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Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter Recognizes Antitrust Division Employees and Others at Annual AAG Awards Ceremony


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you all for coming. I am humbled to be here with you today for our annual AAG Awards. I am reminded every day, but especially today, of how lucky I am to work with such extraordinarily talented and dedicated colleagues.

Some of our colleagues even have talents that go beyond our mission here at the Division. Let’s give it up for all the members of the Chordinated Effects: Martha, Zoe, Katherine, Esther, Jenna, Craig, Jesse, and Fred. Thank you for kicking us off today, and thank you for not asking me to sing with you.

We are living through historic times, and the work that we do together is part of shaping that history.

That work—your work—brings honor to the Division, to the Department, and to the country.

Today we celebrate the many types of work that make the Division a success: from the herculean collective efforts of trial teams that took on months or years of investigation and litigation—to the people whose individual leadership and creativity made a program, or a team, or a section more effective.

We celebrate paralegals in the very beginning of their careers that have left their mark on historic cases in key parts of the economy. And we celebrate long and storied careers that have forever changed the Division, and the country, for the better.

Today we celebrate just a few key examples of the many ways that each of you make us better every day. Of course, none of that would be possible without the family and friends that carry us through, many of whom have joined us here today. Behind every award winner today, there are friends that know just how to reach out when spirits are low and families that loaned us their loved one for late nights at work. We could not do what we do without you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Let’s give them a round of applause.

We all join together today to recognize our fellow public servants who have done so much to protect competition over the last year. And we celebrate those efforts while recognizing that the road is not always easy or smooth as we fight to protect competition. But it is always worth it.

As you all know, it has been a tremendously busy year. I wanted to take the time to call out just how uniquely busy it has been. We litigated the most civil antitrust cases in over 20 years. We are currently litigating an additional 19 criminal cases, and we continue to initiate more grand jury investigations than we have in decades. The number of merger filings over the last two years is the highest it has been in a generation. And we’ve fielded all this work with hundreds fewer employees than we had 40 years ago.

Despite these obstacles, we have achieved big wins over the last year. We obtained abandonments in 4 civil merger lawsuits. And we obtained several more from our Second Requests. We’ve strengthened our cooperation with other agencies and enforcers, including training a half dozen agencies on antitrust and competition principles. For example, our cooperation with German competition regulators led to the abandonment of a merger in refrigerated containers that would have weakened resiliency and competition in our supply chains. We deepened our partnerships with several agencies including the Department of Labor, the USDA, and the NLRB. We have also taken on and won important cases. Our CCTF and TEA teams, for example, secured $85 million dollars and 10 years of corporate monitoring to protect poultry workers. And we brought actions that have reinvigorated and pushed the law forward, like our criminal cases against no-poach agreements. Likewise, just last week we announced seven resignations from corporate boards as a result of our renewed enforcement of Section 8 of the Clayton Act. These are substantial landmarks as we bring the Division back to its full suite of authority.

At the same time, and perhaps more importantly, we have taken on the task of bringing challenging cases. Our investigating and litigating teams continue to work to bring cases that match modern market realities.

This sometimes means enforcing without a clear template, exploring creative ways to apply the law, and charting new litigation strategies. It means taking risks.

We are bringing the right cases for the right reasons. Cases that we believe in, on the facts and the law, even if there is no guarantee that we prevail in court.

Know that I am always in your corner in this fight. In our line of work, we consistently face off against the most well-resourced organizations in the world. I couldn’t dream of a more talented, dedicated team of public servants to carry out this mission. We will continue bringing these cases not because they are easy, but because they are hard. And we are up to that task.

This is a historic moment in antitrust and competition. We have seen the rise of concentrated power everywhere in the economy: from digital gatekeepers building competitive moats in high tech markets, to concentration in supply chains, labor, transportation and other markets across the economy. At the same time, we have seen public servants across the government rise to meet that moment. The President has made competition a core part of his agenda. Antitrust legislation has been advanced and passed in both houses of Congress. And of course, the Department of Justice, with our agency partners, has taken up the charge to address this once-in-a-generation challenge.

This is the backdrop for all of the awards and honors that we are taking the time to recognize. This is about more than simply excellence in government service. It is about our history, and our future. As I’ve said before, when people look back 100 years from now at the great moments of the Department—at great moments in American antitrust law—they’ll be looking at this group.

All of you, including the staff we particularly celebrate today are the beating heart of this mission. You are the reason that we are able to achieve all that we have and I am personally humbled to be at the Division as we undertake this effort. I think I speak for all of us when I say I could not be prouder to work with all the exceptional public servants in this room today.

Updated November 2, 2022