Facebook on Wednesday formally called upon Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to recuse herself from antitrust proceedings against the social media giant, saying Khan had essentially predetermined that the company violated antitrust law.
“Chair Khan has consistently made well-documented statements about Facebook and antitrust matters that would lead any reasonable observer to conclude that she has prejudged the Facebook antitrust case brought by the FTC,” the company said in a statement reported by Reuters.
The FTC had brought a lawsuit against Facebook saying it violated antitrust law when it bought Instagram and WhatsApp, but the case was dismissed by a federal judge late last month, with the court giving the FTC 30 days to amend the suit and refile.
The agency is led by three Democrats, including Khan, and two Republicans, and the Republicans previously voted against suing Facebook. If Khan recuses herself, it’s likely the Democrats won’t get the majority vote they need to proceed with the suit.
Amazon similarly called for Khan to recuse herself from antitrust investigations of the company shortly after she was appointed by President Joe Biden last month.
Khan, who is also a professor at Columbia Law School, has criticized big tech companies at least since her days in law school. She also previously served as legal counsel to a House antitrust subcommittee that probed monopoly power in the tech industry and worked for the Open Markets Institute, which says it “works to address threats to our democracy, individual liberties, and our national security from today’s unprecedented levels of corporate concentration and monopoly power.”
The FTC declined to comment on the recusal request.
It’s unclear whether the recusal requests will succeed. At her confirmation hearings, CNBC reports, Khan had said she didn’t believe her previous work would require her to step aside from probes of big tech companies.