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Trump taps Peter Thiel to join presidential transition team

Silicon Valley’s biggest Trump fan will could have a direct hand in shaping the president-elect’s cabinet of advisors.

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Entrepreneur Peter Thiel speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel has moved from being one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters to an integral part of the president-elect’s transition team executive committee.

Thiel’s title and exact role are still being etched out, but the Facebook board member will have a hand in vetting of presidential appointments and help select which of Trump’s campaign promises should become policies, Bloomberg reported.

Thiel has stumped hard for Trump, speaking at the Republican National Convention in July, pledging $1.25 million to help him get elected, and holding a press conference the week before the election to further emphasize why he believed in Trump’s vision for America.

In his press conference in October, the tech investor told a room full of reporters that Trump’s agenda would bring the U.S. to a place of normalcy and shrink the deficit.

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“Just as much as it’s about making America great, Trump’s agenda is about making America a normal country,” Thiel said at the National Press Club on Halloween. “A normal country doesn’t have a half-trillion-dollar trade deficit. A normal country doesn’t fight five simultaneous undeclared wars. In a normal country, the government actually does its job.”

Thiel, who bankrolled a libel lawsuit against Gawker after the site revealed he was gay without permission, also said Trump would be an ally for the LGBT community, despite the president-elect’s track record and rhetoric.

However it pans out, Thiel’s role in Trump’s presidential transition team would give Silicon Valley notable influence over the next presidency. But Thiel’s influence doesn’t speak for the entire industry.

The tech industry isn’t loyal to any one political party, with many leaders identifying as libertarians and numerous of prominent executives throwing support behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy early on. Thiel’s impassioned support of Trump separates him from the pack.

Tech executives have been reeling post election. Major tech stocks are down and while some investors are expressing their devastation, big companies largely have kept quiet. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey being one of the only tech leaders to opine following Tuesday’s results. In a series of tweets, Dorsey highlighted the need for accountability in politics and respect for human rights.

Thiel’s role on Trump’s transition team could be a counterweight to the social conservatives that have been tapped to mold the future administration thus far, but his extreme views could hamper the process. Thiel advocates against college education and has a scholarship fund to encourage students to ditch the school route. He also aspires to live in a floating lawless utopia. Thiel also wrote in a 2009 blog post for Cato Unbound that welfare recipients and women’s suffrage were bad for democracy.

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“Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron,” Thiel wrote.