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Democrats to probe Trump actions against news media

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Representative Adam Schiff answers questions while departing the Capitol on July 26, 2018. (Getty Images)

Democratic lawmakers in the US Congress plan to investigate President Donald Trump over whether he used the powers of the federal government to punish media organizations, according to a senior Democrat and a congressional aide.

US Representative Adam Schiff, who is expected to be the incoming chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that Democrats plan to investigate the Trump administration’s attempt to block AT&T from acquiring Time Warner.

Speaking to online news publication Axios, Schiff also said his fellow party members will probe whether US officials sought to punish Amazon by prodding the US Post Office to hike shipping prices for the world’s largest e-commerce company.

Schiff said Trump “was secretly meeting with the postmaster in an effort to browbeat the postmaster into raising postal rates on Amazon."

"This appears to be an effort by the president to use the instruments of state power to punish Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post,” he added.

Representative Elijah Cummings, the likely incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the committee “may want to look into” if the White House retaliated against Amazon and AT&T.

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos privately owns the Washington Post newspaper, while Time Warner, a subsidiary of AT&T, owns CNN. Trump has lambasted both outlets frequently for their critical coverage of him.

The US Justice Department is appealing a federal judge’s approval of the $85.4 billion AT&T acquisition of Time Warner in June. Trump opposed the AT&T-Time Warner merger as a candidate.

The US president has also repeatedly attacked CNN and last week a CNN reporter’s White House press pass was suspended following a brawl with Trump.

Cummings also told ABC News that he intends to investigate if Trump killed plans to relocate the new headquarters of the FBI because moving it could harm his business interests in the Trump Hotel across the street.

A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee aide said on Sunday that the committee has “already been investigating these matters, but the Trump administration to date has not complied with our requests. We fully expect that to change now that we are in the majority.”

Another committee aide said “the requested information was not provided because we were in the minority, and this should change now that we are in the majority.”

Since winning control of the lower chamber of Congress in the midterm elections last week, Democrats have vowed to launch investigations on a wide range of topics involving the Trump administration.

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