Donald Trump condemned after children sit in on meeting with tech giants

The president-elect offered an olive branch to the giant companies he had scolded throughout the campaign - but one tech company was missing

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 14 December 2016 21:35
From left to right: Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sheryl Sandberg listen to Mr Trump
From left to right: Jeff Bezos, Larry Page and Sheryl Sandberg listen to Mr Trump

Donald Trump has been widely condemned for allowing three of his children to sit in on a meeting in which he sought to offer an olive branch to the giant tech companies he criticised thoughout his campaign.

The market capitalization of the companies represented at the meeting - including Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Facebook - exceeded $3 trillion and employs about 600,000 people.

The attendees were a veritable who’s who in the industry, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Alphabet's Larry Page, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.

And though it was notable that the Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, had not been invited amid claims the company had refused to create an emoji to go alongside the "Crooked Hillary" hashtag, it was the presence of Ivanka, Don Jr and Eric Trump that drew most criticism.

“You would think that if he is planning to come out with a solution of turning everything over to his children, that he would separate his children immediately from the transition. But he’s not even doing that, so it’s hard to see how this fits into any plan he may have for trying to avoid conflicts of interests,” Larry Noble, the general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, told The Hill.

Eric Walker, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, added: "Donald Trump's adult children cannot run the business and simultaneously have a role in Donald Trump's transition without the appearance President-elect Trump's decisions are for the good of the Trump Organization instead of the country."

It is not the first time Mr Trump has had to fend off numerous concerns about nepotism.

In November, he said he was considering making his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a White House advisor, and then a Middle East envoy.

And he allowed his daughter Ivanka Trump - an executive in his business empire - to sit in on a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister.

There are also concerns that Mr Trump has said that his sons would take control of his businesses, a measure many have argued would not remove the appearance of a conflict of interest.

During the meeting, Trump told the assembled executives that he wanted them to "keep going with the incredible innovation... Anything we can do to help this go along we’re going to be there for you."

"You call my people, you call me. It doesn’t make any difference."


Gary Coby, director of digital advertising and fundraising for the Trump campaign, wrote in a Medium blog post last month that Mr Dorsey had personally intervened to stop the Trump campaign creating the emoji as part of a $5 million deal with the company. The emoji would have shown small bags of money being stolen, and offered to users as a replacement for the "CrookedHillary" hashtag.

The Trump team insisted Twitter was not a big enough company to be invited. With a market capitalisation of $13.85 billion, it is smaller than the smallest company at the meeting - Tesla - with a market cap of $31.92 billion.

“They weren't invited because they aren't big enough,” the transition official said.

Mr Trump had previously called out Apple for making most of its products overseas and for refusing to unlock the phone of an terrorist. He and his team's strongest disapproval, however, was reserved for the social media platform that acted as his mouthpiece.

RNC spokesman, Sean Spicer, reportedly suggested refusing Mr Dorsey and his colleagues to join the meeting.

Twitter was the only tech company to say on the record that they would try to thrwart Mr Trump's plan to build a "Muslim registry".

Secret Service may intervene in Trump's twitter use

At the meeting on Wednesday, tech companies wanted to maintain the status quo of the last eight years under president Barack Obama, during which they saw tremendous growth.

"I'm here to help you folks do well," insisted Mr Trump. "And you're doing well right now and I'm very honored by the bounce.

They're all talking about the bounce. So right now everybody in this room has to like me - at least a little bit - but we're going to try and have that bounce continue."

The Nasdaq tech-focused index of US stocks is up more than 100 per cent in the last five years.

The meeting was chaired and organised by billionaire investor and Facebook board member Peter Thiel, as well as Mr Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

They promised to create more jobs and look at making government more efficient.

Mr Trump promised to do "fair trade deals" and was "going to make it a lost easier for you to trade across borders". He had been a vocal opponent of the Trans Pacific Partnership throughout the campaign.

The incoming government has appointed a transition team to advise him on business and economic policy.

IBM executive Ginni Rometty, Mr Musk, PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi and Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick have been added to the panel.

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