U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Pompeo hold joint briefing about the International Criminal Court in Washington
The Department of Justice is narrowing the focus of its antitrust case against Google to the company’s dominance of internet searches, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The decision to focus only on search reflected political disagreements, with some attorney generals now considering additional lawsuits focused on anticompetitive behavior by Google, according to the report.
Attorney General William Barr has pushed to sue Google before the election, overruling DOJ attorneys who said they needed more time to build their case, The New York Times previously reported.
Tensions around the DOJ’s case come as Trump reportedly prepares to urge Republican attorneys general to investigate his allegations that social media companies are biased against conservatives.
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The US Department of Justice is dialing back the antitrust lawsuit it’s preparing to file against Google, and will focus primarily on anticompetitive behavior related to internet searches, the The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The DOJ is expected to brief state attorney generals starting Wednesday, one of the last steps before filing a lawsuit, where it plans to lay out its case that Google uses its dominance of online searches to harm both competitors and consumers, according to The New York Times.
Google and the DOJ did not respond to requests for comment.
Last year, attorneys general from 48 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico opened a separate, bipartisan investigation into Google. But political tensions have emerged in recent weeks amid Attorney General William Barr’s push to have the DOJ file its lawsuit in September, ahead of the election.
Barr’s self-imposed deadline came over the objections of DOJ career lawyers — who aren’t appointed by the president — who said they needed more time to build their case against Google, The New York Times previously reported.
The DOJ’s focus on Google’s search dominance is narrower than what some state attorneys general and DOJ career lawyers wanted, with some states looking to bring their own, separate lawsuits focused on Google’s digital ads business and other ways it uses search to favor its own products, according to The New York Times.
President Donald Trump is also set to meet with Republican state attorneys general this week, where he is expected to urge them to investigate alleged bias against conservatives by social media companies, The Washington Post reported. Trump has frequently made such claims and increasingly targeted social media giants for scrutiny.
In addition to investigations from the DOJ and state attorneys general, Google is also facing multiple inquiries from Congress and the European Union, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent Alphabet, faced a grilling from lawmakers during an antitrust hearing earlier this summer.
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