Billionaire Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel is in discussions to take a top role advising President Donald Trump on the activities of the intelligence community, Vanity Fair reported on Wednesday.
Thiel is “heavily leaning toward” taking a role as chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, which monitors the intelligence community and advises the President on its conduct, according to the Vanity Fair report, which cited an unnamed senior administration aide.
“He feels there’s a lot of good he can do and it’s worth putting up with all the bullshit and scrutiny that will accompany his appointment,” the senior aide said, according to Vanity Fair.
Thiel, a libertarian who spoke in Trump’s support during the Republican National Convention last year, made headlines earlier in 2016 for bankrolling wrestler Hulk Hogan’s successful defamation lawsuit against Gawker for publishing Hogan’s sex tape. Gawker was ordered to pay Hogan $140 million, declared bankruptcy and was ultimately purchased by Univision.
In 2003, Thiel founded Palantir, a secretive data-mining company that has won government national security contracts, including one for an intelligence system to support investigations by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
The unnamed senior administration aide told Vanity Fair, per the report, that if Thiel joins the advisory board he “intends to take a comprehensive look at the U.S. intelligence community’s information-technology architecture.”
“He is super-concerned about Amazon and Google,” the aide said, according to Vanity Fair, though Thiel is apparently less concerned about Facebook (and remains on the company’s board). “He feels they have become New Age global fascists in terms of how they’re controlling the media, how they’re controlling information flows to the public, even how they’re purging people from think tanks. He’s concerned about the monopolistic tendencies.”
Thiel joined Trump’s transition team days after the 2016 election, but appeared to sour on the President shortly afterward. BuzzFeed reported in August that Thiel told friends in January there was “a 50 percent chance this whole thing ends in disaster” and summed up Trump’s nascent administration as “incompetent.”
Thiel declined Vanity Fair’s requests for comment.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and chair of conservative outlet Breitbart News, told Vanity Fair before his departure from the White House that he could not “overstate” Thiel’s “impact on the transition.”
In an interview on July 12, just over a month before he left his role in Trump’s administration, Bannon told Vanity Fair, “You will see in the near term that Peter will be taking on new responsibilities, like intelligence.”