Donald Trump

Nelson Peltz Says He Is Sorry He Voted for Trump, Calls Capitol Riot ‘a Disgrace'

Adam Jeffery | CNBC
  • "What happened yesterday is a disgrace. As an American, I'm embarrassed," Nelson Peltz told CNBC.
  • The Trian Partners CEO apologized for backing President Trump's reelection efforts.
  • "All the good was gone, was thrown out, over the course of the last month and finished yesterday," he said.

Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz on Thursday apologized for backing President Donald Trump's failed reelection efforts, telling CNBC he believes the Capitol Hill riot has permanently tarnished Trump's legacy.

"What happened yesterday is a disgrace. As an American, I'm embarrassed," the Trian Partners CEO said on "Closing Bell." "I didn't vote for Trump in '16. I voted for him in this past election in November. Today, I'm sorry I did that."

Peltz, a prominent activist investor, donated to Trump's campaign in 2016, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. He held a big-money fundraiser for the president early last year.

Peltz said his support for Trump was rooted in the president's economic policies, particularly around trade and U.S.-China relations. However, Peltz said what he considers the positive aspects of Trump's agenda have been undermined not only by Wednesday's violent insurrection, which Trump incited, but by Trump's entire efforts to discredit President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory.

"All the good was gone, was thrown out, over the course of the last month and finished yesterday," Peltz said.

"Trump could have taken a different tack. He could have accepted the results. He could have offered his friendship, his support and his help for a transition to Biden. Had he done that, his legacy would be 180 degrees different from what it is today," Peltz added. "I mean, we had people shooting at each other in Congress. I mean, it's beyond belief. And how could you say that is anything but his legacy?"

Four people died amid the unrest in Washington on Wednesday, including one woman who, authorities say, was shot and killed by police. More than 50 police officers also were injured.

Supporters of Trump had gathered in Washington to protest Congress' confirmation of the Electoral College vote, which was the final, constitutionally mandated step in cementing Biden's victory over Trump. Trump, in a speech Wednesday morning, encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol to protest the confirmation. The president has refused to concede the race to Biden, falsely claiming his Democratic opponent only won due to widespread voter fraud.

The backlash to the Capitol Hill riot has been swift and widespread, with numerous Trump allies both in government and corporate America distancing themselves from the president. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned, the first member of his Cabinet to do so in the wake of Wednesday's violence.

Peltz said he hopes the pro-Trump mob taking over the Capitol is a "real turning point" for the country.

"I hope we can learn from yesterday," Peltz said, urging politicians to be more bipartisan. "We need to get out of this pandemic. We need to deal with some pressing issues, climate change, etc. Our leaders have to get to work. They have to work together, and we have to make yesterday a distant memory."

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