The U.S. Justice Department has abandoned its antitrust investigation of four automakers that drew scrutiny for reaching a deal with California to clamp down on vehicle pollution.
The backing down was confirmed by two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition they not be identified.
The investigation had targeted Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., BMW and Volkswagen over the agreement they reached last year with California regulators.
The Justice Department declined to comment. California Gov. Gavin Newsom cheered the news.
“These trumped up charges were always a sham — a blatant attempt by the Trump administration to prevent more automakers from joining California and agreeing to stronger emissions standards,” Newsom said in a statement.
“This is a big loss for the President and his weaponization of federal agencies — and a victory for anyone who cares about the rule of law and clean air.”
The automakers drew President Trump’s ire after agreeing to voluntarily meet California targets for fuel economy and tailpipe emissions — a decision seen by the administration as undercutting its plan to relax the national requirements.
The Justice Department raised concerns in August that the deal may violate antitrust statutes, and the automakers were sent civil investigative demands late last year.
California officials had maintained that discussions with automakers over the emissions requirements were conducted individually, rather than with the entire group.
McLaughlin and Dlouhy write for Bloomberg.