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Trump claimed he opened a new Apple plant in Texas. He didn’t.



Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday toured an Austin, Texas-based factory that’s building the new Mac Pro desktop computer.

Alongside Cook was President Donald Trump, his daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The group toured the factory, spoke with workers, and shook hands.

Soon after Trump left the facility, he tweeted, “Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America.” The tweet was sent on — what else? — Apple’s iPhone.

But the factory Trump toured isn’t a new Apple factory — it’s a manufacturing plant owned and operated by Flex, a company that Apple contracts. And Flex is a company that Apple has contracted with for years, including on the prior model of Mac Pro starting in 2012.

Here are Flex employees who work in the long-running factory watching as Cook speaks with Trump:

Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Tim Cook, and Flex employees in Austin, Texas

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks to President Trump next to Flex employees.
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

In a video released by the White House through Trump’s Twitter account, Flex employees can be seen manufacturing the new Mac Pro:

Neither Cook nor Apple corrected Trump’s assertion that a new manufacturing plant was opened in Austin on Wednesday, but it’s in Apple’s best interest to stay on Trump’s good side as the company seeks exemptions from Chinese tariffs.

When asked by a reporter on Wednesday about those discussions, Trump demurred. “We’re looking at that,” he said. “The problem we have is you have Samsung, it’s a great company, but it’s a competitor of Apple. And it’s not fair because we have a trade deal, we made a great trade deal with South Korea. But we have to treat Apple in a somewhat similar basis as we treat Samsung.”

Apple_Austin Campus_112019


Trump has repeatedly spoken to the importance of Apple moving manufacturing to the US rather than in China, where it has traditionally built the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products. Apple’s production in China — handled by manufacturers like Foxconn and Pegatron — employs millions of workers. The Austin plant that builds the Mac Pro, one of Apple’s lowest-volume devices, employs about 500. 

Trump said that Apple was building “three big plants, beautiful plants” in the US in a 2017 interview with the Wall Street Journal. He reportedly told Tim Cook, “Unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success.”

Though Apple’s manufacturing in Texas isn’t quite what Trump promised, Apple did announced plans on Wednesday to build a $1 billion Austin campus, seen above.

The facilities will provide offices for as many as 15,000 employees, and will reportedly include a 50-acre nature and wildlife preserve that will be open to the public.

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