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Google is under fire for weighing a censored Chinese version of its search engine. Photo: Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images

Objections to Google’s possible re-entry into the Chinese search market are uniting Republicans, Democrats and some of Google's own employees in a rare alignment against the company.

Why it matters: Google abandoned China in 2010 rather than censor its search results according to the Chinese government's wishes. Any effort by the company to return to this gigantic market stirs up ethical questions raised by that history.

The big picture: Some Google controversies, like its role in Russian election interference in 2016, have upset lawmakers. Others, like a company contract with the Defense Department, have outraged employees. This one has done both.

At the Googleplex: Employee discontent has burst into public view since a report this summer that Google was pursuing a project under the name Dragonfly to look at creating a censored version of its search engine for China.

On Capitol Hill: Lawmakers wrote a letter about Dragonfly to Google last month, and frustrations with the company are high because it wouldn’t send a senior enough executive to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on election meddling.

  • “I think the employees should be critical,” Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said, adding that creating "a censored search engine, doing joint research with AI when most of the companies in China are totally co-opted by the Chinese government" doesn't seem to meet the company's "standards."

This is just one of several controversies over which Google faces growing pressure.

  • Some lawmakers are also frustrated at Google’s decision not to renew a contract with a Defense Department program known as Project Maven. Some employees had protested against that project.
  • “Instead of consciously compromising American ideals and values, Google’s executives should reject Beijing’s repressive censorship and reconsider their decision to stop working with the U.S. military on Project Maven,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in a statement.

What Google is saying: Reached Wednesday, a Google spokesperson said in a previously-released statement that work on Chinese search has been "exploratory" and it is "not close to launching a search product in China.”

  • It has looked to calm Congress’ fears. “We are approaching these issues deliberately, and whether we would or could release a search service in China remains unclear,” chief executive Sundar Pichai said in a letter responding to lawmakers last month.

The bottom line: Increasingly, it's looking like Google’s moment in the D.C. hot seat. With Congress's eye on China thanks to concerns about cyber-espionage and heightened trade tensions, Google's new China moves can only raise the temperature.

Go deeper

Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.

Manhattan prosecutors reportedly obtain millions of pages of Trump's tax records

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Manhattan district attorney is now in possession of millions of pages of former President Trump's tax and financial records, CNN first reported, following a Supreme Court ruling that allowed prosecutors to enforce a subpoena after a lengthy legal battle.

Why it matters: Trump fought for years to keep his tax returns out of the public eye and away from prosecutors in New York, who are examining his business in a criminal investigation that was first sparked by hush-money payments made by Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 election.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The digital dollar is now high priority for the Fed

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. is starting to get serious about a central-bank-backed digital currency, with recent comments from top officials laying out the strongest support yet.

Driving the news: On Tuesday Fed chair Jerome Powell told Congress that developing a digital dollar is a "high priority project for us," but added that there are "significant technical and policy questions."