Trump claims 'collusion' between big tech and Democrats, backs antitrust fines

Initially asked if he thought the tech giants should be broken up, Trump said, "Well, I can tell you they discriminate against me."
Image: President Donald Trump speaks following a ceremony at The Normandy American Cemetery in France on June 6, 2019.
President Donald Trump's re-election campaign is spending heavily on Facebook ads, like it did in 2016.Alex Brandon / AP

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By Allan Smith

President Donald Trump thinks "obviously there is something going on in terms of monopoly" regarding major tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, he said during an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday.

Initially asked if he thought Facebook, Google and Amazon are too big now and should be broken up, Trump said, "Well, I can tell you they discriminate against me."

Trump then veered away from potential antitrust actions against the companies and into his campaign's use of the platforms.

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"You know people talk about collusion. The real collusion is between the Democrats and these companies, cause they were so against me during my election run, everybody said if you don’t have them, you can’t win," Trump said. "Well I won, you know, and I’ll win again, because we’re doing well, and we’re not the fools anymore, we’re not the foolish country that does so badly."

Google, Facebook and Twitter have come under increasing scrutiny from conservatives who claim that the platforms discriminate against them and their politics. The companies have in recent months taken steps to crack down on hate speech and white supremacist content, adding to previous efforts to limit the spread of misinformation.

Trump continues to spend heavily on Facebook ads, and his 2020 campaign manager previously credited the social network as having played an important role in the president's win in 2016. Facebook, Google and Twitter embedded employees with the Trump campaign that year to help staffers better utilize the platforms. Though the companies offered that service to all of the candidates, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton declined the help, instead opting to develop an in-house team.

Later in the interview, pointing to the European Union's heavy fines against companies, including Google, Trump said Europe was "actually attacking our companies." However, he added that "we should be doing what they're doing."

"They think there’s a monopoly, but I’m not sure that they think that. They just figure this is easy money," he said of the billions in fines. "We’ll sue Apple for $7 billion, and we’ll make a settlement or win the case. So I think it is a bad situation but obviously there is something going on in terms of monopoly."

Trump's comments come as the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and Congress are gearing up for antitrust scrutiny of big tech.

The president also discussed Huawei, a Chinese telecom company that the U.S. government recently added to a list of businesses that pose a national security risk, effectively banning it from doing business with U.S. companies unless approved by the Commerce Department.

Trump said he views Huawei "as a threat" but "it could be very well that we do something with respect to Huawei as part of our trade negotiations with China."