WASHINGTON — Lawmakers took aim at Bank of America Corp. chief executive Kenneth Lewis and government regulators Thursday, fuming over internal Federal Reserve emails that suggest the bank should've known earlier about growing losses at Merrill Lynch & Co.

"Why did a private business deal, announced in September, and approved by shareholders in December, with no mention of government assistance, end up costing taxpayers $20 billion in January," Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., said at a hearing featuring an appearance by Lewis on Capitol Hill.

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