Amazon formally asked the Federal Trade Commission to block recently appointed agency chair Lina Khan — an outspoken critic of Amazon and other tech giants — from participating in antitrust reviews involving the company because she has shown a demonstrable bias against Amazon.
Amazon on Wednesday filed a motion requesting Khan’s recusal with the FTC on Wednesday, as first reported by Bloomberg News. In the filing, the ecommerce company noted that Khan has made public comments about Amazon and its conduct, including that the company is “guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up.”
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In a statement to CNBC, an Amazon rep said, “While we have the utmost respect for FTC Chair Khan, her work for the Open Markets Institute (a longtime Amazon critic), law journal articles, and role as a chief author of the House Judiciary Committee Antitrust Subcommittee report [released in October 2020] all reflect preconceived views about the company that she has repeatedly confirmed in media interviews.”
The statement continued, “Amazon should be scrutinized along with all large organizations. However, even large companies have the right to an impartial investigation. Chair Khan’s body of work and public statements demonstrate that she has prejudged the outcome of matters the FTC may examine during her term and, under established law, preclude her from participating in such matters.”
An FTC rep declined to comment on Amazon’s filing.
Separately, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday sent a letter to Khan requesting that the FTC conduct a “broad and meticulous review” of the MGM deal.
“Amazon is a large and powerful acquirer with expansive operations; an investigation into the ramifications of this deal should include both its direct impacts on streaming services and prices charged to consumers and its broader effects on small businesses, workers, and the economy as a whole,” Warren wrote in the letter.
The FTC is heading up the antitrust review of Amazon’s $8.5 billion deal to acquire MGM, and it is also conducting a broader antitrust probe into Amazon’s business practices.
Khan was sworn in as FTC chair on June 15, after President Biden appointed her as a commissioner in March.
Amazon hasn’t said when it expects the MGM deal to close. The acquisition would be much smaller than Disney’s takeover of 20th Century Fox or AT&T’s WarnerMedia purchase (which is now being unwound).
Regarding antitrust concerns about MGM, Amazon’s position is that by buying MGM it will be able to offer more choice — and more content — for consumers in the already highly competitive entertainment and streaming-video market. MGM maintains a library of 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows, including the storied James Bond film franchise.
“We’re looking forward to reimagining and developing the deep catalog of MGM,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said at the company’s May 26 annual shareholders meeting.
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