Trump met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai on ‘political fairness,’ China

on Mar28
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, December 11, 2018.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, December 11, 2018.

President Donald Trump met Wednesday with Google CEO Sundar Pichai about “political fairness” on the platform and the company’s dealings in China.

“Meeting ended very well!” Trump said in a tweet.

A source familiar with the meetings tells CNBC the visit was long-planned as part of Pichai’s commitment to engage more with the federal government after appearing before Congress last December. Pichai was accompanied by Google’s head of government relations, Karan Bhatia, and met with dozens of people in the administration and Congress on a range of topics, including privacy legislation and trade.

“We were pleased to have productive conversations with the President about investing in the future of the American workforce, the growth of emerging technologies and our ongoing commitment to working with the U.S. government,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

Google has reportedly been planning a censored search engine that would comply with the Chinese government’s strict laws for internet use. The Intercept reported Wednesday that the company is conducting a highly secretive internal performance review of the project, code-named Dragonfly.

The meeting appears to be a positive step for the Google executive, who has drawn criticism from Republican lawmakers for what they claim is political bias across Google’s platforms. Trump previously said the company, along with Facebook and Twitter, was “treading on very, very troubled territory.”

Pichai declined to appear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in September, leaving only an empty chair to sit alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Pichai ended up testifying in December of last year. The meetings in Washington this week could make some necessary amends.

A group of state attorneys general, charged by then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to review antitrust concerns among Big Tech, have reportedly focused their efforts on Google in particular.

— CNBC’s Lauren Feiner and M.C. Wellons contributed to this report.

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