Billionaire Trump supporters Catsimatidis, Olenicoff say he isn't to blame for US Capitol attack

Billionaire Trump supporters Catsimatidis, Olenicoff say he isn't to blame for US Capitol attack

January 23, 2021
  • Few of President Donald Trump's billionaire donors have spoken publicly about the US Capitol attack.
  • Most of those who did, such as Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman, condemned the riots but did not name Trump in doing so.
  • Two billionaires actually argue that Trump didn't incite the insurrection: supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis and commercial real-estate developer Igor Olenicoff.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

More than 100 billionaires have donated to President Donald Trump's campaigns. Most haven't commented publicly on the US Capitol attack, including some of his most prominent boosters, like casino mogul Phil Ruffin. 

A handful of Pro-Trump billionaires have spoken out, including one of his top allies, Stephen Schwarzman. Most condemned the attempted coup but stopped short of acknowledging Trump's role in the insurrection. "I am shocked and horrified by this mob's attempt to undermine our constitution," the Blackstone CEO told Insider's Tyler Sonnemaker.

Two of Trump's boosters have gone as far as to deny that Trump incited the insurrection.

Commercial real estate developer Igor Olenicoff told Insider that Trump is not the guilty party.

"It's very, very unfortunate what happened and even more because the blame is being put at feet of The Honorable Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America," Olenicoff told Insider. "He should go on national TV and express his regrets and apologize if anything he said was misinterpreted by the crowd to act in this fashion. Certainly no such intent or consequences were his desire. No doubt it will fall on deaf ears with the media at this point. However, it is a start."

Trump's last television appearance was just before armed supporters stormed the Capitol. "All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats, which is what they're doing and stolen by the fake news media," he said at his rally on the morning of January 6. "We fight like Hell and if you don't fight like Hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."

He did say that the protesters would "march over to the Capitol building peacefully" but spent most of his speech baselessly claiming that the election was stolen from him and instructing his followers to "never concede."

Last night, in a surprising about-face, he acknowledged that Joe Biden would be inaugurated. In a two-and-a-half minute video posted to Twitter, he called the riot "a heinous attack" but ignored his role in what transpired.

John Catsimatidis, founder of Gristedes, a major New York City supermarket chain, has also defended the president and bashed the media for identifying Trump's role in the riots. 

"When you have 100,000 protesters — I don't know if they had 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 — you're always going to have 20 to 30 crazies," the founder of Gristedes, a major New York City supermarket chain, said in a radio interview for 77 WABC.  

"I see on the front page of The New York Times that they're blaming everything on Trump. I think he addressed the audience. I didn't think he said, 'Go out and do violence,' you know, go out and do peaceful protests. And that's what everybody's entitled to … I don't think any of his Twitter says, 'Go out and break into the Capitol.'" 

Catsimatidis did not reply to a request for comment from Insider.

During the siege on January 6, Trump posted several inflammatory tweets that were deleted by Twitter, before the social-media platform locked Trump's account for 12 hours. One tweet was a video in which he repeated election fraud claims and told the rioters, "We love you, you are very special."

Multiple European security officials told Insider the next day that they believe Trump deliberately attempted a coup and may have received help from federal law-enforcement officials. 

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