How Apple CEO Tim Cook Charmed President Donald Trump


The trade war between the United States
and China has most big tech
companies really worried about whether
tariffs could cut into their
bottom lines. But one company was able
to thread the needle between a
volatile American president and the
world’s biggest consumer market.
More than any other tech leader, Apple
CEO Tim Cook has spent a lot
of time charming the Trump administration,
and it seems to be paying
off.
President Donald Trump and Cook’s
relationship really started after
Trump’s election win in 2016.
Donald Trump took a few shots at
Apple during the campaign, but as
soon as he was elected, he told
The New York Times in an interview,
one of the people who called to
congratulate him was with Tim Cook.
This is Kif Leswing, Tim Cook’s
office reaching out to Donald Trump,
you know, saying congrats
on being the president.
I hope we can work
together, kind of stuff.
That’s how the
relationship started.
So after Trump’s win, he called the
CEOs of several tech companies to
meet at Trump Tower.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was one of them.
President Trump pulled together a lot
of business leaders w ith a
surprising number of high
tech leaders there
This is Jeff Sonnenfeld.
He’s a senior associate dean
for leadership studies at Yale
University’s School of Management.
They all came. He
wasn’t yet president.
He is president-elect.
Most didn’t know him.
Very few supported him.
And that’s true of the U.S.
business community in general, not
just Silicon Valley types.
They still came,
which was interesting.
Tim Cook used that as an
opportunity to start to forge a
relationship. In a message to Apple
employees, Cook explained why he
showed up to talk to
Trump despite supporting Hillary Clinton.
According to TechCrunch, Cook wrote, ‘he
never found being on the
sideline a successful place to be.’
And, ‘the way that you influence these
issues is to be in the arena.’
Since the meeting, Cook continued to
cultivate close ties with Trump
and his family. The Apple CEO met
with Trump over dinner at his New
Jersey golf course
twice since 2017.
He’s attended state dinners hosted by the
president and he has a good
relationship with the Ivanka and
Melania, according to White House
officials. President Trump likes to break
bread with people and he
relaxes over food and other
people relax over food.
So it’s food and the golf course
and those kind of scenes that are
ways that you get away from wearing
the formal uniforms and get off
the pillars of office.
In February 2019, Cook joined
the American Workforce Policy Advisory
Board, a group dedicated to
getting the unemployed into the
workforce. And since 2017, Cook has been
a part of the White House
Office of American Innovation, a
group focused on improving quality
of life and spurring job creation.
The boards are led by
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Cook and Ivanka Trump even traveled
to an Idaho elementary school
last November for a photo-op.
Apple had donated iPads to all
the teachers and students in the
district. This is really Tim
Cook working a personal relationship
with Trump. And as different issues
unfolded, when Tim Cook wants to
take a different position, say, on
climate change or on immigration
policies, he’ll give a heads up
alert to the White House.
And he’ll often do that through
Ivanka Trump or more often through
Jared. But so far as I
know, there are no remote financial
arrangements behind this.
Apple claims it doesn’t engage in politics
and it doesn’t have a PAC,
something Cook has
said shouldn’t exist.
Most companies in Silicon Valley spend
quite a bit more in formal
lobbying, whereas Apple spends very
little in formal lobbying.
It has more than the personal
diplomacy rather than the K-Street
bandit is working over
the White House.
Nevertheless, Cook keeps in touch
with Trump, making calls and
scheduling meetings
when appropriate.
So he has Trump’s ear when
government policy collides with Apple’s
corporate interests.
The president says that Apple CEO Tim
Cook is a great executive, at
least in part because Cook
calls him on the telephone.
The only one that calls
me is Tim Cook.
He calls me whenever
there’s a problem.
He’ll call. That influence is about to
be put to the test as Apple
applies for exclusions from a
new round of tariffs.
Big American companies are caught in a
catch 22 when it comes to
China. First, the United States has
about three hundred twenty nine
million people.
That makes it the third
most populous country on earth.
China has about 1.3
billion people.
That means in order to keep
growing, most American companies need
