The Department of Justice will is preparing to slap Google with an antitrust case over the next several weeks, according to the New York Times – which insists, based on five sources, that Attorney General Bill Barr “overruled career lawyers who said they needed more time to build a strong case against one of the world’s wealthiest, most formidable technology companies.”
The Times is suggesting, based on leaks, that Barr is rushing the case for political purposes and the charges are premature.
The Google case could also give Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr an election-season achievement on an issue that both Democrats and Republicans see as a major problem: the influence of the biggest tech companies over consumers and the possibility that their business practices have stifled new competitors and hobbled legacy industries like telecom and media. -NYT
Some 40 lawyers working on a DOJ antitrust inquiry into Google parent Alphabet were reportedly told to wrap up their work by the end of this month, according to three of the five leakers, who we’re guessing are part of the 40-lawyer team – as “most of the 40-odd lawyers who had been working on the investigation opposed the deadline.” Others said they would not sign the complaint, while several left the case over the summer.
Some argued this summer in a memo that ran hundreds of pages that they could bring a strong case but needed more time, according to people who described the document. Disagreement persisted among the team over how broad the complaint should be and what Google could do to resolve the problems the government uncovered. The lawyers viewed the deadline as arbitrary.
While there were disagreements about tactics, career lawyers also expressed concerns that Mr. Barr wanted to announce the case in September to take credit for action against a powerful tech company under the Trump administration.
But Mr. Barr felt that the department had moved too slowly and that the deadline was not unreasonable, according to a senior Justice Department official. –NYT
Barr has shown a “deep interest” in the Google investigation, requesting regular briefings on the DOJ case, and “taking thick binders of information about it on trips and vacations and returning with ideas and notes.”