Tim Cook finally reveals what he and President Trump talked about behind closed doors last month

source
White House/Shealah Craighead

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about his closed-door meeting with President Trump in April in a new interview with Bloomberg.
  • Cook said he told Trump his policies were “not the right approach to trade” and he showed him “some more analytical kind of things” to demonstrate why he was wrong.
  • Trump’s top economic adviser said after the meeting that Apple was “going to be building plants, campuses, adding jobs, lots of business investment.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook has broken his silence on what he and President Donald Trump talked about during a meeting in April.

Cook had a closed-door meeting with the president in late April, and he told him that his push for tariffs on Chinese imports was “not the right approach to trade,” he said in an interview published by Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Trump pushed for $50 billion in tariffs on certain Chinese goods earlier this year, prompting Chinese economic authorities to retaliate. Apple’s supply chain is global and has a large footprint in China; Apple also sells a lot of iPhones in the region. “Trade negotiations are continuing with China. They have been making hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the U.S., for many years. Stay tuned!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Cook thinks this is the wrong way to deal with the issue, he said in the Bloomberg clip.

Here are his full comments:

“I wouldn’t want to say what he said, because that’s not the way I look at it. What I talked about, I talked about trade, and the importance of trade, and how I felt, that two countries trading together make the pie larger. It’s true, undoubtedly true, that not everyone has been advantaged from that in either country, and we’ve got to work on that. I felt that tariffs were not the right approach there, and I showed him some more analytical kind of things to demonstrate why.”

“We also talked about immigration and the importance of fixing the Dreamer issue now, we’re only one court ruling away from a catastrophic case there.”

Previously, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Counsel, described the meeting this way:

“Tim Cook was most helpful. I really enjoyed the meeting, I spent a good amount of time with him. And then I came back and we visited POTUS, he has a lot of experience in China, obviously, he was very helpful in making some suggestions.”

“I might also add, he loves the tax cut and the tax reform. He says it’s great for business, and Apple’s going to be building plants, campuses, adding jobs, lots of business investment. That was the first point he made to President Trump. Anyway, I enjoyed meeting Mr. Cook, it was a great pleasure.”

Trump’s economic policies have already affected one big tech company, the smartphone maker ZTE, which effectively shut down operations last week. Trump tweeted that he was working on a way to get “ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast.”

An open line

Although Trump has a contentious relationship with the tech industry, which is largely based in Democratic states like California and Washington, he seems to have an open line to Apple’s CEO. The two have talked on the phone and have both attended several meetings together.

Trump called up Cook to thank him for announced investments after tax reform passed late last year.

Cook has justified his interactions with the Trump administration by saying that he believes it is healthier to engage than to stay out of conversations that involve Apple.

“Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” Cook said in a leaked Q&A with Apple employees in late 2016. “The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage.”

During a commencement speech at Duke University on Sunday, Cook encouraged graduating students to be “fearless” like the Parkland High School shooting survivors who have advocated for gun control.

“We stay out of politics,” Cook said last fall. “We do engage on policy discussion. But we don’t go back and forth on personality kind of stuff.”