Bloomberg Law
March 2, 2021, 6:32 PM

Microsoft Taps Trump Trade Official as Cloud Services Lawyer

Ruiqi Chen
Ruiqi Chen

Microsoft Corp. has hired C.J. Mahoney, a former Williams & Connolly partner and high ranking lawyer at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, as deputy general counsel for U.S. international trade and the company’s cloud computing service Azure.

Mahoney joined the tech giant’s Innovation & Policy Center in Washington last month after nearly three years as the deputy U.S. trade representative under former President Donald Trump. With Microsoft, Mahoney will oversee a team of lawyers focused on sanctions and export control compliance, international trade policy, and government regulations relating to Azure, according to a company statement.

“In cloud and other key technologies, the world’s democracies need to agree on a set of basic rules of the road governing market access, privacy, and a host of other issues. If they succeed, companies like Microsoft will continue to have the ability to develop and deploy new technology on a global scale. If they fail, U.S. tech companies could see themselves shut out of key markets, and America’s competitive edge could suffer as a result,” Mahoney said in an email to Bloomberg Law.

Microsoft’s Azure has secured several federal contracts in recent months, including with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Army. The company has also faced tensions with Inc.’s competing Amazon Web Services unit over a 2019 Pentagon contract that may be canceled this year.

The Senate unanimously confirmed Mahoney as deputy USTR in 2018. During his tenure, he worked on the negotiation and passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the Trump administration’s replacement for the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, according to a statement he made to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July 2020.

In August, the Senate confirmed Michael Nemelka as Mahoney’s successor for the role of deputy USTR following Mahoney’s nomination as the legal advisor to the State Department. The State Department post was vacated in 2019 by Jennifer Newstead, who was then hired by Facebook Inc. as its general counsel.

Mahoney was ultimately not confirmed for the State Department role, and Nemelka appears to have returned to Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick as partner, according to the firm’s website.

President Joe Biden has nominated Katherine Tai, a House Ways and Means Committee lawyer, as U.S. Trade Representative. No deputies have been named yet.

Before Mahoney’s time as deputy USTR, he was a partner at Washington litigation firm Williams & Connolly and worked as a law clerk for Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. He began his career as a business analyst for McKinsey & Co.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Chris Opfer at