The Texas Plant That Trump ‘Opened’ Yesterday Has Been Making Apple Products Since 2012

Tim Cook and Donald Trump Credit: Flickr / The White House
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As promised, U.S. President Donald Trump joined Apple CEO Tim Cook yesterday on a tour of Apple’s plant in Austin, Texas where the new Mac Pro is being made.

Not surprisingly, however, the move by Trump has more to do with bolstering his political profile than anything else, and now Apple’s CEO is being criticized for being tacitly complicit in Trump’s posturing.

Specifically at issue is the claim by President Trump that he opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will “bring high paying jobs back to America,” with a Tweet that turned his visit into a highly charged political attack against his democratic opponents.

This corresponds to comments that the U.S. President offered to reporters during the tour, again suggesting that the plant was new, and that he was somehow responsible for making it happen.

We’re seeing the beginning of a very powerful and important plant. Anybody that followed my campaign, I would always talk about Apple, that I want to see Apple building plants in the United States. And that’s what’s happening.

U.S. President Donald Trump

What’s worse, however, is that Trump’s claims aren’t even close to accurate. Firstly, the plant in question officially went into operation back in 2013, when Apple announced it would be manufacturing the last model of the Mac Pro in the U.S. — during the time of the Obama administration.

In fact, as Business Insider points out, the plant isn’t even owned by Apple, but rather a company named Flex, a manufacturing partner of Apple’s that has been making Apple products at that location since 2012.

Of course, Trump has been somewhat obliquely taking credit for Apple’s Texas-based manufacturing efforts for some time, and although previous comments made by the U.S. President could have been generously construed as suggesting that the policies of his administration have created a favourable environment for Apple to continue manufacturing its Mac Pro in the U.S. and thereby create (or retain) U.S. jobs by extension, it’s impossible to spin this week’s comments as anything other than blatant falsehoods.

Apple Stays Quiet

Meanwhile, neither Apple nor its CEO have offered anything in response to President Trump’s comments. While Cook of course hasn’t repeated or supported the comments, he’s also done nothing to correct them, leaving onlookers to fall back on the old maxim that “silence gives consent.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been criticized for standing by silently as Trump publicly made the false claim to reporters, although he clearly looked less than impressed, and it’s difficult to imagine what he could have realistically done in that moment, as correcting the President on the spot would have been bad form.

After Trump’s comments, however, Cook also took a moment to speak, saying only that he was “grateful for their support [of the Trump adminstration] in pulling today off and getting us this far,” while making no attempt to even obliquely correct the record, as The New York Times was quick to point out.

Others have been less diplomatic about the situation, with well-known Apple commentator John Gruber calling the move a “poorly-shot overexposed propaganda video by the White House” and accusing Cook of demonstrating implicit support for President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign.

A low moment in Apple’s proud history, and a sadly iconic moment for Tim Cook. I hope avoiding those tariffs is worth it.

John Gruber

As Gruber notes, Cook’s longstanding policy of engaging President Trump in the past has not at any point implied support for Trump or his administration, merely a pragmatic acknowledgement that Cook has to walk a fine line and work with whoever is in power if he’s going to fulfill his responsibilities as Apple’s Chief Executive. This week, Tim Cook stepped over that line, and it’s impossible to believe that he didn’t do so fully knowing that he and Apple were about to be dragged into complicity with the Trump propaganda machine.

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