U.S. Attorney General William Barr plans to file an antitrust case against Google this month despite pleas from staff lawyers who said they need more time to strengthen the complaint.
Sources told The New York Times that some attorneys assigned to the case say the AG insists the case reach federal court to give President Donald Trump an advantage in the presidential race against former Vice President Joe Biden.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) probe, which was launched last year, is intended to uncover whether the tech giant is engaged in illegal antitrust practices.
At the time, sources said the investigation will focus on whether Google gave its owned businesses preference in search queries. The European Union has already fined Google billions of dollars and called for reforms of how it does business. Google has insisted its practices are transparent and denied it favors specific businesses.
In addition, Google was fined 150 million euros ($169.8 million) by the French Competition Authority for anti-competitive behavior.
The Times reported most of the more than three dozen lawyers assigned to the probe oppose the September deadline. As a result, some have been unwilling to sign the complaint while others quit the case, sources told the newspaper.
Barr has told the department it is moving too slowly and extending the deadline was unreasonable, according to a DOJ official.
Several sources said a memo has been circulated at the DOJ that says a strong case against Google is possible, but only if attorneys have more time to prepare. Some of the lawyers involved in the case said they are concerned Barr wants to announce the case before the November 3rd election so the Trump administration can take credit.
Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported there are millions of pages of evidence in question. But some DOJ staff said they aren’t sure they have the evidence to win the case that Google has violated antitrust laws and stifled competition.
“We’re not going to solve some of these problems just by small-time fines that aren’t going to change the underlying business model of these firms,” he said. “We actually have to take a hard look at whether these behemoths are killing off innovation and competition.”
Separately, Google is facing an investigation over potential antitrust violations by 50 of the nation’s state attorneys general led by Texas.