Moral Low Ground

Economy

Google’s Eric Schmidt: Donald Trump ‘Will Do Evil Things’

Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (Fortune Live Media/Flickr Creative Commons)

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, told company employees that President Donald Trump is “going to do evil things.”

BuzzFeed News reports Schmidt’s remarks came during the company’s weekly meeting at its Mountain View, California headquarters last Thursday, amid reports Trump would soon authorize draconian measures targeting Muslims.

The next day, Trump shocked the world by signing an executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim nations — initially even green card holders — from entering the United States.

“I can tell you that the tone of this government is very much economic growth,” Schmidt told employees, according to the transcript provided to BuzzFeed News. “And so I think at the end of the day, they are going to do these evil things as they’ve done in the immigration area and perhaps some others, but the core focus is going to be to get the growth rate in the country — which is roughly one and a half to two percent — up another point by simply pushing through increases in federal spending and overcoming the tea party.”

Schmidt’s remarks, intentionally or not, evoked Google’s former motto, “Don’t be evil.” The Alphabet executive chairman, who was an influential voice during President Barack Obama’s tenure, supported former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential bid. Schmidt has also met with Trump and his advisers at Trump Tower at least twice. Vice News reports Schmidt said he voiced his opposition to what he called “prejudicial” and “discriminatory” White House policies.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has also been a vocal critic of Trump’s policies, joining a protest against the president’s visa ban at San Francisco International Airport last weekend. “I’m here because I’m a refugee,” Brin said at the demonstration.

On Monday, more than 2,000 Google employees around the world staged a walkout in protest of Trump’s policies and actions, especially the Muslim nation visa ban. Employees used the hashtag #GoogleUnite in tweets and other social media posts about the protest. Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Brin spoke at the demonstration at the company’s Mountain View headquarters, according to an employee. The Verge reports Google employees have also donated more than $2 million to a crisis fund that will be distributed among nonprofit groups working to support refugees.

Fortune reports Pichai said more than 100 Google employees are affected by Trump’s visa ban. “It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” Pichai wrote in a company memo “We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”

Fear and outrage are palpable among many company employees. “[I want] Google to take positions, this is a fascist regime, this isn’t normal,” one Google employee from Iran, one of the banned countries, told Vice News. “Some of us are scared, we don’t know what to do,” added another Google staffer. “What is Google doing about it, and what is Google doing about it today?”

Bloomberg reports further fears have been stoked by reports Trump is preparing an executive order aimed at overhauling the H-1B work-visa programs technology companies depend on to hire tens of thousands of employees.

Many tech companies, most of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have spoken out against Trump’s policies and actions. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Amazon, Salesforce, eBay, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Uber and others all oppose the president’s visa ban, although Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has sparked anger — and a #DeleteUber social media campaign — for serving as a Trump advisor.

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