Amazon, House Judiciary Committee Clash Over Bezos

The House Judiciary Committee requested that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testify before Congress with regards to its ongoing antitrust investigation of the company. That didn’t go over well with Amazon, which has become increasingly prickly in recent days.

“Amazon is prepared to make the appropriate Amazon executive available to the Committee to address these important issues,” an Amazon response to the Committee, obtained by The New York Times, reads. The response is three pages long, the publication says, and never mentions Mr. Bezos. “We also fully appreciate your interest in hearing from Amazon leaders regarding these issues and any other issue material to your investigation into competition in digital markets, including at any future hearing.”

“We appreciate the response,” Rhode Island representative David Cicilline, the chairman of the panel’s antitrust subcommittee, said in a statement. “As we said in our letter, we expect Mr. Bezos to testify when called and to fully cooperate with this investigation.”

The request for Bezos isn’t unusual: Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai have all testified before Congress in recent years. And the Judiciary Committee had previously discussed the Bezos testimony with Amazon after reviewing “reams” of documents from the company, including Bezos’ communications. But the online giant was “resistant,” to the idea.

“Although we expect that you will testify on a voluntary basis, we reserve the right to resort to [a] compulsory process if necessary,” the letter from the Committee to Mr. Bezos reads.

In related news, a Wall Street Journal report indicated that Amazon lawyers also misled the Committee during a hearing last year. Amazon denied the charges.

“We disagree strongly with any suggestion that we have attempted to mislead the Committee or not been cooperative with the investigation,” Amazon’s letter notes of this charge.

Amazon has been on a strange tear in recent weeks. When Microsoft revealed that the company was secretly still fighting Microsoft’s award of the $11 billion JEDI contract, Amazon responded with an unhinged public letter in which it laid out its version of the “facts” in the case. But there was little in the way of facts while providing a rare peek at how rattled Amazon has become.

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