Trump wants a billionaire best known for selling semi-automatic rifles to rein in US spy agencies

The Bushmaster.
The Bushmaster.
Image: Reuters/Michelle McLoughlin
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US president Donald Trump is reportedly eyeing private equity billionaire Stephen Feinberg to review the country’s spy agencies, according to NBC and the New York Times. Trump is in a heated battle with the US intelligence community, which has unleashed an unprecedented flood of leaks about ties between his administration and the Kremlin.

Feinberg has no intelligence experience, nor any experience in conducting wide-scale review of large government agencies. He was, however, a major donor to Trump during his campaign, giving some $1.5 million to a pro-Trump political action committee.

As the chief executive and co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management—a “vulture” fund that specializes in buying distressed companies—Feinberg may be best-known for involvement in the firearm industry in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

Twenty young children and six staff were killed at the Connecticut school by a shooter with a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle, manufactured by a Cerberus-owned company that was a top seller of guns and ammunition in America at the time.

Immediately after the tragedy, the fund said it would sell off the gun-making conglomerate it had spent years building.  But ultimately Cerberus failed to find a buyer for Freedom Group and decided to double down on firearms instead. It allowed investors to exit from the fund, and then expanded its gun business.

The company, now called Remington Outdoor, sold over $200 million worth of weapons in the first quarter of 2016. Executives appointed by Cerberus even financed anti-gun control political ads in Connecticut, where the Sandy Hook school was located.