access to Chinese consumers, and
for companies that rely on
manufacturing, the situation is
even more thorny.
It’s often cheaper to make or
assemble products in China and then
ship them to a state like Ohio than
it is to make those products in
Ohio in the first place.
President Donald Trump’s trade war puts
those companies in a tight
spot. In summer 2017, Trump unleashed
tariffs on billions of Chinese
imports. Now, after more than a
year of back and forth tariffs
between the U.S. and China,
companies making consumer tech hardware,
like Apple, are going to get
hit with tariffs if the U.S.
and China can’t close on
a new trade deal.
So Apple has become the poster child
for the trade war for two main
reasons. One, they get a substantial
amount of their sales from
mainland China. So as a market and
having access to the market, that
is critical for Apple.
But there’s a double whammy here,
because Apple also does the
majority of its production
in China as well.
And through its production partners,
including Foxconn, you know,
they employ millions of
people in China.
New tariffs went into effect on September
1st, 2019 in those hit some
Apple products. And now Apple
is asking the administration for
exclusions from that
round of tariffs.
But in the meantime, the
United States Trade Representative Office
has also already delayed some of
the tariffs on certain consumer
items until December 15th.
2019. The delay included cell
phones, computers, video game consoles,
some clothing products and certain toys,
which Trump said was decided
to help consumer spending
during the holiday season.
For Apple, the December 15th tariffs means
a 15 % tax on Chinese
imports, which would force Apple to
either raise prices or accept
lower margins on core products
sold in the U.S.-
Think iPhones and MacBooks.
They’re very anxious that they get a
carve out if there are tariffs
against products produced in China, because
that’s where most of the
Apple phone production is still.
They have very effectively explained to
President Trump that he would
be helping Samsung.
The federal government now has to
decide whether Apple gets another
tariff exemption on core products.
Cook has already appealed to Trump,
even though the decision will be
made by a trade representative.
Tim was talking to
me about tariffs.
And, you know, one of the things that
he made a good case is that
Samsung is the number one competitor
and Samsung is not paying
tariffs because they’re based
in South Korea.
And it’s tough for Apple to
pay tariffs if they’re competing.
Now, the problem was that
Samsung, a competitor, good competitor,
wouldn’t be paying tariffs and Tim Cook
would have got to help him
out short -term with that problem,
because it’s a great American
company. Samsung is in South Korea.
Not fair. At the beginning of
the trade war, Apple seemed confident
it could avoid tariffs.
In a June 2018 interview, Cook
said he didn’t believe the iPhone
would get hit. The New York
Times reported his confidence came from
the assurances within
the Trump administration.
If you listen to what Tim Cook
has to say about the whole U.S.-China
trade relations, he is very carefully
dancing around that core topic
of saying, look, these two
economies are intricately linked together.
We have to come to a resolution.
This is not good for
China or the U.S.,
that is good for Samsung, which
has its production elsewhere in Asia.
But the December 15th tariffs
could be worse for Apple.
It’s really important for Apple to
protect that supply chain in China
in addition to just
selling iPhones there.
When Trump signed his tax reform
bill in December 2017, Apple
repatriated hundreds of billions in overseas
cash and a lower tax
rate, saving the company an estimated
27 billion dollars in taxes.
A month later, Apple announced its
plans to pay thirty eight billion
dollars in taxes.
Apple detailing how to accelerate
its pace of U.S.
investments and job creation, saying it’s
going to make a 350 billion
dollar contribution to the U.S.
economy over the next five years.
Trump got wind of Apple’s plans
and tweeted on January 17th 2018.
I promised that my policies would
allow companies like Apple to bring
massive amounts of money back
to the United States.
Two weeks later, Trump cited Apple in
his first State of the Union
speech. Apple has just announced it plans
to invest a total of three
hundred and fifty billion dollars in
America and hire another twenty
thousand workers.
Besides one small factory in Ireland,
Apple doesn’t own and operate
any of its manufacturing.
Instead, it contracts with manufacturers
who assemble the company’s
products and most of
