They bankrolled Donald Trump. They applauded his tax cuts. They cheered as the stock market soared. Now, the sound coming from some of the president’s wealthiest donors is this: silence.
As chaos engulfs the White House and Democrats talk of impeachment, few of these billionaires have much to say about the president they showered with many millions in campaign contributions.
“I’m sorry, I am not available right now,” wrote venture capitalist Peter Thiel. No thank you, said Thomas Peterffy, who controls Interactive Brokers Group Inc. Richard LeFrak, the New York real estate magnate, said through a spokesman he’s not doing press at the moment.
And Andy Beal, the Texas banking billionaire, couldn’t comment because, “he doesn’t know what happened,” according to his assistant. “He wasn’t there and he doesn’t believe mainstream news reporting anymore.”
Only a handful of the two dozen or so of Trump’s wealthiest donors contacted by Bloomberg News left statements or declined to comment; most didn’t respond. A few published statements. No one agreed to be interviewed on the record.
Many among the world’s ultra-wealthy tend to air political leanings through financial contributions rather than words. But their silence echoes particularly loudly this week as a final act of a turbulent presidency turned into mayhem that sent shock waves around the globe.
On Thursday, Democratic lawmakers urged Trump’s cabinet to immediately remove him from office and threatened to impeach him a second time if they don’t act. They accused him of inciting the crowd that breached the Capitol. The riots have left five people dead, including one police officer.
A few of Trump’s supporters spoke out against the violence, including Blackstone Group Inc. founder Stephen Schwarzman, who contributed more money to Trump’s re-election bid than anyone else in high finance.
“The insurrection that followed the president’s remarks today is appalling and an affront to the democratic values we hold dear as Americans,” Schwarzman said in a statement. “I am shocked and horrified by this mob’s attempt to undermine our constitution. As I said in November, the outcome of the election is very clear and there must be a peaceful transition of power.”
“I unambiguously condemn the thugs and criminals who yesterday epitomized the worst elements of society by vandalizing the sacred halls and chambers of Congress, together with all who incited and abetted their unconscionable violence,” said Ronald Lauder, the billionaire chairman of Estee Lauder Cos. and a Trump donor.
Lauder’s statement, which he made in has capacity as president of the World Jewish Congress, didn’t specifically mention Trump.
The National Association of Manufacturers, through its chief executive officer, Jay Timmons, on Wednesday called on Vice President Mike Pence to consider invoking the 25th Amendment, which could eject Trump from office before the Jan. 20 transition.
Harold Hamm, the oil titan who’s a Trump confidante, sits on the board of the trade association. He didn’t return requests for comment.
Also silent were Richard and Liz Uihlein, owners of Uline Inc., who’ve poured tens of millions into conservative causes in recent years. Hedge fund manager John Paulson didn’t respond to a message seeking comment, nor did Charles Dolan, whose family controls the Madison Square Garden companies.
Others were succinct in their thoughts. Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments wrote that Wednesday’s events were “sickening behavior in so many ways and a tragedy.”
And Nelson Peltz, who organized a fundraiser for the president last year, said in a joint statement with his two co-founders of Trian Fund Management that they “condemn President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results.”
In a Thursday interview with CNBC, Peltz was even more blunt: “I voted for him in this past election in November. Today I’m sorry I did that.”