DOJ plans to file antitrust charges against Google as soon as this month: report
The Department of Justice plans to file antitrust charges against Google as soon as this month, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Five people briefed on internal department conversations confirmed to the newspaper the timeline to file charges against Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube.
Three of these people said Attorney General William Barr and other department officials have instructed lawyers involved in the case to finish their work by the end of September, despite lawyer arguments over needing more time.
Most of the about 40 lawyers working on the case were against the deadline, prompting several to say they would not sign the complaint and others to leave the case in the past few months.
Many lawyers consider the specific case against Google’s search and advertising business to be strong, including more than a dozen hired during the Trump administration, but some are anxious that the case will be incomplete.
Several of the attorneys contributed to a memo this summer that argued they could bring a stronger case against Alphabet with more time. Some lawyers reportedly have expressed concerns that Google would have an advantage if the case was rushed, according to Times interviews with 15 lawyers who worked on or briefed on the case.
Some of the career lawyers also worried that Barr wants to announce the case ahead of the election. But a senior Justice official told the Times the attorney general thought the investigation, which began in June 2019, could move quicker, and the imposed deadline was fair.
A group of 50 states and territories back antitrust charges against Google, but state attorneys general who are doing their own investigations are taking different approaches. Republicans have accused Democrats of moving slowly so the charges could be announced under a potential Joe Biden administration, while Democrats say Republicans are rushing to get it done under Trump, according to the Times.
Brianna Herlihy, a Justice Department spokesperson, declined to comment on the investigation to the Times. Jose Castaneda, a spokesperson for Google, told the Times that the firm would “continue to engage with ongoing investigations” and its business practices allowed for “increased choice and competition.”