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Republican lawmakers issue warning to Apple amid Musk-Twitter discourse

Yahoo Finance political columnist Rick Newman outlines how Republican political officials are joining the discourse surrounding Elon Musk and Twitter's potential contention with Apple and its App Store.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: Well, speaking of that, we want to stick with it because Daniel Ek far from the only CEO attacking Apple here. Elon Musk's comments, they have also prompted Republicans to start weighing in on this debate as well. Incoming Ohio Republican Senator JD Vance tweeting, this would be the most raw exercise of monopoly power in a century, and no civilized country should allow it.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton tweeting, quote, "It would be ill advised for Apple to remove Twitter from the App Store because of a political disagreement over censorship." This comes as Bloomberg reports that Tim Cook met with Republican lawmakers in Washington, DC this week. Yahoo Finance senior columnist Rick Newman joining us now. And Rick, just your perspective of this piling on, on Apple, and now we have Republican lawmakers joining in as well.

RICK NEWMAN: Apparently, Tim Cook of Apple also met recently with Elon Musk because Elon posted something on Twitter about an hour ago, saying, thank you, Tim Cook, for the wonderful tour of Apple headquarters. And there was like a 10 second video of a pond. Now I don't know if Elon zipped down to Apple headquarters today or that was-- there it is. There we see the Apple pond. I can't tell if there are any fish there. But I don't know if he went down there today or if that was an older thing.

But this seems like it's a little bit of a patch-up between these two CEOs. And look, Apple is about as bulletproof as a company gets. It's worth recalling that President Trump, I think it was 2019, he, for a brief moment in time, called for a boycott of Apple because Apple refused to unlock iPhones in a terrorist shooting. And Apple has defended that stance many times before in some fairly high profile cases.

And Apple has done that mainly because they are making the point that the privacy of their users is paramount. And when Trump called for the boycott of Apple back in 2019, apparently, he wrote that tweet on an iPhone. And it amounted to absolutely nothing. It did absolutely zero damage to Apple's operations or to its brand image.

So I think it's an open question whether Apple might revise some of these App Store practices that we're talking about. But as for anything that might amount to a boycott or anything else might really harm Apple, it's not going to happen in the political world.

DAVE BRIGGS: Yeah, nobody, nobody wants to let go of their iPhones, Rick, so. But it is interesting. Do you think Apple could become the new Disney in terms of a cultural talking point? Ron DeSantis did suggest monopolistic power in a press conference. And you know what happened last night. Tucker Carlson piled on, echoing some of the things that Elon has said. Could this become Disney? Could it resonate with voters?

RICK NEWMAN: You know, I didn't see Tucker Carlson last night. I never watched, but Dave, invite me over--

DAVE BRIGGS: I don't either.

RICK NEWMAN: --the next time you--

DAVE BRIGGS: Just to be clear.

RICK NEWMAN: --have Tucker on.

DAVE BRIGGS: I just saw the clip on Twitter. Where else?

RICK NEWMAN: I think Apple really does stand alone. I mean, let's keep in mind, Apple is not the dominant smartphone in the world. That would be Android phones, which have, by far, a much, much higher market share. But Apple is about-- the iPhone is about as premium as a premium product gets.

And Apple can easily say, hey, you don't like the way we run our App Store, buy an Android. And everybody who owns an iPhone will probably say, nah, that's OK. I'll just stick with my iPhone because they just have such a devoted customer base, and honestly, a great product.

So-- and one other thing to throw in here, there have been legal challenges before to the way Apple operates its App Store, and Apple has prevailed in those. So the one wild card here, I guess, is whether Elon Musk can sort of muster a critical mass of complaints or opposition to its App Store practices that might just get them to bend a little bit. But I think Apple's on pretty solid ground here.

SEANA SMITH: I agree with you there, Rick. But we will see how this all plays out. Rick Newman, always great to have you. Thanks so much.