President Donald Trump went to Austin, Texas, on Wednesday to tour a factory where Apple’s Mac Pro computers have been manufactured for about six years.
Then Trump did the same thing he has done when he has visited other manufacturing facilities: wildly exaggerate his role in the facility’s existence.
“We’re seeing the beginning of a very powerful and important plant. And anybody that followed my campaign, I would always talk about Apple — that I want to see Apple building plants in the United States. And that’s what’s happening,” Trump said while standing beside Apple CEO Tim Cook at the plant. Criticizing Democrats’ impeachment proceedings, Trump said the proceedings were occurring as “we’re opening up massive Apple plants.”
Shortly after he left Texas, Trump tweeted: “Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America. Today Nancy Pelosi closed Congress because she doesn’t care about American Workers!”
Facts First: Trump did not “open” the plant, which has been making Apple’s Mac Pro computers since 2013. It is a Flex Ltd. plant, not a plant Apple itself built. And Pelosi did not close Congress. The House of Representatives was in session and passing bills on Wednesday, though the House Intelligence Committee was also hearing testimony in its impeachment inquiry.
This was the third time in 2019 that Trump inaccurately took credit over a factory he had toured. He also did it with the Louisiana liquefied natural gas facility he visited in May and a Pennsylvania ethane cracker facility he visited in August.
The Austin plant
It is perhaps possible that Trump was genuinely confused on Wednesday. Apple announced the same day that it had broken ground on a new $1 billion campus in Austin. Trump accurately made reference to this campus in a tweet on Thursday morning.
But the campus is about a mile away from the plant Trump visited (Cook said it was “about 10 minutes or so away from here”). The campus is not expected to employ manufacturing workers, the New York Times reported. And since Trump strongly suggested while visiting the plant that it is a plant that Apple itself built, we should emphasize that it is not owned by Apple. Flex, a manufacturing company formerly known as Flextronics, has a contract with Apple to make the Mac Pro.
Cook did not correct Trump when Trump made his inaccurate remark at the plant. Cook, standing beside Trump, said of the Trump administration: “I’m grateful for their support and pulling today off and getting us to — this far. It would not be possible without them.”
Flex referred questions to Apple. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump could have boasted factually about his role in keeping Mac Pro production in the US. Apple announced in September that it would manufacture the new version of the computer in Austin; the Wall Street Journal had reported months earlier that the company would move the work to China. Apple said the decision to stay in the US was made possible because Trump’s administration gave the company tariff exemptions on key components it imports from China.
Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, has obviously not “closed” Congress.
On Wednesday, the day Trump claimed she had shut it down, the House passed two bills intended to support and protect Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. On Tuesday, the House passed a short-term funding bill to try to avert a government shutdown.