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The Senate wants to know if the White House protected Google from the FTC

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A panel may launch an investigation after new documents recently emerged

The fallout from a leaked trove of FTC documents on Google continues. A Senate panel says it has some questions for the FTC and White House after the documents revealed how Google used its power to strong-arm other companies, yet still made its way out of an anti-trust investigation relatively unscathed.

A Senate Republican wants to know if the White House affected the FTC's decision

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee — chairman of the Senate Judiciary's Antitrust Subcommittee — says his office will examine both how the documents were released and whether the White House had an inappropriate role in the investigation, the National Journal reports.

The answer to the first question seems clear: according to The Wall Street Journal's original report, the FTC accidentally sent a previously unseen report to the Journal as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. The report, made by FTC staff, recommended suing Google for using its search dominance to hamper competition against companies like Amazon, Bing, and others.

The second question will be harder to answer. After its first story, the Journal highlighted meetings at the White House with Google, but what was discussed at those meetings is confidential. Both the FTC and Google have denied the discussions factored into the ultimate decision not to sue.

The Senate panel has no plans to hold a hearing just yet, but meanwhile, Republicans have launched hearings into whether the White House unduly influenced new net neutrality rules — with little result.