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Trump Says He Wants DOJ Chief Barr to Examine Google Claim

Terrence Dopp

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he wants Attorney General William Barr to look into businessman Peter Thiel’s allegations that Google’s work with China is “seemingly treasonous.”

Trump made the comments in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday after earlier saying in a tweet that Thiel is “a great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone!”

“I think we’ll all look at that,” Trump said at the meeting. “We’ll see if there’s any truth” to the claim.

Thiel, one of Trump’s top Silicon Valley supporters and donors, took aim at Google and the tech industry over the companies’ focus on global markets while brushing aside U.S. interests in a speech Sunday in Washington.

Thiel, a Facebook Inc. board member, singled out Google for agreeing to work closely with China, trying to get its search engine back into the country, while deciding to let lapse a U.S. Defense Department contract that gave the military access to its artificial intelligence tools.

A spokesman for Google said the company doesn’t work with the Chinese military but declined to comment further.

Thiel argued that the kind of AI developed by DeepMind, which like Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., should be thought of as a potential “military weapon.” He then suggested Google’s actions were “seemingly treasonous,” asking whether DeepMind or Google senior management had been “infiltrated” by foreign intelligence agencies.

(Updates with shares in the third paragraph.)

--With assistance from Max Chafkin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Washington at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman, Kasia Klimasinska

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