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U.S. antitrust chief says evidence, not tweets, drives decision-making

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Department of Justice’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, said on Tuesday that evidence drove the division’s decision-making rather than pressure from the president, who recently tweeted that he supported an antitrust probe of Comcast Corp (O:CMCSA).

Speaking on CNBC, Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for antitrust, was asked about President Donald Trump’s attacks on companies like Comcast and Inc (O:AMZN), alleging that they break antitrust law.

“As far as what we do in our enforcement — we need the evidence, we need the economics, (before) we go to court. Politics that goes on between various aspects of the government don’t affect our decisions to make these cases,” Delrahim said.

The DOJ’s Antitrust Division cannot order the halting of a merger or breaking up of a company, but must convince a judge that such an action is needed. The department failed this year to convince a federal judge to stop AT&T’s merger with Time Warner and is appealing that loss.

Delrahim said the division was “vigilant” in monitoring Comcast since a consent decree expired that governed its purchase with NBC Universal.

Trump tweeted support on Monday for the American Cable Association’s call for an investigation into Comcast. “They say that Comcast routinely violates Antitrust Laws,” he wrote.

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