Senators in both parties accused the Obama administration Thursday of putting its trade goals ahead of modern-day slavery.

At a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing, lawmakers threatened to subpoena State Department records on the agency’s upgrade for Malaysia on human trafficking, at a time when that nation is seeking to join President Obama’s cherished Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free trade deal in the Pacific Rim.

Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, said State’s latest report on human trafficking “was under exceptional pressure to shape the rankings to meet political demands, not the facts on the ground.”

Noting reports that political appointees at State interfered with staff recommendations against improving Malaysia’s ranking, Mr. Menendez said the upgrade appeared to be “the result of external pressure.”

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