Google accused Justice Department antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter of having a “deep-seated bias” against the company in a scathing court filing on Thursday – days before the company’s first federal monopoly trial was scheduled to begin.
The Big Tech giant reiterated its long-held stance that Kanter’s past work for Google rivals such as Microsoft, Yelp, and New York Post parent News Corp. represents a conflict of interest – asserting that he received “millions of dollars” in private practice to push for antitrust action.
Google argued that Kanter’s “bias has shaped and infected this entire proceeding, and reflects an improper predisposition to find against Google, rather than ensure that justice is done.”
The company further alleged that Kanter “is using public office to accomplish what he was unable to do in private practice on behalf of his paying clients.”
“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,” the filing said. “Since assuming office, [Assistant Attorney General] Kanter has also treated his former clients differently than Google, reflecting selective enforcement of the antitrust laws.”
The DOJ’s first lawsuit targeting Google’s alleged online search monopoly heads to court on Sept. 12. Additionally, the feds joined a group of state attorneys general in filing a separate antitrust suit in January targeting Google’s alleged monopoly over the online advertising market.
Google is pushing to interview Kanter under oath as part of its defense.
The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment on the filing.
The DOJ had argued in August that Google had filed “unusual, invasive, and irrelevant discovery requests” related to Kanter’s involvement in the case. The feds also asked the judge to stop Google from arguing it has engaged in selective enforcement of antitrust laws.
“There is no basis in law or fact to suggest that this enforcement action is the result of anything other than a considered and deliberate investigation,” the Justice Department said last month, according to Bloomberg.
The Justice Department cleared Kanter in January to take the lead in antitrust proceedings against Google. The company first requested that Kanter recuse himself from the cases in 2021, shortly after he took the antitrust gig at the DOJ.
Kanter’s involvement and past work has also loomed over separate DOJ antitrust proceedings targeting Apple.
Google won a key victory last month when a federal judge narrowed the scope of the DOJ’s antitrust case.
Judge Amit P. Mehta dismissed four counts that were included in the lawsuit, determining government attorneys had failed to show the company damaged rivals like Yelp and Expedia with its online search practices.
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