A wealthy GOP mega-donor just issued a harrowing warning about Donald Trump during a recent investment conference, echoing fears he voiced over eight months ago.
Billionaire hedge fund manager Seth Klarman doesn’t make a habit of mixing business with personal politics. A registered independent, Klarman prefers to keep his ideological views private.
“I’m a complicated guy,” Klarman said in a 2015 interview with The Boston Globe. “I’m fairly nuanced in my views. I’m trying to do what I think is the right thing for the country.”
That all changed in 2017 after Trump was elected president. In a letter to Baupost Group investors this February, the billionaire moneymaker took a stab at the president’s proposed trade policies.
“The reason the U.S. long ago abandoned protectionist trade policies is because they not only don’t work, they actually leave society worse off,” he wrote, according to The New York Times. “Despite my preference to stay out of the media, I’ve taken the view that each of us can be bystanders, or we can be upstanders. I choose upstander.”
Warning that Trump’s proposed tax cuts could skyrocket government deficits, Klarman told investors to steer clear.
“Trump is high volatility, and investors generally abhor volatility and shun uncertainty,” he wrote. “If things go wrong, we could find ourselves at the beginning of a lengthy decline in dollar hegemony, a rapid rise in interest rates and inflation, and global angst.”
Though Klarman donated nearly $4 million to Republican candidates and causes between 1989 and 2014 according to the Federal Election Commission, he’s long been a vocal opponent of Trump. In 2016, he left the GOP to back Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, donating thousands to her campaign.
“Donald Trump is completely unqualified for the highest office in the land,” he said. “His words and actions … are so shockingly unacceptable in our diverse and democratic society that it is simply unthinkable that Donald Trump could become our president.”
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During a high-profile investment conference this week — one where investors pay $7,500 just to attend — Klarman doubled down on his comments. Trump, he says, is far more than a threat to the U.S. economy.
“The president is a threat to our democracy,” he said, according to an audio recording obtained by New York Magazine. “He’s violating all sorts of democratic norms, from the emoluments clause to questioning the election and threatening to lock up his opponent.”
Citing the commander-in-chief’s incessant attacks on journalists and judges, Klarman drew biting parallels between the Trump administration and the Third Reich.
“Nazi Germany had a constitution before Hitler came to power, and at the end of the war they had the exact same constitution,” he said. “It lasted all the way through, but democracy didn’t.”
Klarman wasn’t alone in his disdain for the current president. Barry Sternlicht, the founder of an investment firm with $51 billion in assets, said Trump’s presidency has been less-than-stellar.
“I played [golf] with Donald Trump, and his golf game is like his presidency,” Sternlicht said. “He’s amusing as my friend, but he’s not very amusing as president of the United States. And I’m a Republican.”