Sen. Elizabeth Warren has accused Google of trying to “bully” a Biden Administration antitrust enforcer into recusing himself from cases involving the tech giant — but some D.C. insiders are grumbling the Massachusetts Democrat has a record of using similar tactics herself.
The spat centers on Jonathan Kanter, the Biden-appointed and Warren-backed head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, who is leading the feds’ lawsuit against Google that argues the company has built “unlawful monopolies” in the areas of online search and advertising.
Shortly after the Senate confirmed Kanter as antitrust chief in November, Google asked the Justice Department to consider recusing him from investigations of the search giant, arguing that his previous for work for rivals like Microsoft and Yelp — both of which have pushed antitrust cases against Google — raises “serious concerns about his ability to be impartial.”
On Wednesday, Warren and fellow progressive, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) stood by the antitrust chief in a letter of their own, accusing Google of attempting to “bully Mr. Kanter into recusal.”
“It is unfair and inappropriate of your company to question his impartiality,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “Google should focus on complying with antitrust law rather than attempting to rig the system with these unseemly tactics.”
But some insiders say that Warren’s defense of Kanter doesn’t square with her own record.
In 2017, Warren called on Kanter’s Trump-appointed predecessor, Makan Delrahim, to recuse himself from a potential antitrust investigation of AT&T and Time Warner’s proposed merger because of previous statements he’d made about the deal.
“Prior to taking office, you appeared to have reached and publicly stated a conclusion about the matter,” Warren wrote at the time in a letter to Delrahim. “Your refusal to recuse yourself will undermine public confidence in the Division’s ability to reach an unbiased final decision in the matter.”
As evidence, Warren pointed to a 2016 interview with a Bloomberg affiliate in which Delrahim said that he didn’t see the proposed AT&T and Time Warner merger “as a major antitrust problem.”
The Justice Department refused Warren’s demand to recuse Delrahim and later pursued an unsuccessful suit to block the deal, which ultimately closed in 2018.
In 2020, however, Delrahim did bow out of the agency’s investigation into Google based on past work he had done for the company.
Warren’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The DOJ declined to comment.
For its part, Google said in a statement to The Post that “Kanter’s past statements and work representing competitors who have advocated for the cases brought by the Department raise serious concerns about his ability to be impartial.”