But Apple has been assembling computers in Austin since 2013, at a plant that’s owned by Flex, one of its contractors. Trump made his remarks as the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook, stood by without setting the president straight.
On Thursday morning, Trump tweeted that during his visit to Austin “for the start-up of the new Mac Pro … I asked Tim Cook to see if he could get Apple involved in building 5G in the U.S.” Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those discussions.
And on Friday, Trump again suggested that he had been at the opening of the Flex plant during a call-in to Fox and Friends.
Apple does have plans for a new center in Austin, but that facility isn’t Trump’s handiwork, either. On Wednesday, the company announced it had broken ground on a $1 billion, 3 million-square-foot campus that is expected to open in 2022 and initially house 5,000 employees. Apple currently has about 7,000 employees in Austin.
During his Fox and Friends segment Friday morning, Trump said Cook is “going to be building a $1 billion facility to make whatever he makes," despite the fact that the new campus will not include any manufacturing jobs.
Trump’s ongoing trade war with China cast doubt earlier this year on whether Apple’s top-of-the-line computer would be assembled in the Lone Star State. Trump has publicly urged the company, which makes the vast majority of its products in China, to build on home soil. In July, he tweeted that “Apple will not be given Tariff waiver, or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China. Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!”
But in September, the White House exempted certain Chinese-made components used in the Mac Pro from the levies. The exemption allowed Apple to assemble the Mac Pro within the United States.
Still, Trump’s at times contradictory and impossible-to-anticipate trade policies with China have jostled Apple’s stock price. And the lack of a trade deal leaves Apple’s other products, including the iPhone, vulnerable to other restrictions.
Cook and Trump have clashed on issues like the environment and immigration. But Cook has been able to shield Apple from Trump’s trade agenda. At the Austin facility, Trump described Cook as “a very special person,” and Cook later thanked the president and his advisers for their “support in pulling today off and getting us this far. It would not be possible without them.”
And, yet, perhaps it would. In December 2013, Cook tweeted that Apple had “begun manufacturing the Mac Pro in Austin. It’s the most powerful Mac ever. Orders start tomorrow.” Rick Perry, then the governor of Texas and now the nation’s soon-to-be former energy secretary, tweeted back with his own congratulations.
Trump was tweeting that day, too. He typed out a line from his book, “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire: Everything You Need to Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life.”
“If you want the best, you’d better be the best — in all aspects of business,” Trump wrote.
There was no mention of Apple.