The man once named a “Hillblazer” for his fundraising prowess on Clinton’s behalf is meeting with Trump officials Monday.
The White House is assembling an unlikely group of tech leaders Monday to discuss innovation, government efficiency, and the future of the industry.
President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is assembling the group, which is expected to include Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Qualcomm’s Steve Mollenkopf, and Alphabet/Google’s Eric Schmidt.
But perhaps the most surprising name on that list is Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. In the heat of the 2016 presidential election, Cook, along with one of Apple’s VPs, Lisa Jackson, hosted a fundraiser for Trump rival, Hillary Clinton. The August fundraiser brought in thousands from Cook and his friends, and even earned Cook “Hillblazer” status:
Cook, in particular, hosted a fundraiser for Clinton in August. He is also one of many tech execs on the campaign’s list of “Hillblazers,” or bundlers who have contributed or raised at least $100,000 for Clinton’s bid.
In October, well after Clinton had selected Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) to be her vice presidential nominee, numerous outlets reported that Clinton had seriously considered Cook for the number two post.
The Clinton campaign planned a meeting with Cook, who is CEO of the world’s most valuable company, in June 2015, but a staffer said the meeting was “one we should proceed cautiously.”
Cook is “supportive but new to this so I think we shouldn’t come on too strong,” a staffer wrote. The meeting was about fundraising, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
But not long after Clinton’s stunning defeat, Cook quickly switched gears and, in December, attended a round table of tech executives at Trump Tower to begin cozying up to the new, incoming administration. Here’s what he had to say about that meeting:
“It’s very important [to engage]. Governments can affect our ability to do what we do,” he responded. “They can affect it in positive ways and they can affect in not so positive ways. What we do is focus on the policies. Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy and security, education. They’re on advocating for human rights for everyone, and expanding the definition of human rights. They’re on the environment and really combating climate change, something we do by running our business on 100 percent renewable energy.”
People have long memories in politics, and Cook’s strong support for Clinton is not likely to be lost on the White House. With major issues, including Apple’s repatriation of its $250 billion cash stockpile overseas, on the table for discussion, the readout from these meetings will speak volumes about the future for Apple in the Trump era.
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