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Secretary Mnuchin. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that it's "absolutely right that the attorney general is looking into" Amazon because it "has destroyed the retail industry across the U.S."

The big picture: Amazon, along with Facebook and Google, appears to be the subject of a Justice Department probe into the market power of online platforms. Mnuchin, an administration official, is weighing in and suggesting that Amazon is stifling competition before the antitrust investigation has really even started.

Yes, but: Administration officials are not supposed to influence the Department of Justice's investigations, notes Axios' David McCabe.

  • The backdrop: As we've reported, President Trump has gone after Amazon in tweets and private conversations. And Amazon has already come under fire in the European Union, where officials are investigating whether its piles of data on what people are searching and buying give the company a leg up over other sellers on its platform.
  • The other side: Amazon says its sales amount to only 4% of all U.S. retail and points to the fact that 90% of all shopping is still done in physical stores.

Worth noting: Many of the big chains that have struggled or gone belly up during Amazon's rise were heading downhill long before the e-commerce giant started gaining market share. "And as a former longtime Sears director, Mnuchin should be intimately familiar with how some big chains caused their own downfall," Fortune Magazine's Phil Wahba writes.

Go deeper: The antitrust vise tightens on tech

Go deeper

7 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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