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Justice Department Antitrust chief Makan Delrahim. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The top antitrust lawyer at the Department of Justice said Tuesday that he doesn't think a Supreme Court ruling earlier this week would make it more difficult to take on the biggest online platforms over competition concerns.

Why it matters: Critics of large tech companies worry the ruling in a case concerning credit card providers might offer Silicon Valley companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Uber protection from antitrust prosecution because they use so-called two-sided marketplaces to connect parties, such as buyers and sellers.

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival, DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim said he saw the ruling as a "sound decision" overall.

""I was more worried the Supreme Court would come up with a test [that would] cause harm to new business models like Uber and Airbnb," he said, saying that would have been a greater hardship to the economy than just losing this case.

Impact on Big Tech: Responding to a question from Axios, Delrahim said he didn't think the ruling would make it harder to go after Facebook and Google over competition concerns "for a couple of reasons."

First, he said, each case is specific to the facts. Second, the ruling doesn't treat all two-sided marketplaces alike. While it might help protect Uber and Airbnb, which directly connect two parties, Delrahim said he wasn't sure that Google and Facebook would see their businesses similarly affected.

Other companies, like Amazon, might find some parts of their business protected and others not.

"I think to the extent that it creates that transaction and you bring in third party sellers and buyers, they could benefit from that, but not in other areas of their business," he said.

Yes, but: Delrahim did say he thought that the ruling could limit antitrust enforcers' ability to take on Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, but would not protect the companies in the case of criminal behavior, like price fixing.

The backdrop: The court ruled that, when considering an antitrust case involving some two-sided markets, authorities need to weigh whether there is competitive harm on all sides of the market. Allegedly anticompetitive behavior on one side of a business model wouldn't be actionable in some cases, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court's opinion, if the whole picture wasn't anticompetitive.

Go deeper: We broke down the ruling this morning.

Go deeper

6 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

8 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.