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Trump has a new tech whisperer in the White House

The president has tapped a Republican digital expert as he forms his tech policy ranks.

Jeff Swensen / Getty

President Donald Trump is slowly filling his ranks of top tech advisers in the White House.

Weeks after hiring an ally to Peter Thiel as his first deputy chief technology officer, Trump has hired himself another aide: Matt Lira, a longtime digital aide to leading Republican lawmakers and GOP causes, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Specifically, Lira will serve as a special assistant to the president for innovation policy and initiatives, the White House confirmed to Recode on Thursday. He joins the Trump administration most recently from the office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., where Lira helped advance an entire initiative focused on tech policy issues.

It was Lira, for example, who aided McCarthy’s efforts to pass a bill that allows tech engineers to serve brief tours of duty for the federal government — a measure that Barack Obama signed into law in the final hours of his presidency.

Lira himself did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, but an email to his old congressional inbox says he departed on March 17.

Before joining the GOP leader’s office in July 2015, Lira served as top aide to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm that helps fund and elect GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate. Lira has also served as a senior adviser to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and he worked as a digital director for Paul Ryan while Ryan was running as a vice presidential candidate on GOP contender Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential ticket.

Lira joins a White House that’s slowly but surely forming its tech ranks. As I scooped earlier in March, the White House hired Michael Kratsios, the chief of staff at Thiel Capital, as its first deputy chief technology officer. (Trump, who Peter Thiel advised during the early days of his presidency, has not named a chief technology officer.)

The administration also has drafted Grace Koh, a former congressional staffer, for a key posting on the National Economic Council that touches on telecommunications issues. The NEC is led by Gary Cohn, the Goldman Sachs banker who’s a familiar face to the likes of Uber in Silicon Valley.

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