Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, and Napster creator Sean Parker all attended an exclusive event where the “main topic” was preventing Donald Trump from getting the Republican nomination for president, reports The Huffington Post.
That event, the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum, is a conference hosted on a private island off the coast of Georgia.
In addition to those tech leaders, attendees this year included Republican Party leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, former presidential adviser Karl Rove, and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The forum is closed to the press, so it’s not clear to what degree the tech leaders actually discussed Trump, whose controversial bid for the Republican nomination in the general election has alienated many in the party.
The report also says that Cook got into a debate with Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on the subject of Apple’s ongoing battle with the FBI and mobile phone encryption. According to the report, Cotton was “hostile” toward Cook in support of the FBI to the point where onlookers were “a little uncomfortable.”
Still, as The Huffington Post reports, conservative political commentator Bill Kristol sent an email dispatch from the event identifying Trump as “a specter” haunting the World Forum. Notably, Rove reportedly presented findings from a focus group suggesting that the public doesn’t see Trump as “presidential.”
Business leaders attend events like this all the time, so it’s dangerous to assume their political leanings from their presence — Cook may well have made the trip just to get in to those kinds of arguments. But it certainly shows the political weight that Silicon Valley’s top leaders command.
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