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Apple’s Cook Did More Listening Than Influencing at White House

Despite claiming he stood up to Trump, reports indicate Cook did more listening than influencing.

Tech leaders, including Apple’s Tim Cook, met with President Trump earlier this week to discuss technology’s role in making government more efficient, among other important topics.

An earlier meeting of tech CEOs occurred in December at Trump Tower, where President-elect Trump ran his transition operation. At the time, Cook said he chose to meet with Trump because he wanted to influence the incoming president.

“Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” writes Cook. “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. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many ways, it’s a debate of ideas.”

But on Monday, it appeared Cook did not do much debating. Despite telling reporters he told Trump his immigrations plans make tech employees “nervous,” numerous accounts have indicated that the tech leaders, including Cook, did more listening than influencing.

Donald Trump’s CEOs are getting more listening practice than influence. The U.S. president loves to hobnob with corporate chiefs, but his meetings have been largely a one-way street. Executives can claim some impact on China policy but not yet on immigration, and they got stiffed on climate.

Cook’s attempts to cozy up to Trump since his win are well-documented, but patience among his supporters and employees is sure to wear thin sooner rather than later, particularly without any results.