President Joe Biden’s search for the Justice Department’s top trust-busting role is being bogged down by ethics concerns, both about candidates who have represented Silicon Valley’s giants and those who have represented critics of the big tech companies.
The debate is now imperiling the prospects for the favorite candidate of progressives who are eager to rein in the power of Silicon Valley.
Specifically, White House ethics officials are raising objections about DOJ antitrust candidates who have represented critics of big tech companies like Google, Facebook or Apple people familiar with the deliberations told POLITICO. Those concerns prompted one prime candidate for the department’s top antitrust role to pull herself out of the running, the people said. And they would also pose a major obstacle to Biden hiring Jonathan Kanter, a progressive favorite who has represented many clients with complaints about Google.
At the very least, the ethics standards as interpreted by the Biden team would force Kanter to recuse himself from the antitrust suit that DOJ filed against Google in October, the people said. The Trump administration took a more lenient approach, hiring top DOJ antitrust officials from law firms who represent Google complainers.
Biden already faces pressure from the left not to hire lawyers who have worked for major Silicon Valley companies — another restriction that is putting the White House in a bind as it tries to find an assistant attorney general for antitrust.
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