Ron Lauder praises Trump as ‘man of intelligence’
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Ron Lauder praises Trump as ‘man of intelligence’

Jewish philanthropist says critics confused by fact that president is not a politician, hints at work on ‘diplomatic challenges’

Donald Trump shakes hands with Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress,  after a meeting on December 28, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. (AFP/DON EMMERT)
Donald Trump shakes hands with Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, after a meeting on December 28, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. (AFP/DON EMMERT)

NEW YORK — Amid a public debate about Donald Trump’s fitness for office, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder praised the president as “a man of incredible insight and intelligence.”

Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder Companies, in a statement Monday noted that he had known Trump for over 50 years, since the two studied at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The President I have seen is a man of incredible insight and intelligence. But he is not a politician and that confuses his critics,” Lauder said. “When President Trump refuses to speak in stale political platitudes, his critics think he is missing something. But the truth is President Trump speaks to the country in an authentic and genuine way that Americans understand and appreciate.”

Lauder also said he was working with Trump on “diplomatic challenges,” without specifying. The mogul has been dispatched by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past as a go-between with Arab leaders, including Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Lauder’s statement was first shared on Twitter by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who said it was “unsolicited.”

It comes amid a debate about Trump’s mental health ignited by the publication of “Fire and Fury: Inside the White House,” a tell-all book about Trump’s presidency written by author and journalist Michael Wolff.

On Saturday, Trump responded to claims he was not fit for office by calling himself “a very stable genius” on Twitter and saying he is “like, really smart.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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