them are in China.
Tim Cook has been the architect of,
under Steve Jobs his era, of
taking manufacturing out
of the U.S.
and and outsourcing it to China,
to Foxconn and others in China.
Foxconn, of course, which is a
Taiwanese company, but it’s located so
much of the manufacturing
in the mainland.
Meanwhile, Trump has focused on getting
Apple to make its products in
the U.S. He’s always been
about American manufacturing, so he’s
criticized Apple a few times over
its practice of doing the vast
majority of its
manufacturing in China.
You got to start
doing it over here.
And you really have . I mean,
you’ve really put a big investment in
our country. We appreciate
it very much.
Trump telling The Wall Street Journal
that Apple CEO Tim Cook has
committed to building three big manufacturing
plants here in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Apple announced a
new version of the Mac Pro.
In September, the company announced it
would assemble them in Austin,
Texas, after it received tariff exemptions on
10 of the 15 parts it
needed to assemble the machine.
Cook said in a statement we
thank the administration for their
support enabling this opportunity.
Steve Jobs would have been a
horrible CEO in this moment because
think about what he would have to
deal kowtowed to both Beijing and
Trump. Can you picture in a
million years Steve Jobs threading the
needle in the way
that Tim Cook has.
He literally is in a position
where Chinese carriers are the lifeline
for his business in the second
biggest economy in the world.
And they manufacturer a lot
of the phones there.
He has to live with that
reality while simultaneously convincing Mad
Dog Trump that he’s going to hire
more people and build more things
here. And he’s done
it incredibly well.
Like, could you imagine Steve
Jobs pulling that off?
I really can’t. So maybe what was
needed right now is not this beacon
of innovation. Maybe it’s competence
and logistical savvy and
calmness. And that is what Tim
Cook has brought to the table.
That’s why he’s added about six
hundred billion dollars in market cap
to this company.
Cook, for the most part, has been
able to steer away from Trump’s
public attacks. President tweeted about his
new iPhone quote to Tim,
The button on the iPhone was
far better than the swipe.
Despite Trump’s iPhone critique, Sonnenfeld
says Cook has found the
perfect combination when it comes
to his relationship with President
Trump. Well, it’s a
perfect recipe for Apple.
I don’t know that it’s a perfect
recipe for the nation, but it works
for him. What Cook does is he
retains a seat at the table.
He presses, you know, what he thinks
he is or what Apple’s point of
view on the policy is.
And, you know, on those on the
stuff that he disagrees with Trump, he
makes his point known on that.
He’s issued companywide memos on
the Paris Accords and various
immigration related policy moves
from the Trump administration.
But he never he
never makes it personal.
There was an opportunity to humiliate
the president in one of these
advisory council meetings.
You may remember he turned to Tim
Cook and referred to him as Tim
Apple. We appreciate it
very much, Tim Apple.
And then on his Twitter icon
is Tim Cook replaced his
name with an apple.
Now that was ambiguous.
There are ways where you could see
that he was maybe having a little
bit of a spoof with the president,
but the president and others could
see that he was making fun of
himself and somehow it diffused the
situation pretty effectively.
In part because of situations like
this, Cook has cultivated what
Sonnenfeld calls personal respect, and
that’s what has helped him
avoid negative criticism
from the president.
Tim Cook was quick to see that he
doesn’t want to be on the wrong
side of public attacks
from President Trump.
And there must be a way you can
talk with him privately when you have
issues. And he’s found that
pipeline both through one-on-one
discussions, not using collective action,
not using lobbyists, but
President Trump, the personal respect is
very important to him, and
he’ll show that respect.
In order to cultivate that personal
respect, Cook has met with Trump
face-to-face, which Sonnenfeld says is
how Trump prefers to do
business. He likes to meet in person,
and he has a, despite the anger
at these rallies and the language
that’s used and what people will
talk about the divisiveness,
on one-on-one sessions.
He can be disarmingly charming
and he knows that.
And Tim Cook responds to that.
I don’t know how charming Tim Cook is,
but I think he’s a very good
listener and he doesn’t
have a personal agenda.
There’s no grandiosity or
egomania of Tim Cook.

