“Goldman Sachs owns him, he will do anything they demand,” Donald Trump tweeted last year. He was referring to his opponent Ted Cruz. But now he’s president and he has assembled the richest Cabinet in history. That fact bodes very well for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his plans to take over the world.
The announcement that Amazon is bidding $13.7 billion to take over the Whole Foods grocery chain is a very big deal and many believe it’s the first step in building out an infrastructure that will bring Wal-Mart (and everyone else) to tears. But the deal still has to be approved by shareholders and regulators. According to a report by The Intercept, the very people deciding if this merger raises antitrust concerns have some deep ties to both parties involved with the deal.
Makan Delrahim is Trump’s nominee to handle antitrust cases at the Justice Department. He made it through Senate Judiciary Committee hearings this month and should be starting work soon.
According to The Intercept, Delrahim has spent the last decade working in the private sector on merger deals and is considered to be very corporate friendly in such matters. As The New York Times puts it, he flippantly believes that “a monopoly is perfectly legal until it abuses its monopoly power.” For about 12 years, he has worked for the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which just happens to be registered to lobby on Amazon’s behalf.
Over at the FTC, Abbott Lipsky is the acting Director of the Bureau of Competition. Whole Foods has hired Lipsky’s former law firm, Latham & Watkins, to manage the proceedings with Amazon.
So, two agencies oversee antitrust considerations, the Justice Department and the FTC, and each party in this merger has a friendly face in the best possible position at each agency. But that’s not all.
Don’t forget the aforementioned Goldman Sachs. At least five of Trump’s top people come from the reviled investment bank and of course, Trump’s top strategist Steve Bannon is a former “Goldman guy.” Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein even complained back in May that too many people from his bank were joining the administration because of his “fear of how it might look.” Guess who’s handling the bridge financing in the Amazon merger. It rhymes with Boldman Wax.
Tomorrow, the leaders of the tech world will assemble once again to advise Trump on “modernizing” the government. When the meeting was first announced, Jeff Bezos name was on the guest list. But now that the meeting’s date is so close, and Trump is more toxic than ever, the CEO’s who were scheduled to appear are feeling shy about confirming their attendance. Surely, ol’ Bezos won’t let Trump down.