Tech investor Peter Thiel defends Trump support

Tech investor Peter Thiel defended his support for Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg on Mueller report: 'Politically, I'm not sure it will change much' Sarah Sanders addresses false statements detailed in Mueller report: 'A slip of the tongue' Trump to visit Japan in May to meet with Abe, new emperor MORE on Monday, weeks after his promised $1.25 million donation to the candidate drew criticism in Silicon Valley.

Thiel said that he supported Trump despite his vulgar statements about women, including the 2005 tape in which he boasts about grabbing and kissing women without consent.

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“Nobody thinks his comments about women were acceptable,” Thiel said at the National Press Club in Washington. 

“I agree they were clearly offensive and inappropriate,” he said. “But I don’t think the voters pull the lever in order to endorse the candidate’s flaws.” 

Thiel spoke for about 15 minutes before taking questions submitted in advance to a moderator. He said he thought the country was going in the wrong direction on economic and foreign policy thanks to the leadership of societal elites, who he said were out of touch with the voters.

"Donors don’t want to find out how and why we got here, they just want to move on,” he said. “Come Nov. 9, they hope everyone else will go back to business as usual."

He reiterated his concerns about the state of the economy and U.S. involvement in foreign wars as motivating his political work.

Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, came to Washington on Monday morning after weeks of coming under fire from colleagues in the tech industry who oppose Trump.

Two weeks ago, Thiel’s representatives announced that he intended to donate $1.25 million in support of Trump’s candidacy. He has supported the businessman for months and spoke at the Republican National Convention this summer but had previously given indications he didn’t intend to back that support up with a donation.

Major organizations with close ties to Thiel have been hesitant about severing their links to the investor.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to criticism of Thiel’s presence on the company’s board by saying that the social network “can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate." High-profile startup incubator Y Combinator similarly said it would not cut its ties to Thiel. 

Project Include, a diversity initiative, said it would end its relationship with the accelerator over its links to Thiel. Venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton said she had turned down an investment in her fund because of the investor’s ties to Thiel.