100 Replies to “How Apple CEO Tim Cook Charmed President Donald Trump”

  1. So the thousands of farmers/agriculture/blue collar workers who voted for Trump suffer from the tariffs because of the on going trade war

    but Tim Cook, who voted for Hillary, are exempt from the Tariffs because he calls him on the phone?….

  2. Stop aborting fetuses so you will have more people and more business instead of relying on your enemy commie china.

  3. US sanctions is about protectionism, against free market capitalism. Pressure and punish those doing as well or better than US companies … Bully.

  4. HA “Volatile” !!! Remember when Hillary called African American tout “super predators”? When she called half of trump supporters “deplorables”?

  5. Make on US = Make much less money. Mac Pro made is US faced problems with parts, and cost, after which moved production out of US again.

  6. This just shows you that Trump cares about US companies and knows what he is doing.

    He is bringing jobs back to the mainland so that more people can have a well paying job and wages will grow because of that.

    This video even gave me a reason to start investing in apple since they are gonna open 3 manufacturing plants here which is gonna drive the stock price up, also giving them a break from tarrifs so that people can have confidence in buying apple products this December which also drives the stock price up.

    Once USMCA best passed you'll see China shaking and wanting to make a deal.

    They just need to stop stealing intellectual property and we are good.

    No more counterfeit products being built in China because that is hurting our companies like Nike for example.

    Also I don't like Samsung phones… The ones I've had have been bad and everyone I know who's had a galaxy runs into the same problems…

    Never owned an iPhone, I have a Razer phone but maybe some day I might make the switch.

  7. “Ivanka and Jared traveled for a photo opp” – oh come on CNBC… we get it, you don’t like the Trumps. But let’s not pretend all these democrat runners don’t go to black communities, poor schools, certain organizations for “photo opps”

  8. And so? The Left wants everything American destroyed anyway. They want Chinese made products because you know it's cheap even if it's not nearly as good as US does.

  9. All the butt licking by Tim cook is to distract ppl from his uninnovative apple products.
    Tim cook is a total noob

  10. Have to say Tim is a smart businessman, see Trump has put these taxes not to purposely hit American business but to protect America by reducing balance of trade

  11. Tim Cook: But the dictatorship of China gives me worker slaves… will you let use chinese worker slaves to make me rich Mr. Trump?

  12. The worst people in America colluding to increase their power and wealth. This is the illuminati and its like nobody cares all of a sudden. Wonder why

  13. Good on President Trump and Tim Cook – why apple products are not built in the U.S. is disappointing…. it’s not like you’re not paying through the nose for them anyway? I’d be happier knowing designed in California and built in U.S. too.

    Profits might need to take a hit but they’re making a killing with them and think of the investment to the country 👍🏻 (and this is coming from an Englishman)

  14. Apple already makes so much money on their phones, but tariffs would be another excuse for them to raise their prices.

  15. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, reaaaaaaaally–righhhhhhhhhhht.

    The "secret societies'" ( skull and bones, illuminati…) hidden/ very guarded/ not spoken of initiation rites/rituals basically consist of GROTESQUE actions one does that are documented and recorded for which they can FOREVER be blackmailed! These rites/rituals vary from the grossest to the most perverse! Then as time goes on – more and more drink , drugs, $$$ and perversions are encouraged and GIVEN which results in MORE and MORE blackmailable material available then they WILL comply with the craziest orders thereafter, and when their usefullness has waned they are suicided.

    Just look and you will see hundreds of these WHACKOS! The media presents/fawns over/uses MANY but also does NOT dare talk of certain ones! Maybe the chiefs/editors ARE some?????

    They are always "kept close" YET at a sufficient distance for "plausible deniability" – J. Epstein, J. Saville, A. Edward….

    They sell their souls for $$$, drugs, drink and the ADDICTIVE perversions that control their minds!

  16. Communists do know that A strong America is a biggest enemy for them, so, destroy the United States is their final target. they are luck that there are many allies within America, leftist, radical democrats, liberals…… and they are work hard for this target!

  17. Apple+Trump= gangs/ Mafia…
    NATO+Trump= assassination
    PUTIN+TRUMP = PRISONS
    CHINA+TRUMP = WARS
    ARABS+Trump = scams …

    Anything+ Trump = crime …

  18. Tim has failed Apple. The products are crap. Tim should be removed as CEO and Apple find an innovator who can follow in the foot steps of the founder of Apple. The Man, Steve Jobs.

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