GOP's Cornyn pushes Biden on whether PGA Tour probe tied to Saudi visit

He said the timing and it being made public raises questions.

July 15, 2022, 12:53 PM

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn wrote to President Joe Biden on Thursday raising questions about the timing of the Justice Department's antitrust probe into the PGA Tour.

Earlier this week, a PGA Tour spokesperson told ABC News the organization was the subject of a DOJ antitrust probe over whether or not the tour engaged in anti-competitive behavior in regards to their spat with the Saudi backed LIV Golf League.

The PGA Tour says the probe was not unexpected, and it said it is confident it will be vindicated. The PGA didn't say what specifically the Justice Department was looking into.

PHOTO: Sen. John Cornyn speaks to reporters ahead of a weekly Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill, June 22, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Sen. John Cornyn speaks to reporters ahead of a weekly Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill, June 22, 2022, in Washington, DC.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Cornyn wrote to Biden insinuating that the timing of the announcement of the investigation was tied to the president's ongoing trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Financed by the government of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the LIV Golf league burst onto the scene last year as a potential rival to the PGA Tour, reportedly offering large sums of money to some of the PGA Tour's top players while promising to shake up the world of golf with a new format and larger prize money for tournament winners.

"I write to raise concerns about the timing of your administration's investigation into the PGA Tour, an American company. This investigation, according to news reports, is focused on the PGA Tour's effect on a Saudi Arabian-funded enterprise, LIV Golf," Cornyn said. "On Monday, July 11, 2022, the week you traveled to Saudi Arabia, the Wall Street Journal reported that your administration had sent inquiries regarding the PGA Tour's actions as they relate to LIV Golf."

PHOTO: President Joe Biden gives his remarks after his visit to Augusta Victoria Hospital in east Jerusalem, July 15, 2022.
President Joe Biden gives his remarks after his visit to Augusta Victoria Hospital in east Jerusalem, July 15, 2022.
Evan Vucci/AP

He said he was "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."

"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," he writes.

PHOTO: A view of the PGA logo at Valhalla Golf Club on June 5, 2022 in Louisville, Ky.
A view of the PGA logo at Valhalla Golf Club on June 5, 2022 in Louisville, Ky.
Gary Kellner/PGA of America/Getty Images, FILE

Cornyn said there is precedent because the Saudi's "have 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," adding to his list of questions.

The Justice Department has not responded to an ABC News request for comment.

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