President Trump on Tuesday said his administration is “watching Google very closely” to see if the search giant will try to impact the 2020 presidential election.
The president said Google CEO Sundar Pichai told him the company didn’t influence the 2016 election, but the president suggested without evidence that the company is trying to "illegally subvert" his reelection campaign and cited a former Google employee who alleges the company fired him over his politically conservative views.
“It all sounded good until I watched Kevin Cernekee, a Google engineer, say terrible things about what they did in 2016 and that they want to ‘Make sure that Trump losses in 2020.’ Lou DobbsLouis (Lou) Carl DobbsCourt sets Smartmatic dismissal date on Giuliani, Bartiromo, others Fox News says Smartmatic lawsuit should be dismissed Dominion lawyer: We haven't ruled out suing Trump, other media outlets MORE stated that this is a fraud on the American public. @peterschweizer stated with certainty that they suppressed negative stories on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty MORE, and boosted negative stories on Donald Ttump. All very illegal. We are watching Google very closely!”
@sundarpichai of Google was in the Oval Office working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing, that Google was not involved with China’s military, that they didn’t help Crooked Hillary over me in the 2016 Election, and that they...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2019
....in 2020.” Lou Dobbs stated that this is a fraud on the American public. @peterschweizer stated with certainty that they suppressed negative stories on Hillary Clinton, and boosted negative stories on Donald Ttump. All very illegal. We are watching Google very closely!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2019
Cernekee alleged to The Wall Street Journal, in an article published last week, that he was fired from Google after raising concerns on how management treated right-leaning staffers.
On Monday, the Daily Caller published some of Cernekee's comments on an internal Google forum in which he defended the white nationalist Richard Spencer and a group called the Golden State Skinheads. Cernekee told the outlet that his comments were intended as a principled defense of free speech.
A Google spokesperson denied the company fires employees for political reasons.
“We enforce our workplace policies without regard to political viewpoint," the spokesperson told The Hill. "Lively debate is a hallmark of Google’s workplace culture; harassment, discrimination, and the unauthorized access and theft of confidential company information is not.”
Google said that Cernekee was fired after the company found he violated multiple company policies, including using a personal device to conduct unauthorized wide-scaled searches for and downloading of internal confidential Google documents.
Conservative lawmakers have been hammering Google and other internet giants with allegations that they are seeking to censor conservative voices, despite offering little evidence to support their claims.
In response to Trump’s tweet, a Google spokesperson said the “statements made by this disgruntled former employee are absolutely false.”
“We go to great lengths to build our products and enforce our policies in ways that don't take political leanings into account. Distorting results for political purposes would harm our business and go against our mission of providing helpful content to all of our users,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
Lawmakers have raised concerns over tech companies, including Google and Facebook, and the role they played in the 2016 election.
As Trump continues to complain over supposed influence aimed at helping his former Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s report alleges Russia intentionally interfered in the election in favor of Trump. The report alleges that while the Trump campaign did not directly collude with the Russians, it was open to the interference.
Trump has regularly denied those allegations, saying that Democrats have pointed at Russian interference in an attempt to deflect from losing the election.
Harper Neidig contributed to this report that was updated at 10:24 a.m.