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U.S. antitrust senators query Google over testimony meddling concerns

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee sent a letter to Google on Tuesday saying they were “deeply troubled” by what they called a possible attempt to influence witness testimony following a statement at a congressional hearing by a Match executive.

During the hearing, Match’s Chief Legal Officer Jared Sine said a Google executive had called Match to ask why Sine’s planned testimony, which had just been released, deviated from previous comments the dating company had made.

In the letter addressed to Google’s government relations head Wilson White, which was dated Tuesday, Klobuchar and Lee - the chair and top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel - asked for the name and title of any Google employee who reached out to Match last week about the company’s testimony and details of what was said on the call.

“We are deeply troubled by Match Group’s claims that Google may have attempted to influence another witness’s testimony,” the letter said. “Any efforts to retaliate against those who speak up about public policy issues or possible legal violations are unacceptable, especially by dominant companies that have the power to destroy the business of a whistle-blower.”

White said at the time that the call was an effort to ask an honest question and the company would never threaten partners.

In a statement on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Alphabet’s Google said: “Match is a valued partner and we regularly communicate with them about the business we do together. We did not and would not try to influence their testimony, intimidate them or otherwise retaliate.”

In his testimony last week, Sine argued that Google and Apple both exact an onerous 30% of any digital transaction, raising prices for consumers.

Reporting by Diane Bartz, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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