Monday, December 11, 2017
When Houston Chronicle reporters want to use information from an unnamed source in a news story, they have to jump through a few hoops first. A senior editor has to approve it, and know who the source is. A single unnamed source is rarely enough to go ahead with a story — there must be two sources with the same firsthand knowledge. And one of a handful of top editors must sign off on its use before publication. “The one exception to the two-source rule is when we have a ‘golden source’ — for example, the police chief talking about an investigation,” said Nancy Barnes, the Chronicle’s executive editor.
The vetting process is similar at many large news organizations — and it’s just one of the practices that journalists assume, perhaps incorrectly, that news consumers understand. Anonymous sourcing is one of the least-understood of the mysteries. “A lot of people seem to think that when we use anonymous sources, we don’t even know who they are — that they’re anonymous to us,” said Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery.
That’s definitely not the case. Anonymity is granted to known sources under tightly controlled circumstances because they can’t speak on the record with their names attached for a variety of reasons. News organizations try to limit their use, embarking on crackdowns and then sometimes backsliding. Peter Baker, a reporter in the Washington bureau of the New York Times, said (to a surprised reaction) at a journalism conference last week that Times Washington reporters no longer may use “blind quotes” — direct quotations with no names attached.
I asked a few prominent journalists to describe what they wish news consumers knew about our business, but probably don’t. I was prompted to do so after the undercover provocateurs known as Project Veritas released a video featuring a Post reporter and then crowed about their supposed exposé: The video showed him describing how harshly critical of President Trump he has found The Post’s staff-written editorials.
That’s hardly a secret — the editorials, which represent the consensus of the paper’s editorial board, are published, after all. (Last year, a group of such critical editorials was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.) But Project Veritas was taking advantage of the fact that news consumers don’t make a distinction between news reporters and editorial writers. Inside The Post’s building, though, that split is clear. News reporters and news-side editors strive for impartiality — they want to keep their opinions out of their work. By contrast, editorial writers and columnists are not only allowed to have an opinion, it’s in their job description.
So, what would some of these experienced news people like you to know? Ben Smith, editor in chief of BuzzFeed, told me he wishes readers would understand that sourcing isn’t always simple. A high-profile source isn’t always a hero and may have motivations that have little to do with serving the best interests of democracy. “I have always wished the public understood how complex and messy sourcing is, and how often sources’ motives are personal or complex. While I appreciate the romantic portrayal of reporters and sources in movies like ‘The Post’ — and while whistleblowers from Daniel Ellsberg to the #MeToo voices are truly heroes — Mark Felt is a much more typical source,” Smith said, referring to the former FBI official who became the Watergate source known as “Deep Throat,” in part because he had an ax to grind within the Nixon-era Justice Department.
Smith added that reporting is “an ethically complicated business whose responsibility is singularly to deliver true stories to the audience.” But how journalists get there can be discomfiting, he observed. BuzzFeed’s recent exposé of alleged sexual misconduct by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) told readers that its information was supplied by Mike Cernovich, the far-right media personality who has promoted conspiracy theories. Richard Tofel, president of the nonprofit investigative reporting organization ProPublica, told me he wishes the public would get how seriously journalists take errors. “I don’t think people widely understand how hard journalists work to get stories right,” he said. “Accuracy is the first requirement journalists have of each other, for instance, when considering hiring or promotion. Corrections (and even uncorrected mistakes) are badges of dishonor.”
Tofel noted that even small mistakes frequently disqualify long stories from prestigious awards. Journalists do make mistakes, of course, and we’ve seen far too much of that recently. “But,” he said, “reporters these days work very hard to get stories straight, and accurate, and fair.” Frank Sesno, director of George Washington University’s media school, told me he wishes people understood the “the vetting process, the checks and balances that viewers never see that television networks do (or should) as a matter of course.”
Sesno, a former Washington bureau chief for CNN, added: “At CNN, a whole group, the Row, exists to vet scripts, to make sure sound bites are used in context, to fact-check. They send scripts back when there is any question.” There is far more checking, corroborating, debating, arguing, vetting than any viewer could possibly know, Sesno said. “It belies the prevailing narrative of ‘fake’ news — because the very systems in place are there (when used and used correctly) to generate skepticism about stories and sources, to put the brakes on confirmation bias and leaps of journalistic faith.”
Of course, journalists do mess up sometimes. They can fall prey to confirmation bias, allow anonymous sources to run amok, fail to be fair and impartial. Perhaps most often and most foolishly, they can move too fast to publish in a highly competitive environment. And then, in a business based on credibility, there’s a price to pay.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
By Kathleen Parker, Washington Post, 09 August 2016)
John Oliver in 2014. (Eric Liebowitz/HBO)
Every couple of years or so, I feel the need to whine about the plight of newspapers. It’s August. I’m Trumped out. So today’s the day. Except that HBO’s John Oliver beat me to it with the best defense of newspapers — ever. His recent “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” monologue about the suffering newspaper industry has gone viral in journalism circles but deserves a broader audience. Besides, it’s funny.
Leavening his important message with enough levity to keep the dopamine flowing, Oliver points out that most news outlets, faux, Fox and otherwise, essentially rely on newspapers for their material. This includes, he says, pulsing with self-awareness, Oliver himself. He’s sort of part of the problem, in other words, but at least he knows it, which makes it okay, sort of.
The problem: People want news but they don’t want to pay for it. Consequently, newspapers are failing while consumers get their information from comedy shows, talk shows and websites that essentially lift material for their own purposes.
But somewhere, somebody is sitting through a boring meeting, poring over data or interviewing someone who isn’t nearly as important as he thinks he is in order to produce a story that will become news. As Oliver points out, news is a food chain, yet with rare exceptions, the most important members of the chain are at the bottom, turning off the lights in newsrooms where gladiators, scholars and characters once roamed.
Some still do, though most are becoming rather long-ish in the tooth. (You can actually get that fixed, you know.) That any newspapers are surviving, if not for much longer in any recognizable form, can be attributed at least in some part to the dedication of people who really believe in the mission of a free press and are willing to work harder for less — tweeting, blogging, filming and whatnot in addition to trying to write worthy copy. Most of the poor slobs who fell in love with the printed word go unnoticed by any but their peers.
An exception is Marty Baron, the unassuming executive editor of The Post, recently featured in the film “Spotlight,” about the Boston Globe’s stories under Baron’s leadership uncovering sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It’s a good movie, not just because of great casting and acting but because it’s a great tale about a massive investigative effort that led to church reform and the beginning of healing for victims. (Not to worry, my pay comes as a percentage of the money I make for the company. This won’t make a dime of difference.)
My point — shared by Oliver — is that only newspapers are the brick and mortar of the Fourth Estate’s edifice. Only they have the wherewithal to do the kind of reporting that leads to stories such as “Spotlight.” What happens to the “news” when there are no newspapers left? We seem doomed to find out as people increasingly give up their newspaper subscriptions and seek information from free-content sources. And though newspapers have an online presence, it’s hard to get readers to pay for content. As Oliver says, now is a very good time to be a corrupt politician. Between buyouts, layoffs and news-space reductions, there’s hardly anyone paying attention.
Except, perhaps, to kitties. In a hilarious spinoff of “Spotlight” called “Stoplight,” Oliver shows a short film of a news meeting where the old-school reporter is pitching a story about city hall corruption. The rest of the staff, cheerful human topiaries to the reporter’s kudzu-draped mangrove — are more interested in a cat that looks like a raccoon. And then there’s Sam Zell, erstwhile owner of the Tribune Co., who summed up the sad trajectory of the nation’s interests and, perhaps, our future while speaking to Orlando Sentinel staffers in 2008. When he said he wanted to increase revenues by giving readers what they want, a female voice objected, “What readers want are puppy dogs.”
Zell exploded, calling her comment the sort of “journalistic arrogance of deciding that puppies don’t count. . . . Hopefully we get to the point where our revenue is so significant that we can do puppies and Iraq, okay? [Expletive] you.” Yes, he said that. Moral of the story: If you don’t subscribe to a newspaper, you don’t get to complain about the sorry state of journalism — and puppies you shall have.
(By Sheldon Whitehouse and Elizabeth Warren, Washington Post, 09 August 2016)
The writers, both Democrats, represent Rhode Island and Massachusetts, respectively, in the U.S. Senate.
For years, ExxonMobil actively advanced the notion that its products had little or no impact on the Earth’s environment. As recently as last year, it continued to fund organizations that play down the risks of carbon pollution. So what did ExxonMobil actually know about climate change? And when did it know it? Reasonable questions — particularly if ExxonMobil misled its investors about the long-term prospects of its business model or if the company fooled consumers into buying its products based on false claims.
So now the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York are investigating whether ExxonMobil violated state laws by knowingly misleading their residents and shareholders about climate change. Those investigations may be making ExxonMobil executives nervous, and their Republican friends in Congress are riding to the rescue. House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and his fellow committee Republicans have issued subpoenas demanding that the state officials fork over all materials relating to their investigations. They also targeted eight organizations, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Rockefeller Family Fund and Greenpeace, with similar subpoenas, demanding that they turn over internal communications related to what Smith describes as part of “coordinated efforts” to deprive ExxonMobil of its First Amendment rights.
Take a breath to absorb that: State attorneys general are investigating whether a fraud had been committed — something state AGs do every day. Sometimes AGs uncover fraud and sometimes they don’t, but if the evidence warrants it, the question of fraud will be resolved in open court, with all the evidence on public display. But instead of applauding the AGs for doing their jobs, this particular investigation against this particular oil company has brought down the wrath of congressional Republicans — and a swift effort to shut down the investigation before any evidence becomes public. So far, both AGs and all eight organizations have refused to comply. We say, good for them.
Let’s call this what it is: a master class in how big corporations rig the system. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Smith has received nearly $685,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry during his career. Now he is using his committee to harass the investigators and bully those who dare bring facts of possible corporate malfeasance to their attention. Undoubtedly, the oil industry wants no further attention, much less court-supervised discovery, into whether it has spent decades deliberately deceiving the public about the harms associated with its product. So here come Smith and his Republican colleagues with threats of legal action designed to sidetrack state investigations and silence groups petitioning the government to address potential wrongdoing.
There’s plenty for the AGs to investigate. The Union of Concerned Scientists, for example, issued a 2015 report, “Climate Deception Dossiers: Internal Fossil Fuel Industry Memos Reveal Decades of Corporate Disinformation,” and a 2007 report, “Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science.” Both reports document how the industry has protected its bottom line by funding front organizations and scientists to put out junk science contradicting what peer-reviewed scientists, and even the industry’s own experts, were saying about how its products affected the environment.
Union of Concerned Scientists President Ken Kimmell rightly dismissed the committee’s request, saying, “Mr. Smith makes no allegation that UCS violated any laws or regulations, and his claim, that providing information to attorneys general infringes on ExxonMobil’s rights, is nonsense.” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are also fighting back. In separate letters, they told Smith that they have no intention of complying with the committee’s request. “The Subpoena brings us one step closer to a protracted, unnecessary legal confrontation which will only distract and detract from the work of our respective offices,” Schneiderman wrote.
Smith is not the first fossil-fuel-backed Republican in Congress to come to the industry’s defense. In May, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), recipient of $1.8 million in oil and gas industry contributions since 1989, called the state AGs’ investigation a “misuse of power” and “politics at its worst.” The greater abuse comes when congressional committees appear to operate at the behest of the industries they are meant to oversee.
Congressional investigations and hearings have a unique ability to focus a nation’s attention and bring facts of public importance to light. As committee chairmen, Smith and Inhofe can direct their committees’ authority as they see fit, but using that power to stifle lawful state investigations doesn’t advance the First Amendment, it tramples on it. So we have an alternative suggestion. If Chairmen Smith and Inhofe are concerned about the First Amendment rights of ExxonMobil, they should each call a hearing, ask ExxonMobil executives to testify, and give them the opportunity to set the record straight. A committee chairman could do little more to protect any person’s right to speak freely than to give that person the chance to testify before Congress. We would love to hear what they have to say.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
The Last Debate: Donald Trump Doesn’t Care About Democracy
(By Alexandra Petri, Washington Post, 20 October 2016)
I honestly don’t believe the debates are over. You will have to demonstrate to me slowly and gently over a period of months that there aren’t any more debates, because I am too afraid to believe that they have really stopped. However, here is what I hope is my final recap for this election season.
CHRIS WALLACE: Hello. I have come to your world from a different reality, Fox News, a fact that will become apparent as this debate goes on. This is the final presidential debate of the season, or, depending on whom you vote for, the final presidential debate of all time. If you play your cards right, all future elections can be settled by the spear! Now, let’s bring out the candidates.
HILLARY CLINTON: Hello. I am dressed as Saruman the White. My best moments this evening will occur when I am forced to defend the basic principles of democracy, a terrifyingly low bar that this election season has set. Thank you for making it so easy, but also, eeegh.
DONALD TRUMP: *low guttural hiss* Tonight I have worn my RED tie.
WALLACE: Who would you put on the Supreme Court? Why?
CLINTON: I would definitely put human people on the Supreme Court, judges who were people and supported people, not corporations. I think people are people and corporations are faceless entities you sometimes give speeches to. All I want are judges who will not drag us screaming backward into the past.
TRUMP: I disagree. The subtext of my whole campaign is that the past was great! Especially for my core voters. The rest of you people, not so much. I know that the Supreme Court needs changing because one time, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was mean to me. If Hillary Clinton is elected, it is important that we keep the Second Amendment intact. This is not the most threatening thing I will say all evening.
WALLACE: Okay, let’s talk about the Second Amendment. Hillary?
CLINTON: Thank you. Listen, I love the Second Amendment. I lived in Arkansas for 18 (twitch) WONDERFUL years. I oppose the way the Heller decision was applied, because I believe in toddlers. Hooray, toddlers.
TRUMP: The only thing that can stop a bad toddler with a gun is a good toddler with a gun. And Hillary was so upset about Heller! Look at her! What was Heller?
WALLACE: And now let’s talk about abortion. Donald, will your judges overturn Roe v. Wade?
TRUMP: Maybe? Yes. Probably.
CLINTON: (cracks knuckles) First off, no. Second off, I support Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood. It is nice that this is finally coming up at a debate with a woman in it. Do you think that women do this for fun? This is not fun. This is a decision you get to make about your own life and your own body, with your family, taking your faith into account, and I can’t imagine why you would want the government making it for you.
WALLACE: Ah, but didn’t you support partial-birth abortions?
TRUMP: I read somewhere that a baby can — you can just RIP a baby out of a lady’s tummy at nine months! In the ninth month. On the final day.
CLINTON: I think you’re describing a C-section.
TRUMP: And if that baby from his mother’s womb untimely ripped gets Birnam Wood to come to Dunsinane with him, you don’t get to be king of Scotland any more.
CLINTON: I honestly did not expect you had read “Macbeth” but, okay.
TRUMP: That is a recent medical text, I think.
CLINTON: It’s a fictional play about a Scottish king.
TRUMP: I think it is just deplorable how women, they get these big bats, huge, and they just KNOCK THE STORKS OUT OF THE SKY before the baby even has a chance.
CLINTON: You don’t know where babies come from, do you?
WALLACE: Let’s move on. Immigration. Why are you right about it, and why is your opponent wrong?
TRUMP: Listen, every week ICE endorses me. We need a wall, Chris. That’s the bottom line. The wall itself would be a kind of line on the bottom of our country. It would keep the White Walkers out and also stop the pollution of our blood. New Hampshire especially needs this wall.
CLINTON: You do realize New Hampshire is not anywhere near our southern border, correct? Don’t answer that. It will only depress me further. I recently met an inspiring young human anecdote who reinforced my position on borders. I want them to be strong, and I want the chain bookstore of the same name to reopen. Can I say also that when you went to Mexico, you conveniently forgot to mention this at all? You choked, Donald.
TRUMP: (sniffling) You are mean. I would have mentioned the wall, but I forgot what the word was. I told Prime Minister Peña Nieto many times to build a “biblioteca” but it turns out that is something different. We agreed that NAFTA was bad, though. I think. I could not tell because he was not speaking English. Look, I have been to South of the Border many times–
CLINTON: That is not in Mexico.
TRUMP: President Obama deported millions of people.
WALLACE: Secretary Clinton, didn’t you say you wanted a hemispheric open market during one of your SECRET SPEECHES to OMINOUS CORPORATIONS?
CLINTON: WIKILEAKS IS THE WORK OF RUSSIAN SPIES AND THAT’S ALL I’M GOING TO SAY ON THE SUBJECT. Wait, no, I will say one more thing: the rest of that sentence made it very clear that I was talking about energy markets.
TRUMP: I just need to interrupt because it sounded like Secretary Clinton was about to say something mean about Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin is a great man, so smart, strong, broad shoulders, lovely smile, looks great astride a steed. He respects me. I think. I would like to think that. It would make me proud to have the respect of a man like that. Do you want to read a story that I wrote about him? It is called VLADIMIR AND ME and in it we go to South of the Border together and hold hands and look at my wall and he compliments me like a true friend and marvels at the size of my hands.
WALLACE: Maybe after the debate.
CLINTON: Hard pass.
TRUMP: My point is, Vladimir does not respect this woman.
CLINTON: That’s because you are his puppet.
TRUMP: “No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.”
TRUMP: But I would be HONORED to be the puppet on his large, masculine hand.
CLINTON: This is an even vaster conspiracy, but it is not the work of the right wing. It is the work of the Russians. Yes, I know that coming from me this is hard to take, but, like, don’t take it from me — take it from our intelligence agencies!
WALLACE: No, but, seriously, do you condemn foreign intervention in this election?
CLINTON: Yup definitely me me me I definitely condemn it!
TRUMP: (sighs) I’m not actually friends with Vladimir. Not when I’m awake. He’s not my best friend. He’s not my only friend. I have friends, though.
WALLACE: Are you okay?
TRUMP: He has missiles. He’s so smart.
WALLACE: How did we get here? Weren’t we talking about immigration, like, a second ago?
CLINTON: Can I just say that it’s terrifying that Donald Trump keeps saying he thinks nuclear weapons should be on the table?
CLINTON: It’s a direct quote from you.
TRUMP: That is how I know it’s a lie.
CLINTON: (to camera) Allies, please, relax, in a few weeks everything will be in my capable hands. Do not pay attention to what this man is saying. Look at my exciting and fashion-forward suit! Please, pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain. He speaks for nobody. He is sad and alone.
WALLACE: Why is your plan for the economy better than your opponent’s plan?
CLINTON: My plan will grow us 10 million jobs from the middle out!
TRUMP: Instead of challenging this EXTREMELY optimistic appraisal, I would like to go back to picking on our allies.
CLINTON: (to camera) Look away.
TRUMP: I think we should be meaner than our allies. Why would they pay their fair share when we are being nice to them? We should say mean things, like, Saudi Arabia, what are you wearing? and Japan, you have *interesting* eyes. Things of that nature.
CLINTON: (bangs head against lectern) Chris, may I speak?
WALLACE: Would it help if I attacked you instead of him?
CLINTON: N-no — why? Why would you do that?
WALLACE: You want to do more of what President Obama did, and we know that what he did was bad.
TRUMP: FACT-CHECK RATING MOSTLY TRUE!
CLINTON: Donald, fact-checking is my thing. You don’t get to fact-check.
TRUMP: NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are both bad.
CLINTON: For crying out loud, I’m against the TPP now and I will be against it when I’m president. Yes, I said it. Not if. When.
TRUMP: I have a question.
CLINTON: (turns to face him) Yes, Donald?
TRUMP: You have so many good ideas, it sounds like. Why didn’t you do any of them in your 30 years of experience? I was always doing bad things, using Chinese steel, like you said, but you never even stopped me. Why didn’t you stop me? Someone should have, I feel. I look at myself and I think, “Why didn’t anyone stop this sooner?”
CLINTON: So do I, Donald. But, speaking of my 30 years of experience, yes, I have 30 years of experience. My worst quality is that I work too hard, I think. I believe in women’s rights and also GOOGLE ALICIA MACHADO.
TRUMP: You built ISIS.
CLINTON: And it’s in 32 countries! And you say I never accomplish anything! (to camera) But seriously ISIS is not my fault.
WALLACE: Before we talk about “foreign hot spots,” let’s have the MOST AWKWARD TRANSITION OF THIS DEBATE to, uh, domestic hot spots. Donald. Tell us why your accusers would suddenly all come forward and make up these awful stories?
TRUMP: First off, thank you for framing the question like that. I don’t know why, but I agree with your premise! Also, Hillary is responsible for all the violence at my rallies. It’s on a tape, somewhere, along with her founding ISIS.
CLINTON: Do I have to remind America of how your first denial was that the women were not attractive enough for you to assault them? Do I?
TRUMP: I didn’t say that.
CLINTON: I HAVE THE RECEIPTS ON THIS ONE, DONALD. I may get kind of sketchy when asked about my foundation, but, by god, I can quote you until the cows come home.
TRUMP: If “cows” was a reference to my accusers, I agree.
CLINTON: It was not.
TRUMP: Literally no one respects women more than I do.
