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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden acknowledges the crowd during a campaign rally Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP

Four years ago, as Donald Trump prepared to take office, corporate America and its defense lawyers had reason to believe that a lighter touch was coming from the U.S. Department of Justice and other agencies.

It was more than mere conjecture, deeper than a simple—or false, as some argue—correlation between Republican administrations and declines in corporate enforcement activity. In Trump, there was a record of antipathy toward laws he viewed as inhibiting business, namely a prohibition against foreign bribery that has given rise to some of the highest-dollar enforcement actions brought by the Justice Department.

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