Focusing on William Barr’s antitrust record

Attorney General nominee William Barr is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Attorney General nominee William Barr is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Carolyn Kaster/AP/Shutterstock
Attorney General nominee William Barr is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Focusing on William Barr’s antitrust record

A former executive at Verizon and board member at Time Warner, Barr previously clashed with the Justice Department’s antitrust head.
January 15, 2019

President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as the nation’s next attorney general will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee today for a confirmation hearing that promises to be contentious. But while all eyes will be on William Barr as he fields questions about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, one topic of importance to the country and to New York shouldn’t be overlooked: Barr’s record on antitrust.

A former executive at Verizon and board member at Time Warner, Barr previously clashed with the Justice Department’s antitrust head, Makan Delhrahim, when Delrahim unsuccessfully sued to stop the AT&T-Time Warner merger last year. While his previous tenure as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993 was reportedly marked by strict antitrust enforcement, Barr’s recent corporate experience could result in a more merger-friendly approach at the Justice Department. With another massive telecom merger – T-Mobile-Sprint – up in the air, Barr would be a crucial voice shaping the future of competition in the wireless market.

Should the DOJ not pursue action against the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, it may present an opportunity for states like New York to step up to the task. “I think New York, in particular, can have a reinvigoration of state antitrust, as opposed to federal,” Tim Wu, author of “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age,” told City & State in December. “If New York challenges (the T-Mobile-Sprint merger), it’s like New York is at the center of antitrust enforcement.”

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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