(Audience laughs louder. The laughter builds and builds into 15 minutes of hysteria)
TRUMP: You know what isn’t fiction? Emails.
CLINTON: Instead of accepting the premise that we should talk about my emails, what if I ran through all the things you’ve done wrong that I have highlighted in commercials? Cool by you?
WALLACE: No. Tell us, was your foundation engaged in pay-to-play?
CLINTON: You know what, the Clinton Foundation is great, and it does just, you know, so much good, for children, like the toddlers whom I wanted to save from guns earlier.
WALLACE: That isn’t–
CLINTON: We gave lunches to children!
WALLACE: That’s not–
CLINTON: Delicious, healthy lunches! Lunches that my dear friend, Michelle Obama, would have looked at and APPROVED!
WALLACE: You’re still not–
CLINTON: When they go low, we go high, as Michelle so rightly said!
TRUMP: Well, exactly, Chris. I was in Little Haiti the other day, and the people there, they said the Clinton Foundation was bad.
WALLACE: (looks at Trump) That’s it? I set you up like that, and that’s it?
WALLACE: Then I guess I should also ask about your foundation.
TRUMP: Listen, the only thing the Trump foundation does is put up flags. That is 100 percent of what we do. We would be called PFLAG but it was taken.
CLINTON: (mutters) And six foot paintings of you.
TRUMP: Look, if you don’t think it should be legal, you should have outlawed it when you were in the Senate.
CLINTON: Yes. Me. One senator. Personally. I should have.
WALLACE: Donald, I hate that I have to ask this, because it is 2016 and we are in America, but will you abide by the results of this election?
TRUMP: I will get back to you on that. The media is rigging it. They keep taking words out of my mouth and printing them where people can read them and form opinions about them.
WALLACE: So… no? Keep in mind that if you say “no” you are invalidating, like, every premise of our life in a democratic society.
WALLACE: Like, there’s this thing we have, called a peaceful transition of power…
TRUMP: Never heard of it.
CLINTON: Can I say something? This is literally horrifying. I would be shaking and quivering with fear and hiding behind the lectern if I had not purged myself of all lesser emotions 30 years ago. All I feel now is vengeance and righteous anger. Now I am going to tell you some specifics about military operations that are ongoing, as though I am not shaken to my core by what was just said, but — somewhere deep inside me, a little girl with glasses is weeping inconsolably. But, uh, Mosul, huh?
TRUMP: Mosul is so sad. I really hope that Mosul is a real place, because I am just going to repeat it over and over. I hope this isn’t one of those Agrabah things where you trick me into saying a fake name. Listen. I know how to fix all the military things. We just stop telling people what we are going to do. We surprise them. It works for my birthday parties; it can work in Iraq.
TRUMP: How did you even make that sound without a keyboard?
CLINTON: You bring these things out in me. Please, just vote for me, everyone. This man is spouting horrible nonsense conspiracy theories.
TRUMP: Bernie Sanders is right that you have bad instincts, and John Podesta is right that you don’t know how to make risotto.
WALLACE: Anyone want to talk about Aleppo?
CLINTON: I would be happy to talk about Aleppo, but honestly, it would pain me for people around the globe to have to hear him talk about Aleppo.
WALLACE: Point taken.
TRUMP: We should be considered with every leppo.
WALLACE: Any concluding remarks?
CLINTON: My father was a small-business man with a squeegee and a dream. From him, I took a natural, humanlike cadence and the ambition to make a difference in the world. Please, America, I beg you: You can end this. Vote for me, and you will never have to hear Donald Trump’s opinions on a national stage again.
TRUMP: “Such a nasty woman.”
CLINTON: I rest my case.
Who Gave Trump’s Taxes To The New York Times?
(By Paul Farhi, Washington Post, 02 October 2016)
A report in the New York Times says a $916 million loss in the '90s might have allowed Donald Trump to legally avoid paying any income taxes for almost two decades. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post) When New York Times reporter Susanne Craig checked her office mailbox a few days ago, a thin Manila envelope immediately caught her eye. She almost gasped when she opened it. “I thought it was a hoax,” she said Sunday. “My reaction was, ‘No way this is real.’ ” The typed return address read “The Trump Organization.” Inside were three photocopied pages Craig realized could be dynamite: They appeared to be from Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns. Those were the decidedly low-tech beginnings of what may turn out to be one of the most consequential stories of the 2016 presidential campaign. Late Saturday, the Times revealed that Trump had declared a $916 million loss in 1995, wiping out any federal taxes that year and setting himself up to avoid 18 years of similar obligations.
That doesn’t appear to be the case in the Times’ story, which carried the bylines of four reporters, including Craig and David Barstow, an investigative reporter who has won three Pulitzer Prizes. While Craig declined to discuss her understanding of who sent the Trump documents, Times deputy executive editor Matt Purdy was definitive: “We do not know the identity of the source.” In hindsight, however, that may have been among the least problematic elements behind the documents Craig received that Friday, Sept. 23. The major challenge was authenticating the three pages and placing them in the proper context to understand Trump’s tax strategy at the time, said Dean Baquet, the newspaper’s executive editor. The documents “looked real,” he said. “But who knew?”
The Times described the documents as the first pages of three filings: a New York state resident income tax return, a New Jersey nonresident tax return and a Connecticut nonresident tax return. Among the troubling aspects was a line on one of the forms bearing the nine-figure sum Trump claimed as his personal loss. The figure’s first two digits — 9 and 1 — were typed onto the form in a different font than the digits making up the rest of the number, noted reporter Megan Twohey. This raised the possibility that the documents could be fakes, just as the unusual typescript in documents purported to be part of President George W. Bush’s military records was called into question after CBS News used them in a “60 Minutes II” story in 2004. (Those documents were never definitively shown to be bogus, but the suspicions they raised eventually led to the firings, resignations or early retirement of people involved in the CBS story, including anchor Dan Rather.)
In addition to corroborating publicly available information contained on the forms, such as Trump’s Social Security number, the Times hired several tax experts to review the documents. They suggested that the documents were in line with accounting permissible under the federal tax code in 1995. The key to authentication was a semi-retired accountant named Jack Mitnick, who had prepared and signed Trump’s 1995 return. Barstow tracked down Mitnick in South Florida and “over coffee and bagels,” as Craig put it, confirmed that Mitnick had prepared them. Mitnick also explained the mysterious 9 and 1, telling Barstow the two digits had to be hand-typed onto the tax form because they kept being wiped off the line when transmitted from an electronic tax-preparation program. Based on Mitnick’s comments and other background material gathered by Barstow, Craig, Twohey and reporter Russ Beuttner, Baquet decided the story was ready for publication.
But just before that, according to the Times, a lawyer for Trump, Marc E. Kasowitz, emailed a letter to the paper threatening “prompt initiation of appropriate legal action” if the newspaper published the private documents.
Trump’s campaign did not dispute the documents’ authenticity or question the Times’ conclusions. It instead issued a statement that indirectly confirmed the story, reading, in part, “Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required. Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for president and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.” Baquet, interviewed Sunday morning, expressed no regrets. “There’s no more public figure than the president and no more public endeavor than running for president,” he said. “Given what he has said about taxes and what he won’t show about his own, it’s important for voters to have this information.”
As for Craig, she’s still guessing why the source chose to send her the envelope. Some of it might be her experience covering Wall Street for a decade or so for the Wall Street Journal and the Times. Part of it might be her coverage of Trump’s business career for the Times over the past nine months, including an investigation this summer of Trump’s holdings that revealed his businesses are carrying more than twice as much debt as Trump has publicly disclosed. In any case, Craig said she’d welcome more Manila envelopes from her source. “I sit right by the mailboxes, and I’m constantly checking mine,” she said. “You never know what’s going to be in there.”
Trump’s Awful Boast About Paying No Taxes
(By Allan Sloan, Washington Post, 29 September 2016)
One of the things you’re supposed to do if you want to be the leader of a company — or a country — is to set a good example. That’s why I was so appalled during the debate Monday night when Donald Trump boasted — or seemed to boast — about having paid no U.S. income taxes for the years in which his tax returns have become public record. “That makes me smart,” he said. Actually, it doesn’t make him smart. It makes him foolish. And a phony. Here’s a guy wearing an American flag in his lapel, talking about how our country is heavily in debt and needs money badly, and then telling us that he’s smart for not supporting the place in which we all live. I don’t know about you, but I found it infuriating.
If Trump were truly smart — and wasn’t, as I wrote in July, someone who lacks impulse control — he’d boast about paying no taxes, then say that he would close the loophole or loopholes that allowed him do that.
I suspect, as some tax mavens do, that Trump pays little or no U.S. income tax because of Section 469 of the tax code. That section carves out a special tax break for people who spend at least half their working time developing or managing real estate, allowing them to use tax losses generated by real estate to offset other income. Something regular people aren’t allowed to do.
If Trump were truly smart — and wanted to lead by example, which is the very best way to lead — he would disclose his tax returns, warts and all, and propose to close the Section 469 loophole and any others that he or his family might be using. That would make him credible, and a leader. After all, he claims to be worth $10 billion — though I don’t remotely believe it, given his flights of fantasy finance — so paying even a lot of income tax wouldn’t kill him.
But instead of leading, Trump is proposing to cut rates for high-income people, presumably including himself; to eliminate the “carried interest” loophole that gives a big tax break to hedge fund and private-equity managers, but that I doubt benefits him; and to eliminate the estate tax, which Hillary Clinton claimed would save Trump’s family $4 billion. I don’t believe that number for a minute — it assumes that Trump is worth $10 billion — but he didn’t challenge it. I emailed Trump’s campaign Tuesday asking about these things, and whether anything in Trump’s tax proposals would cost him or his family money. I got no response.
Now, let’s be clear. I’m no fan of the Clintons’ behavior, either. I’m as offended by Hillary and Bill Clinton’s buck-raking practices as I am by Trump’s boast about not having paid income tax. The Clintons have knocked down tens of millions in fees and other income since Bill Clinton left office by exploiting the aura of his presidency. It’s repellant. But despite their greed and money-grubbing cluelessness — did Hillary Clinton really need the $675,000 of Wall Street speech fees that she gobbled down during the brief interval between leaving the State Department and beginning her presidential run? — the Clintons are showing that they’re smart when it comes to proposing tax policy.
How so? Because the tax increases that Hillary Clinton is proposing on high-income people would cost her family money. So would the changes that she’s proposing in the estate tax. So when it comes to taxes, Clinton is showing that she knows how to sacrifice and lead by example. Trump is showing that he knows how to take care of himself at the expense of the rest of us. And that’s the bottom line.
Scope Of Trump's Lies Are Unprecedented For A Modern Presidential Candidate
(By Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times, 26 September 2016)
Donald Trump says taxes in the United States are higher than almost anywhere else on Earth. They're not. He says he opposed the Iraq war from the start. He didn't. Now, after years of spreading the lie that President Barack Obama was born in Africa, Trump says Hillary Clinton did it first (untrue) and that he's the one who put the controversy to rest (also untrue). Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has. Over and over, independent researchers have examined what the Republican nominee says and concluded it was not the truth — "pants on fire" (Politifact) or "four Pinocchios" (Washington Post Fact Checker).
Trump's candidacy was premised on upending a dishonest establishment that has rigged American political and economic life, so many of his loyalists are willing to overlook his lies, as long as he rankles the powerful, said Republican strategist Rob Stutzman. "It gives him not only license, but incentive to spin fantasy, because no one expects him to tell the truth," said Stutzman, who worked against Trump during the primaries. "They believe they're getting lied to constantly, so if their hero tells lies in order to strike back, they don't care." Still, Trump's pattern of saying things that are provably false has no doubt contributed to his high unfavorable ratings. It also has forced journalists to grapple with how aggressive they should be in correcting candidates' inaccurate statements, particularly in the presidential debates that start Monday.At a time of deep public mistrust of the news media, the arbitration of statements of fact, long seen as one of reporters' most basic duties, runs the risk of being perceived as partisan bias. But so does the shirking of that role. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, one of the debate moderators, has faced a storm of criticism for telling CNN: "It's not my job to be a truth squad." After a Sept. 8 town hall on NBC, critics skewered moderator Matt Lauer for failing to correct Trump's false statement that he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq. CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl drew milder reprimands for letting Trump repeat the same lie twice in a July interview on "60 Minutes," responding "yeah" both times with no correction.
Trump's Democratic rival faces integrity questions of her own. A new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that 41 percent of voters saw Trump as better than Clinton at being honest and straightforward; just 31 percent thought that Clinton would be better than Trump in that area. Republicans have used Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of State to cast doubt on her honesty, saying she has been untrustworthy for decades. Her efforts to fight back were damaged when FBI Director James Comey said in early July that she had been "extremely careless" in her handling of emails that officials said should have been considered classified.Nonetheless, the scope of Trump's lies is unprecedented, and he is dogged in refusing to stop saying things once they are proven untrue. Buzzfeed unearthed an audio recording showing that Trump backed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and a 2011 video in which he called for swift military action against Moammar Gadhafi, then the leader of Libya. In the months since then, Trump has lied dozens of times on both issues, saying he opposed the use of force in Iraq and Libya. Trump campaign spokesmen Hope Hicks and Jason Miller did not respond to an email requesting comment on Trump's history of falsehoods.
Thomas E. Mann, a resident scholar at the University of California, Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, said Trump appears to recognize that a faction of the Republican Party has lost respect for facts, evidence and science — presuming, for example, that anything negative said about Obama is probably true. Moreover, he said, the New York business mogul once thrived as a reality television star playing himself on "The Apprentice," and in that realm there's "no need to have any touch with genuine reality — it's all as he defines it. He's a salesman," Mann said. "He's a con man. He's hustled people out of money that they're owed. He's lived off tax shelters. He's always looking for a scheme and a con, and in that sphere, you just fall into telling lies as a matter of course."In "Trump: The Art of the Deal," his 1987 best-seller, Trump said "a little hyperbole never hurts." People believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion," he said. Trump's coauthor, Tony Schwartz, put it less benignly in a July interview with The New Yorker. "He lied strategically," Schwartz recalled. "He had a complete lack of conscience about it."
PolitiFact, a Tampa Bay Times site that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the 2008 election, has rated 70 percent of the Trump statements it has checked as mostly false, false or "pants on fire," its lowest score. By contrast, 28 percent of Clinton's statements earned those ratings. "As we noted when we awarded Trump our 2015 Lie of the Year award for his portfolio of misstatements, no other politician has as many statements rated so far down the dial," PolitiFact writer Lauren Carroll reported in June. "It's unlike anything we've ever seen."At a recent Trump rally in downtown Miami, supporters vouched for his trustworthiness. "I think he has been very straightforward, whether people like it or not," said Rosario Rodriguez-Ruiz, 42, a Republican real estate broker and accountant. Some in the audience conceded that Trump might have cut corners in business, but said they were more troubled by what they called Clinton's dishonesty about her email and the deadly raid on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Miguel Pita, 56, said Trump had to "bend the rules" to avoid taxes. "I look at it as a 'Catch Me If You Can' type of deal," he said.
Suzanne Roberts, 61, a retired Miami finance professor, said Clinton was "capable of spreading heinous rumors about anything, anyone, at any time." As Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend" blasted through the concert hall's loudspeakers, she said Trump was correct to argue for five years that Obama was born outside the United States. "He was born on a naval base in Mombasa, Kenya — that's what I think," Roberts said. "I've done some research." A few days earlier, Trump spoke at a black church in Flint, Mich. When he started to criticize Clinton, the pastor interrupted and asked him not to give a political speech. "The audience was saying let him speak, let him speak," Trump later told Fox News. "That isn't true," reported National Public Radio correspondent Scott Detrow, an eyewitness. "In fact, several audience members began to heckle Trump, asking pointed questions about whether he racially discriminated against black tenants as a landlord."When Trump released his child-care plan on Sept. 13, he said Clinton didn't have one. She did. He has often described himself as popular among blacks; the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found 7 percent of black voters support him. Trump also depicts crime as rising and out of control in America's inner cities despite years of falling crime rates. He has said that black people kill 81 percent of white homicide victims, when in fact whites kill 82 percent of white homicide victims, according to PolitiFact. Marty Kaplan, a professor of entertainment, media and society at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has two theories on Trump's lies.
Perhaps he's just putting on an act, like P.T. Barnum — a "marketer, con, snake-oil salesman who knows better, knows how to get the rubes into the tent." Or maybe, Kaplan suggested, Trump is just "completely unconstrained by logic, rules, tradition, truth, law. I'm confused," he said, "whether the whole fact-free zone that he's in is a strategic calculation or a kind of psychosis."
President Trump’s First Term: His Campaign Tells Us A Lot About How He Would Be.
(By Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, September 26, 2016)
On the morning of January 20, 2017, the President-elect is to visit Barack Obama at the White House for coffee, before they share a limousine—Obama seated on the right, his successor on the left—for the ride to the Capitol, where the Inauguration will take place, on the west front terrace, at noon. Donald Trump will be five months short of seventy-one. If he wins the election, he will be America’s oldest first-term President, seven months older than Ronald Reagan was at his swearing-in. Reagan used humor to deflect attention from his age—in 1984, he promised not to “exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Trump favors a different strategy: for months, his advisers promoted a theory that his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, who is sixty-eight, has a secret brain illness and is unable to climb stairs or sit upright without help, and, in speeches, Trump asked whether she had the “mental and physical stamina” for the Presidency.
The full spectacle of Trump’s campaign—the compulsive feuds and slurs, the detachment from established facts—has demanded so much attention that it is easy to overlook a process with more enduring consequences: his bureaucratic march toward actually assuming power. On August 1st, members of his transition team moved into 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, a thirteen-story office building a block from the White House. The team is led by Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, and includes several of his political confidants, such as his former law partner William Palatucci. As of August, under a new federal program designed to accelerate Presidential transitions, Trump’s staff was eligible to apply for security clearances, so that they could receive classified briefings immediately after Election Day. They began the process of selecting Cabinet officials, charting policy moves, and meeting with current White House officials to plan the handover of the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and other agencies.Trump aides are organizing what one Republican close to the campaign calls the First Day Project. “Trump spends several hours signing papers—and erases the Obama Presidency,” he said. Stephen Moore, an official campaign adviser who is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, explained, “We want to identify maybe twenty-five executive orders that Trump could sign literally the first day in office.” The idea is inspired by Reagan’s first week in the White House, in which he took steps to deregulate energy prices, as he had promised during his campaign. Trump’s transition team is identifying executive orders issued by Obama, which can be undone. “That’s a problem I don’t think the left really understood about executive orders,” Moore said. “If you govern by executive orders, then the next President can come in and overturn them.”
That is partly exaggeration; rescinding an order that is beyond the “rulemaking” stage can take a year or more. But signing executive orders starts the process, and Trump’s advisers are weighing several options for the First Day Project: He can renounce the Paris Agreement on greenhouse-gas emissions, much as George W. Bush, in 2002, “unsigned” American support for the International Criminal Court. He can re-start exploration of the Keystone pipeline, suspend the Syrian refugee program, and direct the Commerce Department to bring trade cases against China. Or, to loosen restrictions on gun purchases, he can relax background checks.But those are secondary issues; whatever else Trump would do on January 20th, he would begin with a step (“my first hour in office”) to fulfill his central promise of radical change in American immigration. “Anyone who has entered the United States illegally is subject to deportation,” he told a crowd in Phoenix in August.
After more than a year of candidate Trump, Americans are almost desensitized to each new failing exhumed from his past—the losing schemes and cheapskate cruelties, the discrimination and misogyny—much as they are to the daily indecencies of the present: the malice toward a grieving mother, the hidden tax records, the birther fiction and other lies. But where, in all that, is much talk of the future? By mid-September, Trump was in the final sprint of his campaign, having narrowed the gap behind Clinton in the popular vote from nine points, in August, to reach a virtual tie. His victory is no longer the stuff of dark comedy or fan fiction. It is fair to ask: What would he actually be like as a President?Over the summer, I interviewed several dozen people about what the United States could expect from Donald Trump’s first term. Campaign advisers shared his plans, his associates relayed conversations, and I consulted veterans of five Republican Administrations, along with economists, war gamers, historians, legal scholars, and political figures in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Most of the people I spoke with outside the campaign expected Trump to lose. But they also expected his impact to endure, and they identified examples of the ways in which he had already altered political chemistry far beyond the campaign. After seventy years of American efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, Trump has suggested that South Korea and Japan might be wise to develop them. Returning from a recent visit to Seoul, Scott Sagan, a political-science professor at Stanford who is a nuclear-arms specialist, told me, “These kinds of statements are having an effect. A number of political leaders, mostly from the very conservative sides of the parties, are openly calling for nuclear weapons.”Many of Trump’s policy positions are fluid. He has adopted and abandoned (and, at times, adopted again) notions of arming some schoolteachers with guns, scrapping the H-1B visas admitting skilled foreign workers, and imposing a temporary “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” He has said, “Everything is negotiable,” which, to some, suggests that Trump would be normalized by politics and constrained by the constitutional safeguards on his office. Randall Schweller, a political scientist at Ohio State University, told me, “I think we’re just at a point in our history where he’s probably the right guy for the job. Not perfect, but we need someone different, because there’s such calcification in Washington. Americans are smart collectively, and if they vote for Trump I wouldn’t worry.”
