Trump backs billionaire supporter Peter Thiel's calls for Google investigation

The investor reportedly questioned if Chinese intelligence infiltrated the tech giant, and the President said his administration "will take a look."

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Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and Facebook board member, calls for an investigation of Alphabet-owned Google.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel reportedly criticized Alphabet-owned Google and its ties to China at the National Conservatism Conference on Sunday. He called on the FBI and CIA to investigate the tech company for allegedly aiding the Chinese military, according to Axios.

During a speech, Thiel, who has been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, reportedly accused the company of having been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence. The event, organized by the Edmund Burke Foundation, was an effort to bring together conservative thinkers. 

Thiel, a Facebook board member and PayPal co-founder, reportedly said Google should be asked whether "senior management consider itself to have been thoroughly infiltrated by Chinese intelligence" and whether this is why it has "engaged in the seemingly treasonous decision to work with the Chinese military and not with the US military." 

"As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military," a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Thiel, reached via his fellowship organization, didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment. 

HIs remarks come at a time when Google is already under scrutiny from the Justice Department. In June, it was reported that the DOJ has been preparing an antitrust investigation against the search giant. 

In the past, Google has been criticized for considering a state-censored version of its search engine for China. Additionally, Google faced backlash after deciding last year not to renew an AI project with the US military.

On Tuesday, Trump tweeted praise for Thiel. "A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!" he said. 

Later that day, the President told reporters he would have agencies "see if there's any truth to" Thiel's accusations, according to Reuters. The Justice Department might be among those agencies.

Also Tuesday, Reuters reported that Karan Bhatia, Google's vice president for government affairs, downplayed the company's relationship with China in a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday about its content policies.

"Fundamentally in China we actually do very little today, certainly compared to any other major technology company," she told Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican.

Originally published July 15.
Updated June 17 at 3:05 a.m: Adds Google's statement, Trump's comments to reporters and Bhatia's response to Hawley.