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Former FTC Commissioner Wright to lead Trump transition on antitrust

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Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

By Leah Nylen. First published on MLex 14 November 2016.

Republican former US Federal Trade Commission member Joshua Wright will lead the transition team of President-elect Donald J. Trump that is focused on the FTC, MLex has learned.

Wright — who holds a law degree and a doctorate in economics — served as a commissioner from 2013 to 2015 before leaving to return to teaching at George Mason University Law School. He also joined as of counsel at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, a prominent antitrust firm that frequently represents Google.

Over the next several weeks, transition officials grouped into agency review teams will meet with current staff at the agencies to discuss priorities, responsibilities and budgeting. The review teams will then craft detailed memos on the agencies and recommend candidates to fill key positions. In the case of antitrust, that includes the assistant attorney general for antitrust at the US Department of Justice, the FTC chair and a vacant commissioner slot.

In 2008 during President Barack Obama’s transition, different teams focused on the Department of Justice’s antitrust division and the FTC. Though Trump’s transition has a separate team for the Justice Department as a whole, Wright’s team may end up making recommendations related to the antitrust division, it is understood.

While at the FTC, Wright was a vocal proponent of greater use of economics in both antitrust and consumer protection cases. Before leaving the agency, he expressed hope that his replacement would also have an economics background.

Wright himself is likely to be in contention for a position, such as the assistant attorney general for antitrust. It isn’t unusual for those who help with the transition to be selected. In 2008, Christine Varney was highly involved in Obama’s transition before being selected as assistant attorney general for antitrust.

Bill Baer, then a partner at Arnold & Porter, also assisted on 2008 transition team. Obama nominated him to helm the antitrust division in 2012 after Varney returned to private practice.

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