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A veteran antitrust enforcer who helped draft the government’s merger guidelines is expected to be nominated to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division, a Bush administration official said Monday. If named by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate, Washington, D.C., lawyer Charles A. James, 46, would become the first black to head the division permanently. He was acting assistant attorney general in charge of it for several months in 1992 during the first Bush administration. An administration official, requesting anonymity, said President Bush was expected to announced James’ nomination later this week along with two other top Justice Department nominees, whose names were disclosed by administration officials last week. They are Larry D. Thompson, an Atlanta lawyer and former U.S. attorney, as deputy attorney general, and Theodore Olson, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who argued the Supreme Court case on Florida voting that sealed Bush’s election, as solicitor general. Thompson also is black. Olson headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan administration. At a Monday news conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft left little doubt that two of the nominations are imminent. “Mr. Thompson and Mr. Olson are very outstanding individuals, whose records of public service, including service with this Department of Justice, are exemplary records,” Ashcroft said, noting that it was up to President Bush to announce such nominations. Administration officials say they expect the selection of two blacks among the first three Justice Department nominees to serve under Ashcroft will go a long way toward rebutting critics who charged during his confirmation proceedings that he was racially insensitive. Ashcroft has interviewed all prospective candidates and participated in the selection process. Ashcroft refused to back off his opposition that blocked black Missouri Supreme Court judge Ronnie White from a federal judgeship and would not rule out another visit to Bob Jones University, a school which had a ban on interracial dating at the time Ashcroft accepted an honorary degree there. In his confirmation hearing, Ashcroft denounced racial discrimination and pointed out that he set a record as Missouri governor for appointing black judges. James, now a lawyer in Washington, D.C. for the Cleveland-based firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, has served in both of the government’s antitrust agencies. From 1979-1985, he was first an attorney and then assistant to the director in the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, which reviews mergers. During 1991-1992, he was deputy assistant attorney general for policy in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, and then briefly acting head of the division. “He’s extraordinarily bright and well-steeped in antitrust law and policy,” said James Rill, who headed the antitrust division when James served there. “He’s got broad experience and a balanced outlook.” As chief deputy to Rill, James was extensively involved in the 1992 revisions to the government’s guidelines for mergers between competitors. These guidelines were the first ones issued jointly by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. They are still in force, with only a section on efficiency added in 1997. The 1992 guidelines expanded on those issued in 1982 by adding new analyses of the competitive effects of mergers and of the ease of entry for new competitors who might want to enter the affected market. At the antitrust division, James also helped craft the $290 million in fines, forfeitures and compensation that Salomon Inc. paid in 1992 to avoid criminal prosecution for its admitted illegal bidding in the Treasury bond market. He headed the review that approved the Armco-Cyclops steel merger. And he conducted talks with Japanese officials on antitrust issues. His first big decision would be reviewing the Clinton administration’s pending lawsuit to break up Microsoft Corp. The company’s appeal is to be heard by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in late February. Observers expect the administration will not seek to modify the government’s position or try to negotiate a settlement until after the appeals court rules, because that court may overturn or modify a U.S. district judge’s breakup order on its own. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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