The Senate approved Jonathan Grudem, a big-tech critic and former Bush administration antitrust official, on Thursday as the new head of the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division.
The 63-35 vote came amid speculation that President Trump had made “ Grudem a priority because of the Trump administration’s hostility toward tech companies and their practices,” as The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Former antitrust chief Makan Delrahim stepped down from the post in January after a protracted fight with the White House over the administration’s approach to regulating the internet.
Grudem previously served as a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission from 2007 to 2017, and played a role in the agency’s investigation of whether the major tech companies were colluding to inflate prices for internet search.
The vote comes on the heels of a wave of criticism over the administration’s “tech regulation principles” posted online by the White House in April. The principles largely eschew government interventions in the sector, but also took aim at tech giants in general, questioning whether their lack of transparency or barriers to new entrants amounted to anticompetitive behavior.
Grudem, 49, replaces Delrahim, the current head of the antitrust division, who also serves as an adviser to the president.