Trump is not particularly popular among the billionaire crowd of Silicon Valley, to say the least. As such, when the billionaire co-founder of PayPal endorsed Trump for President, donated ‘bigly’ to his campaign and even agreed to speak at the Republican National Convention last summer, it was a ‘yuge’ deal.
But, at least if you’re willing to believe the anonymous sources of BuzzFeed News, the honeymoon phase between Thiel and Trump may have ended a few months ago. While Thiel has continued to support Trump in public, personal friends who have attended dinners with him in recent months say he has soured on the administration of late and even intimated to friends that “there is a 50% chance this whole thing ends in disaster.”
Donald Trump’s most prominent Silicon Valley supporter has distanced himself from the president in multiple private conversations, describing at different points this year an “incompetent” administration, and one that may well end in “disaster.”
Peter Thiel’s unguarded remarks have surprised associates, some of whom are still reeling from his full-throated endorsement of Trump at the Republican National Convention. And while the investor stands by the president in public — “I support President Trump in his ongoing fight,” he said in a statement to BuzzFeed News — his private doubts underscore the fragility of the president’s backing from even his most public allies. Thiel’s comments may sting in particular in the White House as they they come amid a series of hasty and embarrassed departures from the Trump train, as conservative voices from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page to the floor of the US Senate have begun to distance themselves from the administration.
The sources who talked with BuzzFeed News spent time with Thiel in private group settings before and after the election at his homes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Hawaii, engaging in candid discussions on the PayPal cofounder’s politics and his backing of Trump. At one event with friends in January 2017, Thiel said of Trump’s presidency that “there is a 50% chance this whole thing ends in disaster,” according to two people who were in attendance. In other conversations, he questioned the president’s ability to be reelected.
Meanwhile, other personal friends have reportedly told BuzzFeed that Thiel never really had high hopes for the Trump administration describing it as “incompetent” and suggesting that Trump will most likely be a one-term president.
At a gathering at his home in Los Angeles the weekend before the election, a source in attendance said Thiel reiterated that point. But in at least one private conversation, Thiel admitted he didn’t have much confidence in either candidate. Whoever wins, he said, will likely be a one-term president, according to a person familiar with the discussion, with Thiel predicting that there would be a major financial catastrophe in the next four years.
Even with his low expectations and his views on possible failure, Thiel hasn’t completely hidden his disappointment. At an event in May in San Francisco, he was described by one guest who was in attendance as “annoyed” with the first months of Trump’s presidency. With little policy being established by the White House, Thiel worried that the the next four years would be defined by stagnation and stressed the notion that he didn’t think Trump would be reelected.
In describing the administration, Thiel used one defining word in front of his guests: “incompetent.”
And while Thiel refused to confirm the claims of BuzzFeed’s anonymous sources, leaving some level on doubt as to their accuracy, he also refused to deny them.
“The night he won the election, I said President Trump would face an awesomely difficult task,” Thiel said in a statement. “Today it’s clear that resistance to change in Washington, D.C. has been even fiercer than I anticipated. We still need change. I support President Trump in his ongoing fight to achieve it.”
What a difference a year makes…