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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Representatives of more than a dozen state attorney general offices will convene Tuesday morning with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss concerns about social media platforms.

Why it matters: The threat of an antitrust investigation of the big tech platforms looms over the proceedings, but it’s unclear what exactly the Department of Justice's plan is for the gathering.

The big picture: The states will be discussing “a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms,” per a statement from Justice in early September, shortly after President Trump had tweeted about alleged anti-conservative bias at Silicon Valley companies like Google and Facebook.

According to a DOJ official, attendees at the 10 am meeting will include:

  • The Attorneys General from Maryland, Louisiana, the District of Columbia, California, Mississippi, Tennessee, Utah, California and Nebraska as well as representatives of the AG offices in Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Washington and Arizona will also attend.
  • Attorney General Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim and Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio.

Yes, but: The meeting is unnerving to some in tech policy circles, who fear the Justice Department is using its antitrust enforcement authority to pursue a partisan grudge.

  • Several groups and individuals led by the right-leaning TechFreedom said in a letter to Sessions last week that “we fear that the effect of your inquiry will be to accomplish through intimidation what the First Amendment bars: interference with editorial judgment.”
  • Earlier, the meeting had drawn criticism for only including Republican AGs, but DOJ changed course. The attorneys general from California, Maryland, DC, Mississippi and Washington state are all Democrats.

What’s next: Both the companies and their critics will watch closely to see what — if anything — officials say after the meeting, and whether more aggressive federal or state probes follow on.

Go deeper

First look: Reid Hoffman launches $1M ad urging election patience

Screengrab of ad

Billionaire and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, one of Democrats' biggest donors, tells Axios he's launching a $1 million digital ad campaign in battleground states urging voters to be patient with election results and prepare for no winner to be known on Nov. 3, no matter what "some people" may prematurely declare via Twitter.

Driving the news: The three-minute ad, titled "We Count! A Patriotic Musical Extravaganza," features the voice of "The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons and Broadway star Barrett Doss. The spot will appear on Facebook targeting voters in the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Friday had already reached 61.7% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.