Some of the same technology giants that are waging a legal war against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies quietly offered support to his inauguration in January — complete with some previously undisclosed checks, POLITICO confirmed Tuesday.
In a move that might rile the liberal engineers who have spent weeks protesting Trump’s presidency, Amazon, Google and Microsoft donated both cash and technical services to the celebrations surrounding Trump’s swearing-in, according to federal documents and multiple sources familiar with the matter.
Now, those gifts are a visible symbol of the tech industry’s awkward balancing act when it comes to the Trump White House — doing battle with the president’s executive order on immigration while trying to engage with the new administration on issues like tax reform.
Microsoft contributed $250,000 in cash and the same amount in technology and other tools on Dec. 28 to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, federal ethics records filed last week show. The company declined to comment on its participation.
Google also provided tech services, including a YouTube livestream of the inauguration, on top of an unspecified cash donation, two sources familiar with the matter told POLITICO. Amazon similarly chipped in an undisclosed amount of money in addition to tech aid, sources said.
Google declined to comment for this story, and Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Facebook, for its part, provided no cash to the inauguration committee but did make an “in-kind” donation by providing Instagram photo booths and a mini Oval Office it had set up for party-goers, the company confirmed to POLITICO on Tuesday.
Some tech giants haven’t yet disclosed the total value of their contributions, which may be because they were made after the Dec. 31 cutoff date for the most recent round of lobbying reports. The inaugural committee does not have to report its fundraising activities until 90 days after the event.
Tech companies have donated to past presidential inaugurations, regardless of political party, as a way to boost their influence with the incoming administration. But Trump presents unique challenges for the industry. He denigrated tech’s biggest names, including Amazon and Apple, during the campaign, and he alarmed the industry with his rhetoric on a range of topics, from immigration to government surveillance.
Top executives like Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Larry Page, the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, initially tried to find common ground with the president, beginning with a high-profile meeting at Trump Tower late last year. The so-called tech summit initially appeared to foster a détente after a bitter election season that saw many tech leaders throw their support behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
But Trump’s travel ban on visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries has changed the equation, sparking protests at Google and throughout San Francisco. More than 100 tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter, told a federal court on Monday they oppose the president’s executive order because it’s bad for the country and hurts their ability to attract talent.
Tech’s role in the inauguration echoes the debate over its participation in the Republican National Convention that nominated Trump. At the time, activist groups like Color of Change urged many companies through protests and a social media campaign to withdraw and, per one banner flown over Google headquarters, “#dumpTrump.” Still, tech’s major political players donated anyway to the GOP’s host committee in Cleveland. Facebook chipped in $1 million, Microsoft provided $1.8 million in tech aid and Google wrote checks totaling $500,000, according to campaign finance reports filed in September.
Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color of Change, said Trump’s recent immigration order proved that the strategy did not work. “This is what they told us during the convention, when we pushed them to divest, and they made statements [that] it was better to engage,” he said in an interview. “Now we are weeks into the administration, and we see executive order after executive order, and still they say that their engagement will somehow help.”
Apple broke with its tech counterparts and declined to support the GOP convention, citing Trump’s controversial comments on minorities, immigrants and women, sources told POLITICO at the time. HP also opted to sit out the convention, though the company didn’t explicitly attribute that decision to Trump.
Uber and Twitter, which played roles at the GOP convention, said they did not provide aid to Trump’s inauguration. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did companies like Oracle and Intel.
— source politico.com By Tony Romm