Steve Bannon, the ex-Breitbart chairman and former chief strategist for Donald Trump, warns that the president will “drop the hammer” on Apple if it doesn’t work with authorities.
Bannon is referring to the current standoff regarding whether Apple should unlock iPhones used by the shooter who killed three people at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in December.
Speaking on CNBC show Squawk Box, Bannon said Apple should “100%” help unlock the iPhones. He believes Apple’s relationship with Trump will get markedly worse if it does not comply.
“If I were the guys at Apple I would pay attention to President Trump’s tweets,” Bannon said. “I would treat his tweets like a papal bull.”
In a tweet sent yesterday, Trump said the U.S. government helps Apple on trade and other issues. In return, the president said Apple should help unlock phones used by “killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements.”
Pensacola iPhone unlocking case similar to earlier FBI standoff
This contentious topic divided public opinion. Apple enjoyed lots of support as big names like Mark Zuckerberg and WhatsApp founder Jan Koum sided with the iPhone-maker. This came largely due to their concerns about attacks on end-to-end encryption. However, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison came down on the other side of the issue.
At the time, Trump was on the campaign trail prior to his election. He suggested Apple should unlock the iPhone. “Who do [Apple] think they are? They have to open it up,” Trump told Fox and Friends in February 2016.
Despite his better-than-expected relationship with Apple in the years since, it seems he hasn’t changed his mind about this issue.