January 22, 2009 / 11:26 PM / in 10 years

UPDATE 1-Obama names Varney to antitrust role at Justice

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WASHINGTON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, moving to fill top-level positions at the Justice Department, nominated former Federal Trade Commission member Christine Varney on Thursday as assistant attorney general for antitrust.

Varney, an attorney who specializes in Internet law, served former president Bill Clinton as a senior White House adviser and was one of five members of the Federal Trade Commission from 1994 to 1997.

Obama’s antitrust team — both the FTC and Justice Department enforce antitrust law — are expected to be tougher than the Bush team, especially on merger reviews.

Obama also nominated David Kris to be assistant attorney general for national security, Tony West as assistant attorney general for the civil division and Lanny Breuer as assistant attorney general for the criminal division.

“The American people deserve to have faith that their Justice Department will keep them safe and uphold our most basic rights. This group has the depth of experience and integrity necessary to accomplish these goals,” Obama said.

Varney, who initially supported Hillary Rodham Clinton, was “personnel counsel” on Obama’s transition team.

The top candidate for the other major U.S. antitrust job — chair of the FTC — is believed to be Commissioner Jon Leibowitz, antitrust sources who have been following the matter have said.

Varney has been with the law firm Hogan & Hartson for the past 11 years, and heads the firm’s Internet practice group, according to her biography on the firm’s Web site.

She has advised companies like eBay (EBAY.O), Fox Interactive, Orbitz Worldwide Inc OWW.N, Doubleclick and Time Warner’s TWX.N AOL, her biography said.

The Senate must confirm her nomination. (Reporting by Caren Bohan and Diane Bartz; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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