Now Khan’s rise to FTC chairmanship and Kanter’s appointment as DOJ’s head of antitrust enforcement electrify Democrats who have come to view former President Barack Obama’s administration as too indebted on Wall Street, corporate giants like Google and the lawyers, lobbyists and politicians who work for them.
It was the culmination of a campaign that had even been engraved on a coffee mug like a progressive calling card: Wu & Khan & Kanter.
Sarah Miller, executive director of the anti-monopoly group American Economic Liberties Project, said Kanter’s appointment shows Biden’s intention to make up for the Obama administration’s antitrust loopholes with tough enforcers.
“Jonathan Kanter has the experience, values and intellectual forethought to ensure that antitrust law enforcement under the Biden administration is useful to workers, small businesses and communities,” Miller said.
The choice signals that Biden – who avoided taking a stand on antitrust laws during his campaign – is taking views close to those The senses. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) And Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Who based their 2020 presidential elections on the need for greater antitrust enforcement.
by Warren the proteges held key positions throughout the administration; the addition of Kanter, who maximized a donation to his campaign and provided his advice on antitrust matters, marks yet another in its orbit.
Progressives have backed Kanter to lead the DOJ’s antitrust division because of his work over the past decade representing companies, including Microsoft, that have filed antitrust complaints against Google. His advocacy on the issue helped spark four recent antitrust cases against the search giant for its power in online research and advertising.
Warren and Klobuchar announced the choice.
“He has been a leader in the struggle to control the consolidated power of corporations and to strengthen competition in our markets,” said Warren.
Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Washing.), the vice-chair of the Judicial Chamber’s antitrust subcommittee and progressive leader in the lower house, said she welcomed Kanter’s efforts to “reduce Big Tech’s anti-competitive practices, end monopoly practices and promote l ‘equity”.
If Senate confirms, Kanter would lead DOJ division that filed an antitrust complaint against Google in October, the first such federal complaint against a big tech powerhouse since the Clinton administration tried to dismantle Microsoft in the 1990s. But it may not have a smooth road: House ethics officials Blanche had raised red flags over hiring antitrust officials with a habit of representing critics of tech giants, as reported by POLITICO.
White House official declined to comment directly on recusal issue Tuesday, stating only “we are confident to move forward with Kanter for the job given his background and expertise.”
Google declined to comment on Kanter’s selection for the job. The search giant is in a particularly acrimonious rivalry with Microsoft, which, despite being one of the richest companies in the world, has established itself in DC as a critic of dominant online platforms.
From Big Law to Critical Big Tech
Kanter began his career as a lawyer with the Federal Trade Commission before moving into private practice. Protected from Rick Rule, a Republican who served as the antitrust chief of President Ronald Reagan’s DOJ, Kanter represented Microsoft when it settled the Justice Department’s investigation in the early 2000s and then through the struggles of the undertaken with European antitrust authorities.
He also represented companies such as US Airways when it merged with American Airlines and health insurer Cigna when its deal with Anthem broke.
But he is best known for his work on technology, representing Microsoft and subsequent clients such as Yelp, News Corp. and Mapbox in antitrust battles against Google. More recently, he has also represented companies that have filed antitrust complaints against Apple and Amazon.
Last year, Kanter left the Paul Weiss law firm to set up his own antitrust law firm, the Kanter Law Group.
His early criticism of tech giants on antitrust grounds and his support for more aggressive enforcement made him a favorite of progressives and anti-monopoly advocates, who urged the Biden administration to avoid Obama-era antitrust law enforcement officials when making their own choices.
The position requires confirmation from the Senate. Once the White House officially sends it to the Senate, the Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing – likely in September or October, given the upcoming Congressional recess in August.
The top two picks of the trio have already made their presence felt in Washington. Wu, now an adviser to Biden’s National Economic Council, is the author of the recent executive order on competition, which targets a wide range of industries, including agriculture, airlines, broadband and banking.
Khan has already started shaking the FTC, holding the agency’s first public meeting in decades and immediately repealing Obama-era policies that progressives say hindered enforcement.
And they seem to embrace the idea of being a collective force. At a party in Washington last week to celebrate the publication of the Facebook exhibit “An Ugly Truth” by two New York Times reporters, Wu was seen carrying the mug with the now-made motto: Wu & Khan & Kanter .