Amazon might be looking at a few legal barriers to its operations, as reports suggest U.S. President Donald Trump is now obsessed with the world’s largest online retailer and wants to rein in its growing power.
Trump has talked about using an antitrust law to “go after” the company, citing is concern about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business by Amazon. Axios reported five sources it said had discussed the issue with him. Trump is also looking to change Amazon’s tax treatment, which is an issue the President raised publicly last year when he called for an ‘internet tax for online retailers’, even though Amazon already collects sales tax on items it sells direct to customers.
“The president has said many times before he’s always looking to create a level playing field for all businesses and this is no different,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, when asked about the Axios report. “He’s always going to look at different ways, but there aren’t any specific policies on the table at this time.”
Sanders also said that Trump links this to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ private ownership of the Washington Post, which he has called “fake news” for its critical coverage of his administration. Trump regards the newspaper as a mouthpiece for Bezos’ business interests, calling it #AmazonWashingtonPost on Twitter.
Amazon did not reply to a request for comment on the Axios report.
“With Facebook and regulatory worries, the last thing nervous tech investors wanted to see was news that Trump is targeting Bezos and Amazon over the coming months as this remains a lingering cloud over the stock and heightens the risk profile in the eyes of the Street,” GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives said.
Per the report, Trump doesn’t have a specific plan for Amazon as of now. Reporter Jonathan Swan believes that the questions of whether Amazon complies with the law and competes fairly should be left to the FTC, the Justice Department and Congress. Whether or not Trump takes any action against Amazon, or if an investigation is probed is what the country’s eyes will be on.
After the Axios report was released, Amazon’s share prices fell almost 5% on Wednesday, driving down the company’s valuation by over $30 billion.