I was watching CNN tonight, and saw Richard Quest talk about how we all have to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt, in terms of believing his claim that he personally got a Japanese telecom giant, SoftBank, to promise to invest $50 billion into the US.
And I asked, why should we take Trump at his word? Donald Trump’s entire presidential campaign was one grandiose lie after another. Why in Lord’s name should we take the man at his word, when his word is so often the opposite of the truth?
So I started doing a little digging. And right away what do I find? The deal may not be new at all.
1. Much of the money may have already been earmarked for the US — so it’s not a new deal at all. (Trump claimed SoftBank wasn’t going to invest the money unless he won — in fact, the article says otherwise).
2. Nearly half the money in the fund comes from Saudi Arabia. You remember them. They’re the country that Trump excoriated during the campaign. Trump demanded that Hillary Clinton return Clinton Foundation donations from Saudi Arabia — donations meant to save the lives of people with AIDS — because Saudi Arabia is terrible on gay rights and women’s right.
But now, just a few months later, Donald Trump is happy to take money from Saudi Arabia. So, Saudi money for big business, a-okay. Saudi money to save people with AIDS, not so much.
It was not immediately clear how much of the investment was new, or how much would come directly from SoftBank itself. Son told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the money would come from a $100 billion joint investment fund announced in October by SoftBank and the Saudi Arabian government to invest in the global technology sector.
SoftBank has said it would provide at least $25 billion for the fund in the next five years, while Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund pledged to invest up to $45 billion in the same time period. The additional $30 billion would come from outside investors. During a trip to India last week, Son said he was close to securing the remaining funds.
Although Trump claimed credit for the investment, Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, argued that much of the $50 billion may have already been destined for U.S. technology companies.
“I think it’s making hay out of something that was there already,” said Entner. “In all likelihood, this comes out of the $100 billion fund. Considering the extremely large part that the U.S. has in the high-tech economy, [Son] would have probably invested something in the neighborhood anyway.”
So, pardon me for not sharing Richard Quest’s ebullience at taking Donald Trump at his word. Trump has proven time and again exactly how much his word is worth.