Justice antitrust chief recuses himself from investigating Google

Justice antitrust chief recuses himself from investigating Google
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The head of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division is recusing himself from an investigation into Google, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Makan Delrahim is recusing himself on the basis of conflict of interest after having lobbied for Google’s adtech company DoubleClick as a private consultant in 2007. 

The move comes after pressure from various sources, including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Biden says his administration could help grow 'bench' for Democrats Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill MORE (D-Mass.), who penned a letter to Delrahim last June asking him to recuse himself from tech investigations that relate to former clients. 

Warren’s letter came as the DOJ launched the investigation into Google last summer. Last year, nearly every attorney general in the country launched a joint probe into Google’s advertising practices.

It’s unclear why Delrahim decided to recuse himself from the investigation now, given that the investigation has been underway for months.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill. 

In a statement to the Times, a DOJ spokesperson said, “As the technology review progressed, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim revisited potential conflicts with previous work with the Department of Justice’s ethics office. … He and the ethics office have decided that he should now recuse himself from a matter within the tech review in an abundance of caution.”

Delrahim, a former lead GOP counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, was a major player in getting the merging of T-Mobile and Sprint approved by the Federal Communications Commission.