Tech

Trump received the first 2019 Mac Pro, new filings say

Apple tried very hard to curry favor with the 45th president.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, President Trump meet at a manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Apple tried very hard to cozy up to Trump during his presidency. He was, after all, consistently threatening to hit the company with tariffs in an attempt to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. Something that tariffs were unlikely to ever trigger due to the high cost and long timelines for making such a move. But that didn't mean he wouldn't do something stupid and make things difficult for Apple anyway, particularly given his propensity to stimmy Chinese companies, many of which build Apple's hardware.

Kissing the ring — Apple responded by extending an olive branch in the form of a new American-built Mac Pro. While the Mac Pro has been made in the U.S. since 2013, when Apple launched the 2019 model, CEO Tim Cook (who Trump at one point referred to as "Tim Apple") used the opportunity to take Trump on a tour of the facility. Cook failed to correct Trump when he falsely claimed the new Mac Pro was the first to be made in America, but who can blame him? Being corrected was never something the Former-President looked upon favorably.

Don't look a gift Mac in the grater — Now we've learned that Cook also gave the Trump one of these new Mac Pros.

U.S. Office of Government Ethics

The discovery was spotted in Trump's final financial disclosure report as President, where he must list all gifts he has received. Under a line for Tim Cook it describes the gift as, "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas." Again, not true, but that of course never mattered to Trump as much as convincing his supporters he was making progress on returning manufacturing jobs to America, no matter how little financial sense doing so would actually make in a hyper-globalized economy.

Tariff headaches — Apple's efforts to appease Trump were somewhat successful, earning tariff exemptions on some imported parts for the Mac Pro, but not all. Throughout 2019 and 2020, the company received waivers to tariffs of 7.5-25 percent on Chinese-made goods for various other products, including iMacs and AirPods. Tariff exemptions can be earned if the government is convinced the product isn't strategically important to China, and no other alternative manufacturing sources are identified.

Not all companies have been lucky enough to receive waivers. Despite its advantages, Apple has nonetheless been looking to expand its manufacturing to other countries to offset uncertainties in China.