Google alleges DOJ antitrust head has ‘deep-seated bias’

Google is alleging the Department of Justice’s top antitrust official is biased against the company over his previous work for rival firms, according to a filing in one of the government’s antitrust cases against the tech giant. 

In a Thursday filing, Google sought information about previous work and advocacy by Jonathan Kanter, the U.S. assistant attorney general for antitrust, as the company heads to trial.

“AAG Kanter’s deep-seated bias against Google—pre-judging Google even before he assumed public office—violates Google’s Due Process right to a neutral prosecutor,” Google said in the filing. 

The filing was made in the Department of Justice’s case against Google’s dominance in the ad-tech market, which was filed under the Biden administration in January. In April, Kanter recused himself from the case after Google retained his former employer, law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, to represent them.

Google is also facing a separate antitrust case brought by the DOJ under the Trump administration in 2020 that targets the company’s dominance in search. That case is set to go to trial later this month.

Google has denied allegations of anti-competitive behavior in both cases. 

Google is arguing that Kanter’s years in private practice representing other tech companies, including rival Microsoft, bias him against the company. Google also cited public statements from Kanter before assuming his role at the DOJ that they argue “show he has long pre-judged that Google has violated the antitrust laws.”

Kanter represented companies including Microsoft, Yelp and News Corp. in private practice before joining the DOJ.

The DOJ declined to comment, but argued in an August memo that Google’s discovery requests were “unusual, invasive and irrelevant.” 

Claims that Kanter’s alleged bias drove the cases against Google “is belied by the fact that” the government’s investigation of the company has spanned between two assistant attorneys general and two acting assistant attorneys general. 

“Such an allegation also ignores the leadership and assistance of dozens of career prosecutors employees by the Antitrust Division,” the memo continued. 

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