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Trump says Apple holds 'keys to so many criminals and criminal minds'

The president continues to call out the company over its refusal to unlock iPhones for law enforcement agencies.

The battle over encryption continues. 
James Martin/CNET

President Donald Trump continued his attack on Apple encryption Wednesday, telling CNBC that the iPhone maker has the "keys to so many criminals and criminal minds." Noting that he'd given the company "waivers," Trump added that Apple "has to help us" in cases like the deadly Florida naval base shooting in December.

Last week, Trump weighed on a reignited battle over encryption, calling out Apple for refusing to create backdoors that would help law enforcement agencies unlock iPhones. The Department of Justice and Attorney General William Barr also criticized the tech giant for a lack of "substantive help" in its investigation of the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. 

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement last week rejected the Justice Department's characterization that it hasn't been helping with the investigation. 

The company said it responded to law enforcement requests in a timely manner and handed over data including iCloud backups, account information and transactional data for multiple accounts. Apple reiterated that it won't create a backdoor to encryption to help with investigations. 

"We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys," Apple said in a statement sent Jan. 13. "Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers." 

Apple CEO Tim Cook was reportedly set to attend a breakfast with Trump on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

CNET's Carrie Mihalcik contributed to this report.