Jun 26, 2019 - Technology

Former Uber exec Emil Michael was vetted by Trump for a Cabinet position

Uber app

Photo: Olly Curtis/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Silicon Valley is notably absent from the Trump administration, after having enjoyed an open-door (or sock on the door?) policy during the Obama administration.

Driving the news: Trump this morning told Fox Business Network: "We should be suing Google and Facebook and perhaps we will," related to alleged political bias, sending both companies' shares tumbling.

But at least one top tech executive was, at least briefly, considered for a Cabinet position, according to the leaked trove of vetting documents recently obtained by Axios.

It was Emil Michael, at the time Uber's chief business officer who was out of the job just months later.

  • He appears to have been in the running for secretary of Transportation, a job that eventually went to Elaine Chao.
  • There's no indication that Michael was aware of the vetting, which Axios' Jonathan Swan reports was little more than Google and LexisNexis searches conducted by junior RNC staffers (after the Chris Christie-led transition process was canned). And he wouldn't be alone, as I'm told that fellow vettee Ari Emanuel was in the dark.
  • The document itself, shown here for the first time (with sensitive personal info removed), focuses heavily on Michael's onetime musing that Uber should hire opposition researchers to dig into the personal lives of the company's media critics.
    • But it is silent on any transportation (or labor) policy issues related to ride-hail or any of Uber's other contemporaneous controversies. Instead, it's much more concerned with Michael's donations to candidates from both political parties (even though he was a registered Republican).

Michael declined comment via a spokesperson.

The bottom line: Michael was obviously a long shot, and he came with enough Uber baggage that it might not have lasted long. But, as Transport sec, he couldn't have achieved less of an infrastructure deal than has Chao.

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