Steven Cheung’s recent defence of Donald Trump over his comments regarding Elaine Chao has put him back under the media spotlight.
Like Chao, Cheung is Asian American. Born June 23, 1982, he’s currently 40 years old and hails from Sacramento, California.
He goes by California Panda on Twitter, and his bio identifies him as a former White House executive and “pro wrestling historian.”
Steven Cheung said, in response to Elaine Chao’s statement vis-à-vis Trump’s reference to her, that people should “stop feigning outrage and engaging in controversies that exist only in their heads.”
Steven Cheung’s political career began long before he started working for Donald Trump
It all started during Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration in California.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering and government from California State University, Sacramento, he worked with Schwarzenegger on his successful 2003 recall campaign for governor of California.
A couple of years later, he was working in the California governor’s office as a speechwriting intern. He held a similar job at the US department of labor the following year, in 2007.
Cheung got his foot in the GOP’s door in 2008 as an administrative assistant in John McCain’s presidential campaign. He has also served on the political campaigns for Steve Poizner (for California governor); Sharron Angle (US senate); and David Dewhust (US senate).
In 2013, he swerved into the business of pro wrestling
From April 2013 to early 2016, Cheung was the director of communications for public affairs at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
That stint is actually the longest time he’s spent working one job continuously, according to Open Secrets’ timeline of his employment history.
But it wasn’t to last. In July 2016, Steven Cheung became the director of rapid response for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
His focus was to be “keeping the campaign up to date on breaking news and pushing back on false or unbalanced reporting,” according to a press release.
Steven Cheung worked for Trump for ‘over 700 days,’ meriting a ‘gold watch’
While working on Trump’s presidential campaign, Cheung played a role in disavowing support from The Crusader and David Duke. The Crusader newspaper has ties to the Ku Klux Klan, a white nationalist organization, reports NPR.
“Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form,” Cheung said in a statement at the time. “This publication is repulsive and their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are uniting behind our campaign.”
When Trump won the presidency, he named Cheung an adviser to the presidential transition team. The Washington Post reported that Trump had considered Cheung for the role of press secretary, but Sean Spicer ultimately won the gig.
A day before Trump’s inauguration, Cheung became the special assistant to the president and assistant communications director at the White House. That was January 19, 2017. But he left the White House on June 11, 2018. His departure occurred amid what Politico called a “snail’s-pace overhaul” of the White House.
Fellow former Trump campaign aide Bryan Lanza said he had “been a part of Trump world for over 700 days,” which was longer than most. “He deserves a gold watch,” he said.
In what capacity has Steven Cheung worked for Trump since he left the White House?
When Trump re-ran for office in 2020, he used the services of Solgence. Solgence is a company Cheung founded in June 2018 – the same month he left the White House.
Politico reported in August of 2019 that he had received $22,500 since April that year via the company. The job description was “communications consulting.”
When Trump lost, Fact Check quoted Steven Cheung as being among those supporting Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
His annual White House salary was $131,000. Last year, reports emerged that he had been advising cryptocurrency entrepreneur Brock Pierce.
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