Morning Brief: Baupost’s Klarman Reportedly Calls Trump “A Threat to Democracy”

October 31, 2017   Stephen Taub

The Baupost Group exec and a handful of other industry bigshots derided President Trump at a Robin Hood conference, according to a New York magazine report.

Several of the biggest billionaire finance names, including one prominent hedge fund manager, have not only soured on President Donald Trump but admit they are downright worried about his leadership and his failure to carry out his promises, according to private talks at a Robin Hood conference last week that were reported by New York magazine.

For example, Appaloosa Management’s David Tepper expressed concern that Trump may not see his proposed tax cuts get passed. Hotel mogul Barry Sternlicht, who earlier openly supported Trump, was disappointed that Trump has maintained his extremist rhetoric.

"I expected him to go to the middle, because I thought he wanted to be great," he said, according to the report. "I played [golf] with Donald Trump and his golf game is like his presidency," he said, getting big laughs. "He’s amusing as my friend, but he’s not very amusing as president of the United States. And I’m a Republican."

The most scathing attack came from the normally measured speaker Seth Klarman of Baupost Group. In the private talk, the republican donor called Trump "a threat to democracy," adding, "He has attacked journalists and he’s threatening to take away NBC’s license. He’s attacking judges. He’s violating all sorts of democratic norms, from the emoluments clause to questioning the election and threatening to lock up his opponent. People don’t focus on this but Nazi Germany had a constitution before Hitler came to power and at the end of the war they had the exact same constitution. It lasted all the way through, but democracy didn’t."

Klarman and Sternlicht also criticized Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. Sternlicht, for example, credited German chancellor Angela Merkel for fueling her economy in part with immigrant labor. Klarman criticized Trump for other reasons. "The country is getting divided, whether it’s immigrants, whether it’s transgender people, whether it’s blacks, whether it’s Mexicans," he said. "It’s awful."

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