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Top tech CEOs reportedly join Republicans for secret meeting on private island

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Encryption and stopping Trump among topics discussed

world forum
world forum
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Some of the most powerful people in the technology industry met with Republican senators, party officials, and assorted billionaires on a private island last weekend, the Huffington Post reports, with the main topic of conversation being the rise of Donald Trump, and how best to stop him. Among those attending the event — the American Enterprise Institute's World Forum — were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk, and Google co-founder Larry Page.

The secretive annual event, which takes place on Sea Island off the coast of Georgia, has traditionally been closed off to the press, but political commentator Bill Kristol filed a report from this year's proceedings, describing meetings haunted by "the specter of Donald Trump." Kristol said there was "much unhappiness about his emergence," from attendees, a guest list of top-tier Republicans including veteran strategist Karl Rove, House speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

Tim Cook reportedly sparred with senator Tom Cotton on iPhone encryption

There was "a good deal of talk, some of it insightful and thoughtful, about why he's done so well, and many expressions of hope that he would be defeated," Kristol said, but the commentator didn't specify what the tech CEOs added to the discussion. Cook and his peers apparently weren't just there to watch, though — the Huffington Post's sources say the Apple boss engaged in a fierce debate with Arkansas senator Tom Cotton on the topic of encryption. "Everyone was a little uncomfortable about how hostile Cotton was," the anonymous person told the publication, describing the senator as "harsh" to the Apple head.

The AEI did not confirm whether the tech CEOs had actually attended the World Forum — as to be expected for an event that wouldn't even say whether it was snowing or not last year — but publicly available flight data shows a host of private jets departing the nearest airport to the tiny island last weekend, with some of them landing back in San Jose, California.