Blackstone chief Stephen Schwarzman backs Donald Trump

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Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman has endorsed Donald Trump for president as a “vote for change”, the latest sign that Republican megadonors who had been critical of the former president are uniting behind him.

The private equity billionaire had broken with Trump after the January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection, and supported Trump critic Chris Christie in the Republican primary. He donated $2mn to Tell It Like It Is, a super Pac supporting the former New Jersey governor, and gave a smaller amount to Republican Senator Tim Scott.

But in a statement, Schwarzman cited “the dramatic rise of antisemitism” as part of the reason for returning to Trump’s camp, adding that he believed President Joe Biden’s policies were misguided.

“I share the concern of most Americans that our economic, immigration and foreign policies are taking the country in the wrong direction,” Schwarzman said in a statement on Friday. “For these reasons, I am planning to vote for change and support Donald Trump for president.”

Schwarzman’s announcement could presage the start of a flow of more Wall Street money to the ex-president, who has been tapping finance, technology and energy billionaires for cash infusions as he lags behind Biden in the fundraising race. 

Trump swept through Texas on Wednesday to raise money from oil tycoons who are displeased with Biden’s environmental and climate agenda. Continental Resources chair Harold Hamm and Occidental Petroleum chief executive Vicki Hollub were among the energy moguls hosting Trump in the southern state.

Last month, hedge fund billionaire John Paulson hosted a fundraiser for Trump in Florida that the campaign said brought in more than $50mn.

With Schwarzman on board, more big names in finance could start making endorsements of their own. There are questions around what Republican Wall Street megadonors such as Ken Griffin and Paul Singer will do after former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who ran against Trump in the primary, recently announced her support for Trump. Both gave millions to her presidential bid.

Schwarzman was once a Trump ally, giving millions to support his re-election in 2020 and defending his actions to fellow CEOs in the immediate aftermath of his loss to Biden that year.

In 2017, the Blackstone chief chaired an advisory board to then-president Trump and travelled with him to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh then pledged to match up to $20bn in contributions from other investors to a Blackstone infrastructure fund. 

The advisory panel disbanded soon after Trump proclaimed there was “blame on both sides” of a white nationalist rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In November 2020, Schwarzman defended the president’s right to challenge the election results in court. But after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on January 6 2021, he condemned the “appalling” insurrection “that followed the president’s remarks”.

Following the Republicans’ disappointing 2022 midterm elections, the GOP megadonor said he would not support Trump and would look for “a new generation of leaders”.

On Friday, Schwarzman said he would also back Republican candidates in US Senate and down-ballot races. His decision to endorse Trump was first reported by Axios. 

Additional reporting by Antoine Gara in New York

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