Apple CEO Tim Cook Explains Why He Attended Trump’s Tech Summit

December 19, 2016, 11:44 PM UTC
Donald Trump, Sheryl Sandberg, Mike Pence, Peter Thiel, Tim Cook, Safra Catz
President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. From left are, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Trump, PayPal founder Peter Thiel, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Oracle CEO Safra Catz. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci — AP

Apple CEO Tim Cook told his employees that he met with President-elect Donald Trump last week to engage in a discussion about issues that matter to the company.

“Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” Cook wrote in an internal post for Apple employees on Monday that was reported by TechCrunch. “The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena.”

Cook met in New York with Trump on Dec. 14, along with other top tech leaders including IBM (IBM) CEO Ginni Rometty and Facebook (FB) chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Cook had co-hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, but not Trump, during the election. 

Some, like Recode executive editor Kara Swisher, criticized the tech industry titans for sitting down with Trump who was hostile to the industry during the campaign. Trump had blasted Apple last February-even calling for a boycott of Apple products-after the iPhone maker declined to help the FBI decrypt a phone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. 

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Cook, openly gay and a strong supporter of civil rights, likely does not agree with much that Trump and his cabinet nominees have expressed. In his post to employees, he listed a series of issues that matter to Apple (AAPL) and that could be affected by future government decisions, such as combatting climate change, creating jobs and advocating for human rights for everyone.

He then listed two issues that he called “more business-centric,” which also reflected greater common ground with Trump. Those issues were simplifying the corporate tax system and intellectual property law reform “to try to stop the people suing when they don’t do anything as a company.”

Cook did not mention Trump’s tax reform idea specific to the profits of U.S. companies held overseas. Apple has over $200 billion held outside of the United States. Trump has spoken in favor of slashing the tax rate on companies that bring such cash back into the country.

For more on the Trump tech summit, watch:

In Cook’s view, the way to advance the positions Apple preferred is to engage in the debate, he wrote.

“Whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage,” Cook wrote. “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.”

At the meeting itself, Cook told Trump he was looking forward to talking about “the things that we can do to help you achieve some things you want,” according to a transcript of the opening of the session. 

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