George Conway: It Would Be “Grounds For Impeachment” If Trump Ordered Gary Cohn To Block AT&T-Time Warner Merger
Lawyer George Conway stated on Monday that it would “unquestionably be grounds for impeachment” if President Donald Trump directed former White House economic adviser Gary Cohn to pressure the Justice Department to stop the AT&T-Time Warner merger.
“If proven, such an attempt to use presidential authority to seek retribution for the exercise of First Amendment rights would unquestionably be grounds for impeachment,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway‘s husband wrote on Twitter.
If proven, such an attempt to use presidential authority to seek retribution for the exercise of First Amendment rights would unquestionably be grounds for impeachment. https://t.co/F1UANzeD2q
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) March 4, 2019
George Conway shared a link to a recent New Yorker article that claimed Trump ordered Cohn to urge the Justice Department to file a lawsuit to block the $85.4 billion communications mega-deal during the summer of 2017.
The president is believed to have opposed the merger because Time Warner owns CNN, a cable news network Trump often mocks and slams as “fake news” for its negative coverage of him and his administration.
According to The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, Trump expressed anger in a 2017 Oval Office meeting with Cohn and then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that neither of them had proceeded to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal.
“I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened! I’ve mentioned it fifty times,” Trump reportedly said. “And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!”
Although the Justice Department eventually filed a lawsuit in 2017 in an effort to block the deal by citing antitrust laws, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled in 2018 that the deal could continue as planned. A U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. upheld that decision last month despite the Justice Department’s attempts to fight Leon’s ruling on the issue.
George Conway has frequently criticized Trump on many issues, to the dismay of his wife and many White House officials. Last year, Conway co-wrote a scathing op-ed calling the president’s appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general to temporarily replace Jeff Sessions “unconstitutional.”
House Democrats will also likely investigate the claims surrounding Trump’s alleged order to block the communications merger.
The AT&T-Time Warner is predicted by many legal experts to have a broad impact on the communications industry, especially as AT&T is the larger telecommunications firm in the United States. Many pundits believe that the deal will hurt consumers via a process called “vertical integration,” which refers to a strategy where a firm acquires business operations within the same production vertical. This will lead to higher prices for content and potentially less innovation in the communications and media industries as the companies’ monopoly power grows and competition is affected.