Many from Trump’s party say they do not expect him to fulfill some of his most often stated vows. According to a Quinnipiac poll in June, twelve months after he began pledging to build a “big, beautiful, powerful wall” on the southern border, only forty-two per cent of Republicans believed that he would achieve it.But campaigns offer a surprisingly accurate preview of Presidencies. In 1984, the political scientist Michael Krukones tabulated the campaign pledges of all the Presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Jimmy Carter and found that they achieved seventy-three per cent of what they promised. Most recently, PolitiFact, a nonpartisan fact-checking site, has assessed more than five hundred promises made by Barack Obama during his campaigns and found that, to the irritation of his opponents, he has accomplished at least a compromised version of seventy per cent of them.
To turn intentions into policy, previous transition teams have produced confidential guides, known as “promise books,” that pull from the candidate’s words in order to shape the priorities of officials across the government. During the 2008 campaign, the Obama transition team distributed a memo to staff members on “what qualifies as a promise.” It explained, “Words like ‘will,’ ‘would,’ ‘create,’ ‘ensure,’ ‘increase,’ ‘eliminate’ are good signals of specific policy commitments.”When Trump talks about what he will create and what he will eliminate, he doesn’t depart from three core principles: in his view, America is doing too much to try to solve the world’s problems; trade agreements are damaging the country; and immigrants are detrimental to it. He wanders and hedges and doubles back, but he is governed by a strong instinct for self-preservation, and never strays too far from his essential positions. Roger Stone, a long-serving Trump adviser, told me it is a mistake to imagine that Trump does not mean to fulfill his most radical ideas. “Maybe, in the end, the courts don’t allow him to temporarily ban Muslims,” Stone said. “That’s fine—he can ban anybody from Egypt, from Syria, from Libya, from Saudi Arabia. He’s a Reagan-type pragmatist.”
William Antholis, a political scientist who directs the Miller Center, at the University of Virginia, pointed out that President Trump would have, at his disposal, “the world’s largest company, staffed with 2.8 million civilians and 1.5 million military employees.” Trump would have the opportunity to alter the Supreme Court, with one vacancy to fill immediately and others likely to follow. Three sitting Justices are in their late seventies or early eighties.As for the Trump Organization, by law Trump could retain as much control or ownership as he wants, because Presidents are not bound by the same conflict-of-interest statute that restricts Cabinet officers and White House staff. Presidential decisions, especially on foreign policy, could strengthen or weaken his family’s business, which includes controversial deals in Turkey, South Korea, Azerbaijan, and elsewhere. Trump would likely face pressure to adopt an arrangement akin to that of Michael Bloomberg, who, when he became mayor of New York City, withdrew from most management decisions for his company. Trump has said only that he plans to turn over the Trump Organization’s day-to-day control to three of his adult children: Donald, Jr., Ivanka, and Eric.
As President, Trump would have the power to name some four thousand appointees, but he would face a unique problem: more than a hundred veteran Republican officials have vowed never to support him, and that has forced younger officials to decide whether they, too, will stay away or, instead, enter his Administration and try to moderate him. By September, the campaign was vetting four hundred people, and some had been invited to join the transition team. An analogy was making the rounds: Was Trump a manageable petty tyrant, in the mold of Silvio Berlusconi? Or was he something closer to Mussolini? And, if so, was he Mussolini in 1933 or in 1941?Michael Chertoff served both Bush Presidents—as a U.S. Attorney in Bush, Sr.,’s Administration, and then as Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. He was one of fifty senior Republican national-security officials who recently signed a letter declaring that Trump “would be the most reckless President in American history.” Chertoff told me that he has been approached for advice by younger Republicans who ask if joining Trump, after he has already been elected, would be regarded as patriotic, rather than political. “I think anybody contemplating going in will have to have a very serious look in their own conscience, and make sure they’re not kidding themselves,” Chertoff said.
Trump’s Presidential plans are not shaped by ideology. He changed parties five times between 1999 and 2012, and, early on the campaign trail, he praised parts of Planned Parenthood (while opposing abortion), vowed to protect Social Security, and supported gay rights (while opposing same-sex marriage). He is governed, above all, by his faith in the ultimate power of transaction—an encompassing perversion of realism that is less a preference for putting interests ahead of values than a belief that interests have no place for values.Trump has relied heavily on the ideas of seasoned combatants. Newt Gingrich, who, as House Speaker in the nineties, pioneered many of the tactics that have come to define partisan warfare, is now a Trump adviser. Gingrich told me that he is urging Trump to give priority to an obscure but contentious conservative issue—ending lifetime tenure for federal employees. This would also galvanize Republicans and help mend rifts in the Party after a bitter election.
“Getting permission to fire corrupt, incompetent, and dishonest workers—that’s the absolute showdown,” Gingrich said. He assumes that federal employees’ unions would resist, thus producing, in his words, an “ongoing war” similar to the conflict that engulfed Madison, Wisconsin, in 2011, when Governor Scott Walker moved to limit public-sector employees’ collective-bargaining rights. After five months of protests, and a failed effort to recall the Governor and members of the state senate, Walker largely prevailed. Gingrich predicts that that chaotic dynamic can be brought to Washington. “You have to end the civil-service permanent employment,” he said. “You start changing that and the public-employee unions will just come unglued.”What, exactly, can a President do? To prevent the ascent of what the Anti-Federalist Papers, in 1787, called “a Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and Domitian in America,” the founders gave Congress the power to make laws, and the Supreme Court the final word on the Constitution. But in the nineteen-thirties Congress was unable to mount a response to the rise of Nazi Germany, and during the Cold War the prospect of sudden nuclear attack further consolidated authority in the White House.
“These checks are not gone completely, but they’re much weaker than I think most people assume,” Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, said. “Congress has delegated a great deal of power to the President, Presidents have claimed power under the Constitution, and Congress has acquiesced.” The courts, Posner added, are slow. “If you have a President who is moving very quickly, the judiciary can’t do much. A recent example of this would be the war on terror. The judiciary put constraints on President Bush—but it took a very long time.”
Some of Trump’s promises would be impossible to fulfill without the consent of Congress or the courts; namely, repealing Obamacare, cutting taxes, and opening up “our libel laws” that protect reporters, so that “we can sue them and win lots of money.” (In reality, there are no federal libel laws.) Even if Republicans retain control of Congress, they are unlikely to have the sixty votes in the Senate required to overcome a Democratic filibuster.
However, Trump could achieve many objectives on his own. A President has the unilateral authority to renegotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, to order a ban on Muslims, and to direct the Justice Department to give priority to certain offenses, with an eye to specific targets. During the campaign, he has accused Amazon of “getting away with murder tax-wise,” and vowed, if he wins, “Oh, do they have problems.”Any of those actions could be contested in court. The American Civil Liberties Union has analyzed Trump’s promises and concluded, in the words of the executive director, Anthony Romero, that they would “violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution.” Romero has said that the A.C.L.U. would “challenge and impede implementation of his proposals,” but that strategy highlights the essential advantage of the President: the first move. “The other branches are then presented with a fait accompli,” according to a 1999 paper by the political scientists Terry M. Moe and William G. Howell. After the September 11th attacks, Bush signed an executive order authorizing warrantless surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency, and, though lawmakers voiced concerns, and lawsuits were filed, the program continued until 2015, when Congress ordered an end to bulk phone-metadata collection. Similarly, Obama has used his powers to raise fuel-economy standards and temporarily ban energy exploration in parts of Alaska and the Arctic Ocean.
Modern Presidents have occasionally been constrained by isolated acts of disobedience by government officials. To confront terrorism, Trump has said, “you have to take out their families,” work on “closing that Internet up in some ways,” and use tactics that are “frankly unthinkable” and “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.” General Michael Hayden, a former head of the C.I.A. and of the National Security Agency, predicts that senior officers would refuse to carry out those proposals. “You are required not to follow an unlawful order,” he has said.Donald Trump would be the first Commander-in-Chief with no prior experience in public office or at high levels of the military. As a candidate, he has said that he would not trust American intelligence officials (“the people that have been doing it for our country”) and declared, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.” Once he became the nominee, Trump received his first batch of top-secret information. During a national intelligence briefing at his offices in New York, he was accompanied by retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a senior adviser who reportedly kept interrupting the briefing with questions and comments until Christie asked him to calm down. (The campaign denied that account.) Trump later told a television interviewer that the briefers’ “body language” indicated that “they were not happy” with Obama.
Intelligence professionals faulted Trump for publicly discussing, and politicizing, a classified briefing. Several national-security officials told me that a determining factor in any President’s approach would be his response to a shock—say, a crippling power outage that might be terrorism or might not. “Would he or she be impetuous?” Jim Woolsey, a Trump adviser who served as director of Central Intelligence from 1993 to 1995, asked. “One thing you can be pretty sure of is that the first report is almost always wrong, at least partially. When the President of the United States says, ‘I just got a report—the United States military forces are under attack,’ it is very hard for anybody to stand in the way of that.”In “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire” (2004), Trump wrote that others “are surprised by how quickly I make big decisions, but I’ve learned to trust my instincts and not to overthink things.” He added, “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience.” He prides himself on vengeance and suspicion. “If you do not get even, you are just a schmuck!” he wrote, in 2007. “Be paranoid,” he said in 2000.
For many years, Trump has expressed curiosity about nuclear weapons. In 1984, still in his thirties, he told the Washington Post that he wanted to negotiate nuclear treaties with the Soviets. “It would take an hour and a half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles,” he said. “I think I know most of it anyway.” According to Bruce G. Blair, a research scholar at the Program on Science and Global Security, at Princeton, Trump encountered a U.S. nuclear-arms negotiator at a reception in 1990 and offered advice on how to cut a “terrific” deal with a Soviet counterpart. Trump told him to arrive late, stand over the Soviet negotiator, stick his finger in his chest, and say, “Fuck you!” Recently, a former Republican White House official whom Trump has called on for his insights told me, “Honestly, the problem with Donald is he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.”Shortly after taking the oath of office, Trump would be assigned a military aide who carries the forty-five-pound aluminum-and-leather briefcase that holds “a manual for conducting nuclear war,” according to Dan Zak, the author of “Almighty,” a new book on nuclear weapons. The briefcase, known in the White House as “the football,” contains menus of foreign targets: cities, arsenals, critical infrastructure. To launch an attack, Trump would first verify his identity to a commander in the Pentagon’s war room, by referring to codes on a one-of-a-kind I.D. card, known as “the biscuit.” (According to Zak, “Jimmy Carter is rumored to have sent the biscuit to the dry cleaners accidentally. Bill Clinton allegedly misplaced the biscuit and didn’t tell anyone for months.”)
On rare occasions, a President’s nuclear orders have been too unsettling for his staff to accept. In October, 1969, Richard Nixon told Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird to put nuclear forces on high alert. According to Sagan, the Stanford nuclear-arms specialist, Nixon hoped that the Soviets would suspect that he was willing to attack North Vietnam. Laird was appalled, and he tried an excuse: the alert would conflict with a scheduled military exercise. Sagan recalls, “He understood that Richard Nixon believed in the so-called ‘madman theory’ ”—deterring aggression by encouraging America’s rivals to suspect that Nixon was irrational. “But Mel Laird believed that the madman theory was pretty crazy, and that threatening to use nuclear weapons over something like Vietnam was not going to be effective, and might actually be dangerous. He tried to delay implementing the President’s orders, in the hopes that Nixon would calm down. Nixon did that a lot; he would make an angry comment, and if you ignored it he wouldn’t come back to it.” In this instance, Nixon did not forget, and Laird eventually complied. The operation, hastily organized, went poorly: eighteen B-52s, loaded with nuclear weapons, flew toward the Soviet Union. Some came dangerously close to other aircraft, an incident that an after-action report ruled “unsafe.”Later, another aide sought to interrupt Nixon’s control over nuclear weapons. During the final weeks of the Watergate scandal, in 1974, some of Nixon’s advisers regarded him as unsteady. James R. Schlesinger, who was Secretary of Defense at the time, issued a directive to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that “any emergency order coming from the president” should be diverted to Schlesinger before any action was taken, according to James Carroll’s “House of War,” a history of the Pentagon. The directive may have been illegal, but it remained in place. Because many Republicans are boycotting Trump’s campaign, those who agree to join risk being viewed, as a former Cabinet secretary put it to me, as part of “a staff full of Ollie Norths.” (In 1987, testifying to Congress about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, the White House aide Oliver L. North said, “If the Commander-in-Chief tells this lieutenant-colonel to go stand in the corner and sit on his head, I will do so.”)
Watching Trump on the campaign trail, Timothy Naftali, the former director of the Nixon Presidential Library, said, “Trump tweets what Nixon knew not to say outside his inner circle, and we know what he said from the tapes. What Nixon would do is project onto situations the conspiracies that he would have concocted if in the same position. Nixon was convinced that the Democrats were spying on him. So he spied on them. To himself, he rationalized his actions by saying, ‘I’m only doing what my enemies are doing to me.’ ”Nothing in the campaign has presented Trump with a broader range of new information than the realm of foreign affairs. Asked about the Quds Force, an Iranian paramilitary unit, he has expressed his view of “the Kurds,” an ethnic group. During a debate in December, 2015, a moderator requested his view of the “nuclear triad,” the cornerstone of American nuclear strategy—bombers, land-based missiles, and submarine-launched missiles—and it became clear that Trump had no idea what the term meant. Trump replied, “I think, to me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”
In April, at the request of the campaign, Richard Burt, a former senior State Department official in the Reagan Administration, contributed elements to Trump’s first major foreign-policy speech. Burt, who was the American Ambassador to Germany from 1985 to 1989, had been attracted by Trump’s talk of a more restrained, “realist” vision of American power. Burt told me, “We were a singular superpower. That has changed. We no longer have the unique situation of living in a unipolar world. Either way, it’s probably just as well. We fucked it up, and not just Iraq. In a lot of ways, we’ve been too concerned with those ambitions of nation-building, regime change, and democracy promotion. We learned that those things are a lot harder than we thought they were.”Although Burt contributed ideas, he is not an active Trump supporter. In April, Trump delivered the foreign-policy speech, but Pratik Chougule, a campaign adviser, sensed his discomfort with the subject. “You can see his mannerisms, when he is reading the speech—everything about it just looked uncomfortable,” Chougule, who left the campaign and is now a managing editor at The National Interest, told me. “We were dealing with a candidate who had made his own judgments, whether correctly or not; a traditional policy approach was not going to be a good fit.” When Trump was asked, in March, to name the person he consulted most often on foreign policy, he said, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.” He struggled to attract well-known Republican advisers, in part because his slogan, “America First,” went beyond isolationism, to an extractive conception of American power. “I want to take everything back from the world that we’ve given them,” he said in April, 2015.
His portrait of the country as a survivor in an anarchic world has caused other countries to reëxamine their assumptions about America. “It almost sounds like you’d have to pay to rent American troops,” a European diplomat in Washington told me. Even discounting some of the rhetoric as due to the heat of a campaign, the diplomat said, Trump’s success in the primary must be understood as a measure of changing American attitudes and his own intentions. “That feeling about burden-sharing is probably relatively deep in his gut: There’s something wrong here—the U.S. is getting robbed.”In some cases, Trump’s language has had the opposite effect of what he intends. He professes a hard line on China (“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country,” he said in May), but, in China, Trump’s “America First” policy has been understood as the lament of a permissive, exhausted America. A recent article in Guancha, a nationalist news site, was headlined “Trump: America Will Stop Talking About Human Rights and No Longer Protect NATO Unconditionally.”
Shen Dingli, an influential foreign-policy scholar at Fudan University, in Shanghai, told me that Chinese officials would be concerned about Trump’s unpredictability but, he thinks, have concluded that, ultimately, he is a novice who makes hollow threats and would be easy to handle. They would worry about the policies of a President Hillary Clinton, who, as Secretary of State, oversaw Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, intended to balance China’s expansion. “She is more predictable and probably tough,” Shen said. “Human rights, pivoting—China hates both.”Trump is not uniformly isolationist; he has affirmative ideas, some of which have produced effects outside his control. When he labelled Obama “the founder of ISIS,” the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah rejoiced. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who is allied with President Bashar al-Assad, of Syria, against ISIS, has claimed that the U.S. created extremist groups in order to sow chaos in the Middle East. Now, it seemed, Trump was confirming it. “This is an American Presidential candidate,” Nasrallah said on television. “This was spoken on behalf of the American Republican Party. He has data and documents.”
Other militant organizations, including ISIS, featured Trump’s words and image in recruiting materials. A recruitment video released in January by Al Shabaab, the East African militant group allied with Al Qaeda, showed Trump calling for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.; the video warned, “Tomorrow, it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps.”One of Trump’s most consistent promises is to “renegotiate” the Iran nuclear deal. Walid Phares, Trump’s foreign-policy adviser, has said, “He is not going to implement it as is.” There are reasonable criticisms of the terms of the deal, but refusing to implement it would be, in effect, “a gift to Iran,” according to Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The hard-line forces in Iran are looking for a way in which this deal can unravel, but they won’t be blamed for it,” he said. “This would be their ideal solution. The Iranians would say, ‘You’ve abrogated your end, so we’re going to reconstitute our nuclear program.’ ”
In July, Trump made his most dramatic foray into foreign policy, declaring that if Baltic members of NATO are attacked he would decide whether to defend them on the basis of whether they had “fulfilled their obligations to us.” I asked the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, what he made of that. Ilves rejected the suggestion that his country has not done its part for NATO. “Estonia has not sat back and waited for allies to take care of its security,” he said. “Indeed, proportionally to our size, we were one of the greatest contributors to the mission in Afghanistan.” Without mentioning Trump’s name, he warned against improvising on matters of foreign policy involving President Vladimir Putin, of Russia: “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine—and the impact that Russian policies and actions toward neighboring countries have had on European security as a whole—marks a paradigm shift, the end of trust in the post-Cold War order.”After Trump expressed his hesitations about America’s commitment to NATO, I visited the Arlington, Virginia, office of the RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan research institution. During the Cold War, RAND developed the use of political-military war games—the simulation of real-world scenarios—and four RAND contributors and analysts have received Nobel Prizes for their work on game theory. “A game is a kind of preview of coming attractions,” David Shlapak, the co-director of RAND’s Center for Gaming, told me.
Shlapak said that in the spring of 2014, after Russia seized Crimea, “the question surfaced: What could Russia do to NATO, if it was inclined to?” To test the proposition, RAND organized a series of war games, sponsored by the Pentagon, involving military officers, strategists, and others, to examine what would happen if Russia attacked the three most vulnerable NATO nations—the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.To his surprise, the simulated Russian forces reached the outskirts of the Estonian and Latvian capitals in as little as thirty-six hours. The larger shock was the depth of destruction. American forces, which would deploy from Germany, Italy, and elsewhere, are not heavily armored. “In twelve hours, more Americans die than in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined, in sixteen years,” Shlapak said. “In twelve hours, the U.S. Air Force loses more airplanes than it’s lost in every engagement since Vietnam, combined.” He went on, “In our base case, the Russians bring about four hundred and fifty tanks to the fight, and NATO brings none. So it turns into a fight of steel against flesh.” (Based on the games, RAND recommended that NATO assign three heavily armored brigades to the Baltic states.)
Shlapak, who has a silver goatee and wears horn-rimmed glasses, has been at RAND for thirty-four years. I asked him if he thought that Trump’s suggestion of withholding support from NATO will have any impact beyond the campaign. RAND takes no positions in U.S. elections. He said, “Deterrence is inherently psychological. It’s a state of mind that you create in a potential adversary, and it rests on a couple of foundational criteria. One of them is credibility—your adversary’s confidence that if it does the thing that you are prohibiting, the thing you seek to deter, the consequences you are threatening will happen.”Raising the prospect of relaxing America’s defense of NATO suggests that, for some portion of the American public, the long-standing American commitment to defending Europe is, in a word, negotiable. “We’ve had seventy years of great-power peace, which is the longest period in post-Westphalian history,” Shlapak said. “I think one of the reasons we don’t think about that, or don’t understand the value of that, is that it’s been so long since we’ve been face to face with the prospect of that kind of conflict.”
Closer to home, Trump’s criticism of Mexico has fuelled the rise of a Presidential candidate whom some Mexicans call their own Donald Trump—Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a pugnacious leftist who proposed to cut off intelligence coöperation with America. In recent polls, he has pulled ahead of a crowded field. Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican diplomat, who served in the United States and China, warns that the surge of hostility from American politicians will weaken Mexico’s commitment to help the United States with counter-terrorism. “Post-9/11, the coöperation has gone on steroids,” Guajardo told me. “There have been cases of stopping terrorists in Mexico. Muammar Qaddafi’s son wanted to go live in Mexico, and Mexico stopped him. But people are saying, If the United States elects Trump, give them the finger.”Trump has always been most comfortable on the home front, with domestic policy, built around his central promise of, as he put it recently, “an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.” That is not, strictly speaking, a fantasy. Chertoff, who oversaw the construction of border fences while he headed the Department of Homeland Security, said, “It will take a lot more time than he says it is going to take, but it’s not logistically impossible.”
