Stephen Schwarzman ’69, CEO of the Blackstone Group and a major Yale donor, has advised President Donald Trump and his administration with increasing frequency over the past weeks, according to Politico.
Schwarzman, whom Trump appointed chair of his Strategic and Policy Forum last December, has led the forum’s two meetings and has regularly spoken with Trump multiple times per week, Politico reported. Recently, Schwarzman personally counseled the president on issues such as labeling China a currency manipulator and keeping an immigration program as well as on the broad goals of the forum, which is composed of 19 business leaders and chaired by Schwarzman.
At the most recent meeting, Schwarzman told the press that members of the forum divided into five groups and each met with members of Trump’s cabinet such as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross ’59. In these groups, the CEOs advised administration members in executing their goals.
“The president is a business person, so he’s very comfortable being around business people and he learns best by talking to people and observing things,” Schwarzman told Politico. “I think he looks forward to these things and he likes being with business people who have run businesses that are bigger than his. It’s just a highly supportive environment.”
Among the issues discussed at the most recent forum, according to Trump’s remarks during the forum meeting last Tuesday, were job creation, infrastructure development, environmental business regulations and reform of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump also listed bank deregulation as a specific priority and expressed plans to specifically target the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.
“For the bankers in the room, they’ll be very happy because we’re really doing a major streamlining and, perhaps, elimination, and replacing it with something else,” Trump said at the beginning of the forum’s meeting on Tuesday. “But that will be the minimum. But we’re doing a major elimination of the horrendous Dodd-Frank regulations, keeping some obviously, but getting rid of many.”
In addition to his official role in the Strategic and Policy Forum, Schwarzman has informally advised Trump on multiple major policy issues ranging from immigration to foreign policy.
While somewhat out of line with his campaign platform, the president recently chose to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives children of illegal immigrants two-year green cards. According to a Politico report, this decision followed a phone call with Schwarzman. And in early January, Schwarzman met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who, Schwarzman told Bloomberg Television, assured that China wanted to avoid trade war with the United States and was “very positive on the long-term relationship between the countries.”
Although Trump directly accused China of currency manipulation during his presidential campaign, Schwarzman told reporters last Tuesday that the president would likely not do so, and on Friday, the Trump administration officially declined to label China a currency manipulator.
During his presidential campaign, Trump also criticized Janet Yellen GRD ’71, chair of the Federal Reserve, for keeping the federal funds rate low and stated that he would “most likely replace her” if elected. But Trump then told The Wall Street Journal that he likes Yellen and is now in favor of a low-interest rate policy in an interview last Wednesday.
Trump has met with various business executives 20 times since assuming office.