President Trump is not a big fan of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner and now part of the empire that AT&T owns. The merger was first announced while Trump was running for President in October 2016. On the campaign trail, he vowed to block the merger, and did attempt too. But that's not the issue here. The issue is whether Trump interfered in that deal, in an attempt to block it.
Democrats are now asking The White House and Justice Department for documents relating to the merger, to find out if Trump did indeed interfere in the merger approval. Earlier this week, a report surfaced, where Trump stated that he "wants that deal blocked". Not surprising, and Trump wasn't alone in wanting that deal blocked either. Many in the industry also wanted it blocked for various reasons.
The US House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Representative David Cicilline, who is part of a panel that oversees antitrust issues, have asked The White House and Justice Department to turn over some documents relating to the deal. Particularly about the conversations that Trump had with his National Economic Council Director, Gary Cohn.
Deals get blocked quite often, especially when it comes to AT&T. But it's not usually the President who orders a deal to be blocked. Typically that comes from the Justice Department and other antitrust officials. Deals are normally blocked because it would result in less competition or something of that nature. Trump wanted the deal blocked because he is not the biggest fan of CNN, one of the bigger properties that Time Warner owned, and that AT&T now owns.
What the Democrats are going to be investigating is whether Trump interfered in this deal. It's unclear what would happen if it came out that he actually did interfere in the deal, seeing as the deal was not blocked. But it won't look good for Trump in his bid to get re-elected in 2020.
Late last year, a federal Judge ruled in AT&T's favor, basically stating that the Justice Department was not ready for this trial. There was a lot of documents that were not presented by the DOJ during the trial, and it really hurt their case. Meanwhile, AT&T was more than ready for the trial, and ended up persuading the judge that this was a vertical acquisition and not a horizontal one.
The Justice Department's appeal was denied, and it stated earlier this week, that it would not seek any further appeals in this case. Meaning that it is case closed. Seeing as the merger did close last year, there's not much else that can be done now.
AT&T's merger with Time Warner was a pretty big deal, especially now that AT&T owns the content, and how the content is delivered to you. Which scares a lot of people outside of The White House. However, Trump wanted the deal dead because of CNN is not a good enough reason to block this deal, and that's likely what the Democrats will find out in the coming weeks.