Business Leaders Change Their Tune on Trump | National News

Last week, former President Donald Trump attended a fundraiser at the home of San Francisco tech entrepreneur David Sacks that reportedly raised $12 million.

This Thursday, the convicted felon and presumptive GOP candidate for the presidency will address the Business Roundtable, an august group of more than 200 CEOs from America’s best known companies.

It’s quite a turnaround from 2021, when Trump left office after leading an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election and watching his supporters riot at the U.S. Capitol. Then, much of corporate America criticized Trump over his actions in cheering on his supporters.

But just like the majority of elected congressional Republicans and his 2024 primary opponents – notably runner-up and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – leading business figures have decided that Trump is the better choice to occupy the White House in 2025.

The fundraiser at the home of Sacks, one of the leading executives during the early years of PayPal and a serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur, illustrates the change in fortunes for Trump among a group of tech and other industry leaders.

Sacks supported Utah Sen. Mitt Romney in his failed run for president as the Republican Party nominee in 2012 and then former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. He moderated the glitchy 2023 announcement on Twitter of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s unsuccessful 2024 White House campaign. DeSantis was critical of Trump during his aborted run, but made amends recently.

Posting to X on Thursday, Sacks disparaged President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy, global affairs, and the various prosecutions of Trump that he claimed Biden is behind.

“The voters have experienced four years of President Trump and four years of President Biden,” Sacks wrote. “In tech, we call this an A/B test. With respect to economic policy, foreign policy, border policy, and legal fairness, Trump performed better. He is the president who deserves a second term.”

Other Silicon Valley notables such as Sequoia Capital partners Doug Leone and Shaun Maguire have also said they will support Trump this time around after being critical of him for what happened on Jan. 6.

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Maguire, writing in the Tampa Free Press the day before Trump was convicted in New York, faulted Biden for the hasty retreat from Afghanistan and his handling of foreign affairs.

“It wasn’t just Afghanistan,” Maguire wrote. “I believe that the Biden administration has had some of the worst foreign policy in decades. And this has manifested in two major Wars breaking out during their administration, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Iran’s proxy attack against Israel.”

“Was the timing just bad luck? I don’t believe so,” Maguire added. “I believe that a weak America leads to a chaotic world.”

The Business Roundtable, meanwhile, issued a statement saying the invitation to Trump is standard policy. Biden was invited to the meeting, but will be out of the country in Europe at a meeting of the G7 nations.

“As is our usual practice, earlier this spring, Business Roundtable invited both major political parties’ presumptive presidential nominees to address our members at our June CEO quarterly meeting,” said Michael Steel, senior vice president of communications and spokesman.

“Former President Trump has accepted. President Biden will be traveling overseas to the G7, but White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients is slated to appear in his stead. We invited President Biden when he was a candidate in 2020, and we were pleased that he spoke with our members in March of 2022 after becoming President. We look forward to a discussion of policy issues with former President Trump next week, and hope that President Biden will be able to join us again in the future.”

One of the CEOs who is a member of the Roundtable, Stephen Schwarzman, head of the giant investment firm Blackstone Group, has already come out in support of Trump after issuing a statement following January that was indirectly critical of Trump.

On May 24, Schwarzman said in a statement to Axios that he shares “the concern of most Americans that our economic, immigration and foreign policies are taking the country in the wrong direction” in announcing he was now supporting Trump.

The meetings and fundraisers come as the GOP candidate is making a full-court press on corporate America. Trump has been holding dinners at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, with many prominent corporate leaders, including activist investor Nelson Peltz who is a neighbor of Trump in Palm Beach.

Peltz said in January 2021 that he regretted voting for Trump, but he now questions Biden’s fitness for office and his handling of the immigration issue.

“It will probably be Trump and I’m not happy about that,” Peltz said during an interview with the Financial Times in March. “We can’t go on letting everyone into this country. We have an immigration problem – it’s not a Republican or Democrat problem. The U.S. should not halt immigration but I want some boundaries put on it so we know at least who we’re bringing in.”

Peltz has also been active in arranging meetings with Trump and Elon Musk, who has also been highly critical of Biden and the prosecution and conviction of the former president in New York on charges he falsified business records to hide payments to former porn star Stormy Daniels.

Musk is among a handful of Silicon Valley tech leaders known as the “nerd right” – a group that has distanced themselves from the more traditional liberal tilt of earlier California entrepreneurs. Some have been publicly outspoken about efforts by the federal government to regulate artificial intelligence and allegedly monopolistic behavior by companies such as Google and Facebook.

As president, Biden has pushed an agenda that both emboldens and threatens the tech industry. His support of electric vehicles has been very beneficial to Musk’s Tesla, whose products rely heavily on government subsidies. But his support of higher taxes on capital gains, as well as for billionaires generally, has drawn the ire of some of the richest people in the world who gained much of their wealth from investing in and selling off tech firms.

Trump had a mixed relationship with corporate America while president. CEOs lauded his $1.7 trillion tax cut in 2017, which was heavily skewed toward lowering taxes on the wealthy. But others saw his chaotic leadership style and increased tariffs on imported goods as detrimental to the economy and America’s standing in the world.

Trump has not limited his entreaties to corporate leaders to the tech industry. He hosted a meeting of oil executives at Mar-a-Lago where he reportedly suggested a contribution to his campaign would result in policies that would benefit the fossil fuel industry should he return to the White House. And the former president enjoys support among real estate entrepreneurs and CEOs in old economy sectors.

After the guilty verdict was announced in Trump’s New York trial, billionaire investor and real estate titan John Catsimatidis said in an appearance on Fox Business that “If they can do this to a business person like Donald Trump, they could do it to anybody in New York and a lot of businesses. A lot of people are concerned that there is no rule of law.”

“We have to change the world,” Catsimatidis said. “And President Trump is the only one that has the courage, actually, to make a difference in the world. And that message has to go through.”

But there are also business leaders and tech visionaries who are speaking out against their fellow corporate chieftains over their support of Trump. Notable among them is Reid Hoffman, a co-founder of LinkedIn and a major investor in many Silicon Valley firms and a staunch backer of AI companies.

Writing on Thursday in The Economist, Hoffman said the American business system is built on the same rule of law that Trump and many of his supporters now attack at every opportunity.

“When the courts go against him, as they so often have, Mr Trump claims – just like every other ‘wrongly’ convicted felon – that the system is rigged,” Hoffman wrote. “Meanwhile his lawyers have argued at the Supreme Court that as president he should be permitted any use of state violence. And Mr Trump’s party is now committed to delegitimising, rejecting and attacking juries, courts, elections and any other mechanisms that might hold the leader legally or electorally accountable. The danger speaks for itself.”

“In short, the rule of law is on the line in this election, ” Hoffman added. “Americans who prize respect for the law, stability and prosperity – including even business leaders who might value the last of these most highly – should take Mr Trump literally and seriously, and do everything they can to prevent his return to the White House.”

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Business Leaders Change Their Tune on Trump | National News:

Last week, former President Donald Trump attended a fundraiser at the home of San Francisco tech ent…