President-elect Donald Trump’s meetings with CEOs seeking federal approval for major mergers are raising red flags for ethics lawyers concerned about the possible erosion of a firewall between the incoming White House and regulators reviewing those billion-dollar deals.
Trump met this past week with the heads of German chemical company Bayer and seed and herbicide giant Monsanto, who made their case for their $57 billion merger. The deal would likely need to be approved by Trump’s choices to lead antitrust enforcement at the Justice Department. On Thursday, Trump sat down to discuss jobs with the chief executive of AT&T, which is trying to acquire Time Warner.
Presidents typically keep their distance from such reviews, so as not to appear to be exerting political influence on a regulatory process intended to evaluate the impact a merger could have on competition and consumers. Trump’s private sessions suggest he may be less worried with appearing to be close to pending deals that require government approval.
“While it’s true the Department of Justice is under the executive branch, it’s not appropriate for the president to make that regulatory decision — and certainly not for political considerations,” said Bruce Green, a law school professor at Fordham University who specializes in ethics.
Full Content: Bloomberg
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