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Trump Meeting with Silicon Valley Tech Titans

  • VOA News

Businessman Bill Gates exits through the lobby at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, Dec. 13, 2016.

Donald Trump is meeting with leaders of some Silicon Valley corporate giants in what may be part introductory and part peace summit, given the acrimonious relationship the president-elect has with many of the nation's technology titans.

At Trump Tower in New York City, the president-elect will meet with the chief executives of companies such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft and Alphabet, Google's parent company.

Trump has few close ties with Silicon Valley executives, some of whom he lambasted while on the campaign trail, setting the stage for a meeting that could determine whether their long-term relationship will be contentious or synergistic.

Trump called on supporters to boycott Apple because of its position on privacy, and vowed to "get Apple to start making their computers and their iPhones on our land." The president-elect engaged in a spat with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over immigration reform.

FILE - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on stage during a town hall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, Feb. 27, 2015.
FILE - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on stage during a town hall at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, Feb. 27, 2015.

And Trump blasted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for using his ownership of The Washington Post as tax-evasion ploy, and even threatened that Bezos would experience "such problems" if he won the presidential election.

The technology industry, one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, could play a pivotal role in jump-starting Trump's employment initiative.

Sources said many of the executives will try to find common ground with the billionaire real estate mogul, even as many of them are opposed to Trump's tough language on illegal immigration and hostility to free trade.

Four sources familiar with the meeting's planning describe it as an introductory session that may focus on shared priorities, rather than disagreements.

"If he can reform the tax code, reduce regulation, and negotiate better trade deals, the U.S. technology community will be stronger and more competitive than ever," Oracle Chief Executive Safra Catz, who will attend the meeting, said in a statement.

Trump's surprise presidential victory last month alarmed many Silicon Valley workers.

Indications of that concern surfaced in an open letter signed Tuesday by more than 200 employees at technology companies. The letter pledged not to help the incoming Trump administration develop a data registry to track people based on their religion or to facilitate mass deportations.

Perry to head Department of Energy

Meanwhile, Trump Trump has named a one-time political foe, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, to head the country's Department of Energy, a sprawling agency Perry once said should be abolished as wasteful.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry smiles as he leaves Trump Tower, Dec. 12, 2016, in New York.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry smiles as he leaves Trump Tower, Dec. 12, 2016, in New York.

Perry, a two-time Republican presidential candidate, called Trump a "cancer to conservatism" in the early stages of the party's lengthy presidential nominating contest. But after dropping out of the race with scant voter support, the 66-year-old Perry endorsed Trump, saying the New York businessman wasn't his first or second choice for president, but "is the people's choice."

Trump on Wednesday formally named Perry to lead the agency that has 100,000 employees, oversees the country's nuclear-weapons arsenal and promotes development of green-energy projects.

"My administration is going to make sure we take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation, and Ricky Perry is going to do an amazing job as the leader of that process," Trump said in a statement.

A pump jack stands idle in Dewitt County, Texas, Jan. 13, 2016.
A pump jack stands idle in Dewitt County, Texas, Jan. 13, 2016.

Oil-rich Texas

Perry, a staunch conservative, could shift the Department of Energy away from its recent focus on renewable energy, which President Barack Obama has championed, and back toward oil and fossil fuels, which Perry promoted in oil-rich Texas. Perry has been a vocal skeptic of man-made climate change, but during his tenure as governor turned Texas into a major producer of wind-powered energy.

In 2011, during his first unsuccessful bid for the presidency, Perry committed a political gaffe that diminished his chances in his race against Trump.

During a debate, Perry called for eliminating three federal government agencies, including the Departments of Commerce and Education, but couldn't remember the third, finally saying, "Oops." He later said Energy was the third agency he wanted to abolish.

For most of Tuesday, Trump continued to work in New York to fill his Cabinet before his inauguration on January 20, when Obama leaves office after two terms in the White House.

Media reports late Tuesday said Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana, a former Navy SEAL, was believed to be the president-elect's choice for Secretary of the Interior.

Zinke, described by The Washington Post as a lifelong hunter and fisherman, is a proponent of keeping public lands under federal ownership. That position would put him at odds with those in the Republican Party who favor privatization, or placing federal lands under the control of states.

Trump also has said he does not think public land should be placed under state control.

The Interior Department has more than 70,000 employees across the United States and oversees more than 20 percent of federal land, including national parks.

FILE - Ronna Romney McDaniel, the Michigan Republican Party chair, speaks before a Republican presidential primary debate in Detroit.
FILE - Ronna Romney McDaniel, the Michigan Republican Party chair, speaks before a Republican presidential primary debate in Detroit.

RNC head

Trump also seemed likely to tap Ronna Romney McDaniel, the Michigan Republican Party chairwoman, as head of the Republican National Committee.

McDaniel is the niece of former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who had been among those being considered by Trump for the secretary of state post.

Later Tuesday, Trump flew to Wisconsin, the Midwestern state that he narrowly carried over Democrat Hillary Clinton in last month's election, for another "thank you" rally for supporters.

It was minus 12 degrees Celsius when Trump landed in Wisconsin. Addressing those who turned out for his rally in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis, he discussed many of the same themes as during his campaign.

He also took time to praise the Wisconsin politicians at the rally, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who represents a district in southern Wisconsin and who has had a rocky relationship with the president-elect.

When the crowd booed the mention of Ryan's name, Trump rallied the crowd, saying Ryan was "like a fine wine. Every day that goes by I get to appreciate his genius more and more."

A recount in the state confirmed that the billionaire real estate mogul won the election in the Dairy State by a razor-thin margin – the first time a Republican presidential candidate has been victorious there since 1984.

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