Elections

Paypal founder Thiel and California Rep. Nunes named top members of Trump transition team

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 21, 2016.
Entrepreneur Peter Thiel speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 21, 2016. AP

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who outraged Silicon Valley with his support of Donald Trump, has been named to the executive committee of the Presidential Transition Team.

Thiel joins fellow Californian Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, on the 16-member executive committee. The committe also includes Trump’s sons and daughter Ivanka, as well as Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon, who was head of the conservative Breitbart News operation.

Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and a board member of Facebook, gave $1.25 million to the Trump campaign and appeared at the National Press Club in Washington to tout Trump in the final days of the campaign.

Thiel said at the press club that support for Trump is based on a belief that the nation’s leadership has failed and that while places like San Francisco and Washington were doing well, the country’s heartland had been left behind.

Thiel also suggested that Trump supporters don’t expect his more controversial policy pronouncements to actually happen.

“The media always is taking Trump literally but never takes him seriously,” Thiel said at the press club last month. “I think a lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally.”

“So when they hear things like the Muslim comment or the wall comment or things like that, the question is not ‘Are we going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China?’ or ‘How exactly are you going to enforce these tests?’ What they hear is we’re going to have a saner, more sensible immigration policy,” Thiel said.

California Congressman Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, differs from Trump on issues including free trade. Nunes is a supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal Trump pledges to kill.

But Nunes told McClatchy this week that he believes Trump supports Central Valley farmers in their push for water.

“The good thing is, he is more up to speed on water infrastructure than any other president we’ve had,” Nunes said. “Out here, everything is water, water, water.”

Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham

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