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House committee accuses Amazon of possible criminal obstruction of Congress

The House Judiciary Committee is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Amazon and certain company executives "for what lawmakers say is potentially criminal obstruction of Congress," The Wall Street Journal reports Wednesday, per sources familiar with and a letter containing the request. 

The letter, sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland, accuses Amazon of refusing to hand over information requested by antitrust investigators looking into the tech giant's competitive practices. Lawmakers allege said refusal "was an attempt to cover up what it calls a lie that the company told lawmakers about its treatment of outside sellers on its platform," the Journal writes.

"Amazon repeatedly endeavored to thwart the committee's efforts to uncover the truth about Amazon's business practices," the lawmakers' letter reads ."For this, it must be held accountable." The committee added that it is flagging for the DOJ "potentially criminal conduct by Amazon and certain of its executives."

Specifically, lawmakers have taken issue with the company's response to inquiries about "how it uses the data of third-party sellers on its platform when creating private-label products, and how it treats those Amazon brands in its search results," reports the Journal.

A company spokesperson had previously denied Amazon or its executives ever misled the committee and claimed "internal policy prohibits using individual seller data to develop Amazon products," adds the Journal. Company executives have testified similarly before the House committee.

But this new letter dated March 9 "escalates tensions between Amazon and lawmakers who conducted a 16-month antitrust investigation" into it, Apple, Google parent company Alphabet, and Facebook parent company Meta. The interactions with just Amazon, however, have been "particularly contentious," the Journal notes, with the company now the only of the four giants listed to be accused of possible obstruction.