Trump’s political fortunes have become so intertwined with the wall that his advisers believe he has no choice but to try. Gingrich told me, “He has to build a wall or a fence. That’s got to be almost right away.” Trump envisages a structure of steel and precast-concrete panels that is between thirty-five and fifty feet tall (“There’s no ladder going over that”), has a foundation deep enough to prevent tunnels, is a thousand miles long—half the length of the border, because physical barriers divide the rest—and costs up to twelve billion dollars. Independent analyses give the cost as at least twenty-five billion dollars, adding that to build it would take at least four years.Other details of the plan are a delusion. To force Mexico to pay for the wall, Trump intends to confiscate remittances sent back to Mexico by undocumented immigrants and increase border fees and tariffs, but the legal and practical obstacles to those actions are overwhelming, and Mexican officials promise not to contribute. (“I’m not going to pay for that fucking wall,” Vicente Fox, the former President, said last year.) Therefore, Trump would need Congress to appropriate the money, and, for now, Republican leaders are believed to consider that a nonstarter. Nevertheless, Gingrich says that he would try to use the election schedule to pressure vulnerable incumbents into supporting it. “Remember how many Democrats are up for election in the Senate in 2018,” he said. Twenty-five. “Do you really want to go home as the guy who stopped the fence? Then, by all means, but we’ll build it in ’19.”
The most likely scenario is that, after negotiations, Trump’s wall would end up as a small, symbolic extension of the federally financed border fence that is already in place. Its construction was approved by the Senate in 2006, with backing from twenty-six Democrats, including New York’s junior senator at the time, Hillary Clinton.From the beginning, Trump’s most ambitious promise has been that he would remove 11.3 million undocumented immigrants through mass deportations and by pressuring people to leave on their own. “They have to go,” he said, and he predicted that he could accomplish this removal in two years. That would raise the pace of arrests twentyfold, to roughly fifteen thousand apprehensions per day. Trump explained his idea by praising an Eisenhower-era deportation program that “moved them way south; they never came back,” he said in a debate last November. “Dwight Eisenhower. You don’t get nicer, you don’t get friendlier.”
Eisenhower’s program, Operation Wetback, was launched in June, 1954. Led by retired General Joseph M. Swing, it used spotter planes to locate border crossers and direct teams of jeeps to intercept them. According to “Impossible Subjects,” a study of illegal-immigration history, by Mae M. Ngai, in the first three months the program apprehended a hundred and seventy thousand people, and some were returned to Mexico by cargo ship. After a riot during one such voyage, a congressional investigation described the conditions as those of “an eighteenth-century slave ship” and a “penal hell ship.” Overland routes were harrowing; during one roundup, in hundred-and-twelve-degree heat, eighty-eight laborers died. Many American citizens were also deported by mistake.Julie Myers Wood, who headed Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Bush Administration, told me that she is appalled by parts of Trump’s immigration plan and cautioned critics not to assume that it is impossible. “It’s not as binary as some people suggest,” she said. “You could think of some very outside-the-box options.” A President Trump could permit ice officers to get access to I.R.S. files that contain home addresses. (Undocumented immigrants who pay taxes often list real addresses, in order to receive tax-refund checks.) He could invoke provision 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, in order to detail thousands of local and state agents and police officers to the deportation effort. “You’d put people on a train,” she said. “Again, I’m not recommending this. You could have a cruise ship.”
The American Action Forum, a conservative Washington think tank, ran budget projections of Trump’s plan: raids on farms, restaurants, factories, and construction sites would require more than ninety thousand “apprehension personnel”—six times the number of special agents in the F.B.I. Beds for captured men, women, and children would reach 348,831, nearly triple the detention space required for the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. Thousands of chartered buses (fifty-four seats on average) and planes (which can accommodate a hundred and thirty-five) would carry deportees to the border or to their home countries. The report estimated the total cost at six hundred billion dollars, which it judged financially imprudent.In August, when Trump’s poll numbers dropped, he spoke of “softening” his immigration plan, but supporters balked, and, in a speech on August 31st, he abandoned the pretense of moderation, promising to create a “deportation task force” and go further than Eisenhower. “You can’t just smuggle in, hunker down, and wait to be legalized,” he said. “Those days are over.” The groups he identified as priorities for deportation constitute at least five million people, according to the Washington Post.
Trump also refashioned his proposed ban on Muslims. In July, Khizr Khan, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq, criticized Trump’s proposal, and the candidate responded by mocking Khan’s wife, Ghazala: “She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.” (She subsequently spoke out eloquently.) Under sustained criticism, Trump proposed, instead, to “screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles—or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law.”Gingrich called for re-creating the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was established in 1938 to investigate accusations of subversion and disloyalty. “We’re going to presently have to go take the similar steps here,” he said, on Fox News. “We’re going to ultimately declare a war on Islamic supremacists, and we’re going to say, If you pledge allegiance to ISIS, you are a traitor and you have lost your citizenship.” The committee is not often praised; before it was abolished, in 1975, it had laid the groundwork for the internment of Japanese-Americans, and led investigations into alleged Communist sympathizers. In 1959, former President Harry S. Truman called it the “most un-American thing in the country today.”
Trump’s overarching argument to voters has been, in the end, economic: as President, he would draw on his business experience, “surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” and lead Americans to greater prosperity. Some aides did not help fortify that proposition: Trump fired his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who manhandled a female reporter, and then forced out his chief strategist, Paul Manafort, after Manafort was weakened by allegations of unreported lobbying and secret cash payments from leaders in Ukraine. (Manafort has denied these allegations.)To understand whom Trump trusts to put policy vision into practice, I contacted Stephen Miller, his national director of policy, who serves as a fiery warmup speaker at Trump rallies. Miller, who is thirty-one, worked for Michelle Bachmann, of Minnesota, and, later, for Senator Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, a prominent Republican critic of free-trade deals and illegal immigration. Miller has been described by Politico as “a deeply unsettling figure, even to many in his own party,” in part because of his writings in college and high school. While attending Duke University, Miller accused the poet Maya Angelou of “racial paranoia” and described a student organization as a “radical national Hispanic group that believes in racial superiority.” Miller asked me to speak to several of Trump’s advisers on the economy and trade.
For economic advice, the campaign enlisted the Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore, who co-founded the Club for Growth, a conservative lobbying group. At fifty-six, Moore is amiable and unpretentious, “a little bit scatterbrained,” by his own description. (During the 2000 campaign, he forgot to mark on his calendar an invitation to brief the candidate George W. Bush, foreclosing the prospect of a job in the White House.) In 2012, he helped Herman Cain, the former C.E.O. of Godfather’s Pizza, develop his “9-9-9” plan, which would have narrowed the tax code to three categories, capped at nine per cent.Moore visited Trump on his plane, and, during a series of meetings, he and others crafted an economic plan based on the cornerstone of supply-side economics: cut taxes to encourage people to work and businesses to invest. “That’s basically the theory there,” Moore said. “This is the signature issue for conservatives since Reagan went into office. This has been the battle between the left and the right. The liberals say tax rates don’t matter”—for stimulating growth. “We say they do.”
Trump’s team focussed, above all, on reducing the business tax rate. Moore said, “What I recommended to him is this should be your stimulus to the economy—do this in the first hundred days.” Economists’ reactions have been mixed. Paul Krugman, the left-leaning Nobel laureate, argued that the supply-side argument was refuted by a basic fact: job growth has been higher under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama than under George W. Bush. Moore counters that Reagan achieved job growth through tax cuts.The other half of Trump’s economic thinking is his view that “we are killing ourselves with trade pacts that are no good for us.” As President, he would have the legal authority to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the North American Free Trade Agreement, to impose tariffs on categories of goods from China, and—if the World Trade Organization objects to his actions—to withdraw from the W.T.O., just as President Bush withdrew from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, in 2002.
But interviews with Trump’s trade advisers leave no doubt that this is a kind of theatre—a bluff, which, they believe, will achieve their aims without actual tariffs. In 2006, Dan DiMicco, the former C.E.O. of Nucor Corporation, the largest steel producer in the United States, which has faced heavy Chinese competition, self-published a book called “Steeling America’s Future: A CEO’s Call to Arms.” Long before most Republicans foresaw the political backlash against free trade, DiMicco wrote, “Shame on our government leaders if they refuse to provide us with a level playing field on which to compete.”DiMicco, a blunt, barrel-chested New York native, used his position at Nucor to publicize his argument in television interviews, and Trump contacted him. “We had a discussion about China back then, about trade, cheating, and all those issues,” DiMicco told me. Now a member of Trump’s Economic Advisory Council, he has visited Trump in New York, and he prides himself on offering unconventional advice. To deal with China, he says, the United States should act like an aggressive patient at a dentist’s office: “Here’s how the patient deals with the dentist: sits down in the chair, grabs the dentist by the nuts, and says, ‘You don’t hurt me, I won’t hurt you.’ ”
Peter Navarro, Trump’s senior policy adviser on trade and China, is a business professor at the University of California at Irvine. He does not speak Chinese, and he is at odds with many mainstream China scholars, but he has directed documentaries, including “Death by China,” and written books such as “The Coming China Wars.” During a lull at the Republican National Convention, Navarro told me that he argues for the need to “balance the trade deficit.” He said, “If you simply do that, it sets in motion a process where you grow faster, there’s more employment, that pushes real wages up, and that floods the government coffers with tax revenues, and then you’re able to pay for the infrastructure and social services and defense, which have been neglected.” He added, “You focus on the trade deficit and good things happen. That’s the philosophy of Donald Trump.”The Economist Intelligence Unit, an economic-and-geopolitical-analysis firm, has ranked the prospect of a Trump victory on its top-ten risks to the global economy. Larry Summers, the Harvard professor and former Treasury Secretary, predicts that, taken together, Trump’s economic and trade policies would help trigger a protracted recession within eighteen months. Even if Trump stops short of applying tariffs, Summers told me, “the perception that we might well be pursuing hyper-nationalist policies would be very damaging to confidence globally and would substantially increase the risk of financial crises in emerging markets.”
If Trump followed through on tariffs, the effects could be larger still. Mark Zandi, a centrist economist who has advised Republicans and Democrats and is now the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, a research firm, forecasts that Trump’s trade plan could trigger a trade war that would put roughly four million Americans out of work, and cost the economy three million jobs that would have been created in Trump’s absence.But Trump would not need to take any of those steps to have an abrupt effect on the economy. His belief in the power of the threat, which he has used in private business, takes on another meaning if he is the leader of a country with national-debt obligations. In May, Trump, whose businesses have declared bankruptcy four times, said, “I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts,” and “if the economy crashed you could make a deal.” The notion that he might try to make creditors accept less than full payment on U.S. government debt caused an outcry. Under criticism, he clarified, to the Wall Street Journal, that U.S. “bonds are absolutely sacred,” but the incident left an enduring impression on the financial community.
Anthony Karydakis, the chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, an asset manager, told me that a Trump victory is now generally regarded as “a major destabilizing development for financial markets.” He went on, “If he ever even alludes to renegotiating the debt, we will have a downgrade of U.S. debt, and that event will cause a massive exodus of foreign investors from the U.S. Treasury market.” In 2011, when feuding in Congress delayed raising the debt limit, the stock market fell seventeen per cent. This would be a far larger event. “The rating agencies could not ignore the comment,” he said. “The cornerstone of the right to raise sovereign debt is the willingness and ability of the government to service it normally and fully.” He added, “The markets have no patience for stupidity or ignorance. They get scared.”For more than a year, Trump has encouraged supporters to regard him as a work in progress—“Everything is negotiable”—and the ambiguity has ushered him to the threshold of power. But envisaging a Trump Presidency has never required an act of imagination; he has proudly exhibited his priorities, his historical inspirations, his instincts under pressure, and his judgment about those who would put his ideas into practice. In “Trump: Think Like a Billionaire,” he included a quote from Richard Conniff, the author of “The Natural History of the Rich”: “Successful alpha personalities display a single-minded determination to impose their vision on the world, an irrational belief in unreasonable goals, bordering at times on lunacy.”
Trump’s vision, even his “irrational belief in unreasonable goals,” was never a charade. In the early decades of this century, Americans have sometimes traced our greatest errors to a failure of imagination: the inability to picture a terrorist, in a cave, who is able to strike; the hubris to ignore extensive State Department predictions of what would come of the invasion of Iraq. Trump presents us with the opposite risk: his victory would be not a failure of imagination but, rather, a retreat to it—the magical thought that his Presidency would be something other than the campaign that created it.
How Many Trump Products Were Made Overseas? Here’s The List.
(By Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, 12 September 2016)
The Hillary Clinton campaign has at least two ads attacking Donald Trump for outsourcing the production of his merchandise. Given Trump’s rhetoric against companies shipping jobs out of the United States — he vowed not to eat Oreo cookies anymore after Nabisco moved some U.S. factory jobs to Mexico — this is a frequent attack on his record as a businessman. Trump has a long history of outsourcing a variety of his products and has acknowledged doing so. When asked during a Republican primary debate in Miami why voters should trust that Trump “will run the country differently from how you run your businesses,” he answered: “Because nobody knows the system better than me. … I’m a businessman. These are laws. These are regulations. These are rules. We’re allowed to do it. … I’m the one that knows how to change it.”
Trump also encouraged outsourcing to students of Trump University, the now-defunct program that is under litigation over allegations of fraud. In a 2005 post titled “Outsourcing Creates Jobs in the Long Run,” Trump wrote that sending work outside your company “is not always a terrible thing. I know that doesn’t make it any easier for people whose jobs have been outsourced overseas, but if a company’s only means of survival is by farming jobs outside its walls, then sometimes it’s a necessary step. The other option might be to close its doors for good,” Trump wrote in the post.
We searched for sources of Trump products through publicly available data, including online retail stores and public data of shipments at U.S. ports from 2007 through Aug. 17, 2016, gathered by the private company Importgenius.com. The data shows the last port of shipment before entering the United States (meaning Mexico is not included) and specifies the manufactured location for certain items. (Thanks to Kim Soffen, graphics reporter at The Washington Post, who worked with us to analyze the imports database.) We took inventory below. We welcome reader suggestions for any new products and sources they find, and then we will update the list.
The Donald J. Trump Collection includes ties, suits, dress shirts, eyeglasses and other accessories.
Trump shirts were made in China, Bangladesh, Honduras and Vietnam. PolitiFact Virginia found some Trump sport coats made in India. The Clinton campaign pointed to import data from 2007 that showed a Trump men’s shirt shipment marked as made in South Korea.
Some of the Trump suits on Amazon.com show they were imported, Made in USA or both. BuzzFeed ordered a suit that was listed as both “imported” and “Made in USA” — and ended up with a label showing the suits were made in Indonesia.
Users commented on Amazon.com that the suit that BuzzFeed purchased previously was listed as being imported from Mexico or China. This photo shows a Trump suit that carries a “Made in Mexico” label.
Manufacturing information online is not always reliable — for example, a photo of one shirt shows a “Made in Bangladesh” label, but the item description says it was made in China. This may be a reflection of the different countries that products sometimes pass through before they are ultimately shipped into the United States.
Trump eyeglasses are made in China. Cufflinks and other accessories do not list the source of manufacturing on Amazon.com.
“Success by Trump,” a cologne in the Trump Fragrance line, was manufactured in the United States, according to PolitiFact Virginia. The Trump campaign’s “Make America Great Again” hats are made at a Southern California factory and are labeled “Proudly Made in USA.”
Trump home items
Trump Home has a range of items, including chandeliers, mirrors, bedding, table lamps, cabinets, sofas, barstools, cocktail tables and more.
Trump expanded the Trump Home brand internationally, including in Turkey. A Trump Organization news release shows it partnered with a global luxury furniture brand, Dorya International, to expand the Trump Home brand to a production facility in Turkey. According to Furniture Today, components of the Trump by Dorya furniture were made in Germany, particularly the brass and stainless pieces.
Several Trump Home items are listed as made in China or imported from China — mirrors, ceramic vases, wall decorations, kitchen items and lighting fixtures. The Clinton campaign has pointed to a trademark registration for the Trump Home brand that shows picture frames and other home products were made in India.
The Trump Home by Rogaska tabletop collection featured a crystal and china collection with a company based in Slovenia. Trump bedding comforters are listed as made in USA.
Trump hotel items
Many hotel amenities at Trump’s hotels were manufactured overseas and imported. Trump Hotel pens were made in China or Taiwan, and imported into the United States via South Korea. Shampoo, body wash, moisturizers, shower caps, laundry bags, show bags, pet collars, pet leashes and bath towels at Trump hotels are all listed as made in China.
The Trump Natural Spring Water is served at Trump hotels, restaurants and golf clubs. Trump water comes from New York or Vermont, and is bottled in New York.
Trump Vodka was manufactured at a distillery in the Netherlands, supposedly distilled five times from “European wheat,” but the distribution company stopped carrying it in 2010. An Israeli company continued to carry Trump Vodka, although the version sold in Israel is different from the original Trump Vodka. The Trump Vodka produced and sold in Israel is made from ingredients that make it kosher for Passover, which made it a popular beverage around the holidays. But the Jerusalem Post reported that it turned out that not all ingredients actually were kosher for Passover.
Note: There’s a Trump Winery located in Charlottesville, Va., but it is reported to be owned by his son, Eric. The Trump Winery website says its name is a registered trademark of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing, LLC. The winery imports glassware.
The Bottom Line
The Clinton ad claims that “Trump’s products have been made in 12 other countries.” This is correct. We know of at least 12 countries where Trump products were manufactured (China, the Netherlands, Mexico, India, Turkey, Slovenia, Honduras, Germany, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea). Further, Trump products transited other countries through the packaging and shipping process — meaning workers in more than 12 countries contributed to getting many of Trump’s products made, packaged and delivered to the United States.
As our inventory shows, manufacturing is a global process. Components of a product of an American company are made in different parts of the world, depending on who offers the most competitive prices, and ultimately imported into the country to be sold to American consumers. It’s not as simple as deciding not to eat an Oreo because Nabisco found a cheaper place to employ some of its workers.
Trump’s practice as a businessman is not consistent with his current rhetoric against trade as a presidential nominee — this vulnerability is backed with more than enough factual evidence. If Trump brand customers took the same stance against his products as he did against Nabisco, it is clear they would be left with few Trump items to buy. However, we do know of at least four Trump products made in the United States: “Make America Great Again” hats, bedding, water and cologne.
Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one?
(By Paul Waldman, Washington Post, 05 September 2016)
In the heat of a presidential campaign, you’d think that a story about one party’s nominee giving a large contribution to a state attorney general who promptly shut down an inquiry into that nominee’s scam “university” would be enormous news. But we continue to hear almost nothing about what happened between Donald Trump and Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.
I raised this issue last week, but it’s worth an update as well as some contextualization. The story re-emerged last week when The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold reported that Trump paid a penalty to the IRS after his foundation made an illegal contribution to Bondi’s PAC. While the Trump organization characterizes that as a bureaucratic oversight, the basic facts are that Bondi’s office had received multiple complaints from Floridians who said they were cheated by Trump University; while they were looking into it and considering whether to join a lawsuit over Trump University filed by the attorney general of New York State, Bondi called Trump and asked him for a $25,000 donation; shortly after getting the check, Bondi’s office dropped the inquiry.
At this point we should note that everything here may be completely innocent. Perhaps Bondi didn’t realize her office was looking into Trump University. Perhaps the fact that Trump’s foundation made the contribution (which, to repeat, is illegal) was just a mix-up. Perhaps when Trump reimbursed the foundation from his personal account, he didn’t realize that’s not how the law works (the foundation would have to get its money back from Bondi’s PAC; he could then make a personal donation if he wanted). Perhaps Bondi’s decision not to pursue the case against Trump was perfectly reasonable.
But here’s the thing: We don’t know the answers to those questions, because almost nobody seems to be pursuing them.
For instance, there was only one mention of this story on any of the five Sunday shows, when John Dickerson asked Chris Christie about it on “Face the Nation“ (Christie took great umbrage: “I can’t believe, John, that anyone would insult Pam Bondi that way”). And the comparison with stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails or the Clinton Foundation is extremely instructive. Whenever we get some new development in any of those Clinton stories, you see blanket coverage — every cable network, every network news program, every newspaper investigates it at length. And even when the new information serves to exonerate Clinton rather than implicate her in wrongdoing, the coverage still emphasizes that the whole thing just “raises questions” about her integrity.
The big difference is that there are an enormous number of reporters who get assigned to write stories about those issues regarding Clinton. The story of something like the Clinton Foundation gets stretched out over months and months with repeated tellings, always with the insistence that questions are being raised and the implication that shady things are going on, even if there isn’t any evidence at a particular moment to support that idea.
