News and Commentary

Google Wants Recusal Of New DOJ Antitrust Division Chair Due To Conflict Of Interest
The Google corporate logo hangs outside the Google Germany offices on August 31, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Google argued that Jonathan Kanter — the new United States assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division — should recuse himself from the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the firm.

Last week, the Senate approved Kanter in a 68-29 vote; throughout his legal career, Kanter has represented firms such as Microsoft, Uber, and Yelp in their battles against competitors. Typically, Kanter would oversee the action that the Trump administration and eleven state attorneys general filed against Google in October 2020.

Citing his prior experience, however, Google recommended that Kanter step away from the suit:

As head of the Antitrust Division, AAG Kanter would typically be responsible for overseeing any litigation or investigations against Google. However, AAG Kanter’s prior representations, actions, and statements raise concerns that having him supervise the Department’s actions involving Google may not satisfy the requirement that those actions be fair and impartial. Because our access to information about AAG Kanter’s prior representations and work is limited, we write to ask you to meet with us to discuss these concerns, investigate this matter, and reach an appropriate resolution…

Not only are AAG Kanter’s former clients’ interests directly affected by these lawsuits, AAG Kanter himself appears to have already benefited financially from representing parties who have advocated for and helped develop pending and potential future cases brought by the Department against Google.

“Mr. Kanter’s past statements and work representing competitors who have advocated for the cases brought by the Department raise serious concerns about his ability to be impartial,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge.

As The Daily Wire reported, Lina Khan — a 32-year-old Columbia University law professor — was confirmed in June to lead the Federal Trade Commission, which executes the federal government’s enforcement of antitrust and consumer protection laws. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) admits, Khan has a hawkish reputation toward large technology companies.

Indeed, the Biden administration has professed a willingness to confront “Big Tech” firms. In July, President Biden signed an “Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.”

“The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: Open and fair competition. That means that if your companies want to win your business, they have to go out and they have to up their game,” Biden explained. “Let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation.”

“Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want,” Biden continued. “And for too many Americans that means accepting a bad deal for things you can’t go without. So, we know we’ve got a problem, a major problem. But we also have an incredible opportunity.”

“We have to get back to an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out,” he added. “The executive order I’m soon going to be signing commits the federal government to full and aggressive enforcement of our antitrust laws. No more tolerance for abusive actions by monopolies, no more bad mergers that lead to mass layoffs, higher prices, fewer options for workers and consumers alike.”

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