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Delrahim Takes Over at DOJ Antitrust – and Quickly Lays Out His Priorities

Insurance Antitrust Newsletter

On September 27, Makan Delrahim was confirmed by the Senate to be the new Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ Antitrust Division. The Senate's vote (73-21 in favor of confirmation) ends the longest delay ever in confirming a new administration's antitrust leader and, with the vote, the Antitrust Division now has a full complement of senior leaders for the first time in almost a year. In addition, with Delrahim assuming the senior position in the Division, Andrew Finch, who had been serving as the Acting Head of the Division for the last six months, moves into the Deputy Assistant Attorney General position.

Delrahim comes to the Antitrust Division with considerable prior antitrust experience. He previously served in the Antitrust Division from 2003 to 2005 as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and from 2004 to 2007 he served as a Commissioner on the Antitrust Modernization Commission. Earlier in his career, Delrahim served as Chief Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee with responsibility for antitrust issues. Immediately prior to assuming his new position as head of the Antitrust Division, Delrahim was serving as Deputy White House Counsel.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions welcomed Delrahim to the Antitrust Division, stating that "Makan is an outstanding lawyer with a deep devotion to the integrity of the free market system" and that "his expertise will allow him to effectively promote competition to the benefit of consumers and the American economy." Once installed, Delrahim wasted little time in announcing his views for the Antitrust Division, explaining in a speech at the NYU School of Law on October 27 that his priorities include criminal antitrust enforcement and international antitrust and that he views the Antitrust Division as a law enforcement entity, not a regulator. As Delrahim further explained, in his view, "the challenge is to strike the right balance between over – and under – enforcement." Delrahim joins the Division at a time when there are several high-profile matters on its plate, which should provide him with some early opportunities to put his views into practice.

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