Tech CEOs & Republican Leaders Met Last Weekend to Plot to Stop Donald Trump

March 09, 2016
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Guests

Nick Baumann

senior enterprise editor at The Huffington Post. His latest piece is entitled "At Secretive Meeting, Tech CEOs and Top Republicans Commiserate, Plot to Stop Trump."

Cornel West

professor at Union Theological Seminary. He endorsed Bernie Sanders for president last summer. He is author of numerous books, most recently, Black Prophetic Fire.

As Donald Trump won three out of four states on Tuesday, Republican efforts to derail his candidacy are increasing. The Huffington Post has revealed leading establishment Republican political figures met with top GOP donors at a secretive meeting this past weekend at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum on a private island resort off the coast of Georgia. Attendees of the event included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google co-founder Larry Page and Facebook investor Sean Parker, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, political operative Karl Rove and House Speaker Paul Ryan. The main topic of the weekend retreat: How to stop Trump. We speak to Nick Baumann, senior enterprise editor at The Huffington Post.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: In the Republican race, Donald Trump won three more states on Tuesday: Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii. Texas Senator Ted Cruz won Idaho. In the Michigan race, Trump won 37 percent of the vote, Cruz placed second with 25 percent, Ohio’s John Kasich placed third with 24 percent. Florida Senator Marco Rubio placed no better than third in any race yesterday and ended the day without gaining a single delegate. Donald Trump spoke last night at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida.

DONALD TRUMP: Many people have called it a movement. And part of that movement is what I said before. I mean, it’s the people want to be involved. So when Chris called and when Sarah Palin called and when Jerry Falwell Jr. called and when Joe Arpaio called—I mean, you know when Joe Arpaio of Arizona calls, that Trump is tough on the border. OK?

AMY GOODMAN: That was Donald Trump in Jupiter. His three victories on Tuesday come as the mainstream Republican establishment is increasingly organizing to try to thwart him from winning the party nomination. The Huffington Post has revealed leading establishment Republican political figures met with top GOP donors at a secretive meeting this past weekend at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum on a private island resort off the coast of Georgia. Attendees of the event included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google co-founder Larry Page, Facebook investor Sean Parker, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, political operative Karl Rove and House Speaker Paul Ryan. The main topic of the weekend retreat? How to stop Trump.

For more on the secretive gathering, we’re joined by the man who reported it, Nick Baumann, senior enterprise editor at The Huffington Post. His latest piece is headlined "At Secretive Meeting, Tech CEOs and Top Republicans Commiserate, Plot to Stop Trump." This comes as a leading establishment Republican political figures—so, we’re going to turn right now to Nick Baumann.

Nick, talk about the significance of what happened yesterday—Donald Trump won three of the four primaries and caucuses, Ted Cruz won one—and what happened at Sea Island.

NICK BAUMANN: So, Donald Trump continues to rack up delegates, and that’s sort of at the heart of the race for the Republican nomination. Marco Rubio, who’s, you know, a favorite of the establishment at this point, out of the remaining candidates, may not win any delegates from last night’s contest. And I think the establishment is having this sort of confused moment where they’re partially trying to come to terms with Trump being the nominee and they’re also trying to figure out if there’s a way that they can get out of making Trump the nominee.

And so, Sea Island, this is an annual conference that the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, holds. It’s been at Sea Island for the past few years, but it’s been going on for decades. It was actually started by former President Gerald Ford, or conceived by him. And this year, like in past years, it attracts, you know, the very elite members of the Republican establishment, also big economic names from the Democratic political establishment—Larry Summers was there—and CEOs—

AMY GOODMAN: Wasn’t the publisher of The New York Times there, Nick?

NICK BAUMANN: Yeah, Arthur Sulzberger was there.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And also, you reported Lawrence Lessig of Harvard University was also there?

NICK BAUMANN: And Lawrence Lessig was there. He was involved in a presentation. And, you know, this is one of those conferences where there are a bunch of different topics discussed, but our reporting suggests that the main—the main focus of the weekend and what was on the tip of everyone’s tongue was, you know, what’s going on with Trump, and how do we stop him? I’m not sure that they really came up with a good way to do that, but it’s certainly something that was—that people were really discussing and worried about.

AMY GOODMAN: You followed the planes that came in and out. These are the private planes. Talk about how you pieced together who was there and their significance.

NICK BAUMANN: Yeah, so part of our reporting was talking to people who were there or people who talked to people who were there, both of those things, and then part of it was looking at Federal Aviation Administration records. Sea Island is pretty inaccessible. It’s about 80 miles from Jacksonville and 80 miles from Savannah, Georgia. It’s not near any major airports or major cities, but there are two small airports near there. And there were 54 private jets or private planes that took off from a small airport near the island on Sunday alone. That’s about four times as many as took off the previous weekend. So you really have some very wealthy and influential people coming to this conference.

AMY GOODMAN: Role of Karl Rove, Nick? The role of Karl Rove?

NICK BAUMANN: Yeah, so Karl Rove was there, and he actually gave a closing—a closing session at the conference. We now have the agenda available on our website. And he gave a closing session that was focused on—the agenda doesn’t actually reveal the details of it, but it does reveal the title, which is—it’s about William McKinley. And McKinley, of course, defeated a populist presidential challenger. And so we thought that was pretty interesting that that was the focus.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’d like to ask Cornel West, your reaction—we’ve got about a minute and a half left—to this secretive meeting just this past weekend of key members of the American ruling class about what to do about this election?

CORNEL WEST: I think it’s embarrassing when you have a neofascist as the public face of your major party, the Republican Party. But it’s a party that’s been captive to big banks and big corporations. It’s been a party that has condoned and permitted xenophobia against precious Mexicans, precious Muslims, gays and lesbians, black people. And you have hawkish foreign policies. When you get all three together, Trump is a culmination. He just happens to have this narcissistic personality out of control, and the media loves it, corporate media, because they make big money on it.

But the response can’t be milquetoast neoliberal Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t have what it takes to deal with the enthusiasm of a Donald Trump. You have to have the enthusiasm of a genuine populist. And keep in mind, I’m a democratic socialist. My brother Bernie, he’s a genuine populist. He’s not calling for the nationalizing of industries. He’s not calling for the curtailing of private property. He is a genuine populist. He can win.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see the Democratic establishment dealing in any way with Sanders in a similar way?

CORNEL WEST: Well, they’re running scared now as a result of Michigan. That’s why I got a smile on my face.

AMY GOODMAN: Where are you heading off to campaign with him next?

CORNEL WEST: I’m headed off to Chicago. We’re going to follow him all the way to the White House. When we get to the White House, we’re going to say, "We’ve got a president tied to the people." The people continue to put pressure, because he’s got corporate interests coming at him. He’s going to hit white supremacy, male supremacy, homophobia. And most importantly, he’s going to call into question some of the American imperial policies, the issues of empire.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there. I want to thank Nick Baumann, senior enterprise editor at The Huffington Post. We’ll link to your piece, "At Secretive Meeting, Tech CEOs and Top Republicans Commiserate, Plot to Stop Trump." And Professor Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary.

That does it for our broadcast. We have three job openings at Democracy Now!; check our website, democracynow.org: broadcast engineer, director of finance and operations and director of development.


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