White House defends inviting leaders of companies under federal prosecution to glitzy state dinner

The White House on Thursday defended inviting the CEOs of two companies under federal investigation to the star-studded state dinner with Japan.

“We invite an array of folks to come in,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “When another country comes, it shows bipartisanship; it shows the strength of that alliance that the U.S. has with that particular country. The list varies, and it’s always different types of people that come.”

State dinners at the executive mansion always bring out high-powered celebrities, in this case including former President Bill Clinton, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

But each of the latter two are in a legal battle with President Joe Biden‘s executive branch. The Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon last fall alleging the company is “exploiting its monopoly power to enrich itself” via anticompetitive practices.

Following that, the Department of Justice sued Apple just three weeks ago over its alleged monopoly on the cellphone market with iPhone products.

A reporter asked Thursday what signal the White House was sending if those firms are in fact engaged in illegal practices.

“Regulators in the Biden administration have sued both Amazon and Apple alleging anticompetitive behavior that has caused public harm,” she said. “So why were executives from those companies invited to the dinner?”

Jean-Pierre said the agencies took the action rather than the White House itself.

“The DOJ moved forward with that particular case [against Apple],” she said. “I can’t speak to that. We always invite an array of people. We bring them from all corners of different industries here to the White House.”

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The press secretary did not answer directly when asked if Biden thinks Apple and Amazon have done wrong.

“That is a legal action being taken by the DOJ,” Jean-Pierre said. “I can’t speak to that. They have their reasons for moving forward on that. I can’t speak to that.”

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