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Trump And Technology Executives Try To Reconcile Rough Relationship

President-elect Donald Trump speaks with technology leaders at Trump Tower in New York.
Albin Lohr-Jones/Bloomberg/Getty Images
President-elect Donald Trump speaks with technology leaders at Trump Tower in New York.

President-elect Donald Trump met Wednesday afternoon with a who's-who of the tech industry. They came from Silicon Valley and elsewhere to Trump Tower in Manhattan, where they talked about jobs and innovation.

At the start of the meeting, which was open to pool reporters, Trump told the tech executives he was "here to help you folks do well," and referred to the "bounce" in the stock market since Election Day, saying, "Right now everybody in this room has to like me a little bit." (Though for the most part, tech companies have lagged behind the big gains.)

It was no secret that most of Silicon Valley backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, and Trump openly feuded with some tech companies during the campaign. He called for a boycott of Apple because of its refusal to help the government unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter last December, and he also called on Apple to make its iPhones in the U.S.

And he has also criticized Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, over the newspaper's reporting during the campaign. In May, Trump called The Post a "toy" that Bezos used "for power so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed."

Bezos was in the room today, along with Tim Cook of Apple, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Elon Musk of Tesla and top executives from Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and other tech giants — as well as investor Peter Thiel, one of the few tech leaders who supported Trump's campaign, and who arranged today's meeting. Three of Trump's adult children were also present.

Trump told the executives that his team "has no chain of command," and that his phone line would be open to them.

There's no shortage of issues for the group to discuss.

The tech companies are highly reliant on highly skilled immigrants coming to the U.S., and so that's a concern for them, given Trumps views on immigration.

And China is a big issue — not only in terms of the products that U.S. tech companies manufacture there, but also as a market for their products. There are fears that a trade war with China could injure the companies' bottom lines.

But tech leaders aren't worried about everything on the president-elect's plans. Their companies have billions of dollars in profits sitting overseas, which they say is because of high U.S. corporate tax rates. Presumably the companies would repatriate those profits if tax rates were lower, which is something at the top of Trump's agenda.

One of the few high-profile tech companies that was excluded from Wednesday's meeting was Twitter — Trump's preferred social platform. A Politico story suggested this was in response to Twitter rejecting the Trump campaign's #CrookedHillary emoji earlier this year. Trump's transition team says Twitter was not invited because it is too small.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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