The Real Billionaire

Goldberg: Why is Peter Thiel, a GOP megadonor, buying a Maltese passport?

“When it comes to the GOP,” writes Thiel co-founder Sam Altman, “who is the real billionaire?”

Let’s start with the most obvious answer: Donald Trump. When I first saw Trump’s ads, in mid-2016, I thought he was the best candidate for US president because he was a strong conservative with the right-wing credentials to appeal to the GOP primary voters who could never vote for him. To me, he was already in the White House. A few months after the election, he invited me to his office in New York City. We sat around his desk, and he told me he saw a path to the presidency through the selection of a candidate by a primary vote in New York.

A year later I saw him with the Russian ambassador, who would become perhaps his closest ally in Europe, and I asked him the same question. He laughed and said he thought the same thing, that the party wanted him to be the next president of the United States.

But Trump did not want to be president—he wanted to be the person who would become the most powerful person in the world. And now, Trump is the most powerful person in the world.

Now here comes the other answer: Peter Thiel, a prominent Republican donor, who may be the billionaire most responsible for the rise of Trump and who was so close to Trump as to be his “best friend.”

In a long article, in the Guardian, published on Thursday, Thiel—who became one of the wealthiest men in the world by making a fortune selling a business to PayPal after its IPO—explains what brought him to the campaign of Marco Rubio in the Republican primary, and to Trump as their presidential candidates. The article was based on interviews with numerous people.

One of the most interesting quotes:

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