It looks like Peter Thiel’s early support of commander-in-chief and angry tweeter Donald Trump continues to pay off. Kevin Harrington, managing director of Thiel Macro LLC, an “investment firm that manages the personal capital of Peter Thiel,” has been named to the senior staff of the National Security Council.
The White House made the announcement yesterday. Harrington will assume the title of “Deputy Assistant to the President for Strategic Planning,” and he joins three other senior staff appointments. It’s unclear what, exactly, Harrington will be doing—“strategic planning” could mean any number of things. But it’s safe to say that, as part of the senior staff of the National Security Council, Harrington will be knee-deep in national security and foreign policy matters.
So what, exactly, are his qualifications? As the announcement notes, he most recently served as managing director and head of research at Thiel Macro LLC, “a San Francisco-based global macro hedge fund.” That one of Peter Thiel’s associates would find himself close to the White House isn’t totally surprising since Thiel—a Silicon Valley billionaire, aspiring vampire, and someone who thinks some corruption is OK—was an early supporter of Trump, and most recently defended his Muslim ban. Now, the person who appears to have spent the last four years with his fingers deep in Thiel’s money will have a line to the president. How nice.
In fact, Harrington has been connected to Thiel in some capacity for about 13 years now. According to his LinkedIn profile, Harrington also worked as managing director at Clarium Capital Management, Thiel’s failed hedge fund, for almost a decade. But according to Marlena Hilderly, the office manager at Thiel Capital, Harrington will no longer be working at that firm, due to his new role. We’ve asked Thiel’s representatives about this, and we’ll update this post if we get a response. (Thiel Capital and Thiel Macro appear to be intertwined; they share an address, and a recent Wall Street Journal story referred to Harrington as an employee of Thiel Capital.)
When it comes to foreign policy experience, Harrington’s qualifications appear to be slightly less impressive than his finance credentials. According to the White House, Harrington consulted for the Center for International Security and Cooperation, a foreign policy think tank at Stanford University. The release touts Harrington supposed credentials in “the security of fissile materials and the protection of critical national infrastructure,” but the latest involvement we were able to find in this area are a few papers he co-authored in 1997.
Besides that, Harrington reportedly conducted mathematics research for the Department of Defense and served on Trump’s transition team, working on the Department of Commerce team.
In 2012, Harrington and Thiel sat for a hilariously awkward interview with Bloomberg, in which they discussed “investor sentiment” and the economy. In classic Silicon Valley fashion, they talk about regulation and how it’s a big barrier to innovation, which certainly appears to reflect President Trump’s own views:
And while he definitely has experience in the finance sector, he’s also touted some... not-so-great predictions: “This is more likely a ski-jump recession, with short-term stimulus creating a bump that will ultimately lead to a more precipitous decline later,” he told Bloomberg in 2009. (We know now, of course, that Harrington was very wrong, and the economy did, in fact, recover.)
With Harrington’s appointment, someone who worked to strategically invest the funds of a reckless contrarian billionaire is now influencing the policy of the Trump White House. For everyday Americans, this isn’t ideal. For others, however, things are looking up.