US: Delrahim says the president doesn’t call him on sensitive merger cases

The DOJ’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, confirmed that he has spoken with President Donald Trump, but said the president doesn’t call him up directly to discuss topics like the department’s controversial effort to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, reported CNBC.

Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s antitrust division, discussed his relationship with Trump at The New York Times DealBook Conference on Wednesday. Delrahim’s office is reportedly leading several antitrust investigations in the tech industry and earlier this year announced a broad review of tech power.

Anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin, Delrahim was asked if his life would be easier if the president stayed quiet on cases his division is tasked with assessing.

“The president of the United States has the right just like any other citizen,” to speak his mind, Delrahim said, noting that several Democratic senators wrote to him about the AT&T case while it was ongoing.

Delrahim refused to divulge much about the status of the antitrust probes into Big Tech companies. Multiple outlets reported this summer that the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission divided oversight, with the DOJ’s Antitrust Division taking the lead on investigations into Googleand Apple and the FTC taking charge on Facebook and Amazon. At a September congressional hearing, Delrahim and FTC Chairman Joe Simons revealed conflict over that agreement, and Reuters later reported that the antitrust division was looking to open a Facebook probe as well.

Delrahim said there are sometimes conflicts between the agencies but that more often than not, things run smoothly between the two. If he were redesigning the system, though, he said it would be worth rethinking dividing antitrust enforcement across multiple federal and state agencies.

“At some time maybe Congress should take a look at does this all make sense,” he said.