By Michael Kranish,
Excerpts of an interview with billionaire investor George Soros by Post reporter Michael Kranish in Zurich on June 7, 2018.
On his many enemies:
I’m proud of my enemies. When I look at the enemies I have all over the world, I must be doing something right. Because of the people who are attacking me and who they are . . . I’m proud of it.
On the 2020 presidential race:
I refuse to get involved in the presidential elections because they will divide the Democratic Party. And there’s no presidential election in 2018, and the party needs to be united. . . . I think there are many qualified candidates, and I think also that some will distinguish themselves in the 2018 elections that will give them more chances. I may add that there’s only one whom I would not like to see succeed, and that’s [Senator Kirsten] Gillibrand of New York because she is responsible for pushing . . . the comedian . . . Al Franken, whom I admire, to resign. In order to improve her chances. So she is campaigning, and I hope she doesn’t — there is one less candidate.
On President Trump:
He is fighting a trade war, which is liable to cause financial disruptions and possibly a financial crisis, and he is also ready to fight real wars, particularly in the Middle East. He might be willing to attack Iran militarily, which would be a big danger.
On impeaching Trump:
What I said was that if there’s bipartisan support for it, then I would favor impeaching him because he is endangering the United States and the world . . . even at the cost that this would make Pence the president, who is much more competent in representing the far right.
On his concern about a nuclear holocaust:
[There is] a real danger that we are going to destroy ourselves and civilization. And that is the real thing that I’m really afraid of. And with Trump, we’ve come very close to it.
Because as a narcissist he is perfectly willing to destroy the world in order to maintain his narcissism, because he wants everything to revolve around him.
On Trump and a possible nuclear deal with North Korea:
He didn’t believe he would actually get elected. And the fact that he has succeeded has really changed him, and he now kind of considers himself all-powerful. He was kept under control by his minders, the generals, but he got rid of most of them, there’s only one that is left, and he has now got people who are his servants, so it is a very dangerous situation, and I’m very happy that he chose North Korea as the only country that he wants to get closer to. . . . I’m greatly relieved because I really believe there is a danger to the end of our civilization.
On his relationship with Trump:
We used to have dinner. I had no idea he had political ambitions . . . but I didn’t like his behavior as a businessman. He asked me once to be the lead tenant in one of his buildings. He said “name your price.” He said “I want you as the lead tenant, and you can say how much you are willing to pay.” I told him I can’t afford it. It has nothing to do with clients. It is my reputation.
On his election night reaction to Trump’s victory:
Frankly, surprised, so, apparently, I was living in my own bubble.
On Hillary Clinton:
I thought she would make a very good president. She was not good as a campaigner because she was too much like a schoolmarm. Talking down to people . . . instead of listening to them...Bill Clinton was the opposite. He was a wonderful listener who genuinely loved to talk to people and enjoyed campaigning.
On lessons from 2016:
Basically, I think we have a problem with trust. Because . . . it is so much easier to destroy trust than to build it up. And a lot of the techniques of influencing people’s opinions without them even knowing it, they do operate by destroying trust. That is a tremendous danger, and I hold it responsible for the decline in trust.
On why he invests more in voter turnout than candidates:
I’d like to keep my political contributions as low as possible because I think we can use that money more effectively in overcoming voter suppression and other activities that don’t attract so much money.
On supporting liberal candidates in local district attorney races:
We have been deeply involved in criminal justice reform and eliminating the racial prejudices and class prejudices that are very often manifested in the criminal system. We’ve been fighting for reducing nonviolent offenders in prison. This hasn’t done any good. . . . And the district attorneys are the linchpin of the judicial system, so it is a very worthwhile project, and I’m very proud of our success. And now we ran into a brick wall in California. . . . We will have to reassess what we are doing.
On whether prospective candidates try to talk to him:
Frankly, I don’t spend much time talking politics socially. I avoid it; it bores me.
On the obligation posed by his wealth:
I do feel that being independently wealthy, I am in a better position than many other people who may feel the same way, but let’s say they run a public company, and they don’t want to antagonize half their customers. I am independently wealthy, and I have the freedom that they don’t have, and that puts an obligation on me. I do feel that.
On whether he has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin:
No, I never wanted to meet him. I met most Russian leaders; I was very deeply engaged in the Soviet Union during the years of dissolution. I would say that I was more involved in the affairs of state of the Soviet Union than I ever was in the affairs of state of the U.S.
On his religious beliefs and Judaism:
I am an agnostic. . . . I am definitely the son of two Jewish parents and four Jewish grandparents, so I am Jewish by descent. I’m not a practicing Jew. But I am definitely a Jew. [I am agnostic] because of our inherent inability to understand reality, and therefore I cannot be sure that there is no God. I’m sure that I don’t believe in God as it is described in the Jewish — in the Old and New Testaments. . . . I believe that man created God in his own image, whereas the Bible says God created man in his own image.
On his philosophical quest:
My interests are basically philosophical, and I consider myself as a failed philosopher. . . . I am very interested in knowing that it is impossible to understand realities beyond our grasp. But it makes a big difference how far our beliefs are from reality. And I’d like to narrow the gap between my beliefs and reality.