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Judiciary Committee Seeks Bezos Testimony Over Allegedly Misleading Congress

May 1, 2020 by Dan McCue
FILE- In this June 19, 2019 file photo, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos during the JFK Space Summit at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. House lawmakers investigating the market dominance of Big Tech are asking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify to address possible misleading statements by the company on its competition practices. In a letter to Bezos, leaders of the House Judiciary Committee are holding out the threat of a subpoena if he doesn't agree voluntarily to appear. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee on Friday asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify after both Republicans and Democrats on the panel expressed concerns his deputies may have lied to Congress.

The letter, which is signed by four Democrats and three Republicans, says a recent Wall Street Journal report on Amazon’s use of third-party seller data appears to show that company officials may have misled Congress in previous statements.

“If the reporting in the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, then statements Amazon made to the Committee about the company’s business practices appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious,” they wrote.

The Journal investigation found Amazon employees used non-aggregated or easily identifiable data from third-party sellers to inform its own product strategy.

The report, which was based, the Journal said, on interviews with more than 20 former Amazon employees, appeared to contradict testimony by Amazon’s associate general counsel Nate Sutton at a July hearing in front of the House Antitrust Subcommittee.

At the hearing, Sutton said Amazon does not use individual seller data to inform its strategy.

In a series of Tweets Friday morning, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I., who is one of the letter’s seven signatories, said, “Powerful companies are not above the law. … Knowingly and willfully falsifying a material fact or making a materially false statement or representation to a congressional committee is a crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1001. … Amazon has had multiple chances to come clean about its business practices. Instead, its executives have repeatedly misled the Committee and the public. Enough.”

Also signing the letter were, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Antitrust Subcommittee Ranking Member F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., Subcommittee Vice Chairman Joe Neguse, D- Colo., and Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Ken Buck, R-Colo. and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

If Bezos complies with the request for testimony, it would be his first time appearing before a congressional panel on Capitol Hill.

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