Politics

Republicans say Democrats are excluding them from talks with Big Tech CEOs

"We hope that this incident was simply a misunderstanding and not an intentional Democrat effort to exclude Republicans and then misrepresent our views to the companies," House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan wrote.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan accused the Democrats of keeping Republicans out of negotiations with Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee is criticizing Democrats for allowing only a handful of lawmakers to participate in the upcoming hearing with Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan in a letter on Tuesday accused the Democrats of keeping Republicans out of negotiations with Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google and urged his Democratic counterpart — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler — to allow the whole committee to interrogate the country's top tech executives.

Right now, only the antitrust subcommittee — which is made up of 13 members and is chaired by Democratic Rep. David Cicilline — is slated to question the CEOs.

"Although Republicans look forward to this hearing, we were surprised to learn it would not occur at the full committee — the venue that makes the most sense given the scope of the committee's investigation, the broad interest from members of both parties who do not serve on the subcommittee, and the significance of the witnesses who will testify," Jordan wrote in the letter.

A Democratic aide accused Jordan of looking for a spectacle. "It's clear Mr. Jordan is confused," the aide said. "This is a serious hearing, not Diamond and Silk 2.0."

A source familiar with the negotiations told Protocol that the Democrats had originally asked for the executives to testify in front of the full committee, which includes dozens of members, but the companies requested that the hearing be held by only the subcommittee. "Democrats wouldn't use all the tools viable to them to compel the companies to come on their original terms," the source said.

Spokespeople for Nadler and Cicilline did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter.

In the letter, Jordan alleged that Democratic staffers held calls with lawyers representing the companies without including Republicans. He said during those calls, Democrats "misrepresented" Republicans' views.

"We hope that this incident was simply a misunderstanding and not an intentional Democrat effort to exclude Republicans and then misrepresent our views to the companies," Jordan wrote. "We nonetheless remain committed to conducting this investigation in a bipartisan manner and we are optimistic that you will be open to our ideas."

The hearing is set for July 27. It will happen in person with an option for lawmakers and the executives to appear virtually due to COVID-19. It's the first time Bezos, Zuckerberg, Cook and Pichai are scheduled to testify before Congress all together.

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