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Politics strain Trump’s friendship with Jorge Pérez

The Miami-based developer reportedly rejected two offers to join the Trump administration
February 19, 2017 09:15AM

Jorge Pérez and Donald Trump

Political differences have strained the long friendship of President Donald Trump and Miami-based real estate developer and art philanthropist Jorge Pérez.

Since Pérez called Trump’s plan to build a Mexican-border wall “idiotic” in a Jan. 31 Bloomberg News article, the president has stopped responding to emails from the top executive of Miami-based Related Group, the New York Times reported.

Pérez opposes Trump on other issues, including the president’s support for a possible reversal of the U.S. trade opening with Cuba and the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. Pérez served on the endowment’s board under President Clinton.

The last time they spoke, Pérez told the Times that he got an invitation from Trump to come to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach for a weekend visit, but now, their communication has ”gone to radio silence, to zero.”

Pérez told the Times he confirmed with Trump’s personal secretary that the president has read emails from Pérez to fix the break in their relationship, but Trump – whom  Pérez called “an old friend”– hasn’t responded.

Pérez publicly supported the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. But after Trump won the election, emails and phone calls increased between Trump and Pérez, whose work together as business partners began decades ago.

Pérez credited the president for reaching out to him, but he rejected Trump’s request in January for assistance in building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Pérez said he subsequently turned down an offer from the president to serve as undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development under Secretary Ben Carson.

He also told the Times that he turned down a request from President Trump in late January to serve as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on President Trump’s job offers to Pérez or the status of their friendship. [New York Times]Mike Seemuth