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Justice Department reportedly rushing Google antitrust case to meet ‘arbitrary’ deadline

According to the New York Times, the US Justice Department is planning to file the federal government’s antitrust case against Google as soon as this month. Today’s report notably reveals a rushed approach that’s criticized for being political.

Career lawyers working on the case requested more time, but were overruled by Attorney General William Barr and his end of September deadline to file the Google antitrust lawsuit. There are approximately 40 lawyers working on the investigation, and they argued in a memo this summer that a strong case required more time. Some have the left group in response, while others will not sign the eventual complaint.

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.

The DOJ is specifically looking into whether Google’s Search and advertising businesses violated antitrust law. However, it’s not currently clear whether the government will focus on only one aspect or both.

In imposing this deadline, some of the lawyers said that “Mr. Barr was forcing them to come up with ‘half-baked’ cases so he could unveil a complaint by September 30, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.” There are also concerns about tactics and leadership of the investigatory group.

The fear is that the Trump administration is trying to score a political win ahead of the election. The president has already been critical of a perceived bias against him and Republicans. Meanwhile, Barr believes that the lawyers are moving too slow, and that the antitrust division has been “asleep at the switch for decades.”

This split has also emerged among state attorneys general. Democratic AGs echo the same rushed concerns, while Republicans allege that their counterparts want the case to be “brought under a potential Biden administration.” In practice, this could limit how many states join the Justice Department’s case. 

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: