CHANGE OF HEART

Trump: #NeverTrumper Paul Singer Loves Me Now

In his lengthy, freewheeling press conference, President Trump revealed that he had mended fences with one of his wealthiest adversaries during the campaign: Paul Singer.

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President Donald Trump announced today that he has made a new friend: Paul Singer, the billionaire hedge fund manager who backed Marco Rubio in the Republican primaries and ripped into Trump.

“As you know, Paul was very much involved with the anti-Trump or as they say ‘Never Trump’ and Paul just left and he's given us his total support and it's all about unification,” Trump said during his Thursday press conference.

“I want to thank Paul Singer for being here and coming up to the office,” he added. “He was a very strong opponent and now he's a very strong ally and I appreciate that.”

The newfound amicability is a significant departure for Singer, who publicly vented last summer that a Trump presidency could cause a global depression.

Representatives for Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, and his family foundation didn’t return requests for comment. But his comments on Trump, in the past, have been less than flattering.

“The most impactful of the economic policies that I recall him coming out for are these anti-trade policies,” he said at the Aspen Ideas Festival last summer, according to CNBC. “And I think if he actually stuck to those policies and gets elected president, it’s close to a guarantee of a global depression, widespread global depression.”

And National Review reported that at a private dinner last May, Singer told fellow attendees that he wouldn’t back either Trump or Hillary Clinton. Singer said that it Trump’s ascent made it “a difficult time, if not a bleak time” for conservatives, according to the magazine.

For his part, Trump minced no words about Singer during the Republican primaries. After news broke that Singer would back Rubio, Trump said the endorsement was “further proof” that the Florida senator was “weak on illegal immigration.”

“This man Singer that put up money, he’s big on amnesty,” Trump said on a New Hampshire campaign stop. “He’s big on illegal immigration, meaning, leave it alone. Paul Singer. Take a look at what he represents.”

Singer helped fund conservative support for the abortive 2013 comprehensive immigration efforts.

But since their campaign trail sparring, things have changed. On Nov. 15, Fortune reported that Singer’s firm made more than $42 million by betting on private prison stocks before the election. After Trump’s victory, stock prices for GEO Group and CoreCivic, the company’s two largest private prison companies, skyrocketed. And Elliott Management’s return was 40%.

Those companies stand to gain even more if Trump keeps his promises on immigrant detention. Private prison companies handle most immigrant detention––including detention of women and young children––and Trump has made more detention a top policy priority.

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And CNBC reported that Singer attended a fundraising breakfast for Trump on Dec. 7.

Trump and Singer are also largely on the same page about same-sex marriage; Singer played a key role in supporting New York State’s passage of legislation legalizing same-sex marriage there in 2011. Trump, for his part, has called same-sex marriage the law of the land, and––thus far––opted not to sign executive orders limiting gay rights.