Donald Trump Has This Mexican Billionaire in His Crosshairs
Donald Trump has reportedly decided who is to blame for the wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations that have battered his campaign in recent days.
The Republican presidential candidate plans to say that Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is working in cahoots with the Hillary Clinton campaign to produce the sexual assault and harassment stories that have appeared in outlets like the New York Times, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump’s attacks on Slim could begin Friday.
Trump’s campaign has been battered by sexual harassment and assault allegations, with more than 10 women speaking up in the last 48 hours. The most widely circulated of these accusations were published in the New York Times, and lawyers for Trump wrote to the Times on Thursday, calling the article libelous and demanding that the paper remove and retract the piece. Lawyers for the Times refused.
Trump, who has denied the allegations, hit back at a fiery rally in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Thursday, attacking his accusers, the journalists who penned their stories, and the outlets that published them.
“These attacks are orchestrated by the Clintons and their media allies. The only thing Hillary Clinton has going for herself is the press,” he said. “What they say is false and slanderous in virtually every respect.”
Turning his guns on Carlos Slim would dovetail with several of Trump’s campaign themes, from his claim of a media conspiracy against him to his attacks on Mexican immigrants.
The Slim family owns some 17% of the Class A shares in the New York Times Co (NYT), making it the largest individual shareholder, and has given more than $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation over the years, the Journal reports. Companies controlled by Slim lent the New York Times Co. $250 million in 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis. In January 2015 he converted the warrants he bought then to more than double his share in the company to 16.8%, according to Reuters.
The two billionaires have had a fraught personal relationship for more than a year. In June 2015, a television company controlled by Slim cancelled a project with Trump after the then-candidate for the Republican nomination made comments suggesting that Mexican migrants were drug-runners and rapists. At the time, Slim’s spokesman called the comments racist.
Citing a Trump advisor, the Wall Street Journal reports that Trump could use Slim as a wedge to attack the “failing” New York Times—which at Thursday’s rally Trump said was “fighting desperately for its relevance and financial survival”—for needing to be “rescued” by a “foreigner.”
In response to the possibility of Trump’s potential allegations of a conspiracy, the Clinton campaign, the Slim family, and the New York Times all issued denials.
“Carlos Slim is an excellent shareholder who fully respects boundaries regarding the independence of our journalism,” Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. told the Journal. “He has never sought to influence what we report.”
Fortune has contacted the Trump campaign and representatives of the Slim family, and will update this story if they respond.