Tech billionaire Peter Thiel, once President Donald Trump‘s most prominent supporter in Silicon Valley, is reportedly distancing himself from this year’s presidential campaign because he feels re-election is unlikely.
Thiel, a venture capitalist who made his fortune as co-founder of PayPal, was one of the few tech leaders to publicly back Trump in 2016, donating $1.25million to his campaign and describing him as the man who could rebuild America during the Republican National Convention.
Despite publicly stating in 2018 that he supports Trump’s bid for another term in the White House, Thiel has remained largely silent throughout the current election cycle, without donating a single cent to the president’s campaign.
It’s now emerged that Thiel has expressed concerns over Trump’s re-election prospects in conversations with friends and associates at his oceanfront home in Hawaii in recent weeks.
Sources told the Wall Street Journal that Thiel believes the US economy will likely be stuck in deep recession with double-digit unemployment when the election rolls around in November – one that would put any sitting president at a dire disadvantage to a challenger.
Tech billionaire Peter Thiel, once President Donald Trump’s most prominent supporter in Silicon Valley, is reportedly distancing himself from this year’s presidential campaign because he feels re-election is unlikely. Trump and Thiel are pictured in the White House in 2016
One person close to Thiel said the billionaire likened Trump’s campaign to the ‘S.S. Minnow’ – a ship that ran aground on the television series Gilligan’s Island.
The sources claimed that Thiel is not planning to donate any money to his campaign this year, nor does he intend to speak at the Republican convention next month.
They said that Thiel may still vote for Trump, as he feels presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is aligned too closely with traditional liberal ideologies, and that he is unlikely to publicly distance himself from the president because he sees no benefit in doing so.
Thiel, a self-proclaimed Libertarian whose net worth is valued by Forbes at $2.3billion, did not return WSJ’s requests for comment.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh insisted to the newspaper that Thiel has been and remains a supporter of the president.
In 2016 Thiel was virtually alone among tech giants in supporting Trump, whose anti-immigration rhetoric was at odds with views widely held by Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Amazon, Google, and others.
Thiel reveled in Trump’s victory that year, telling friends he was equally thrilled about picking the winning candidate and seeing Trump’s campaign promises come to fruition.
Their relationship reportedly began to sour less than a year later in August 2017, when Thiel told confidants that the administration was ‘incompetent’ and that he feared Trump’s presidency would ‘end in disaster’, according to BuzzFeed News.
However, Thiel donated to Trump again around the midterm elections in 2018 and maintained his close ties with the White House, once attending a private dinner with the president and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Sources close to the billionaire told The Daily Beast that he had been ‘s**t-talking’ Trump’s botched management of the crisis.
One member of the president’s inner circle told the outlet that Thiel has ‘ghosted’ Trump associates.
Thiel was one of the few tech leaders to publicly back Trump in 2016, donating $1.25million to his campaign and describing him as the man who could rebuild America during a speech at the Republican National Convention (pictured)
Thiel (seen right with then-President-elect Trump and then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence in New York in December 2016) reveled in Trump’s victory, telling friends he was equally thrilled about picking the winning candidate and seeing Trump’s campaign promises come to fruition
Thiel’s apparent break from Trump came despite the fact that his data-mining venture, Palantir, has benefited from billions of dollars in government contracts.
In March, Palantir won an $80million contract to build a logistics management system for the US Navy’s warships and aircraft, according to The Washington Post.
In February, Palantir won an $823million contract to provide software to the Pentagon.
The firm has longstanding ties to some of the country’s most feared intelligence and law enforcement agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Palantir also recently worked with the Trump administration to help the government build a ‘single source’ database that would help mitigate the effects of the spread of the coronavirus, according to The Daily Beast.
The ‘Protect Now’ platform unveiled by the Department of Health and Human Services uses data from across federal, state, and local governments as well as health care facilities and colleges in order to help the administration to better ‘mitigate and prevent spread’ of COVID-19.
Amid that collaboration, however, Thiel reportedly became ‘frustrated’ with the president’s performance, particularly during his briefings on the virus.
Trump’s briefings raised questions about his ability to lead the country during a time of crisis, particularly after the sessions descended into tense back-and-forth exchanges with the press.
The president also gave conflicted messaging about following social distancing guidelines while urging supporters to ‘liberate’ states that imposed lockdowns in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
Trump also touted a drug used to treat malaria, hydroxychloroquine, as a possible cure for COVID-19, though this claim has been refuted by medical experts.
The president also drew widespread ridicule when he suggested that bleach or disinfectant cleaner can be used to rid the body of the virus. Trump later insisted he was being sarcastic.
The administration has faced fierce criticism after reports surfaced indicating that Trump ignored dire warnings from top officials about the approaching pandemic.
Thiel raised alarm about the virus early on as it spread across the world, recalling Palatir staff from abroad in mid-February, ahead of most other American companies.
Sources close to Thiel say he is not planning to donate any money to Trump’s campaign this year, nor does he intend to speak at the Republican convention next month. Trump is pictured on the campaign trail during a half-empty rally in Tulsa on June 20
The insiders also said that Thiel likened Trump’s campaign to the ‘S.S. Minnow’ – a ship that ran aground on the television series Gilligan’s Island (pictured)
Sources told WSJ that Thiel was disappointed by the pace of Trump’s response to the crisis that has left the economy in the worst shape it’s been in since the Great Depression with tens of millions of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.
While he’s willing to cut Trump some slack over the pandemic, sources said that he doesn’t believe the campaign has done enough to convince voters to keep him around.
The insiders also said that they expect Thiel to use his vast resources to bolster GOP candidates in the House and Senate in hopes of securing a Republican majority in at least one branch of government.
‘His biggest concern is that if people vote down the ticket, everything flips in one direction,’ one person familiar with Thiel’s plans said.
Thiel has continued to fund his own political-action committee, Free Forever, which is committed to limiting immigration, ending wars and adding jobs for working-class Americans.
Thiel reportedly expressed frustration with Trump’s botched management of the coronavirus crisis in May. As of Thursday, more than 2.7 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the US and more than 128,000 people have died
Source: Daily Mail