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Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Photo: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) has asked U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate whether President Trump "improperly tried to influence" recent media merger reviews, according to a copy of his letter obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: His request follows other requests from Democrats asking for more information after a New Yorker report that the president ordered his former chief of staff and top economic advisor to ensure that the Justice Department sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal.

The details: In the letter to Barr, Van Hollen asked the DOJ to investigate not just whether Trump had meddled in the AT&T deal but if he or White House officials had made "formal or informal inquiries encouraging the Department of Justice to approve or expedite the Disney/Fox merger."

  • Jane Mayer's New Yorker article detailed the close relationship between the White House, Fox News and Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch, whose properties compete with Time Warner.
  • Van Hollen said in an interview he wasn't "suggesting that the findings from DOJ in AT&T were wrong" but that it was important "to understand whether or not the White House interfered with the decision."
  • In the letter, he asked that the investigation and subsequent report be made public to the American people "to reassure them of the executive branch’s integrity and your agency’s independence."

Between the lines: Van Hollen's letter joins other requests from Democrats in the House, demanding that the administration provides answers on the same issue.

  • House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) sent letters to DOJ Antitrust Division chief Makan Delrahim and White House counsel Pat Cipollone asking them to produce documents linked to the case.

The big picture: The Democrats, now with a majority in the House, have ramped up investigations into the White House on several fronts.

What's next: At this point, Van Hollen doesn't know how Congress would proceed if its digging unearthed political interference with either deal.

  • Van Hollen says that his Republican colleagues will say privately that they’re broadly concerned about White House interference at the DOJ, "but that doesn’t mean they're willing to do anything about it."

Go deeper

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with the Denver Broncos' quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.