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Amazon says Jeff Bezos is willing to testify before Congress

In a letter made public Monday, a lawyer for the company said Bezos was "available to testify at a hearing with the other CEOs this summer."
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Sept. 19, 2018. Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could testify before Congress at a hearing as early as this summer in what would be his first such appearance, the company said Sunday night.

In a letter made public Monday, a lawyer for the company said Bezos was "available to testify at a hearing with the other CEOs this summer."

"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," wrote the lawyer, Robert Kelner.

The letter was first reported by The New York Times.

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Bezos, the world's wealthiest person, with a net worth of about $153 billion, is among the few high-profile tech magnates who have been spared a congressional appearance, as the CEOs of Facebook, Google and other companies have shown up to testify in recent years.

Amazon had declined to commit to such an appearance by Bezos as recently as May, demurring in response to an antitrust investigation by House lawmakers.

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It was not immediately clear what other CEOs might testify at the hearing or precisely when it would take place given the coronavirus pandemic.

The antitrust investigation is being led by the House Judiciary Committee and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., chairman of the panel's antitrust subcommittee. Cicilline has called Silicon Valley's growing concentration of power a threat to American democracy.

Among the questions before Congress is whether Amazon lied to lawmakers while testifying about competition against small, independent sellers. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon employees had used data about independent sellers to develop competing products in contradiction of the company's stated policies.

Kelner wrote that the questions posed by lawmakers so far had covered "an extraordinarily wide range of complex topics" and that Amazon had turned over more than 225,000 pages of documents in response.