The President took to Twitter on Monday morning to clarify the circumstances of a widely reported gaffe from March 6 where he erroneously called Apple CEO Tim Cook “Tim Apple.”
The gaffe took place during an American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting held at the White House. Toward the end of the roundtable discussion, Trump went on to thank Cook: “You’ve really put a big investment in the country,” he says in the video. “We appreciate it very much; Tim Apple.”
Though it was captured on video, the president still attempted to write the episode off over the weekend by saying that his comments were misreported, per an Axios report. But his initial explanation — that he simply said the “Cook” in Tim Cook so softly that nobody heard — must have been met with skepticism, as the President later clarified that he said “Tim Apple” totally on purpose, as part of an “easy way to save time & words.”
Axios’s report indicated that even members of Trump’s community of donors were surprised that the president tried to deny the “Tim Apple” comment. “Why would you lie about that,” one of the donors told Axios’s Jonathan Swan. “It doesn’t even matter!” Swan likened it to Trump’s attempt to write off the footage from the famous Access Hollywood tape as being doctored as well.
For his part, Cook appears to have been a pretty good sport about the whole thing. As of Monday morning, for example, his Twitter AVI still read “Tim .” The relationship between the Apple CEO and Trump has always been a bit awkward: Cook was, after all, a big donor for Trump’s 2016 opponent, giving Hillary Clinton $236,100, per a Business Insider report. Employees from the company gave a total of nearly $2 million to Clinton while giving less than $7,000 to Trump.
Apple has also been affected by the president’s controversial trade policies. At the start of the year, Cook cited “rising trade tensions with the United States” in a surprising and rare letter to shareholders alerting them to Apple’s upcoming revenue miss. Like many tech CEOs, Cook must also tread a careful line between collaborating where the CEO and the president are aligned — for example on antitrust or tax measures — without angering their often progressive workforce.