When it comes to Trump, on the other hand, we’ve seen a very different pattern. Here’s what happens: A story about some kind of corrupt dealing emerges, usually from the dogged efforts of one or a few journalists; it gets discussed for a couple of days; and then it disappears. Someone might mention it now and again, but the news organizations don’t assign a squad of reporters to look into every aspect of it, so no new facts are brought to light and no new stories get written.
The end result of this process is that because of all that repeated examination of Clinton’s affairs, people become convinced that she must be corrupt to the core. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of negative coverage of Trump, because of course there is, but it’s focused mostly on the crazy things he says on any given day.
But the truth is that you’d have to work incredibly hard to find a politician who has the kind of history of corruption, double-dealing, and fraud that Donald Trump has. The number of stories which could potentially deserve hundreds and hundreds of articles is absolutely staggering. Here’s a partial list:
- Trump’s casino bankruptcies, which left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money
- Trump’s habit of refusing to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses
- Trump University, which includes not only the people who got scammed and the Florida investigation, but also a similar story from Texas where the investigation into Trump U was quashed.
- The Trump Institute, another get-rich-quick scheme in which Trump allowed a couple of grifters to use his name to bilk people out of their money
- The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) that involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins
- Trump Model Management, which reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did
- Trump’s employment of foreign guest workers at his resorts, which involves a claim that he can’t find Americans to do the work
- Trump’s use of hundreds of undocumented workers from Poland in the 1980s, who were paid a pittance for their illegal work
- Trump’s history of being charged with housing discrimination
- Trump’s connections to mafia figures involved in New York construction
- The time Trump paid the Federal Trade Commission $750,000 over charges that he violated anti-trust laws when trying to take over a rival casino company
- The fact that Trump is now being advised by Roger Ailes, who was forced out as Fox News chief when dozens of women came forward to charge him with sexual harassment. According to the allegations, Ailes’s behavior was positively monstrous; as just one indicator, his abusive and predatory actions toward women were so well-known and so loathsome that in 1968 the morally upstanding folks in the Nixon administration refused to allow him to work there despite his key role in getting Nixon elected.
And that last one is happening right now. To repeat, the point is not that these stories have never been covered, because they have. The point is that they get covered briefly, then everyone in the media moves on. If any of these kinds of stories involved Clinton, news organizations would rush to assign multiple reporters to them, those reporters would start asking questions, and we’d learn more about all of them.
That’s important, because we may have reached a point where the frames around the candidates are locked in: Trump is supposedly the crazy/bigoted one, and Clinton is supposedly the corrupt one. Once we decide that those are the appropriate lenses through which the two candidates are to be viewed, it shapes the decisions the media make every day about which stories are important to pursue.
And it means that to a great extent, for all the controversy he has caused and all the unflattering stories in the press about him, Trump is still being let off the hook.
Weeks After Pledging Answers, Questions About Melania’s Immigration Status Linger
(By Philip Bump, Washington Post, 02 September 2016)
Donald Trump's immigration position is, at its heart, fairly simple. People in the country illegally will be subject to deportation if he is elected president, as he said in his speech this week in Arizona. Even those who hadn't crossed the border illegally but who had been admitted on a visa and then didn't leave are "a big problem" in Trump's estimation. "Immigration law doesn't exist for the purpose of keeping criminals out," he said. "It exists to protect all aspects of American life — the work site, the welfare office, the education system and everything else."
That speech came more than three weeks after Trump's campaign promised to answer questions about a more personal component of the immigration issue. In early August, Trump pledged that his wife, Melania, a native of Slovenia, would hold a news conference explaining how she managed to navigate the onerous process of getting a green card. He made the pledge after a number of outlets raised questions about the timeline of her entry into the country.
Remember when the New York Post ran a front-page story showing nude photos of Melania Trump? (Yes, you do.) Politico realized that the date of that shoot, 1995, put her in the United States before 1996, the year she has said she arrived on a visa. After that story came out, Melania Trump tweeted a broad defense of her arrival. The promised news conference, though, hasn't yet happened.
Curious about the extent to which marrying an American citizen washed away any previous immigration problems, I reached out to David Leopold, an immigration attorney from Cleveland and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He explained that the popular understanding of how immigration is linked to marriage is wrong — but also noted a number of other questions worth asking about Melania Trump's arrival in the United States.
To the marriage question first. The understanding in popular culture that marrying a U.S. citizen automatically grants citizen status is incorrect. "The act of marrying a legal permanent resident of the United States doesn't in and of itself do anything," Leopold said. There are three main ways in which someone can get a green card: through an employer, through an immediate relative or through the green-card lottery. What's an immediate relative? A son or daughter — or a spouse, for example. Essentially, then, a potential immigrant goes from having no immediate relative (and having to hope to win the green-card lottery) to suddenly having one — and for that group, there is no quota on how many green cards can be issued. A green card isn't guaranteed to the new spouse, but it makes them eligible to begin the process.
It isn't guaranteed, in part, because there are restrictions on who can receive a green card. It is not the case, for example, that an immigrant who enters the country by illegally crossing the Southern border can simply marry an American citizen and be granted a green card.
"If I marry somebody who is undocumented, the only way at this point she is going to get a green card is if she lawfully entered the United States originally," Leopold said. "If the person entered the country without inspection — I married a woman who crossed the border or entered through fraud or something like that — then she is ineligible to get a green card in the United States." There are exceptions that apply, but this is a critical point: If someone committed fraud or entered the country illegally, they cannot get a green card unless they receive a waiver for doing so.
This is important to the question of Melania Trump. Here's how she explained getting her citizenship, to Harper's Bazaar:
I came here for my career, and I did so well, I moved here. It never crossed my mind to stay here without papers. That is just the person you are. You follow the rules. You follow the law. Every few months you need to fly back to Europe and stamp your visa. After a few visas, I applied for a green card and got it in 2001. After the green card, I applied for citizenship. And it was a long process.
According to Leopold, the need to have to travel back to her home country wouldn't accompany a visa linked to employment, in his experience.
"The only time I've seen that — and I've been doing this a long time, and I've compared notes with other immigration lawyers — that the coming in and going out, to anybody who's been around this stuff, suggests that she was on a visitor visa, which doesn't permit work," he said. If Melania Trump came in on a visitor visa and began working over a short period of time, the government would assume that she entered the country fraudulently. If she told a customs official she was entering the United States as a visitor but was planning to work, that's a material misrepresentation.
To get a work-related immigrant visa, Leopold added, Trump's prospective employer would have had to prove that Trump filled a job duty that no American could fill — to show, in other words, that no other model in New York City would have done that shoot. Unless, of course, she had special skills — or a special degree.
You may remember that shortly before questions about Trump's status arose, she suddenly took down her personal website. That change followed revelations that Trump claimed to have a degree that biographers from Slovenia discovered she didn't. "At the age of eighteen, she signed with a modeling agency in Milan. After obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia, Melania was jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan, finally settling in New York in 1996," the site read. The part about the degrees, it seems, was not true, as our fact checkers noted.
We don't know why Melania Trump claimed to have that degree — but having such degrees could bolster an argument for a work visa. If she told an employer she had degrees she didn't to obtain a visa (and the employer wasn't the wiser), Melania Trump is culpable. Again: It's not clear what visa Trump used to enter the country and how it related to her work experience — but she asserts that she has always been in full compliance with immigration laws. If that's not true, it's a problem.
"The bottom line is, if you have procured or attempted to procure an immigration through fraud or misrepresentation, you are inadmissible to the United States, and you need to be admissible to the United States to get a green card," Leopold said. Fraud "always is part of your immigration portfolio," he added, saying it "sticks to you" — meaning that leaving and reentering properly wouldn't absolve previous missteps. Nor would being married to a citizen.
"If there were material misrepresentations or fraudulent representations regarding her work or her intent to work if she came in on a visitor's visa, that would implicate the validity of her green card," Leopold said. "And that would then affect her citizenship, because when you apply for citizenship, one of the questions they ask you is if have you ever sought to obtain immigration benefits from fraud. If you don't 'fess up and answer 'yes' if you've done that, now you have bad moral character and you're ineligible for citizenship." In the worst case, this could lead to denaturalization — loss of citizenship.
How Melania Trump obtained her green card is another question. In an interview with Univision, a former attorney for the Trump Organization said that Melania Trump obtained her green card in 2001 "based on marriage." But she married Donald Trump in 2005 and has said that she wasn't married previously.
As noted above, marriage is a fast track to green-card status, but it also carries another benefit. Someone who entered the country fraudulently isn't eligible for a green card unless they get a waiver. In this case, that waiver would have to come from a close relative — such as a spouse — arguing that an exception should be granted because the relative would suffer an "extreme hardship" if the application were refused. This is "tough to do," Leopold said, suggesting that it demands proof of legitimate economic or emotional difficulty that would result.
For Leopold (who, we will note, donated to the Hillary Clinton campaign in March), the point isn't that Melania Trump entered the country and obtained citizenship under false pretenses. To some extent, the point is that we don't know her story — which is strange, since it should be fairly simple to explain.
More broadly, though, Leopold sees this as a missed opportunity for Donald Trump as a candidate.
"To me what this shows is this broken immigration system — I know that's a cliche already — forces good people to do things they ordinarily wouldn't do. Such as cross a border without authorization, such as misstate the purpose of their trip," he said. "Clearly immigration touches his own family very directly. If this is true, then Donald Trump has missed an important opportunity to reach out to immigrants and say, 'I understand how difficult and dysfunctional this system is, and I want to stand with you, and I want to fix it.' "But he's gone the other way."
What The World Could Lose In America’s Presidential Election
(By Fred Hiatt, Washington Post, 28 August 2016)
The presidential election could be crucial to the future of democracy, and not just in the United States. The global impact of a Donald Trump presidency would be disastrous. But even a Hillary Clinton win won’t help reverse the worldwide retrenchment in democracy and human rights unless she brings a change in policy from the current administration. If all of that strikes you as a bit too breathless, consider what’s happened over the past decade.The leading authoritarian powers of the world — China, Russia and Iran — have tightened the screws at home while becoming far more aggressive beyond their boundaries. They have proven that the Internet, contrary to earlier expectation, can be turned into a weapon of control. They have proven, again contrary to earlier assumptions, that a country can enter the global economy while squelching free speech, worship and assembly at home. They have formed a loose dictators’ alliance, working together to undermine and discredit the principles of liberal economics and individual rights.
Meanwhile, nations that were assumed to be safely in the camp of democracies, including many U.S. allies, have slipped toward authoritarianism. In some, such as Thailand, reversion has come through old-fashioned military coups. In others — Poland, the Philippines, Hungary, Turkey, Nicaragua — elected governments are undoing the protections of democracy. Still other nations, soft authoritarians that had promised greater openness, have unapologetically gone the other way: Egypt, Ethiopia, Bahrain, Malaysia, to name just a few.
Freedom House, the nonprofit organization that has been keeping track of these things since Eleanor Roosevelt helped found it 75 years ago, has the dismal numbers. Over the past decade, the level of freedom has declined in 105 countries and advanced in only 61, the group says — and last year was the worst yet, with 72 nations losing ground. Around the world, “press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years in 2015,” it reports. Trump would stoke the dictators’ momentum in at least three ways. Most obviously, just the fact of his presidency would serve as a four-year indictment of the democratic system. If an unqualified bigot could rise to the top of the world’s oldest democracy, how could Freedom House or anyone else plausibly urge other nations to adopt our system of government?Trump also would undermine democracy abroad by virtue of his disrespect for democratic norms at home. He has endorsed torture and other illegal acts of war, disparaged freedom of the press, undermined a free judiciary, campaigned by invective rather than debate and warned critics that they will suffer if he is elected. And if all that is not enough to give comfort to authoritarian rulers with similar values, Trump has expressed open admiration for the world’s worst thugs, from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to the butchers of Tiananmen Square.
Even if he loses, of course, democracy’s reputation will have taken a hit: How could such a man have become a major party nominee? But perhaps another story line will emerge, too: Even in times of economic dislocation, even faced with an alternative that many voters disliked, Americans were too wise to let the worst befall them. But a Clinton presidency will shift the global momentum only if she adopts goals that President Obama enshrined as a candidate but largely abandoned as president.Of course global trends rest on many factors, of which U.S. leadership is only one. But when he was campaigning, Obama cited as models Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy — who ensured, he wrote in the magazine Foreign Affairs, that America “stood for and fought for the freedoms sought by billions of people beyond our borders.” He said his administration would work toward “building just, secure, democratic societies” where citizens could “choose their leaders in climates free of fear.” But democracy promotion faded as a goal once Obama moved into the White House. In negotiations with China, Iran, Cuba and North Korea, human rights were never a priority. He apologized to Argentinians for America’s Cold War acceptance of its “dirty war,” but overlooked similar or worse abuses in anti-terror allies such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. He hoped that setting a good example at home — ending torture, closing (as he hoped to do) Guantanamo — would resonate overseas, but the results were disappointing.
How far the administration evolved from Obama’s 2007 vision can be measured in an article by Vice President Biden in the current issue of the same magazine that barely mentions democracy or human rights. Biden sets tasks for the next administration to achieve a “more peaceful and prosperous future,” none explicitly related to freedom: deepening alliances in Asia and the Western Hemisphere, addressing climate change and terrorism, improving ties with regional powers. Those are all important. But they will all be far more elusive if democracy continues to dwindle away.
What We Know About The Charitable Giving By Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump
In recent weeks, the presidential campaign has been dominated by stories about the charitable efforts — or lack thereof — of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. So what do we know about Trump and Clinton’s approaches to charity — and about the charitable foundations that share their names?
1.) First: Didn’t Trump say that he gave money to Clinton’s foundation, so that Clinton would attend his third wedding?Yes. He did say that. “I said, ‘Be at my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding,” Trump said during a Republican primary debate in August. “You know why? She didn’t have a choice because I gave. I gave to a foundation that, frankly, that foundation is supposed to do good.’
2.) Is that true?Only in part. Trump has never actually given any of his own money to the Democratic nominee’s famous family charity, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Trump did, however, send two gifts from a foundation he controls, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. In 2009, the Trump Foundation sent a $100,000 “unrestricted gift” to Clinton’s charity. In 2010, Trump’s foundation sent another $10,000, to reserve a table at a Clinton Foundation gala. Trump did not actually attend. But it’s a stretch for Trump to imply that he actually gave this money personally. By 2009, only a tiny fraction of the money in the Donald J. Trump Foundation had been given by Trump. (More on that later.) And Trump is wrong to suggest that these gifts to Clinton’s foundation came before Clinton’s decision to attend his wedding. The gifts were in 2009 and 2010. The wedding was in 2005.
3.) Step back. How much money have Clinton and Trump each donated to charity?For Clinton and her husband, Bill, the total is $23.2 million between 2001 and 2015. That figure comes from the Clintons’ joint tax returns, which the Democratic nominee has released. In that 15-year period — the years since Clinton and her husband left the White House -- they earned about $237 million in adjusted gross income, much of it from speaking fees and book royalties. So Clinton and her husband donated about 9.8 percent of their adjusted gross income. Trump says he is worth far more than the Clintons. He recently claimed his net worth as more than $10 billion.
But it appears he has donated far less.
The Washington Post has identified about $3.9 million in donations since 2001 from Trump’s own pocket. The most recent of those donations was made on Wednesday, to a church in Louisiana that Trump had visited during a tour of flood-ravaged areas the week before. Trump sent a personal check for $100,000 to Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, whose interim pastor is a well-known social-conservative activist, Tony Perkins.
(Louisiana’s governor had suggested before Trump’s visit that the candidate should give to a specific relief fund, run by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Trump gave nothing to that fund).Before that, there was a $1 million gift that Trump made in May to the Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation. At the time of the gift, Trump was under media pressure to make good on a promise he’d made four months earlier: to give $1 million to help veterans.
Beyond that, the evidence of Trump’s giving comes from the files of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which the businessman founded in the late 1980s. Since 2001, those files show about $2.8 million in gifts from Trump himself.But they also show that Trump’s giving to his foundation declined sharply a decade ago. Then it stopped completely. In the foundation’s tax records, the last donation shown from Trump was in 2008, for $30,000. Since then, other donors have filled the Trump foundation’s coffers instead: Since the start of 2007, Trump has provided just 0.73 percent of all the money donated to the foundation.
Has Trump made any other recent donations, beyond the gifts to the veterans’ group and his own foundation? His staff says he has. But they have provided no dollar figures, and no proof. Trump has also declined to release his tax returns, unlike every other major-party nominee for four decades. The Washington Post has spent months searching for evidence of other personal gifts from Trump, and found little. After calling more than 270 charities with ties to Trump, The Post has identified just one other personal donation since 2008. That was a gift of less than $10,000 in 2009, to the Police Athletic League of New York. There is a chance it is a clerical error.
4.) When the two candidates did give, what charities did they choose?The Clintons give nearly all their money away via a charity called the Clinton Family Foundation. It is basically a pass-through, of a kind commonly used for charity by many wealthy people. It does no direct charitable work, but passes money to other nonprofits. In all, the Clinton Family Foundation gave away $18.4 million of the Clintons’ money between 2001 and 2014, the most recent year for which the group’s tax returns are available. Those donations include grants to many groups based in Arkansas, where the Clintons were governor and first lady, and Chappaqua, N.Y., where they moved after leaving the White House, including the Chappaqua Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, the Arkansas Community Foundation and the University of Arkansas. They also made donations to major national charities like the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDs Foundation.
The largest single recipient of money from the Clinton Family Foundation was the family’s other, far more complicated charity. That’s the one you’ve heard of: the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The Clintons have given $4.3 million of their own money to it since 2001, representing 24 percent of their personal giving in that time. More on that other Clinton Foundation in a moment. In Trump’s case, the businessman still controls where the Donald J. Trump Foundation spends its money — even if he doesn’t provide that money from his own pocket anymore.
And tax records show that, under Trump’s leadership, the foundation’s giving has been relatively small-bore and scattershot. There are some repeated patterns: a number of donations to veterans’ groups, police-department foundations and New York-area hospitals. But it lacks the sustained commitments to specific institutions and causes that many wealthy people adopt in their giving.In many cases, the Trump foundation’s donations appear to have been spurred by one-off encounters in Trump’s own life.
For instance, the fifth-biggest donation in the Trump Foundation’s recent history — $158,000, in 2012 — seems to have been used to settle a lawsuit against one of Trump’s golf courses. A man named Martin Greenberg had sued, claiming a mistake at the course cost him a huge hole-in-one prize. On the day the parties told a court their suit was settled, Trump’s Foundation sent Greenberg’s foundation a check.Trump’s foundation also donated to at least 15 charities connected to “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the reality show where contestants played to help a cause. On the show, Trump would often promise a special donation “from my own wallet” — but then, when cameras were off, send a donation from his foundation or from a production company.
And, in another case, Trump used the charity’s money to purchase a football helmet signed by then-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. That $12,000 purchase, at a charity auction, might have violated IRS rules — which prohibit a charity’s leaders from using nonprofit money to buy gifts for themselves.5.) Wait, go back. There are two Clinton foundations?
The Clinton Family Foundation is a nonprofit used by Bill and Hillary Clinton for their personal charitable giving. The Clintons are its only donors. But the Clinton charity in the news this week is the other, bigger one — the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.That one was founded by Bill Clinton in 1997, while he was still president and was originally known as the William J. Clinton Foundation. Initially, the foundation’s goal was to raise money for the construction of Clinton’s presidential library. After he left office, however, the foundation’s goals and funding expanded rapidly. It soon became the chief vehicle for Bill Clinton’s post-presidential ambitions, a way to help charities and promote his own celebrity worldwide.
The Clinton Foundation has now raised more than $2 billion from more than 200,000 donors, including many of the world’s richest and most powerful people and corporations. Foreign governments have also given money; the governments of Australia, Norway and Saudi Arabia have all given between $10 million and $25 million.In 2005, the Clinton Foundation launched the Clinton Global Initiative, which is now the best known and most public arm of the organization. CGI holds a glitzy annual meeting in New York City that brings together leaders of private companies, non-profits and governments to talk about how to solve world problems.
The event was designed to be a new model in global philanthropy, a global schmoozefest convened by Bill Clinton to bring people together to talk about how to solve world problems. At CGI, individuals and companies make public pledges to embark on their own charitable efforts, with CGI monitoring their progress. The conference is also a fundraiser for the foundation because it sponsored by private companies and everyone who attends, except non-profit groups, pay membership fees to take part.Unlike the Clintons’ family foundation, the Clinton Foundation does much of its charitable work itself, rather than making grants to other groups. It funds initiatives to combat disease and poverty, improve education, fight climate change, promote women and children around the world.
In 2013, after Hillary Clinton stepped down as secretary of state, the William J. Clinton Foundation formally changed its name to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. It has indicated that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, her and Chelsea’s names will dropped from the group’s title and it will become, formally, the Clinton Foundation. It has also said it will cease accepting foreign and corporate donations. Regardless of the election results, the Foundation has said this September’s Clinton Global Initiative will be the last.
