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Mark Zuckerberg and European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Corbis via Getty Images

European lawmakers aggressively questioned Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday in Brussels about whether his company's social networking empire poses a competitive problem, but Facebook's CEO got out unscathed.

The bigger picture: Lawmakers scolded and needled Zuckerberg. But the meeting's format — which allowed him to address most of the questions in one big statement at the end — meant he didn't really have to give them answers.

What they're saying: EU lawmakers weren't satisfied with Zuckerberg's contention that Facebook isn't a monopoly. "It’s like somebody who has a monopoly in making cars saying, look I have a monopoly making cars but there is no problem, you can take a plane," said Guy Verhofstadt, a member of the European Parliament, taking on the idea that Google or other companies could be seen as Facebook competitors.

What he said: "So from where I sit, it feels like there are new competitors coming up every day," Zuckerberg said. He argued that Facebook faces robust competition both in the market for consumer communications tools (a claim some have taken issue with, because Facebook owns many of the top apps in the space) and in advertising.

Lawmakers also asked about a range of other topics, including the upcoming European General Data Protection Regulation and the conservative contention that right wing viewpoints have seen their reach limited on Facebook. But the format worked to Zuckerberg's advantage, letting him get away with generalities.

What's next?: Zuckerberg is likely to have to answer some specific questions in writing. Lawmakers in the United Kingdom also continue to push for him to testify before a key Parliament committee. One reason Zuckerberg may be avoiding the U.K. Parliament: there, he might face expert questioners a la the EU lawmakers in a format more like the U.S. congress's rapid-fire interrogations.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hold steady at 65,000 per day — CDC declares racism "a serious public health threat" — WHO official: Brazil is dealing with "raging inferno" of a COVID outbreak
  2. Vaccines: America may be close to hitting a vaccine wall — Pfizer asks FDA to expand COVID vaccine authorization to adolescents — CDC says Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply will drop 80% next week.
  3. Economy: Treasury says over 156 million stimulus payments sent out since March — More government spending expected as IMF projects 6% global GDP growth.
  4. Politics: Supreme Court ends California's coronavirus restrictions on home religious meetings
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Second senior Matt Gaetz aide resigns amid federal investigation

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) walking out of the Capitol in January 2021. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Devin Murphy, Rep. Matt Gaetz's legislative director, has stepped down amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations against the Florida Republican congressman, the New York Times first reported and Axios has confirmed.

The latest: "It's been real," Murphy wrote in an email, obtained by Axios, to Republican legislative directors on Saturday morning, with the subject line: "Well...bye."

Rep. Dan Crenshaw says he'll be blind for a month after eye surgery

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) in Washington, D.C., in December 2020. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in a statement Saturday he will be blind for roughly a month after getting surgery to reattach the retina in left eye.

Why it matters: Crenshaw, who lost his right eye and sustained severe damage to his left eye during his third deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, said he will be "pretty much off the grid for the next few weeks."