Steve Schwarzman said that reports that he was outraged at Donald Trump remarks about the violence in Charlottesville were not true.
“No. I wasn’t outraged,” Schwartzman, the chief of private equity investing giant Blackstone , said at the Delivering Alpha conference hosted by CNBC and the magazine Institiutional Investor on Tuesday in New York City.
Schwarzman, one of Trump’s closest business confidants and a longtime supporter of the Republican Party, chaired one of the councils of CEOs that was dissolved in the wake of Charlottesville. The New York Times reported that he was outraged at the president’s comments.
“It wasn’t true,” Schwarzman said of the New York Times story.
Schwarzman said that many of the CEOs were under intense pressure from employees, customers, and shareholders to resign from the White House advisory councils.
“Virtually everyone who was running a public company could not deal with the pressure they were getting from these constituencies,” he said.
Schwarzman himself came under attack for his suppprt of Trump.
“You should have seen the emails I was getting,” he said. “They called me a Nazi. I’m Jewish.”
He reaction to Trump’s remarks was “absurd.,” he said.
“It’s not just about people like me. We live in an adversarial society. It’s very deep and very broad. It’s terrible,” Schwarzman said.
He pointed to the conditions on college campuses as evidence of how deep divisions run and how far the left goes to attack dissidents.
“Look at universities that don’t permit free speech,” he said. “You can’t say anything without fear of being shunned.”
Schwarzman revealed additional details about the hastily organized CEO conference call following the media-fed eruption of anger over the presidents’ remarks. Each CEO got one minute to express his or her view he said.
Jack Welch, the famed former chief of GE, reportedly wanted to keep the council together. Schwarzman said that by the time Welch spoke, it was clear the council wouldn’t survive.
“We went in alphabetical order, by the time we got to W it didn’t much matter,” Schwarzman said.
Schwarzman said he still talks to the president but when asked when the last time they spoke he said, “Not your business.”