Billionaire and top Hewlett-Packard executive, Meg Whitman, compared Donald Trump to infamous fascists Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini during an exclusive Republican retreat in Park City, Utah on Friday, challenging U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan over his public support of the presidential hopeful.
The annual summit, Experts and Enthusiasts, was held on June 10, and is sponsored and organized by Mitt Romney, welcoming top conservative donors, business executives, thought leaders, and political figures. During a discussion session that featured Ryan and former news journalist, Campbell Brown, Whitman openly challenged Ryan over his endorsement of Trump.
According to two sources, who declined to identify themselves due to the private nature of the event, Whitman compared Trump to Hitler and Mussolini during the Q&A session with Brown. According to one of the panel attendees, Whitman advised the exclusive guest list that the compromise of principles in order to win the upcoming election would put them in dangerous territory.
Whitman implied that compromise could lead to more disastrous candidates like Trump:
‘What happens next time?’
Donor John Chachas added that in light of all of the awful things that Trump has said during his campaign, Whitman asked:
‘Is it not reasonable to support Hillary Clinton?’
Brown is also said to have questioned Ryan about his support of Trump, saying that even her young son, a fan of Ryan, had asked her why Ryan had endorsed Trump.
Ryan defended his endorsement by stressing the complexities of his leadership position as House Speaker, despite his criticism of Trump in the past.
Retreat attendees included a mix of Republicans, most divided on their opinion of Trump. Some, like Romney, have claimed that they cannot support Trump in his presidential bid. Others, like Ryan, Romney’s 2012 running mate, have endorsed Trump with apparent reluctance.
Summit attendees opposed to Trump’s candidacy discussed alternatives such as write-in votes for Romney, supporting Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, or simply abstaining from voting in the upcoming election altogether.
Whitman, who was Romney’s finance co-chair during his 2012 bid for the White House, has been openly and adamantly disdainful toward Trump. Whitman recently participated in an effort to stop Trump during the primaries through large donations for paid advertising targeting his candidacy.
Whitman, a 2010 candidate for governor of California, told CNBC in March that she would not be supporting Donald Trump:
‘I won’t be voting for Donald Trump. Look at the comments he’s made about women, about Muslims, about reporters. It’s just repugnant.’
Whitman’s harsh criticisms are not new, and during his campaign Trump has often been compared to historical fascists by figures as diverse as former New Jersey Governor, Christine Todd, to Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate, Bill Weld.
Representatives for Whitman and Ryan have not responded to questions regarding their discussion at the summit. However, Donald Trump, in his usual fashion, has turned legitimate criticism back on his detractors.
In an emailed statement, Trump dismissed Whitman’s criticisms, stating:
‘I never met Meg Whitman, but the job she is doing at Hewlett-Packard is not a very good one…I do not want her support.”