Facebook confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday that u.S. President Donald Trump met with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and board member Peter Thiel at the White House in October and had a secret dinner. The timing coincides with Zuckerberg’s hearing in Washington for Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, Libra. A week ago, Zuckerberg gave a speech at Georgetown University detailing the company’s commitment to free speech and its crackdown on and boycotts of misleading political ads.
“As CEO of a large U.S. company, it’s quite normal for Mark Zuckerberg to be invited to the White House and have dinner with the president and first lady,” a Facebook spokesman said in an emailed statement.
A person familiar with the matter told NBC News that Facebook board member Peter Thiel was present, but it was unclear why the two sides didn’t have a public agenda or what the three were talking about. The White House declined to comment on the matter.
Notably, the secret dinner was Zuckerberg’s second meeting with Trump in a month. During a visit to Washington in September, Zuckerberg had a photo with the president in the Oval Office.
As one of Facebook’s seven board members, Peter Thiel is one of the few outspoken conservatives in Silicon Valley. He was a major donor to the Trump campaign and chairman of Palantir, a private data technology company.
Since Mr. Trump took office, the company has become one of the biggest recipients of defense contracts with the U.S. government. In addition, Peter Thiel funded a well-known privacy infringement lawsuit that ultimately led to the bankruptcy of the gossip site Gawker.
Finally, in addition to the tech executives at social networking giant Facebook, Mr. Trump met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday and visited the Company’s manufacturing facility in Austin.