie says so, good, trump, bad?

      maybe it’s like this. the Dem establishment are bought and paid for. that’s why they screwed Bernie in the primary

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