Antitrust probe of automakers was an ‘abuse of authority:’

Trump looking shocked or scared

Flickr / Peter Stevens

Trump political appointees launched a politically-motivated antitrust probe of four automakers that adopted strict emissions standards the day after the president lashed out at the companies on Twitter, a career DOJ appointee told Congress yesterday.

Mark Elias, DOJ career employee who served as acting chief of staff for DOJ’s Antitrust Division for the first half of the Trump administration, told the House Judiciary Committee the investigation had little if any legal authority and “constituted an abuse of authority.” Last July, BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen struck a deal with California to abide by its stricter emissions limits in the event the Trump administration rolled back the CAFE standards.

The probe was ordered by DOJ political leadership the day after Trump attacked the companies on Twitter and the head of the antitrust division personally wrote the letter to automakers after career staff asked for time to perform their own analysis, Elias said. “The career staff who examined it saw some very obvious defenses … and you really have to twist things to get around those,” Elias said, adding that the investigation “did not appear to be in good faith.”

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