A Department of Justice whistleblower has mentioned that U.S. Attorney General William Barr directed the company’s Antitrust Division to research proposed mergers of hashish firms due to his “personal dislike of the industry.” In written testimony launched on Tuesday earlier than a deliberate congressional look, Justice Department legal professional John Elias mentioned the investigations had been a waste of federal assets and had been continued over the objections of profession employees.

Elias, who testified earlier than the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, wrote that the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division had been instructed to look into a complete of 10 hashish trade mergers. In one case, the merger of MedMen and PharmaCann, workers had been instructed by Barr in March 2019 to proceed an investigation, regardless of the findings of a preliminary evaluate that the hashish trade seemed to be fragmented and that “the transaction was unlikely to raise any significant competitive concerns.”

“Rejecting the analysis of career staff, Attorney General Barr ordered the Antitrust Division to issue Second Request subpoenas,” Elias mentioned, referring to the Justice Department’s most exhaustive kind of merger probe. “The rationale for doing so centered not on an antitrust analysis, but because he did not like the nature of their underlying business.”

Including the MedMen merger with PharmaCann, “the Antitrust Division launched ten full-scale reviews of merger activity taking place in the marijuana, or cannabis, industry,” Elias wrote. “These mergers involve companies with low market shares in a fragmented industry; they do not meet established criteria for antitrust investigations.”

DOJ Leaders Aware Of Barr’s Bias

Elias additionally contends that a number of members of the division’s political management had been conscious of Barr’s disdain for the authorized hashish trade. During a employees assembly final September, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, the pinnacle of the Antitrust Division, “acknowledged that the investigations were motivated by the fact that the cannabis industry is unpopular “on the fifth floor,” a reference to Attorney General Barr’s places of work within the DOJ headquarters constructing,” Elias wrote. “Personal dislike of the industry is not a proper basis upon which to ground an antitrust investigation.”

Elias additionally maintains that the investigations into hashish trade mergers had been a drain on the company’s assets, saying the circumstances represented 29% of the Antitrust Division’s investigations within the 2019 fiscal 12 months.

“At one point, cannabis investigations accounted for five of the eight active merger investigations in the office that is responsible for the transportation, energy, and agriculture sectors of the American economy,” wrote Elias. “The investigations were so numerous that staff from other offices were pulled in to assist, including from the telecommunications, technology, and media offices.”

Elias additionally testified about one other Antitrust Division investigation made at Barr’s behest “over the objections of the career staff.” In 2019, the Justice Department launched an investigation into 4 automakers sooner or later after President Trump tweeted his displeasure over the businesses’ cope with California to adjust to stringent air high quality requirements regardless of a Trump administration plan to loosen up the principles. Barr has agreed to seem earlier than Congress subsequent month to face the allegations made by Elias.

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