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Senate Confirms Makan Delrahim as Antitrust Chief

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Makan Delrahim to be assistant attorney general in charge of antitrust enforcement, with a number of major media mergers on the agenda.

Delrahim was confirmed in a 73-21 vote on Wednesday afternoon.

He will assume his post just as the division is reviewing AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner, a massive media deal that will indicate the direction that the Justice Department is taking in the Trump era when it comes the media consolidation. The Antitrust Division’s review of the transaction has proceeded without him.

His confirmation was delayed after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) reportedly put a hold on his nomination. But she met with him earlier this month.

Delrahim is a corporate lawyer, who has represented tech and media companies, and who worked on President Donald Trump’s transition and on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Trump nominated him to the top antitrust spot in March.

During his confirmation hearings, Delrahim said that he would make decisions free of political interference. That has become an issue in the AT&T-Time Warner merger, as Trump opposed the transaction on the campaign trail. In July, Senate Democrats sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking him about a report that members of the Trump administration would use the antitrust review of the merger as “leverage” over CNN.

The AT&T-Time Warner review is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Shortly after the AT&T-Time Warner merger was announced in October, Delrahim told a news outlet that he didn’t see a “major antitrust problem” with the transaction.

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