6.) When people give to the Clinton Foundation, what do they get in return?The Clinton Foundation is a globally recognized philanthropy, known for helping to lower the cost of AIDs treatment and other drugs in the developing world. Its donors have traditionally included a bipartisan array of corporate leaders and ordinary people. If asked, many would say they gave simply to support the charitable aims of the organization.
As is not uncommon in the world of charity, donors also received prestige from being associated with the well-known organization, a reputational benefit boosted by the group’s association with Bill Clinton, a globally popular figure.Critics charge that donors also gave to curry favor with the Clintons, particularly Hillary Clinton, who has held public office and presidential ambitions for most of the foundation’s existence.
Trump and other Republicans have alleged that Clinton Foundation donors were given favors by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Emails have emerged showing how some foundation donors were able to gain access — particularly in making requests for meetings — to Clinton’s closest aides and sometimes to Clinton herself. But the emails show that the donors did not always get what they wanted, particularly when they sought anything more than a meeting. And there is no evidence that foundation donors received special treatment in direct exchange for their contributions.7.) When people give to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, what do they get in return?
That’s a lot harder to say. The Trump foundation’s biggest donors have been unwilling to talk about it. Since 2007 — when Trump stopped being the Trump Foundation’s major donor — the biggest gifts came from Vince and Linda McMahon, the WWE wrestling moguls. They gave $5 million. They declined to comment about why. The second-biggest donor in that period was a New York man named Richard Ebers. He gave about $1.8 million total. He declined to comment about why. The third-biggest donor was NBC, which broadcast “The Apprentice.” It gave $500,000 in 2012, the same year that Trump’s suddenly began promising more “personal” gifts to celebrity contestants’ charities (and paying with the Trump Foundation’s money). NBC, also, declined to comment.Among the other, smaller donors, a few would talk about their motivations. One won an online auction, where the prize was a lifetime membership at Trump golf clubs. Another was a friend of Trump’s, who didn’t know what else to give him. And there was one who seemed surprised to hear that her company had been listed as a Trump Foundation donor at all. “That’s incorrect,” she said, when informed that Trump’s foundation had listed her firm as giving $100,000. “I’m not answering any questions.” Then she hung up.
Maddow’s Fascinating Duel With Trump Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway
(By Aaron Blake, Washington Post, August 25, 2016)
Donald Trump has only been doing Fox News these days,* but on Wednesday night his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, gamely ventured into the unfriendly confines of Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show. What followed was a fascinating, lengthy back-and-forth over the importance of policy to Trump, among many other topics.MADDOW: It is special occasion night here tonight on the "Rachel Maddow Show." We are going to start right off at the top of the show, not with me talking for 17 straight minutes, but rather with "The Interview."
I have had the opportunity on this show this year to interview Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a handful of times. I have not yet had the pleasure of interviewing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. I live in hope that that interview will happen here and sometime soon.But in the meantime, I'm very excited to say that I've got what I think of as the next best thing. We are joined tonight for "The Interview" by Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway.
Kellyanne, thank you so much for being here.CONWAY: My pleasure, Rachel. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: I have to ask you, self-consciously, off the top, if it is a hard decision to do a show like this with liberal commie pinko like me. Or do you guys have a …
CONWAY: I've never described you that way. No, it's a real pleasure. I did want to pass along a hello from Donald Trump. I talked to him this evening and I told him I was coming on your show. He said, that's such a terrific idea. And I said I hope that I'm just like your warm-up band, your B-band, and that you'll come on the show sometime too. So maybe you convince us in the tower.
MADDOW: Well, I would love to do that. Let's — I don't want to spoil it, so maybe we should just call it off right here and say, that's the end of the interview. No.
Let me start actually by saying, congratulations. This is your first presidential campaign manager gig, obviously.
CONWAY: As a manager, yes.
MADDOW: But it's also the first time any woman has ever managed a Republican presidential campaign ever, so you're in history for that.
Can I just ask you, how you got the gig? Did you interview? Did other people interview? How did this come about?
CONWAY: Well, first of all, thank you. I didn't even know I was the first female Republican presidential campaign manager until someone pointed it out to me on Twitter. They pointed it out for me and I said, that can't be true.
And then I realized, I said this must be such a small group of women. And right away I know them all, Susan Estrich and Donna Brazile and Beth Myers, and I respect them enormously. And it took me about two seconds into the job to see how much is on your shoulders, when you are the campaign manager.
And they did it far longer than I did. I'm coming in toward the end of the campaign. So hats off to them.
I think I got the job through the way Donald Trump has promoted women in the Trump Corporation for decades, through merit. And he saw the way I move. He knows I don't sugarcoat things, but I'm very polite in delivering them.
Donald Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway made her media debut on Aug. 21. She told ABC's This Week, "I think Donald Trump is back in Hillary Clinton's head." Trump’s new campaign managers says the GOP candidate just had his best week while appearing on television shows Aug. 21. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
And I felt like we had been losing for a couple of weeks. And I just — instead of going in there and saying, we're losing and if you have another week like this, you're done, I just said, you know, we're a little bit behind and I think it's good to be the underdog.
You always say, I never lose, I'm not accustomed to losing, fine. But we are a little bit behind and we're really behind in some places. And so let's at least bring it to a slightly new direction.
I think once you have a buoyant candidate who feels comfortable doing the so-called pivot on substance, where he has gotten so many people giving him the advice, solicited, unsolicited, from both sides of the aisle to pivot on style, he's so comfortable going out and telling everybody, here's my 10-point plan to reform the Veterans Administration.
We as a nation — I hope it's a completely nonpartisan issue, that we as a nation share the goal of treating our veterans fairly and with dignity and in a timely fashion for their health care needs.
If he goes out and he says, here's my four-point tax plan, or here's my three-point way to defeat ISIS, and he actually has specifics, he's so comfortable and he so enjoys doing that.
And you can look at the specifics, Rachel, and you can say, I disagree with them, I think this will never work, I think it's cockamamie, but at least you can see them. And …
MADDOW: When you say pivot on substance, do you mean that he is changing some of his policy positions?
CONWAY: No, no, I meant the pivot has been more to substance. Because I think, my own view as a voter and as an old hand politically, Rachel, is that so much of this campaign and the campaign coverage, but so much of the campaign has been content-free cacophony, like no substance being discussed.
And I think that's a shame for the voters. I don't know a billion things about a billion things, but I know consumers, and I know voters. I've been doing this for decades. And when I talk to voters and I look down in the focus group, at their household income, and I look at the unemployed status and I hear them, and I know that they deserve to at least have a full debate on the issues this time.
And why do we have to wait for the actual debates for that? Let's have a debate on his vision for the next steps after the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and Secretary Clinton's.
Let's compare them on energy independence. Let's compare them. She referred to — in her convention speech to — I assume she meant ISIS, but she called them our "determined enemies." He calls them ISIS. He calls them radical terrorists.
I was offended last year when she referred to pro-life Republicans as terrorists. I didn't think that was nice or true, but she won't refer to the terrorists as terrorists. So my point is …
MADDOW: Do you think she doesn't recognize ISIS as terrorists?
CONWAY: I sure hope she does. And I think she does, but why doesn't she say it?
MADDOW: Wait, hold on …
CONWAY: Why "determined enemies"?
MADDOW: She's never called ISIS terrorists? Or she didn't in that instance?
CONWAY: Of course she has. But here she was in front of millions of people, her largest audience ever.
MADDOW: But — okay, so but you're talking about — you're just saying let's keep it on substance, it shouldn't necessarily be this cacophony that's just about the campaign itself.
CONWAY: It's a great word, isn't.
MADDOW: It is. But some of the cacophony has been because your candidate has picked some unusual fights, because he has conducted himself as a candidate in a way that really other campaigns haven't.
Right after you started, he gave this remarkable set of remarks, where he said that he regretted some of the things he'd said because they caused personal pain, and he has repeatedly refused to say which of those things he regrets.
But I guess I want to know whether or not any of those things are going to be put to bed because he'll apologize for them. Like when he said that Judge Curiel — Judge Gonzalo Curiel essentially couldn't do his job as a judge, he would be inherently biased, and couldn't do that job because of his Mexican heritage, that is something that I imagine caused great personal pain.
Did Donald Trump ever apologize to the judge for that?
CONWAY: I don't know that he has.
MADDOW: Do you think he will?
CONWAY: But I — well, here's what I do know. I think that his now running mate, Governor Pence, when he wasn't his running mate, put it best about the Judge Curiel situation. He said, I know what Donald Trump meant. And here's what it is.
Every American deserves a fair trial with an impartial judge, but we do not question one's impartiality based on their ethnicity, race, and a whole host of other …
MADDOW: Which Mr. Trump did, explicitly, for this judge.
CONWAY: And I thought — it's funny, I don't even know if Mr. Trump noticed that response at the time, but I thought, well, that's really somebody who has worked with other countries, that really captures it. And that's the way I feel.
But I do hope, Rachel, that people who feel that they have been caused personal pain by Donald Trump, looked at his regrets last week in a very public form. And it's very unusual for anybody who is running for political office to — frankly, to ever say that they regret causing personal pain.
And I hope that anybody who feels that way will at least see that contrition and take that and at least accept his regret. And …
MADDOW: But there's no apology. I mean …
CONWAY: Well, that would be done in private anyway.
MADDOW: And you're saying it may have been done and you don't know, or you know that it hasn't been done?
CONWAY: I don't know either way.
MADDOW: Okay. And with the Khan family — I mean, with Mrs. Khan, I mean, in terms of personal pain, he said about her that he didn't — I can tell you exactly what he said. He said: "She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say."
She rebutted that by saying, listen, she didn't speak in that moment because she's so grief-stricken by the death of her son that cannot speak about him without crying. I mean, talk about personal pain.
What an incredibly painful thing for him to have accused her of. And, again, he said that he regrets causing it. Do you know if he's apologized to the Khan family directly?
CONWAY: I don't know. And I certainly hope that they heard him last Thursday in Charlotte when he said that.
Rachel, let me just say how I feel, if it's at all relevant. I think that the Khan's son is a hero, and I'm glad he's in Arlington National Cemetery, and I think he made the ultimate sacrifice, as did they, and they deserve our respect and our gratitude.
I have four small children, including a son. I can't even put my mind where their hearts are, because that is a very painful thing to even think about.
But I also think people should look at the full measure of each of these candidates and not always judge that — well, not just judge him by one or two things that he has said here. I just feel like we with should look at …
MADDOW: To be fair, though, I think those things that he's getting consistently judged for, and people are not letting them go, is because they're so unusual. I mean, for any presidential candidate, for any politician to get into a personal fight with a gold-star family is so strange, it's so unusual.
I mean, not just as a political miscalculation, it's just — it almost — it's humanly shocking and I think that's why he is the only one who can ever put that to rest. I think as his campaign manager, you're going to get asked about those stories again and again and again all the way through November unless ...
CONWAY: And I can't speak for him on that, I really can't speak for him on that, because it's very personal, I can speak for me.
MADDOW: Let me ask about policy then. Is it still the policy of the Trump campaign and of Mr. Trump that there should be a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on. That was his statement on that matter.
Is that still the policy of the campaign and the candidate?
CONWAY: What he has said, and he repeated it, and again, people can pull it up for themselves if they'd like, Rachel. What he said recently, when he was delivering his entire fighting radical Islamic terrorist speech …
MADDOW: The Ohio speech, yes.
CONWAY: The Ohio speech, that's right. A week ago Monday. Seems so long ago.
MADDOW: I know, every day is a …
CONWAY: Yes, they're like dog years, in politics, I've decided.
What he said there was that we are going to ban people from entry here from countries that are known exporters of terrorism, which we can't sufficiently vet. So that is not every everybody, that's not every continent.
MADDOW: But does that statement rescind the earlier statement? Does that mean that — I mean, it was very clear what he said in December, and he put it in writing, right? A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. It was very clear. Is that now no longer operable as the statement of the Trump campaign?
Should we see this new statement about countries that have a history of exporting terrorism, should we see that supplanting that earlier statement?
CONWAY: Well, I don't think it supplants it at all.
MADDOW: So they both exist?
CONWAY: I think that — well, yes, they do, because I think it clarifies it, in terms of, well, what does this actually mean?
MADDOW: So what about a Muslim who wants to emigrate here from Australia?
CONWAY: Well, it depends. Do they have a record of terror? Are they tied to any groups? Are they — I mean, we — look, his entire point is very simple, Rachel, if I may.
Whether it's an American-born lone wolf terrorist in Orlando who shoots up 49 innocent people in a nightclub, or it's folks coming in on a fiancee visa that federal agents I've talked to didn't even know existed, in San Bernardino, to kill 14 innocent co-workers, or it's what happens in Nice, in Brussels, in Paris, and so many other places around the globe, this has to stop.
And the fact is we have to do a better job as a government, because somehow we're not doing a great job.
MADDOW: Do you stop it by stopping all Muslims?
MADDOW: Okay. So that policy is no longer …
CONWAY: Well, you look at his speech from last Monday and I think you find your answer, where he says, look, we are going to stop allowing countries that export terrorists, that we can't get a good vetting system with them, and frankly ...
MADDOW: I've got the quote. He said he would suspend immigration from "regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism."
CONWAY: That's right.
MADDOW: So on 9/11, four airliners were hijacked. Three of the four were piloted by men who had most recently lived and operated their cell in Germany. Right? We all know this, right? Hamburg, Germany. So is Germany a country from which we will not allow immigration anymore?
CONWAY: No, not wholesale. Because there are so many other ways that we could have at least captured, or I should say, known that those — that that particular al-Qaeda cell was here nefariously.
I mean, who were the people teaching them how to fly a plane in Florida that they never had an interest in learning to land it? You know, we — after 9/11, it was see something, say something.
But before that, we had them — you know, they could have been monitored in a way, if there was a reasonable suspicion that they had, that they were tied to terrorism. So in that particular instance, with the 9/11 terrorists, it's very hard to believe it has been 15 years, Rachel.
But with that particular instance, I'd have to go back and review what we knew about each of them at the time before I answer your question completely. But the general policy is what he says it is, which is ...
MADDOW: What he says is a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
CONWAY: That was — and now it's …
MADDOW: Before. But you are saying that's no longer operable.
CONWAY: I'm saying that you should see what he said last Monday, where he is saying suspend it from regions or countries that are known exporters of terrorism.
MADDOW: Like Germany, which makes no sense.
CONWAY: Well, no, no …
MADDOW: I mean, there's a reason that we keep, again, not moving on from this stuff. This was how — in December, when made this statement, right, on December 7th it was like every political firework in the country went off all at once, because nobody could believe that somebody who was running for president of this country by promising that if you are of a specific religion, you're no longer allowed to come here.
MADDOW: If that's no longer the case, that would be a really big deal. But it can't be that we're not supposed to hold him accountable for that statement anymore, but he hasn't rescinded it.
In the same way that his statement of regret, if it's meant to apply to the Khan family or the Curiel family, we can't give him credit to that unless he actually tells us, and tells us that he has communicated that to the Curiel and the Khan family.
The thread that ties these things together is this is all stuff of his own making. And if you want the campaign to not be about this stuff anymore, it seems to me like he's the one who has to end all these controversies by telling us what he really means.
You're in a position of trying to defend what he said last week, and not refer to what he said in December, but only one of them can be true.
CONWAY: Well, Rachel, I have memorized the list of 22 flip-flops that Hillary Clinton has made on policy, and they have nothing to do even with the corrupt Clinton Foundation State Department pay-to-play connection, they have to do with policy.
And I think Bernie Sanders was right on many of those things when he was calling her out for them. And we will call her out for them if others won't. So we feel that it's legitimate …
MADDOW: But your own campaign is about your own candidate, right?
CONWAY: Well, no, no. There's a choice in this country.
CONWAY: Yes, this campaign in totem is about two candidates. And if I can say one thing about the coverage, it's not that it's biased or slanted. It's incomplete. It's almost as if it's a referendum on Donald Trump, it's as if you're going to go into the ballot box on November 8th, Rachel, and it's going to be a big picture of Donald Trump with a light like you either put a black X over him, or you say yea. That's not the case.
MADDOW: But that's obviously what happens …
CONWAY: She's running too.
MADDOW: When one candidates running is planning on banning people from the United States …
CONWAY: And the other is hiding. And the other is hiding.
MADDOW: Okay. But not doing press conferences is one thing. But proposing a ban on people coming to the United States from people who are of a specific religion, it's always going to be a referendum on that candidate.
CONWAY: And she wants total — well, I think that's unfair, actually. I think it's actually a disservice to the voters in that he is now giving speeches, several a week, where he's laying out specific policy prescriptions, including on the matter of which you asked me.
Where people can go and look and they can say, I don't believe that, or I don't like that, or wow, I didn't realize that. Let me try to digest this.
And this is the stage in the election cycle where voters start to want to hear your specifics and your solutions.
MADDOW: Let me ask one more specific on that. There's this one from the Ohio speech, the terrorism speech, which I thought was just a fascinating turn, and it was on this issue of extreme vetting. What he's describing as extreme vetting for people who want to emigrate to this country.
And what he said was, in the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. What is that about? What's the Cold War precedent for this extreme vetting that he's talking about?
CONWAY: He's basically saying, this is not the first time the country has done this, or that it has been done. That we've done this before, but for some reason, we've become lax. We don't do it.
MADDOW: When did we do it before?
CONWAY: Well, he's just saying, there's a Cold War precedent. And …
MADDOW: But what is the Cold War precedent?
CONWAY: For vetting. And he's saying that in this case, it's that we — past is not necessarily prologue, but that when you are talking about vetting, people shouldn't comment like, oh, my God, that's a new situation.
What if we did vet people based on their ties to terrorism, if we did that a little bit better? I mean, is anybody arguing that we're not letting people in the country right now who do have ties to terrorists?
MADDOW: The Cold War precedent for what he's talking about was an ideological vetting. He's saying we want ideological vetting of people. That did exist in the Cold War, in the early '50s, it was called the McCarran Act, which I'm sure you know.
MADDOW: And Truman vetoed it and then Congress was able to pass it some other way. But what survived very famously was thrown out by the United States Supreme Court because it was ruled to be unconstitutional.
So there is a Cold War precedent for ideological vetting of immigrants. In that case, it was to stop communist front groups. But it didn't pass constitutional muster, and we've never had anything like that since that ever has passed constitutional muster.
So what he's asking for is a new extreme vetting system, which has previously been tried and ruled unconstitutional and we abandoned it half a century ago.
CONWAY: Sixty-some years ago, right?
MADDOW: Yes. So that's a hard case — so I want the pivot on substance to happen too. I really do. But the substance …
CONWAY: Like four issues a week now though that he's talking about. He really doesn't …
MADDOW: But he has to make sense. He has to make sense when he makes these policy pivots in order for them to be successful.
CONWAY: Well, it sounds like you disagree with the policy, and that's fine. And …
MADDOW: No, you can't have a McCarran Act now, it's unconstitutional.
CONWAY: But that's my point too. People can look at it and say, this is ridiculous, that's unconstitutional, you can't have that, or they can say, that may work, and I'd like to hear more about it.
But either way, I feel very confident that our campaign is the one of the major two now, Rachel, that actually respects the voters, and what they tell pollsters they want, which policy prescriptions, a conversation about substance.
I said this before, but I'll say on your show, I would rather lose a campaign about style, than — or who said what today about whom, than not — than lose it on substance. Because I feel like the issue set favors us.
I mean, people in the last 200-some polls taken on Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, you have many people who still have problems with — you have many millions of Americans uninsured, you have people still looking for work, you have some schools that are failing our students.
And the fact is, Hillary Clinton, from what we're told, is going to give a speech tomorrow about none of that. Her speech is going to be about Donald Trump.
MADDOW: She's going to give a speech about you guys, that's right.
CONWAY: Well, but that's odd. And I watch — it's odd for this reason. Again, it's not — she's running for president of the United States. And presidents have to have vision and show leadership in a way that you make the election about the future, not the past.
And you make it about your own beliefs and your own values and vision, not just trying to make the other person look like he takes the wings off of butterflies. It's an odd construct. I watched Robby Mook. I watched Robby Mook in your interview last week. I said, oh, I hope I get to do that, I watched him interviewed my first day on the job. And I really did want to come.
Robby is such a smart guy. He's very loyal to Hillary Clinton. He knows what he's doing. He's a great competitor. And yet most of his — much of his interview was about Donald Trump. And I keep looking at that and saying, when are we going to hear from you?
I mean, scarcity is their strategy. Politico ran a headline today that said Hillary Clinton's strategy to run out the clock to November. I think that's a disservice to voters. I think she just ought to lay it all out and say my policies on X, Y and Z are right, and yours are wrong.
MADDOW: Kellyanne Conway is our guest. She is the campaign manager for Donald Trump's campaign, the first woman to ever be a campaign manager in a Republican presidential campaign. And I have just secretly chained her to the desk. So she'll be here when we get back from the commercial break. Hold on.
MADDOW: We're back with Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for the Donald Trump for president campaign. One week ago tonight she became the first woman to ever run a Republican presidential campaign.
Kellyanne, thanks again for being here.
CONWAY: Thank you.
MADDOW: Why — don't take this the wrong way.
