Cory Booker says 'we need a president that's going to enforce antitrust laws'

Booker didn't call for Facebook or other big tech companies to be broken up.

May 11, 2019, 6:58 PM

Sen. Cory Booker, one of the 21 Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination, said Saturday that the United States has a problem with "corporate consolidation" in many industries, but that the job of the president is to "enforce antitrust laws," not seek to break up big companies based on his or her personal beliefs.

Booker's remarks come after Facebook's co-founder and former chief executive Chris Hughes published an op-ed calling for the company to be broken up,

"I don't care if it's Facebook, the pharma industry, even the agricultural industry. We've had a problem in America with corporate consolidation that is having really ill effects," the New Jersey senator said in an interview for "This Week."

"It's driving out the independent family farmers. It’s driving up prescription drug costs. And in the realm of technology, we're or two companies controlling a significant amount of the online advertising." he continued.

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl pressed Booker, asking, "So, should they be broken up?"

Booker said he believes in "process."

"If I’m president of the United States, I will have a Justice Department that uses antitrust legislation to do the proper investigations and to hold industries accountable for corporate consolidation," he said.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks during the Machinists Union Legislative Conference, May 7, 2019, in Washington.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks during the Machinists Union Legislative Conference, May 7, 2019, in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

In early March, fellow 2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for the break up of three big technology companies: Facebook, Amazon and Google.

"As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people," the Massachusetts senator wrote. "To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies."

Booker didn't call for the same measures, saying that he doesn't "think that a president should be running around, pointing at companies and...breaking them up without any kind of process here."

"It's not me and my own personal opinion about going after folks. That sounds more like a Donald Trump thing to say, like, 'I'm going to break up you guys, I’m gonna break' — no."

But Booker emphasized that he was not comparing Warren to Trump, calling his Democratic opponent a friend.

"Well, that’s what she's saying. She's the one that's saying that," Karl said.

Booker said it was up to Warren to discuss her positions.

"I'm telling you right now, we do not need a president that is going to use their own personal beliefs and tell you which companies we should break up," he said. "We need a president that's going to enforce antitrust laws in this country, and I will be that person."

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