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In what is being described as "a good meeting" by White House staff, President Donald Trump on Wednesday invited Apple CEO Tim Cook to talk trade in a closed-door confab.
Cook met with Trump in the Oval Office, and the White House press secretary said in Wednesday's briefing that the main topic of the meeting was trade.
Cook, according to a Bloomberg News account, entered the White House prior to the scheduled meeting time of 1:45 p.m.; Cook also met in the Oval Office with Larry Kudlow, who took over this month as the president's top economic adviser.
CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins tweeted Wednesday afternoon that Cook left the White House around 2:30, and quoted Deputy press secretary Raj Shah as stating that Cook and Trump had had "a good meeting."
Cook, accompanied by Apple environmental chief Lisa Jackson, attended the state dinner Tuesday night for French President Emmanuel Macron, and the Apple duo was seated at the president's table.
The meeting between Trump and Cook was still ongoing when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about it, in the afternoon press briefing.
"The primary focus and purpose of the meeting is the discuss trade," Sanders said in response to a question from reporter Blake Burman of Fox Business Network. She added that while the meeting was only announced yesterday, it had been scheduled well in advance.
Burman went on to ask whether the president has any plans to meet with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, with whom he has openly feuded; Sanders said he does not.
The Cook meeting came up late in the briefing, after Sanders was asked about a wide variety of topics, including North Korea nuclear talks, recent remarks by President Macron, the U.S. Supreme Court arguments about Trump's travel ban, the imperiled nomination of Veterans Affairs Secretary-designate Ronny Jackson, and even the recent comments by rapper Kanye West that appeared to express support for the president.
Apple has not yet released any public comment about the meeting. A report Wednesday morning from Axios stated that Cook was planning to discuss tariffs, while also seeking to "feel out the president more broadly when it comes to economic policy," as Cook had more of an established relationship with Kudlow's predecessor, Gary Cohn.
A history of Trump and Cook
The president had tweeted about his meeting with Cook earlier in the day, stating that he was "looking forward to my meeting with Tim Cook of Apple. We will be talking about many things, including how the U.S. has been treated unfairly for many years, by many countries, on trade."
Looking forward to my meeting with Tim Cook of Apple. We will be talking about many things, including how the U.S. has been treated unfairly for many years, by many countries, on trade.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018
In early 2016, then-candidate Trump called for a boycott of Apple over the company's refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the suspects in the San Bernardino terror attack — a stance which ironically placed Trump on the same side as another of his enemies, then-FBI director James Comey.
However, while Cook has at times expressed opposition to the travel ban and other Trump initiatives, he has praised last year's tax reform package, and Apple has notably not been among many entities with which Trump has feuded as president. Cook and Trump have also met other times, including in June of 2017.
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