Trump suffers another stinging defection as major billionaire GOP megadonor abandons him

Trump suffers another stinging defection as major billionaire GOP megadonor abandons him
DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 24JAN08 - Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Blackstone Group, USA, captured during the session 'Myths and Realities of Sovereign Wealth Funds' at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2008, image via Flickr / World Economic Forum.

A second major Republican donor has publicly stated that he won't be backing Donald Trump's third presidential run.

Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman, CEO and co-founder of private-equity firm Blackstone, told Axios in a statement that he won't support the former president's campaign for a second term.

"America does better when its leaders are rooted in today and tomorrow, not today and yesterday," Schwarzman said. "It is time for the Republican Party to turn to a new generation of leaders and I intend to support one of them in the presidential primaries."

Schwarzman joins billionaire Ken Griffin, the founder of the Citadel hedge fund, who told Bloomberg on Tuesday that Trump is a "three-time loser" and instead endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has not officially entered the race.

Trump has plenty of campaign cash, but Axios noted that Schwarzman and Griffin could give cover for other Republicans to back away from the ex-president, who announced his third campaign Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago without his two eldest children.

In 2016, Trump and the Republicans swept into power, taking control of the White House and maintaining their majorities in both chambers of Congress.

But Democrats won back the House of Representatives in a 2018 landslide after campaigning largely against Trump's caustic style.

They completed their trifecta of US political power by taking the Senate and the White House in 2020.

President Joe Biden, whose victory Trump has refused to acknowledge, recently revealed he is planning to run for a second term, although he said he will make a final decision next year.

Trump departed Washington in chaos two weeks after his partisans stormed the US Capitol, but he chose to remain in the political arena, continuing to fundraise and hold rallies around the country.

Leading up to last week's midterm vote, in which Biden's Democrats had been expected to lose handily, Trump made denial of the 2020 election results a key litmus test for candidates to win his influential political endorsement.

But the predicted Republican "red wave" failed to materialize, and Democrats will maintain their control of the Senate.

In the still-undecided House, Republicans seem likely to eke out only a razor-thin majority.

Trump's once-loyal wingman, former vice president Mike Pence, offered potent criticism late Monday, telling ABC News that Trump was "reckless" on the day of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol and that he had told the president they had no authority to unilaterally block certification of the election, as Trump sought.

But Pence declined to say directly whether Trump should be president again. "That's up to the American people, but I think we'll have better choices in the future," he said in the interview.

With additional reporting by AFP

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