Christine Varney, the U.S. Justice Department’s top antitrust official, has been recused from discussions related to Google’s proposed acquisition of travel software developer ITA Software Inc.
Varney, who’s widely seen as skeptical of Google’s expanding market power, willn’t take part in talks related to Google’s planned, $700 million purchase of ITA, which was announced in July, a DOJ spokeswoman confirmed.
According to the WSJ’s report, Varney’s recusal is the result of her past employment with law firm Hogan & Hartson LLP, which is now representing ITA at the DOJ as Hogan Lovells.
The DOJ spokeswoman declined further comment.
When Varney was appointed by President Barack Obama as Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, expectations were high for her to take a hard line on Google, which she had publicly referred to as “a monopoly.”
Google currently controls more than 60% of the U.S. search market, and receives a larger percentage of total search advertising revenue.
Google has called that claim misleading, and has argued that its own data show that it’s responsible for only about 8% of all traffic to the top ten travel sites.” MarketWatch reported.