Cornyn raises questions to Biden about timing of DOJ’s investigation into PGA Tour
EXCLUSIVE: Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, questioned the timing of the Justice Department’s antitrust investigation into the PGA Tour’s possible anti-competitive practices with respect to LIV Golf in a letter to President Biden exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital Thursday.
The Justice Department launched its probe into potentially anti-competitive practices by the PGA Tour earlier this week, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The investigation coincided with Biden’s trip to the Middle East, which will end with a trip to Saudi Arabia.
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Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks during a hearing on "Protecting America’s Children From Gun Violence" with the Senate Judiciary Committee at the U.S. Capitol June 15, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
“I am concerned about whether members of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, or any other member of your administration, was involved in the investigation recently being made public,” Cornyn wrote to Biden. “I also have questions about whether your administration had any contact with the Saudi Arabian government about the investigation, either before it opened or afterwards.”
The senator wrote that he wanted to highlight the influence Saudi Arabia has on Americans and the Justice Department’s investigation may have “implications both for our nation’s foreign policy and for transparency at home.”
“Saudi Arabia has a history of surreptitious and at times malign behavior in its attempts to influence American public policy and freedom of speech in our own country,” Cornyn said in his letter. “In 2016, the Saudi government used shell nonprofits to trick several American veterans into lobbying on its behalf against the Justice Against State Sponsors of Terrorism Act (P.L. 114 – 222). In 2018, Saudi Arabian operatives murdered U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside its own consulate.
In this 2014 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a news conference in Manama, Bahrain.
“This was an appalling act of transnational repression. Those who ordered this crime have yet to be held accountable. Despite these actions, Saudi Arabia continues to engage easily on the world stage, knowing that it can lobby, influence and engage in malign behavior without consequence.”
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Cornyn asked for responses to 10 questions regarding the investigation into the PGA Tour:
- Did anyone in your administration communicate with anyone in the press, off the record or otherwise, about LIV Golf or the PGA Tour investigation prior to the Wall Street Journal’s request for comment?Did the Saudi Arabian government or any agent of that government approach anyone in your administration regarding LIV Golf or the PGA Tour investigation?Did the Saudi Arabian government or any agent of that government encourage any member of your administration to open the PGA Tour investigation?Did the Saudi Arabian government or any agent of that government approach anyone in your administration regarding any potential discussion of the investigation with any member of the press prior to your July visit to Saudi Arabia?Did the Saudi Arabian government or any agent of that government approach anyone in your administration to discuss the PGA Tour investigation during your July trip to Saudi Arabia?If so, what was the nature of any discussion?Were any lobbying efforts made on behalf of the Saudi government relating to either press coverage of the investigation or the investigation itself?If so, were these lobbying efforts compliant with all Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) registration requirements?How did your administration ensure FARA compliance during your conversations with any foreign agents of the Saudi government about these issues?What is the status of the investigation?
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks to reporters ahead of a weekly Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill June 22, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
(Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Cornyn’s letter to Biden came a day after Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, called on the DOJ to require LIV Golf to register as a “foreign agent” for Saudi Arabia.
LIV Golf is backed by money from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund with Greg Norman serving as the rival tour’s CEO and commissioner.
Golfers who decided to participate in the league have been accused of helping Saudi Arabia’s “sportswashing,” in which the government uses sports to distract from its human rights record. Among the issues that were brought up over the last few months was Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the murder of Khashoggi.
A LIV Golf logo near the 18th green during the pro-am prior to the LIV Golf Invitational — Portland at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club June 29, 2022, in North Plains, Oregon.
(Charles Laberge/LIV Golf/via Getty Images )
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Since the start of LIV Golf, the PGA Tour has punished players who decided to play on the rival tour without getting releases to compete or has rescinded those players’ memberships.