Warren Buffett said he “overwhelmingly” supports President-elect Donald Trump’s choices for Cabinet positions as the incoming commander-in-chief’s selections face confirmation hearings in the Senate.
“I feel that way no matter who is president,” the billionaire Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman and chief executive officer said Thursday in New York at the premiere of a documentary about his life. “The CEO — which I am — should have the ability to pick people that help you run a place.”
“If they fail, then it’s your fault and you got to get somebody new,” Buffett said. “Maybe you change Cabinet members or something.”
Buffett, 86, backed Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election, stumping for her in Omaha, Nebraska, and headlining fundraisers. The billionaire frequently clashed with Trump and scolded him for not releasing income-tax returns, as major party presidential candidates have done for roughly four decades.
Trump’s cabinet picks include Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker; former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state; and retired Marine Corps general James Mattis as Defense secretary.
Since the election, Buffett has struck a more conciliatory tone toward Trump and called for unity. In an interview with CNN in November, he said that people could disagree with the president-elect, but ultimately he “deserves everybody’s respect.”
That message hasn’t resonated. Trump’s popularity is the worst for an incoming president in at least four decades, with just 40 percent of Americans saying they have a favorable impression of him, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll published Tuesday. Buffett said on Thursday that the low approval ratings won’t matter much.
“It’s what you go out with that counts — 20, 50 years later what people feel you’ve achieved,” Buffett said.
The president-elect has continued his pugnacious style during the transition, picking fights on Twitter with news outlets, automakers, defense contractors, intelligence agencies, Hollywood actress Meryl Streep and civil rights hero-turned-U.S. congressman John Lewis.
Buffett spoke on the red carpet at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The documentary, “Becoming Warren Buffett,” chronicles how the billionaire investor amassed one of the world’s largest fortunes and later decided to give the bulk of his wealth to charity. The film will air this month on HBO.
The Berkshire CEO said he hopes Americans are kept safe during the next administration, particularly in view of possible aggression from North Korea. And he said he’s looking for “the people that haven’t participated in our incredible prosperity” to have a chance to do better.
“If they work 40 hours a week, they should have a decent life,” Buffett said. “That’s the most important thing in terms of the economy.”
(c) 2017, Bloomberg · Amanda Gordon, Noah Buhayar