Billionaire tech investor and conservative figure Peter Thiel has recently found himself at the center of a political storm, with reports emerging of a heated phone conversation between Thiel and former President Donald Trump. Thiel, best known for co-founding PayPal and his early investments in Facebook, has long been a prominent Republican mega-donor and a notable figure in conservative politics. However, his relationship with Trump appears to have hit a rocky patch.
According to recent reports by Theodore Schleifer at Puck, a phone call between Thiel and Trump earlier this year turned contentious. Initially, the conversation seemed cordial, but it quickly took a sour turn. Trump was reportedly incensed because he felt that Thiel had not adequately shown gratitude for his support of Thiel-backed candidates like J.D. Vance and Blake Masters in the 2022 midterm elections. The former president believed that Thiel had “screwed” him over in this regard.
Peter Thiel’s political journey has been intriguing to observe. A self-proclaimed libertarian, he initially supported Trump publicly, speaking on his behalf at the 2016 Republican National Convention and making a significant financial contribution of $1.25 million to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. However, his support appeared to waver in 2020 when he declined an opportunity to speak at the Republican National Convention and refrained from donating to Trump’s re-election campaign. Thiel’s skepticism reportedly stemmed from his belief that the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impacts would harm Trump’s chances at re-election.
Despite his reservations about Trump’s prospects, Thiel continued to play a pivotal role as a mega-donor in Republican politics. He threw his weight behind “hard-right” candidates, some of whom endorsed conspiracy theories. Thiel even resigned from Facebook’s board of directors to focus more intensively on supporting Republican candidates, particularly mentees like J.D. Vance and Blake Masters.
However, there has been a significant development in Thiel’s political involvement. He recently announced his withdrawal from active political participation and ceased plans to support candidates in the 2024 elections. This decision marked a significant shift in his engagement with the political arena.
The reported phone conversation between Thiel and Trump, which occurred “a few months ago,” marked their first interaction in a while. Neither Thiel nor Trump has commented on this reported exchange.
Adding to the intrigue, Trump appears to be distancing himself from supporting Thiel’s ally, Blake Masters, who had run for the U.S. Senate in Arizona during the 2022 midterm elections. Masters is now contemplating a 2024 Senate run, but Trump has expressed a preference for endorsing Kari Lake, a candidate who ran for Arizona governor in 2022 and is also considering a 2024 Senate bid, as reported by The New York Times.