WASHINGTON – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a leading candidate in the Democratic presidential primary, sharply criticized Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday for attending a "secret dinner" with President Donald Trump.
"Amid antitrust scrutiny, Facebook is going on a charm offensive with Republican lawmakers," the senator from Massachusetts tweeted. "And now, Mark Zuckerberg and one of Facebook's board members – a major Trump donor – had a secret dinner with Trump. This is corruption, plain and simple."
Warren's tweet linked to an article from NBC News, which first reported Thursday that Zuckerberg joined Trump for a previously undisclosed dinner during his trip to Washington in October.
"As is normal for a CEO of a major US company, Mark accepted an invitation to have dinner with the President and First Lady at the White House," a spokesman for Facebook told USA TODAY in a statement, though he could not confirm when the dinner took place.
Amid antitrust scrutiny, Facebook is going on a charm offensive with Republican lawmakers. And now, Mark Zuckerberg and one of Facebook's board members—a major Trump donor—had a secret dinner with Trump. This is corruption, plain and simple. https://t.co/KNUtZanylC— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 21, 2019
This is how the government keeps working for giant corporations and the wealthy and well-connected. It's no wonder that companies like Facebook have been allowed to consolidate economic and political power without any real accountability.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 21, 2019
Facebook board member Peter Thiel – who donated to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign 20and was a speaker that year at the Republican National Convention – also attended the dinner, according to NBC News.
It was not clear what was discussed at the dinner or why it was not disclosed before.
"This is how the government keeps working for giant corporations and the wealthy and well-connected. It's no wonder that companies like Facebook have been allowed to consolidate economic and political power without any real accountability," Warren said of the dinner.
She vowed that if elected president, she would not "cozy up to Facebook" and would "root out corruption in Washington."
Zuckerberg also had a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office when he went to Washington in September.
Warren has long expressed distrust toward large corporations. And n a March op-ed posted on Medium, she announced that as president she would break up Facebook, Amazon and Google because those companies have "too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy."
In leaked audio from July, Zuckerberg said he would "go to the mat" and "fight" any attempt to break up Facebook, and that if Warren "gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge."
"And does that still suck for us? Yeah," he added.
"What would really 'suck' is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy," Warren replied in a tweet.
Warren and Zuckerberg butted heads again in October when she purchased an ad on Facebook that falsely claimed Zuckerberg and Facebook had endorsed Trump as a form of protest against the social media's policy that it would not fact check political ads on its site.
"If Trump tries to lie in a TV ad, most networks will refuse to air it. But Facebook just cashes Trump's checks," Warren's ad said.
Contributing: Jeanine Santucci
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump dinner with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shocks Elizabeth Warren