Trump admin might have a ‘secret weapon’ man to snag top intelligence post

By Eric Lieberman, DCNF DCNF

Tech tycoon Peter Thiel may soon be working in the Trump administration as a top intelligence adviser, according to a Vanity Fair report published Wednesday.

While Thiel, an early supporter of the president, has been informally working with President Donald Trump for some time, reports relayed to Vanity Fair seem to show that he could be given a more formal role, like chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB). The official government website for the agency has no details to offer, but the board has been around for quite some time. The PIAB traditionally provides advice to the president pertaining to intelligence activities, while also monitoring work from the larger community.

“I cannot overstate his impact on the transition,” former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told Vanity Fair, describing Thiel as a sort of secret weapon. “You will see in the near term that Peter will be taking on new responsibilities, like intelligence.”

FILE – In this July 21, 2016, file photo, entrepreneur Peter Thiel speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Vanity Fair also cites other senior officials that spoke as if Thiel is surely going to get the new job.

An early investor in Facebook and cofounder of PayPal, Thiel is an influential venture capitalist with an outspoken point of view that often conflicts with his political counterparts in Silicon Valley. As most in the tech realm are liberal, Thiel has created his own path as one of the few advocates of President Donald Trump in the industry.

After originally giving $2 million to a super-PAC supporting then-contender Carly Fiorina’s candidacy in August 2015, he soon switched his allegiance and announced in October 2016 that he planned on donating $1.25 million to Trump, then-Republican presidential nominee.

Just several weeks later, Thiel spoke at a press conference in Washington, D.C., to double down on his endorsement of Trump and defend his donation. He also spoke at the Republican National Convention in support of the party and Trump, becoming the first openly gay person to do so.

“I am proud to be gay, I am proud to be a Republican but most of all I am proud to be an American,” Thiel said in a speech. The crowd erupted in applause, potentially showing a growing shift in the party’s views on sexuality.

Defying convention is typical for Thiel, and if he’s eventually appointed, he would in some way be continuing that trend as an atypical choice for an intelligence role. Overall, Thiel’s potential ascension to such a critical role could give the libertarian-minded entrepreneur a large stake in the government’s operations.

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