President Donald Trump on Thursday lambasted the European Unions $5 billion antitrust fine against Google, expanding his America First agenda into a regulatory fight involving one of the biggest U.S. tech companies.
“I told you so! The European Union just slapped a Five Billion Dollar fine on one of our great companies, Google,” Trump tweeted. “They truly have taken advantage of the U.S., but not for long!”
The presidents defense of Google shows he views the tech giants troubles as part of his overall clash with Europe over issues like tariffs and the regions funding contributions to NATO. Trump has argued that the U.S. gets a raw deal on both accounts and stunned many when he referred to the EU as a trade “foe” following last weeks NATO summit.
His comments also come as members of his own party — including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trumps own 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale — ramp up criticism of Google and other tech companies over perceived anti-conservative bias in the way they handle content on their platforms.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The EUs competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, levied the antitrust fineWednesday, saying Google stifled competition by requiring cellphone-makers to sign contracts that give preference to its search function and other products in order to get access to the tech giants hugely popular Android operating system. The company said it will appeal the decision.
Vestager appeared to be in Trumps crosshairs even before announcing the fine. At the G-7 summit in June, Trump called her the EUs “tax lady” who “really hates the U.S.,” POLITICO reported.
Europe has emerged as an aggressive enforcer when it comes to the U.S. technology industry. The EU put into place strict privacy regulations earlier this year that forced Silicon Valley companies to readjust their policies. Its also weighing new taxes on digital goods and services that could hit American tech firms.
Trumps description of Google as “one of our great companies” on Thursday provides a sharp contrast to how many other Republicans view the company these days.
McCarthy, for example, lashed out at Google in May after an incident in which Google search results showed Nazism as the ideology of the California Republican Party. He called the matter a “disgrace.” Google blamed an automated process for the error and said the companys results do not reflect a political bias.
Parscale, too, has criticized Google and other internet companies over allegations they are biased against conservatives. He tweeted at Google along with Facebook and Twitter in March that “we are watching,” adding, “This is your opportunity to make sure the playing field is level.”
In contrast to former President Barack Obamas cozy relationship with Google, Trump has shown little interest in the company, which operates outside his comfort zone of legacy media and brick-and-mortar business. The only other time hes taken to Twitter to directly comment on the search giant was in October 2016, when he accused Google, Twitter and Facebook of “burying the FBI criminal investigation of [Hillary] Clinton.”
“Very dishonest media!” Trump said at the time, seeming to lump the tech companies in with the press.
Kyle Daly and Nancy Scola contributed to this report.