MADDOW: Why on earth is your candidate in Mississippi tonight if everything you could possibly imagine that was bad for your candidate happened between now and November and everything great for Hillary Clinton happened between now and November, your candidate is still going to win Mississippi by double digits.
CONWAY: That's right.
MADDOW: Why is he in Mississippi?
CONWAY: And Hillary Clinton is still going to win California by double digits and she has been there raising money ...
MADDOW: But she's raising money, he's doing a rally.
CONWAY: Oh, no, he had fundraiser before that.
MADDOW: Right, but then they're just doing the fundraising and then booking out to a swing state. He does a rally, which means you're spending money to keep him down there. You're paying the opportunity cost of him being somewhere else. You're paying money to rent the venue. You're having him do this rally.
Again, don't take it the wrong way.
CONWAY: And it's on national news here in a non-swing state in New York.
MADDOW: Here he is in Mississippi, but you're wasting your donors' money. I mean, the best possible outcome of this is that he might win by extra double digits. Why is he there?
CONWAY: He was there because he wanted to do a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, because he — the governor has been talking to him about coming down and he had — I don't know if your audience is aware, but he had Mr. Farage, the leader of Brexit, on the stage with him tonight and basically gave his big old epic Brexit speech on American independence.
MADDOW: Isn't it a little weird to have the like secessionist guy give a speech in Mississippi.
CONWAY: But in Jackson, Mississippi …
MADDOW: Yes, you get why that's weird, right?
MADDOW: Go to a Union state next time.
CONWAY: But I will tell you that I think the people who came before me developed a very sound infrastructure. But we have inherited a schedule that we are taking better control of in terms of I'm a very focused person and I see which states we're going into with candidate appearances, that's both for Governor Pence and Mr. Trump.
Our ground game, our data operation, our field really focusing on the states that get us to 270-plus in a couple of different ways.
MADDOW: You can't get out of Mississippi because it was already planned.
CONWAY: Well, no, it was already planned. And honestly, when I first asked about that rally, to give you a little inside peek, when I first asked about that rally in a scheduling meeting last week, they said, well, it went live this morning, you know, too bad we didn't have this conversation — it went live this morning. And the venue was already three-quarters full.
MADDOW: Right, it's Mississippi.
CONWAY: … but it's national news. You're covering it, the rest of you are covering it. So — and he'll be home tonight.
MADDOW: So let me ask you another one. New York. Home for Donald Trump. The national political director for your campaign is …
CONWAY: Jim Murphy.
MADDOW: Jim Murphy, yes. Jim Murphy quoted in The New York Post two days ago that there's going to be an all-out, full steam ahead, top speed effort in New York, a full plan, ground game, media, Internet, direct mail, maybe phone banks for New York.
And then the reason I'm asking you about this, is he then told The New York Post he was acting at your behest specifically and named you, in saying that this is why there's such a focus on New York State, where you are on a good day, behind by 17 points. That doesn't sound like you. That doesn't sound like your kind of focus.
CONWAY: It wasn't me. But it would be exciting to challenge Hillary Clinton here, just on her Senate record in New York alone. I hope you get an opportunity to interview her. I hope if she comes and enjoys her time in this seat, Rachel, as I am tonight, that you'll ask her the question, you know, why was your Senate record here in this state so unremarkable?
But I have a 3:30 call tomorrow with Jim and I'll ask him about that article that I had not seen.
MADDOW: Sorry, Jim, I didn't mean to get you in trouble.
CONWAY: But I'll say something else, Jim is onto something very important that I think is missed in the non-conversation conversation politically, Rachel, which is, we have great teams in different states.
We may not be competing at this moment. And we're going to start moving people around to these swing states. And that's very typical of campaigns, they do that. You decide where are your strengths, where do you want to sew up some of these poll numbers.
Which, you know, even in a place like North Carolina today, we're behind by 2, according to a public poll. Arizona, we're ahead by 5. You know, things are starting to look a little bit better. But these battleships turn slowly.
But if we have a fabulous state director somewhere where we end up not competing as hard, and they're talented, we'll move them around because that's what smart campaigns do. You say, how do we refocus our talents and where do we put our candidates?
And we've been working with Governor Pence's staff as well in trying to do that, because he's an incredibly strong speaker in some of these swing states. He gets large crowds. They want to hear his message. They connect with him.
And I told Governor Pence, you're like the golden child, you eat your vegetables, you do your homework in homework club, he's just done a phenomenal job for this ticket. And he keeps his own schedule.
I think every 10 days or so, we're going to try to get Trump and Pence together in one place as well. But you'll see some changes. You're going to have a post-Labor Day bonanza of a new type of schedule. Promise.
MADDOW: Okay. You used the phrase "golden child" there, which I have to quote back to you, because that is one of the phrases that was used ironically, or sarcastically by the new chief executive of the Trump campaign, Steve Bannon, to describe Paul Ryan.
He has called Paul Ryan a liar, he has called him a golden child, and he didn't mean it in a good way. He said …
CONWAY: I did, by the way.
MADDOW: You meant it in a good way, exactly, when you were talking about Governor Pence. But that's not how he meant it about Paul Ryan. He once said of Paul Ryan recently that Paul Ryan was raised in a Petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.
So Breitbart, under Steve Bannon's leadership, has been the biggest media cheerleader on the right for the resignation of John Boehner, for the defeat of Eric Cantor, and for this year's challenge to Paul Ryan, who is the current Republican speaker of the house. How's it going between Speaker Ryan and your campaign?
CONWAY: It's going well.
MADDOW: Since Steve Bannon came on board? In the past week, you and Steve Bannon came on at the same time.
CONWAY: That's right, nothing has changed in terms of Speaker Ryan having endorsed Donald Trump and Donald Trump having endorsed Speaker Ryan.
I did tease Mr. Trump, Rachel, by saying, hey, you went and endorsed him, and he won his primary with 84 percent of the vote, you didn't take the credit. Had I been here, we would have taken the credit. Paul, you went from 82 to 84.
MADDOW: If you really need Paul Ryan down the stretch, he has a certain amount of power and sway.
CONWAY: Yes, he's the speaker of the house.
CONWAY: And he would be the speaker of the house in a Trump presidency.
MADDOW: So you've now got his chief political antagonist from the conservative media with you, running the Trump campaign. Steve Bannon has been not just a provocateur on the right, not just a controversial guy, he specifically set his sights on trying to destroy Paul Ryan.
He's after John McCain. He's after Paul Ryan. He stood up and cheered about John Boehner, and about Eric Cantor. The way that he celebrated Eric Cantor losing his seat. I understand, if you're a Republican insurgent why that must be very exciting. But if you're the Republican Party, if they're going to be responsible for a lot of the ground game and all of this stuff, how could they work with him?
CONWAY: We had Sean Spicer in our shared office just the other day. So it's — that's the chief strategist working on the …
MADDOW: They're just swallowing it. They're just …
CONWAY: No, they're not swallowing it. In fact, I talk to Chairman Priebus once or twice a day now. And I really like the way that the official — you know, the Republican Party nationally, Rachel, is treating us and working with us.
I'm really pleased with that. And I think it comes on the heels of this — letters people are writing, please put the resources down-ballot and please, don't destroy the Republican Party.
Chairman Priebus doesn't feel that way and Speaker Ryan doesn't. And I'll tell you what, in a Trump presidency, I'll be the first one to go up and thank Speaker Ryan and work with him. We both worked for Jack Kemp at different points in our career.
MADDOW: How about Steve Bannon?
CONWAY: Oh, he'll do it too. Steve, yes.
MADDOW: After doing everything he could to destroy him, calling him a liar and all that?
CONWAY: Well, and they both have really big jobs now. So there you go. True to say, they both endorsed Donald Trump.
MADDOW: But do you have to wear chain mail when you go to work? This environment that you work in, it's like actively on fire every day.
CONWAY: Come and visit us, Rachel, bring your camera.
MADDOW: I absolutely will.
CONWAY: Come visit us in the tower. I just invited you. I just got my first piece of hate mail to my home …
MADDOW: Oh no, I'm sorry.
CONWAY: No, I'm just saying, it's a crazy time, but it's very rewarding and I'm telling you, I really think that the case for change that so many Americans are making, that they say, 70 percent is saying, take us in a different direction, that's a change election.
You know, you see the polls, including NBC's polls, Rachel, that a vast majority of Americans dislike Hillary Clinton, distrust her. And I certainly hope that we're not now inured to that because it has happened for so long.
I mean, there were some serious revelations this week. And I saw someone on TV, like someone I respect enormously from the other side of the aisle last night say the following, while the Clinton Foundation scandal unfolding seems serious and we'll take a look at it, but the next time Donald Trump says something crazy, then we'll forget about this.
And I thought, if it's worthy of examination, if the allegations of pay to play and these visits from people, and these foreign donations are actually bothersome, then — and actually worthy of examination on a show like yours, Rachel, then that doesn't wash away because Donald Trump said something that day.
And that's my point about full coverage.
MADDOW: On that issue of the Clinton Foundation, the very strong statement from your campaign two days ago, saying the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. If it's such a vehicle for corruption, why did Donald Trump donate so much money to it?
CONWAY: He donated $100,000, and certainly didn't donate for the same reason these foreign donors did, apparently. He didn't ask to get a meeting with the secretary of state to talk about donating to the Clinton Foundation, like apparently 85 other people did.
MADDOW: Well, asking and getting is not ...
CONWAY: To the tune of $156 million.
MADDOW: Asking and getting is not the same thing.
CONWAY: But the Clinton Foundation does some good work. I mean, there's no question about that. They do very important work.
MADDOW: But they're the most corrupt enterprise in political history, that's your statement.
CONWAY: Apparently you can be both.
CONWAY: Apparently you can be both. So we see the good work they do around the globe. And, you know, Rachel, I was thinking about this today, they could do much — they could do even better, more good work, if you will, if some of those donations weren't — you know, weren't, I guess, received as a way to, in the State Department, and why are you giving it any — did we need to have meetings in the State Department with foreign donors and then pretend all that money is just for vaccinations and …
MADDOW: Well, there's no indication that the money went for anything other than back to the Clinton programs.
CONWAY: Well, let's find out. I think Governor Christie had this right. I think Governor Christie had this right yesterday. He said, look, we actually don't know the facts. And three different FBI divisions asked the DOJ to investigate, and they did not — either did not return their calls or refused to investigate.
But Governor Christie is right, Rachel. He said yesterday, look, we as Americans have the need to know what the facts are before we cast a vote. I think there's something to that. We already know how America feels about Washington.
The lack of transparency, the lack of accountability, the corruption, the rigged system that helps insiders. This doesn't look good for someone who is already distrusted and disliked by a majority of Americans.
MADDOW: But then to the same point, I don't want to go tit-for-tat on the Clinton Foundation, and I hear you, absolutely, but to that same point, I mean, every presidential candidate in the modern era has released his or her tax returns, including — I mean, back to Nixon, right?
And when Nixon set that precedent he was under audit. So it's not — being under audit is not an excuse to not release your tax returns. The IRS says if you're under audit, you're totally allowed to release your tax returns. And previous presidents and presidential candidates have.
Donald Trump is running for president in part on the basis of his financial acumen and saying that the system is rigged. And there has been a lot of really troubling reporting about his business practices, as well, you know, I mean, a lot of stuff that may or may not been followed all the way to its conclusion.
But talk about raising questions, there has been stuff. Why should this audit out only apply to him? I mean, everybody else has released their tax returns, why shouldn't he?
CONWAY: Well, that's the conclusion that his lawyers and accountants have made and the advice they've given him and he's respecting that advice.
But I also don't …
MADDOW: Do you respect it? Do you think that he should release his tax returns?
CONWAY: Well, I do respect it only because I once thought, oh, transparency, release your tax returns. But the fact is now that I'm there, I hear what the advice that the lawyers and the accountants have given.
But I don't think that we need to see his tax returns to verify his financial acumen. I walk into the Trump Tower every day and I'm like, this guy did pretty well for himself before I got here.
MADDOW: I want to know if he pays taxes.
CONWAY: And he — well, like you know what you want to know, Rachel, we all want to know what taxes we would pay under his tax plan. That's a question …
MADDOW: No, no, trust me, I really literally want to know if he pays taxes. I have two more things to ask you. Do you mind staying?
CONWAY: No. Oh, another break.
MADDOW: Another break, sorry. Kellyanne, campaign manager for Donald Trump, I promise just one more break and we'll be right back.
MADDOW: We're back with Kellyanne Conway, who is the first woman to ever be the campaign manager for a Republican presidential campaign. It is her first presidential campaign management gig. And she has been in it for precisely one week, most of which you've spend here in the studio with me tonight.
MADDOW: I know it feels like I'm never going to let you go. I have two more questions.
MADDOW: One is about this health issue, and I have a very specific question about this. So Mr. Trump personally and members of your campaign have repeatedly now raised this question of Secretary Clinton's health.
Now the only testimony we have of Mr. Trump's health is this letter from his gastroenterologist saying that his lab results were astonishingly excellent and the letter ends by saying: "If elected Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever be elected to the presidency."
And that's really funny, but as a doctor's letter, it's a little bit absurd. It's a non-serious letter. It's full of typos. It's hyperbolic. It's unprofessional. Most of the letter has no medical meaning. It links to a website that doesn't exist.
If he was elected, Donald Trump would be the oldest person to ever be sworn in as president. Whether or not he's going to try to make Hillary Clinton's health the issue, doesn't he owe it to the American people to release an actual medical report, a more credible, more complete statement?
CONWAY: Perhaps. But I want to say something about Hillary Clinton's health. It's not an issue that I care to comment on, because I'm not a doctor. She's not my patient. And I can just tell you what I see with my own two eyes which is I don't see someone who really enjoys campaigning the way he does.
I can only tell you about him, because I'm with him practically every day, which is, he keeps such a crazy, ridiculous pace for a man his age, that it's very difficult for the younger staffers, of which I'm not one, to keep up with him, Rachel.
I mean, it's really insane. I mean, he called me yesterday and said, I need more rallies, are we doing a rally here? What are we doing? I'm like, you know, he doesn't just show up and do the rallies. He prepares for them. You have to travel. He's always reading, he's always thinking, he's always talking.
I confess, I don't know when he sleeps.
MADDOW: Yes, but both you, here as his campaign and him talking about himself have made his physical vigor actually part of what he brings to the campaign, part of what he offers, and they've made it a contrast issue with Hillary Clinton.
But Hillary Clinton released a normal doctor's statement. What we have got from Donald Trump, that letter really is absurd. And we've actually contacted the doctor who wrote it to try to get some background. It turns out he was using a medical credential on his name that he's no longer entitled to use.
Like there's a lot of really not upstanding things about what we know there. And so, I mean, for one, why is — a gastroenterologist is a digestive specialist. Why has Donald Trump been seeing a gastroenterologist for 35 years?
CONWAY: Oh, that I don't know for sure. There are certain things I just haven't learned in the last week, Rachel, I promise.
MADDOW: As the campaign manager, can I please make a request?
CONWAY: Yes, please, absolutely.
MADDOW: That we get a more substantial medical …
CONWAY: I will pass on the request. And I assure you that he does have doctors — he has doctors and physicians. And I want to also add one more thing. I was told by a different anchor last night on a different network, that Hillary's doctors have released her part of her medical information, her health history, and that she's in good health.
And I say great, because I want her to be in excellent health. In other words, that's just not — I think stamina is different than health. You know, vigor on the campaign trail.
But I look at Hillary Clinton not being out there more as a strategy. It's scarcity as a strategy. It's that we don't want to put her out there, because when we do, people are reminded that she doesn't meet the 70 percent of Americans who want a change election, a new direction.
She is the person who has earned a majority of Americans, Rachel, saying, I dislike her and I distrust her, but — I can't imagine what comes after the "but." What do you mean, but? But I think I'll vote for her, I think I'll give it a whirl.
MADDOW: I think she's — I mean, as just a political observer, I think the reason that she's not out on the campaign trail as much doing visible events is because they think they're winning and they don't want to interrupt the narrative.
CONWAY: And I think that's terrible and I'll tell you why. If we were winning just because Hillary Clinton was failing or tripping over her words, or messing up by not doing — you know, or she was down in the polls for whatever reason, let's say the Clinton Foundation investigation helps her go down in the polls, we're not going to disappear, I promise you, because that's not what the voters want.
They want to see the candidates. They want to hear the candidates. They want to digest their proposals that we've been discussing tonight, Rachel. And they want to be able to see what the contrast is between these two.
Not contrast in style, not even contrast in stamina, contrast on substance. I'm telling you, we're going to fight her on substance. And I'm very disappointed, from what I know publicly, that her speech tomorrow in Reno, Nevada …
MADDOW: Is going to be all about you.
CONWAY: It's not about substance.
MADDOW: Yes, well, it's going to be — it's about the Trump campaign, and this is my last question for you. And I'm asking it just because I feel like I shouldn't have to ask you, but I don't have any access to anybody else with the campaign. So I have to ask you. It's a factual question. Is Roger Ailes working as part of the Donald Trump campaign?
CONWAY: No. He is not a formal or informal adviser. They're old friends. I mean, he's Donald Trump. He talks to a lot of people. Something is always ringing.
MADDOW: So that meeting at the Bedminster golf club in New Jersey on Sunday, August 14th, that wasn't — that didn't happen? Like, this is what the New York Times reported in terms of him coming on board to help Donald Trump prepare for the debates, and becoming a formal or informal adviser, that didn't happen?
CONWAY: I was not there on August 14th. So I didn't see who was or was not there. But I will tell you that they're old friends and they talk. I'm sure they talk, and I'm sure — but he talks to many different people from every side of the aisle …
MADDOW: Roger Ailes, no role in the campaign though?
CONWAY: Roger Ailes has no formally or informal role in the campaign, no. But he is a marketing genius.
MADDOW: And just resigned his job under a cloud of terrible sexual harassment allegations.
CONWAY: Thank you for having me, Rachel. I just wanted to say, thank you for having me. I mean, I know you work hard, I work hard. But not every woman gets what we got, which is our shot. And for that I'm most grateful. And I feel most blessed.
I've watched you for years on "Scarborough Country" and Tucker's show …
CONWAY: … and I said, she should have her own show. And indeed, you have for a long time. And I respect that enormously. I know you disagree with us perhaps philosophically. But I hope Mr. Trump will take the seat one day. But thank you for having me on.
MADDOW: Thank you. And back at you. You know, I think it is — you have made history and I think women breaking glass ceilings in politics is always important wherever it happens. And good luck to you.
CONWAY: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks, Kellyanne, really nice to see you.
See, that was fine. Everything went okay. We can talk to each other. It's going to be all right.
* It turns out Trump will get off his Fox kick and do an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday night.
Okay, Here’s A Nice Column About Trump
(By Kathleen Parker, Washington Post, 19 August 2016)
When my syndicate editor told me a few clients had been asking, Don’t you have anyone over there who can write something positive about Donald Trump? , I thought, well, that could be fun. But hard. Then, as if the Muses and Fates had conspired to help me in this Olympian task, everything in Trump World changed. Not only did Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, resign following reports of his involvement in Ukrainian politics, but also Trump hired a woman, Kellyanne Conway, to become his new campaign manager. And: He suddenly started being nice.
Call it a woman’s touch or the desperation of a faltering candidate, but Trump was even kind of cute Thursday when he expressed regret for some of his ill-chosen words during the campaign, especially those that might have caused personal pain, presumably in others. What’s next, a prayer for forgiveness of sins? If his comments weren’t strictly an apology, they at least were an acknowledgment of error. They also indicated that Trump can learn new tricks. He’s trainable and, apparently, is open to ideas not his own. Clearly, this was a tectonic plate-shifting moment in a campaign previously defined by insult and arrogance. “Sometimes I can be too honest,” he said, brilliantly setting up his opponent’s fatal flaw: “Hillary Clinton is the exact opposite. She never tells the truth.”
It’s no mere coincidence that Conway, a veteran of the anti-Clinton wars, is also a pollster. Who better to turn things around than someone who pays her bills by measuring the public’s temper? More important, Conway specializes in female voters. Her firm, the Polling Company/WomanTrend, has monitored women’s thinking on a variety of issues since 1995. Her handiwork, which previously has included telling Republicans to stop using the four-letter word “rape” in campaigns, is in clear evidence with her newest client. Which means, I suppose, that this positive Trump column is really about Conway.
Will her magic work to shift female and swing voters toward Trump? Which is the real Trump? The guy who insults everybody, or the one who almost says he’s sorry and wants to bring the country together? Can he sustain this new persona and for how long? Attention span isn’t his strong suit, but then neither is it the country’s. We are still soon to the pivot, so we’ll wait and see. Unless Trump has been projecting someone else the past year just to capture the conservative, white male voter who was never going to vote for Clinton anyway, there’s every reason to believe his impetuousness will prevail. Moreover, it’s questionable whether voters can be swayed by a sudden personality change, even among those who readily grant second chances to the penitent.
