A Chicago federal trial judge is weighing competing claims concerning whether he has the power to move forward with a civil contempt investigation that could punish a U.S. regulatory agency for allegedly making public statements outside the bounds of a $16 million settlement with two major food manufacturers.

Defense lawyers at Jenner & Block and Eversheds Sutherland, representing Kraft Foods Group Inc. and Mondelēz Global LLC, late Monday asked U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey of the Northern District of Illinois to hear arguments that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission should be held in contempt for allegedly violating the terms of the settlement.

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