WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats are challenging a new Justice Department probe into a deal between California and four big automakers, accusing the Trump administration of using antitrust powers to target political opponents.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island told the Justice Department's antitrust chief at a Senate hearing Tuesday: "My suggestion is you're doing this for political reasons." The official, Makan Delrahim, defended the investigation and denied any political motivation or influence from the White House.

Under the deal being reviewed, the automakers plan to comply with pollution and related mileage requirements established by California that are tougher than the federal standards sought by President Donald Trump.

Democrats also questioned whether political influence played a role in the antitrust regulators' effort to block the $85 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

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