Yes, Trump Tried to Lean on CNN, As We Knew He Would

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Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, we made a prediction: CNN staffers should watch out, because Trump would certainly try to use the government’s approval process of the $85 billion AT&T/ Time Warner merger as a way to punish the news network he despised. And that’s exactly what happened!

It was clear to anyone with common sense and a basic understanding of who Donald Trump was that he was very unlikely to “respect the norms” and whatnot that would dictate that a president should not be using a Justice Department review of a corporate merger as a way to try to get more favorable news coverage of himself—rather, common sense dictated that Trump would be his vindictive, stupid self and use the merger approval process as a way to get revenge on Jim Acosta for maybe not being nice to him one time.

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Jane Mayer reports in The New Yorker today:

However, in the late summer of 2017, a few months before the Justice Department filed suit [to stop the AT&T/ Time Warner merger], Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then the director of the National Economic Council, to pressure the Justice Department to intervene. According to a well-informed source, Trump called Cohn into the Oval Office along with John Kelly, who had just become the chief of staff, and said in exasperation to Kelly, “I’ve been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing’s happened! I’ve mentioned it fifty times. And nothing’s happened. I want to make sure it’s filed. I want that deal blocked!”

Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, evidently understood that it would be highly improper for a President to use the Justice Department to undermine two of the most powerful companies in the country as punishment for unfavorable news coverage... but a former White House official confirmed that Trump often “vented” in “frustration” about wanting to block the A. T. & T.-Time Warner merger. “The President does not understand the nuances of antitrust law or policy,” the former official says. “But he wanted to bring down the hammer.” (Last month, a federal court ruled against the Justice Department.)

Trump did the bad thing that we knew Trump would do because Trump is Trump and if you don’t impeach the guy he is just gonna keep doing stuff like this. Don’t fucking fool yourself.

And unionize CNN yesterday.

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Hamilton Nolan

Senior Writer. Hamilton@SplinterNews.com