If these documents are any indication, Trump’s inner circle is shaping up to be even more plutocratic and insular than that of previous presidents.
The documents include a guest list for VIPs at a Friday morning church ceremony as well as seating behind Trump on the inaugural platform as he took the oath of office. These include megadonors like Sheldon Adelson, Carl Icahn, Steve Wynn, Woody Johnson, and Richard Lefrak—five billionaires with a combined net worth of more than $60 billion. Adelson was reportedly one of a very small number of people who shook hands with Trump following his inaugural address.
Most surprising, perhaps, a lesser-known billionaire, the real estate investor and major Trump fundraiser, Thomas Barrack, who appears to have won himself a favorable position in the new president’s camp. Barrack, who spoke at the Republican convention this summer in Cleveland, was allocated 49 of the 259 seats for Friday morning’s service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was attended by Trump and his family—more seats than those allocated to all of the donors combined. Barrack and six of his guests had seats on the inaugural platform. Barrack’s personal seat allocation for the St. John’s service is roughly comparable to that of Vice President Mike Pence, who received 52 church seats and 42 platform seats for “friends and family.”
One of Trump’s own “friends and family” is Peter Thiel, worth more than $2 billion, who founded the data-mining company Palantir Technologies. Thiel is listed as “TBD”—to be determined—for the church service and had one seat allocation on the inaugural platform. It is unclear whether Thiel actually attended.
In 2013, the New York Times made an incomplete chart showing many of the attendees who were granted platform seats for Barack Obama’s second inaugural. Only two of those among the platform crowd who the Times was able to identify were megadonors—Chris Hughes, the Facebook co-founder, and his husband Sean Eldridge.
A spokesperson for the Trump transition team did not immediately respond to requests by phone and email for comment.