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Hawley wants Google to reveal what it told Trump about China in private meeting

Josh Hawley, Republican U.S. senator from Missouri.
Josh Hawley, Republican U.S. senator from Missouri. NYT

Sen. Josh Hawley wants Google to disclose what the company’s CEO told President Donald Trump in a private meeting.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he had met with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “He stated strongly that he is totally committed to the U.S. Military, not the Chinese Military,” the president said.

Trump’s meeting comes after General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified last week to the Senate Armed Services Committee that Google’s work in China has an indirect benefit to the Chinese military. His statement was in response to questions from Hawley, a Missouri Republican who has made reining in the tech industry his key focus since taking office in January.

Hawley called Thursday for Google to share publicly what it told Trump in the meeting.

“My view is whatever you said to the president, and what you said to the chairman, say publicly. Let’s get it on the record. Let’s have it,” Hawley said in an interview. “Let’s have your specific commitments. You say that you’re willing to work with DOD, with the Armed Forces, great. What do you have in mind in particular?”

The freshman senator sent a letter to Pichai calling on him to release the details of the meeting. Google did not immediately comment on the request.

Hawley’s skepticism of the tech giant dates back to his time as Missouri attorney general when he launched a probe of Google.

“We need to see from them some acknowledgment that investing and doing business in China without appropriate safeguards that technology’s going to end up in the hands of the Chinese government and the Chinese military,” Hawley said.

“That’s a national security risk. Every time you bring it up they wave it away and they need to acknowledge there’s major national security concerns.”

Hawley said he could not say at this time whether he’ll pursue legislation on the matter. He has already introduced a bill aimed at curbing tech companies from collecting data on children under the age of 13.

Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.

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