Left-wing billionaire George Soros, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said he’s injecting $1 billion into a new university network globally during a speech in which he criticized President Trump as a “con man,” the “ultimate narcissist” and a “climate denier.”
The university network will be built around Bard College, north of New York City, and Soros’ Central European University.
The 89-year-old billionaire investor calls the university network the “most important and most enduring project of my life.”
“And I would like to see it realized while I am still around,” the vociferous critic of Trump told journalists in Davos.
Soros said Trump “is a con man and a narcissist, who wants the world to revolve around him.”
“When his fantasy of becoming president became a reality,” that narcissism metastasized, Soros said. “This has turned his narcissism into a malignant disease.”
He added the 2020 election in November will determine the “fate of the world.”
Earlier this week, Trump turned his speech at the economic forum in the Swiss Alps into an unabashed sales pitch for the “blue-collar boom” in the U.S. economy that he says took place on his watch.
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His lone reference to climate issues in the speech came when he announced the U.S. would join a World Economic Forum initiative to plant 1 trillion trees worldwide. Afterward, in an apparent reference to those who warn about climate change, Trump said the world must “reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse.”
Trump is pulling the U.S. out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, under which nearly 200 nations set goals to curb emissions of the heat-trapping gasses that lead to climate change.
Trump has called the Paris accord an unfair economic burden to the U.S. economy.
His speech to the forum seemed aimed not just at his audience in the hall but toward the millions of Americans who will decide in November whether he deserves a second term.
Trump’s upbeat characterization of the U.S. state of play represented a marked shift in tone from the early days of his administration, when he sketched a vision of “American carnage” and promised to end it with a nationalist “America First” approach to governing.
Soros, the liberal philanthropist who made his billions in the markets, also reiterated his criticisms of other alleged autocratic strongmen. He branded as dictators both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary — Soros’ native country.
Last September, Soros penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal about the need for democracy and liberalism around the world.
“As founder of the Open Society Foundations, my interest in defeating Xi Jinping’s China goes beyond U.S. national interests,” he wrote. “As I explained in a speech in Davos earlier this year, I believe that the social-credit system Beijing is building, if allowed to expand, could sound the death knell of open societies not only in China but also around the globe.”
Aside from the invective, Soros presented his plans for the Open Society University Network in Davos this week. His office said OSUN would pull together higher-education networks worldwide with “in-person and online discussions” — and will look for partners.
“To demonstrate our commitment to OSUN, we are contributing $1 billion to it,” he said. “But we can’t build a global network on our own; we will need partner institutions and supporters from all around the world to join us in this enterprise.”
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“I consider OSUN the most important and enduring project of my life and I should like to see it implemented while I am still around,” Soros said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.