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Tim Cook, Larry Page and Elon Musk attend secret meeting to talk about Trump

10 Mar

by Gina Hall – Mar 8, 2016, 7:12am PST

Silicon Valley’s top minds met secretly with Republican leaders over the weekend to talk about Donald Trump.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google co-founder Larry Page, Napster Facebook investorSean Parker and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gathered at the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) World Forum at Sea Island, an exclusive resort off the coast of Georgia, according to the Huffington Post.

High-level political figures in attendance included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), political consultant Karl Rove, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sens.Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). Billionaire Philip Anschutz and Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, were also there.

The forum’s conversations focused on Trump’s candidacy — “how this happened, rather than how are we going to stop him,” according to one of the HuffPost’s anonymous sources. Rove gave a presentation regarding focus group findings on Trump. Rove said voters don’t see Trump as “presidential.”

“There was much unhappiness about his emergence, a good deal of talk, some of it insightful and thoughtful, about why he’s done so well, and many expressions of hope that he would be defeated,” political analyst and commentator Bill Kristol wrote in an emailed report from the event, the article said.


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But Trump wasn’t the only item on the agenda. Sen. Cotton entered into a heated debate with Cook over Apple’s encrypted devices. In February, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles told Apple that it must provide “reasonable technical assistance” to investigators aiming to unlock an iPhone 5C formerly owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Trump called for a boycott on Apple products in February.

“Cotton was pretty harsh on Cook,” HuffPost’s source said. “Everyone was a little uncomfortable about how hostile Cotton was.”

Cook wrote recently that creating a backdoor would open up the iPhone to hackers and breaches of privacy by law enforcement.

“The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor,” Cook wrote. “And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

The AEI has held the forum on Sea Island for several years, but the meeting is so secretive that it is difficult to get information on what was discussed due to a no-press policy.

“The event is private and off-the record, therefore we do not comment further on the content or attendees,” Judy Stecker, a spokeswoman for AEI, told HuffPost. It is “an informal gathering of leading thinkers from all ideological backgrounds to discuss challenges that the United States and the free world face in economics, security and social welfare.”

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