A former Republican congresswoman turned hired gun for Google addressed the Democratic National Convention on Monday night, as tensions mount between the Trump administration and the West Coast tech giant.
Susan Molinari, a GOP lawmaker who represented Staten Island for three terms in the House of Representatives, led Google's Washington-based policy and lobbying outfit for six years, stepping down in 2018. Her address comes as her former employer faces intense pressure from the Trump administration in at least two directions.
The Department of Justice is said to be nearing the end of a lengthy investigation that could culminate in a landmark antitrust lawsuit against Google. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the department's investigation has two components. One team of lawyers is investigating whether Google has used its search dominance to smother competitors. Another team is studying whether Google maintains a monopoly over online advertising. Between its massive search engine and marquee digital properties like YouTube, the company has a commanding position in the $300 billion market for internet ads. President Donald Trump has alluded to suing Google for violating anti-trust laws as recently as August 6. Attorney General Bill Barr will likely decide whether to sue Google by the end of the summer.
Trump's Justice Department also recently sided against Google in a high stakes copyright dispute that the Supreme Court will decide in the coming months. The government filed a legal brief in February supporting Oracle America Inc., a competitor accusing Google of copyright infringement. Oracle is seeking $8 billion in damages. The justices will hear arguments in the case on October 7, and a decision will follow by summer 2021.
Molinari left Congress in 1997 and became a broadcast journalist. She later joined the Washington Group, a D.C.-based government relations shop that provided services to the Russian government. The Hill reported that Molinari herself tried to serve as an adviser to senior lawmakers during Russia's 2008 invasion of neighboring Georgia.
Other Republicans speaking at Biden's convention Monday night include former Ohio governor John Kasich, former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, who led the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush, and former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who unsuccessfully ran for governor of California in 2010.