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Justice Department’s Antitrust Chief Recuses Himself From Google Probe

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim removed himself from an antitrust investigation of Google over a potential conflict of interest.


Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department’s chief antitrust enforcement official has recused himself from the department’s investigation into whether

Alphabet Inc.’s

GOOG 3.61%

Google is unlawfully suppressing competition.

The department said that as the probe progressed, Assistant Attorney General

Makan Delrahim

came to realize that he needed to recuse himself because of his past work in private practice.

Google was a one-time client. In 2007, Mr. Delrahim advised the search giant as it sought approval from the Federal Trade Commission to buy internet ad firm DoubleClick.

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Some people who have been critical of Google and other Big Tech companies, such as

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

(D-Mass.), a Democratic presidential candidate, called for Mr. Delrahim’s recusal months ago.

Mr. 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,” a department spokesman said.

The New York Times first reported Mr. Delrahim’s recusal.

The department for months has been investigating Google, as well as conducting a broader probe into whether other tech giants, including

Facebook Inc.,

are using their dominance in ways that violate U.S. antitrust law.  The reviews are expected to last for much of 2020.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Ryan Shores is overseeing the reviews.

The Department of Justice is investigating the U.S.’s largest tech firms for allegedly monopolistic behavior. Roughly 20 years ago, a similar case threatened to destabilize Microsoft. WSJ explains.

Write to Brent Kendall at and Sadie Gurman at

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