by Eric Daley
The head of a subdivision within the Executive Office of the President used social media to criticize and deride President Donald Trump, according to posts recently unearthed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Matt Cutts worked at Google for 17 years as a distinguished engineer and now leads the United States Digital Service (USDS), which among many other goals tries to help federal agencies improve their information technology infrastructure. He referred to Trump when he was a Republican candidate for president as a “troll” in one tweet.
Much like the department he leads, Cutts had been very quiet since taking his position in the government during the Obama administration until recent weeks where he’s been championing the work of his team — many of which come from Google like himself. He and his efforts have been featured in prominent tech publications like Ars Technica and Wired, which discusses the differences of working within the Obama administration and the current one.
The work of USDS for the most part appears to be non-partisan — although as Wired noted, Cutts worked on the Department of Homeland Security systems under former President Barack Obama to assist in bringing in more displaced refugees — meaning past criticisms and attempts at cheeky jokes may not ultimately affect the initiatives undertaken. However, decision-making processes can still be influenced by personal biases whether consciously or subconsciously, and seep into the processes and endeavors assumed.
In a tweet months later, as Trump’s chances of earning the Republican nomination grew more probable, Cutts made a reference to Idiocracy, a Mike Judge film. The oft-cited cult classic is centered around an experiment conducted on a military librarian who is placed in suspended animation and wakes up hundreds of years in the future to find a world run by nimrods. Brawndo is the fictional eponymous sports drink created by a company featured in the movie. The amended quote, which includes “OH” presumably meaning “overheard,” includes Trump, rather than the bombastic president in the movie, as a slight.
Other tweets, while deleted like the two aforementioned ones, are still partially available to view through Google caches.
Those social media posts include either a tweet or reply to J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, who was comparing Trump to the evil villain Voldemort.
Another seems to be a retweet of former Google corporate counsel and influential venture capitalist Chris Sacca with the message “Sacca went to town on Trump.” The last is merely a direct mention of Trump’s scandals.
Cutts was forced to defend Google in June 2016 after a video alleged that results for the most powerful and popular search engine in the world were favorable to former Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton.
Similar to Cutts, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who was an unabashed supporter of Clinton, serves as the chairman of the Defense Innovation Board (DIB), a Department of Defense program with like-minded goals to the USDS. He reportedly consulted Clinton’s election team on how to utilize technology in their quest for the presidency. Schmidt was also close to Obama during his time in the White House, allegedly offering advice pursuant to campaign strategy on multiple occasions.
The concept of a Democratic supporter, and thus natural opponent to Trump and the Republican Party, working within and for the current administration bothers many. It also, according to some contacted by TheDCNF for a prior story, is just what has to be done if officials want the best possible talent working for the government. It also could arguably be the manifestation of a diversity of viewpoint, something critical for a lot of offices and enterprises.
TheDCNF asked Don Devine, who served as director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during former President Ronald Reagan’s first term, why Trump would keep on Cutts given his ideological bent and apparent disapproval of his personal politics — if he ever even noticed.
“Presidents assume that people within the White House are dedicated and loyal, so it’s usually much worse” within that office compared to other government bureaucracies, Devine, an expert on civil service, told TheDCNF. “Almost every president should worry about it. They’re in the White House and they’re working for the president.”
Trump in particular may be more unaware of ostensibly unsupportive people of the president like Cutts because he comes from the private sector, Devine said.
“It’s very hard for him to understand,” he continued. “They’re used to having people working for them.”
The White House and the USDS failed to respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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Eric Daley is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Eric on Twitter.