The antitrust department later closed the investigation without taking any further action.
Last summer, a DOJ whistleblower testified to Congress that the investigation was rushed, unusually, and despite objections from career workers, the day after then-President Donald Trump tweeted critical of the deal. Trump denounced the leaders of the “politically correct automobile companies” as “foolish” for opposing his push for lax regulations.
Trump’s DOJ officials, including former antitrust director Makan Delrahim, denied that the investigation was motivated by political bias.
Interest from Whitehouse: The Rhode Island Senator has repeatedly asked the Justice Department for information about the antitrust investigation. At the hearing on Wednesday, Whitehouse said he was concerned the Inspector General’s investigation would not extend into possible White House involvement.
A general investigation by the DOJ “will stop as soon as the White House says it is going to stop,” he said. “If there were violations of Justice Department and White House policies regarding contacts between the Department of Justice and the White House, it would be an appropriate use of this committee’s supervisory investigations.”