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Blackstone and Trump

It may be of interest to note that, as portrayed in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury book about the first months of the US administration, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman has a close relationship with the Trump White House.

According to Wolff (page 35), on entering the White House the new president “wanted nothing so much as to be courted.” Among those who obliged, Wolff notes: “Schwartzman, the head of the Blackstone Group - and a [Jared] Kushner friend - offered to organize a business council for Trump, which Trump embraced.”

Two weeks after the inauguration, Wolff says (page 87) the White House hosted, and Trump presided over, a meeting of the new council, dubbed the “Strategic and Policy Forum,” which was attended by “a group of highly placed CEOs and weighty business types brought together by… Schwarzman.”

Wolff adds: “The planning for the event - with a precise agenda, cheographed seating and introductions, and fancy handouts - was more due to Schwarzman than to the White House.” Schwarzman, says Wolff, “reflected to many what was a surprising business and Wall Street affinity for Trump.”

A few weeks later, according to Wolff (page 289), many CEOs were abandoning the council after the President’s news conference in Charlottesville at which he appeared to equate civil rights demonstrators with hard right and Ku Klux Klan groups who attacked them. Amid a storm of criticism over his remarks, Trump tweeted that he was disbanding the business council. Wolff adds: “Schwarzman had advised the president that the council was collapsing and that the president ought to at least make it look as if shutting it down was his decision.”

Before any conclusions are drawn about all this, it should be kept in mind that Wolff - as for much else in his book - gives no specific sources.  ■