Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is willing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on the company’s competitive practices, according to a letter sent to the committee on Sunday and later obtained by CNBC.
In the letter, which was first reported by The New York Times, Amazon said it was “committed to cooperating” with the committee’s inquiry, including making Bezos “available to testify at a hearing” with other tech CEOs later this summer. Robert K. Kelner, an attorney from Covington & Burling, the law firm representing Amazon in the antitrust matter, sent the letter to the committee.
“Of course, we will need to resolve a number of questions regarding timing, format and outstanding document production issues, all necessarily framed by the extraordinary demands of the global pandemic,” the letter states. “In addition, we think it bears emphasizing that other senior executives now run the businesses that are the actual subject of the Committee’s investigation.”
Amazon confirmed that it would make Jeff Bezos available to testify at a hearing with other CEOs this summer. Representatives from the House Judiciary Committee weren’t immediately available for comment. Kelner didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Last month, Amazon resisted demands for Bezos to appear before the committee, saying it would “make the appropriate executive available” for testimony. The committee in May called for Bezos to testify after Democratic leaders said they suspected Amazon of lying to Congress.
The committee also threatened to subpoena Bezos if he didn’t comply.
Top Democrats on the committee said they suspected Amazon of lying to Congress over its private label strategy, after a recent Wall Street Journal report on the company’s use of third-party seller data appeared to contradict an Amazon executive’s previous testimony on its treatment of sellers.
The Journal investigation found Amazon employees used non-aggregated or easily identifiable data from third-party sellers to figure out which products to make on its own. The report was based on interviews with more than 20 former Amazon employees and documents reviewed by the Journal.
The report appeared to contradict testimony by Amazon’s associate general counsel Nate Sutton at a July hearing, during which he denied that individual seller data is used to manipulate search algorithms to favor Amazon’s own products, or in any other way to directly compete with merchants.
Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella are the only two CEOs of the five biggest tech firms by market cap — Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet and Facebook — who have never before testified in front of Congress. Amazon has faced scrutiny over the past year as lawmakers and regulators assess issues of privacy and dominance among tech companies.
— CNBC’s Lauren Feiner contributed to this report.