In an interview published Saturday, American-Jewish billionaire George Soros called US President Donald Trump “a confidence trickster” who is “digging his own grave,” and said he believed the tide may be turning against the president’s brand of populist nationalism.
Speaking to the Guardian, the philanthropist, who focuses on progressive causes and hopes to encourage open societies, spoke of his vilification by populist leaders around the world, saying: “It challenges me and therefore it energizes me.
“When I look at the list of people, or movements, or countries who are attacking me, it makes me feel I must be doing something right. I’m proud of the enemies I have.”
He called Trump “a brilliant confidence trickster, who has succeeded beyond his own expectations. It’s the fulfillment of the dream of a narcissist, and that’s what carries him forward.”
But he added that the president was “his own worst enemy. He’s digging his own grave, because of his addiction to narcissism.”
In an interview with the New York Times in October, Soros explained why he believes the tide is turning again following 2016’s global swing toward populism. Alluding to Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words “the arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice,” Soros said “I don’t believe that’s true. I think you need to bend the arc.”
He added: “We can’t passively wait for things to go right. We have to act on our principles, even when the situation appears hopeless.”
Soros, a major donor to the Democratic Party, said last month he believes Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is “the most qualified to be president,” though he added that he’s “not endorsing anybody” and will work with whoever challenges Trump in the 2020 election.
“[Trump] is an aberration, and he is clearly putting his personal interests ahead of the national interests,” Soros told the New York Times at the time. “I think it will contribute to his demise next year. So I am slightly predicting that things will turn around.”
Soros, a major supporter of progressive causes, has become a major bogeyman of the far right. He has been accused without evidence by Trump, right-wing commentators and politicians of funding migrants heading to the US from Central America.
Criticism of Soros has also been seen as verging toward anti-Semitism, particularly that by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who painted Soros — involved in human rights projects in the country — as a major villain trying to gain power over the nation during the 2018 elections.
“I don’t take it personally, and I certainly don’t let it become a personal conflict,” Soros said of Orban’s propaganda. “The difference between us is not personal but ideological, and we stand for opposite views of the world.”
Soros, who was born in Hungary and a Holocaust survivor, supported Orban during the 1980s when the politician was a prominent anti-communist activist.
“We are on opposite sides of our concept of a good society,” he told the Guardian. “I supported Orban because at the time he was a very active supporter of open society. But he became an exploiter and the creator of a mafia state.”
Soros has also been vilified by strongmen, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Italian far-right leader Matteo Salvini, all of whom accuse him of meddling in other nations’ affairs in service of shadowy, pro-refugee, pro-liberal and pro-globalist causes.
The billionaire did not deny that his projects aim to bring about change around the world, but stressed that he was not choosing sides: he said he only seeks to provide societies with the tools and institutions that will allow the free exchange of ideas.
He has come under fire for his funding for left-wing and human rights groups in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair last year published and then deleted a post that was criticized for being an anti-Semitic caricature of Soros.
JTA contributed to this report.