Will women suddenly forget everything Trump has said while being “too honest”? Will African Americans buy Trump’s promise that their lives will be “amazing” if they vote for him? Will the seed Trump planted of Clinton’s bigotry, seeing blacks only as votes, take root? Such a statement from any other Republican would burst into flames from the volatile combination of hypocrisy and absurdity, but nearly everyone understands that Trump isn’t really a Republican. The outsider non-politician who regrets saying hurtful words, who is sometimes “too honest” but “will never lie” to the people may surprise us. At least he has offered a sliver of decency to those looking for something to cling to — a little humility, a smattering of remorse, a human connection — to help them justify voting for anybody but Clinton.
Trump has been losing ground essentially because of the cumulative effect of his persistent nastiness. Add to this his off-the-cuff remarks about maybe using nukes and leaving NATO to its own resources, and his praise of dictators and strongmen, and he was someone you wouldn’t want anywhere near the football. Or oneself, as Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt wrote , saying Trump was the person you hoped wouldn’t be seated next to you at a dinner party. On the other hand, I’ve long admired the sentiment popularized by Alice Roosevelt Longworth: If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.
Who better than Trump? The man is funny, even at his meanest. What many have found repugnant about his style was indeed the secret to his success. People love hearing said aloud what they’re really thinking. But that was then — and for now at least, it appears to be Conway’s show: No more insults, stick to the script, focus on Clinton’s dishonesty. It just might work.
Trump Promised Personal Gifts On ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’ Here’s Who Really Paid.
(By David A. Fahrenthold and Alice Crites, Washington Post, 18 August 2016)
The time had come to fire Khloé Kardashian. But first, Donald Trump had a question. “What’s your charity?” Trump asked. They were filming “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the reality-TV show where Trump schooled the faded and the semi-famous in the arts of advertising, salesmanship and workplace infighting. Most weeks, one winner got prize money for charity. One loser got fired. Kardashian told Trump that she was playing for the Brent Shapiro Foundation, which helps teens stay away from alcohol and drugs. Trump had a pleasant surprise. Although Kardashian could not win any more prize money, he would give her cause a special, personal donation. Not the show’s money. His own money. “I’m going to give $20,000 to your charity,” Trump said, according to a transcript of that show. He didn’t.After the show aired in 2009, Kardashian’s charity did receive $20,000. But it wasn’t from Trump. Instead, the check came from a TV production company, the same one that paid out the show’s official prizes. The same thing happened numerous times on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” To console a fired or disappointed celebrity, Trump would promise a personal gift. On-air, Trump seemed to be explicit that this wasn’t TV fakery: The money he was giving was his own. “Out of my wallet,” Trump said in one case. “Out of my own account,” he said in another. But, when the cameras were off, the payments came from other people’s money. In some cases, as with Kardashian, Trump’s “personal” promise was paid off by a production company. Other times, it was paid off by a nonprofit that Trump controls, whose coffers are largely filled with other donors’ money.
The Washington Post tracked all the “personal” gifts that Trump promised on the show — during 83 episodes and seven seasons — but could not confirm a single case in which Trump actually sent a gift from his own pocket. Trump did not respond to repeated requests for comment. For Trump, “The Apprentice” — and later, “The Celebrity Apprentice” — helped reestablish him as a national figure, after his fall into debt and corporate bankruptcies in the 1990s. On-screen, Trump was a wise, tough businessman. And, at times, a kindhearted philanthropist — willing to give away thousands on a whim. In one instance, Trump’s sudden flourish of generosity was enough to move an insult comedian to tears. “I’m gonna give $10,000 to it, okay?” Trump said, offering a personal gift to singer Aubrey O’Day after O’Day’s team lost that week’s task. Then Trump noticed another contestant, Lisa Lampanelli — a comedian known as “The Queen of Mean. “Are you crying now? Lisa, what’s going on here?” “I thought that was really nice,” Lampanelli said, her voice breaking. “I mean, it takes you 30 seconds to make that amount, so thank you. You’re a rich man, and we appreciate it.”The Post examined Trump’s on-air promises as part of its ongoing search for evidence that the Republican presidential nominee gives millions to charity out of his own pocket — as he claims. Trump has declined to release his tax returns, which would make his charitable donations clear. NBC, which broadcast his show, declined to release the episodes for review, saying it did not own the footage. Instead, The Post relied on TV transcription services, online recaps of the show, YouTube clips and public tax records. In all, The Post found 21 separate instances where Trump had pledged money to a celebrity’s cause. Together, those pledges totaled $464,000. The Post then contacted the individual charities to find out who paid off Trump’s promises.
In one case, the answer was: nobody at all. In 2012, Trump had promised $10,000 to the Latino Commission on AIDS, the charity of former Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza. The charity said it never received the money. In two other cases, it was not possible to determine what happened. One charity said that somebody had paid off Trump’s promise but declined to say who. Leaders of another charity — baseball star Darryl Strawberry’s foundation, to which Trump had promised $25,000 — did not respond to multiple calls or emails from The Post. In the other 18 cases, the answer was the same — on-air, Trump promising a gift of his own money; off-air, that gift coming from someone else. “I think you’re so incredible that — personally, out of my own account — I’m going to give you $50,000 for St. Jude’s,” Trump told mixed martial arts star Tito Ortiz in 2008. This was the first personal promise The Post found, from the show’s first season. Ortiz, at the time, was being fired. His team had come up short in a contest to design advertising for yogurt-based body wash. To soften the blow, Trump promised the gift to Ortiz’s charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Tax records show that the hospital was sent $50,000 from a nonprofit, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. That sounds like it was Trump’s money. But, for the most part, it wasn’t.
The Washington Post has contacted more than 250 charities with some tie to the GOP nominee in an effort to find proof of the millions he’s said he donated. We've been mostly unsuccessful. View Graphic
The Washington Post has contacted more than 250 charities with some tie to the GOP nominee in an effort to find proof of the millions he has said he donated. We've been mostly unsuccessful. Trump had founded the nonprofit group in the late 1980s — and, in its early years, Trump was its only donor. But that had changed in the mid-2000s. Trump let the foundation’s assets dwindle to $4,238 at the beginning of 2007. After that, its coffers were filled using donations from others, most notably pro wrestling magnates Vince and Linda McMahon. In 2007 and 2008 combined, Trump gave $65,000 to his own foundation, or about 1 percent of its incoming money. When he described his gift to Ortiz on-air in 2008, it was personal, “from my own account.” “Thank you very much,” Ortiz said. “Get out of here,” Trump said.
In the next few seasons, such personal promises from Trump were relatively rare. The Post found six such pledges in the show’s first four seasons combined. And in at least two of those cases, the payment didn’t come from Trump — or his foundation, which he had used to pay Ortiz’s charity. “What’s your charity, Jose?” Trump asked baseball slugger Jose Canseco in an episode in 2011. Canseco was leaving the show voluntarily because his father had become ill. As with Kardashian, Trump said he would soften the blow with a gift. Canseco’s charity was the Baseball Assistance Team, which provides confidential aid to minor leaguers, umpires, retired players and others connected to the sport. “All right, I’m gonna give $25,000,” Trump said. “Say hello to your father.” As with Kardashian, that money came from Reilly Worldwide. Trump gave nothing.
The Post sent a query to Canseco: Did he think any differently about Trump after he learned that a third party paid off Trump’s promise? No comment. “He said he’s only doing paying jobs. I’m sorry,” Canseco’s publicist wrote. In 2012, Trump became more generous on the air. That year, he promised six $10,000 donations in a single episode. In another episode, he gave contestant O’Day’s charity $10,000 — the gift that moved Lampanelli to tears. It was all Trump Foundation money. In 2013, the gifts continued. In one episode that year, Trump handed out $20,000 each to the charities of basketball star Dennis Rodman, singer La Toya Jackson and actor Gary Busey. “Remember, Donald Trump is a very nice person, okay?” he told them.
By then, a personal gift from Trump was no longer a rare thing. In fact, contestants had come to expect these gifts — and even to demand them, when Trump didn’t offer money on his own. “Give her some money. She didn’t win nothin’,” country singer Trace Adkins told Trump in one episode as the billionaire was firing former Playboy Playmate Brande Roderick. “Okay, I’m going to give you $20,000, okay? All right?” Trump told Roderick. “Thank you, Mr. Trump,” said Adkins, the man who sang “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” “That was cool.” All of that was the Trump Foundation’s money.
In fact, The Post’s search found that all of Trump’s promises from the show’s last three seasons were paid off by the Trump Foundation, save one. That was the biggest one. In 2013, Trump promised $100,000 to the American Diabetes Association, the charity of hip-hop artist Lil Jon. He said that the gift was in honor of Lil Jon’s mother, who had recently died. In that case, a production company paid. The Post reached out to Trump, NBC and Mark Burnett — the show’s producer — to ask whether there was any way that these production-company checks could actually be considered gifts from Trump himself. Had they, perhaps, been deducted from Trump’s fees for the show? Trump and Burnett did not respond. NBC declined to comment.
After The Post’s close look at Trump’s promises on the show, a mystery remained: What happened in 2012 to make Trump so much more generous on the air? In the tax records of the Trump Foundation — which Trump used to pay off most of those new promises — there is no record of a donation from Trump himself in 2012. In fact, there is no record of any gift from Trump’s pocket to the Trump Foundation in any year since 2008. (In 2011, Comedy Central donated Trump’s $400,000 appearance fee for a televised roast.)
But, in 2012, the Trump Foundation’s records show a large gift from NBC, the network that aired the show. That was more than enough to cover all the foundation’s gifts to “Celebrity Apprentice” contestants’ charities, both before 2012 and since. For NBC, Trump’s “personal” donations made for better TV. They added will-he-or-won’t-he drama to the show’s boardroom scenes, gave uplifting notes to the “firings” and burnished the reputation of Trump, the show’s star. Did NBC give Trump’s foundation money, so that Trump could appear to be more generous on-camera? An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment.
Trump: A True Story
(By David A. Fahrenthold and Robert O’Harrow Jr., Washington Post, 10 August 2016)
The mogul, in a 2007 deposition, had to face up to a series of falsehoods and exaggerations. And he did. Sort of. Share on LinkedIn
Share on Pinterest
Share on Tumblr
The lawyer gave Donald Trump a note, written in Trump’s own handwriting. He asked Trump to read it aloud. Trump may not have realized it yet, but he had walked into a trap. “Peter, you’re a real loser,’” Trump began reading. The mogul had sent the note to a reporter, objecting to a story that said Trump owned a “small minority stake” in a Manhattan real estate project. Trump insisted that the word “small” was incorrect. Trump continued reading: “I wrote, ‘Is 50 percent small?’ ” “This [note] was intended to indicate that you had a 50 percent stake in the project, correct?” said the lawyer. “That’s correct,” Trump said. For the first of many times that day, Trump was about to be caught saying something that wasn’t true.
LAWYER: Mr. Trump, do you own 30 percent or 50 percent of the limited partnership?
TRUMP: I own 30 percent.
It was a mid-December morning in 2007 — the start of an interrogation unlike anything else in the public record of Trump’s life. Trump had brought it on himself. He had sued a reporter, accusing him of being reckless and dishonest in a book that raised questions about Trump’s net worth. The reporter’s attorneys turned the tables and brought Trump in for a deposition. For two straight days, they asked Trump question after question that touched on the same theme: Trump’s honesty.
The lawyers confronted the mogul with his past statements — and with his company’s internal documents, which often showed those statements had been incorrect or invented. The lawyers were relentless. Trump, the bigger-than-life mogul, was vulnerable — cornered, out-prepared and under oath. Thirty times, they caught him. Trump had misstated sales at his condo buildings. Inflated the price of membership at one of his golf clubs. Overstated the depth of his past debts and the number of his employees.
That deposition — 170 transcribed pages — offers extraordinary insights into Trump’s relationship with the truth. Trump’s falsehoods were unstrategic — needless, highly specific, easy to disprove. When caught, Trump sometimes blamed others for the error or explained that the untrue thing really was true, in his mind, because he saw the situation more positively than others did. “Have you ever lied in public statements about your properties?” the lawyer asked. “I try and be truthful,” Trump said. “I’m no different from a politician running for office. You always want to put the best foot forward.”
In his presidential campaign, Trump has sought to make his truth-telling a selling point. He nicknamed his main Republican opponent “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz. He called his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, “A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR!” in a recent Twitter message. “I will present the facts plainly and honestly,” he said in the opening of his speech at the Republican National Convention. “We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.” Trump has had a habit of telling demonstrable untruths during his presidential campaign. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has awarded him four Pinocchios — the maximum a statement can receive — 39 times since he announced his bid last summer. In many cases, his statements echo those in the 2007 deposition: They are specific, checkable — and wrong.
Trump said he opposed the Iraq War at the start. He didn’t. He said he’d never mocked a disabled New York Times reporter. He had. Trump also said the National Football League had sent him a letter, objecting to a presidential debate that was scheduled for the same time as a football game. It hadn’t. Last week, Trump claimed that he had seen footage — taken at a top-secret location and released by the Iranian government — showing a plane unloading a large amount of cash to Iran from the U.S. government. He hadn’t. Trump later conceded he’d been mistaken — he’d seen TV news video that showed a plane during a prisoner release.
But, even under the spotlight of this campaign, Trump has never had an experience quite like this deposition on Dec. 19 and 20, 2007. He was trapped in a room — with his own prior statements and three high-powered lawyers. “A very clear and visible side effect of my lawyers’ questioning of Trump is that he [was revealed as] a routine and habitual fabulist,” said Timothy L. O’Brien, the author Trump had sued. The Washington Post sent the Trump campaign a detailed list of questions about this deposition, listing all the times when Trump seemed to have been caught in a false or unsupported statement. The Post asked Trump whether he wanted to challenge any of those findings — and whether he had felt regret when confronted with them. He did not answer those questions.
In 2005, O’Brien, then a reporter for the New York Times, had published a book called “Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald.” In the book, O’Brien cited sources who questioned a claim at the bedrock of Trump’s identity — that his net worth was more than $5 billion. O’Brien said he had spoken to three sources that put the real figure between $150 million and $250 million. Trump sued. He later told The Post that he intended to hurt O’Brien, whom he called a “lowlife sleazebag.” “I didn’t read [the book], to be honest with you. . . . I never read it. I saw some of the things they said,” Trump said later. “I said: ‘Go sue him. It will cost him a lot of money.’ ” By filing suit, Trump hadn’t just opened himself up to questioning — he had opened a door into the opaque and secretive company he ran.
O’Brien’s attorneys included Mary Jo White, now the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Andrew Ceresney, now the SEC’s director of enforcement. The lawsuit had given them the power to request that Trump turn over internal company documents, and they used it. They arrived at the deposition having already identified where Trump’s public statements hadn’t matched the private truth. The questions began with that handwritten note and the 50 percent stake that wasn’t 50 percent. “The 30 percent equates to much more than 30 percent,” Trump explained. His reasoning was that he had not been required to put up money at the outset, so his 30 percent share seemed more valuable. “Are you saying that the real estate community would interpret your interest to be 50 percent, even though in limited partnership agreements it’s 30 percent?” Ceresney asked. “Smart people would,” Trump said. “Smart people?” “Smart people would say it’s much more than 30 percent.”
TRUMP: I got more than a million dollars, because they have tremendous promotion expenses, to my advantage. In other words, they promote, which has great value, through billboards, through newspapers, through radio, I think through television – yeah, through television. And they spend – again, I’d have to ask them, but I bet they spend at least a million or two million or maybe even more than that on promoting Donald Trump.
LAWYER: But how much of the payments were cash?
TRUMP: Approximately $400,000.
LAWYER: So when you say publicly that you got paid more than a million dollars, you’re including in that sum the promotional expenses that they pay?
TRUMP: Oh, absolutely, yes. That has a great value. It has a great value to me.
LAWYER: Do you actually say that when you say you got paid more than a million dollars publicly?
TRUMP: I don’t break it down.
On to the next one.
“I was paid more than a million dollars,” Trump said when Ceresney asked how much he’d been paid for a speech in 2005 at New York City’s Learning Annex, a continuing-education center. Ceresney was ready. “But how much of the payments were cash?” “Approximately $400,000,” Trump said. Trump said his personal math included the intangible value of publicity: The Learning Annex had advertised his speech heavily, and Trump thought that helped his brand. Therefore, in his mind he’d been paid more than $1 million, even though his actual payment was $400,000. “Do you actually say that, when you say you got a million dollars publicly?” Ceresney asked. “I don’t break it down,” Trump said.
As the deposition went on, the lawyers led Trump through case after case in which he’d overstated his success.
The lawyer played a clip from Larry King’s talk show, in which King asked Trump how many people worked for him. “Twenty-two thousand or so,” Trump said. “Are all those people on your payroll?” Ceresney asked him. “No, not directly,” Trump said. He said he was counting employees of other companies that acted as suppliers and subcontractors to his businesses. Another one. In O’Brien’s book, Trump had been quoted saying: “I had zero borrowings from [my father’s] estate. . . . I give you my word.”
Under oath: “Mr. Trump, have you ever borrowed money from your father’s estate?” “I think a small amount a long time ago,” Trump said. “I think it was like in the $9 million range.” Another one. In one of his own books, Trump had said about one of his golf courses: “Membership costs $300,000. I think it’s a bargain.”
Under oath: “In fact, your memberships were not selling at $300,000 at that time, correct?” “We’ve sold many for two hundred” thousand, Trump said. Then, Trump pushed it upward: “We’ve sold many for, I think, two-fifty.” But this was not the place to push it. The lawyer had an internal Trump document that showed the true figure — “$200,000 per membership,” Ceresney said. “Correct,” Trump acknowledged. “Right.”
Trump passes the blame
LAWYER: You didn’t correct it when you read the book?
TRUMP: Well, I did correct it, and she didn’t correct it. But you could have her in as a witness, and I’m sure we’ll bring her in as a witness because what she wrote was — I asked her to change it to “billions of dollars in debt,” and she probably forgot.
LAWYER: And when you read it, you didn’t see it?
TRUMP: I didn’t see it.
LAWYER: You didn’t see it.
TRUMP: I read it very quickly. I didn’t see it. I would have corrected it, but I didn’t see it.
In some cases, Trump acknowledged he was wrong — but not that he was at fault. Instead, he sought to turn the blame on others. “This is somebody that wrote it, probably Meredith McIver,” Trump said at one point when confronted with another false statement. “That is a mistake.” McIver, a staff writer with the Trump Organization, blazed into the public eye last month for having inserted plagiarized material — taken from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech — in the convention speech of Trump’s wife, Melania. McIver said it had been an innocent mistake.
But in this deposition more than eight years earlier, Trump was blaming her for a mistake in one of his own books, “How to Get Rich.” In the 2004 book, co-written with McIver, Trump described his massive debt load during a low period in the early 1990s. “I owed billions upon billions of dollars — $9.2 billion to be exact,” the book said as it retold the story of his rise back to success. The depth of that financial hole made it seem even more impressive that Trump had climbed out again. But the figure was wrong. His actual debts had been much less. “I pointed it out to the person who wrote the book,” Trump said, meaning McIver. “Right after she wrote the book?” “That’s correct,” Trump said. Then the lawyer showed Trump another book he’d written with McIver, three years later. “In fact, I was $9 billion in debt,” Trump read aloud. A similar error, repeated. It was McIver’s fault again. “She probably forgot,” Trump said. “And when you read it, you didn’t correct it?” “I didn’t see it,” Trump said. “You didn’t see it.” “I read it very quickly,” Trump said about a book he was credited with writing.
Trump makes unsupported claims
LAWYER: When you wrote, “O’Brien . . . threatened sources by telling them he can, quote, ‘Settle scores with enemies by writing negative articles about them,’ ” what was the basis for that statement?
TRUMP: Just my perception of him. I don’t know that he indicated anything like that to me, but I think he probably did indirectly. Just my dealing with him.
In other cases, the lawyers prodded Trump into admitting that he had made authoritative-sounding statements without any proof behind them. These statements were another kind of untruth. They were not necessarily false. They might have been true. But Trump said them without knowing one way or the other. “What basis do you have for that statement?” Ceresney asked in one case, about an assertion from Trump that O’Brien had been reported to the police for stalking. “I guess that was probably taken off the Internet,” Trump said. On to the next one.
“You wrote, ‘O’Brien . . . threatened sources by telling them he can, quote, settle scores with enemies by writing negative articles about them,’ ” Ceresney asked, reading Trump’s words from a legal complaint. “What was the basis for that statement?” “Just my perception of him,” Trump said. “I don’t know that he indicated anything like that to me, but I think he probably did indirectly.” The most striking example was a question at the very heart of the legal case: What was Trump’s actual net worth? Trump had told O’Brien he was worth up to $6 billion. But the lawyers confronted him with other documents — from Trump’s accountants and from outside banks — that seemed to show the real figure was far lower. “Have you ever not been truthful” about your net worth, the lawyers asked? Trump’s answer here was that the truth about his wealth was — in essence — up to him to decide. “My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings,” Trump said. “But I try.”
The interrogation finally ended after two days. Trump’s attorney made a final demand. “I want the record to be crystal clear that every single word, every question, every answer, every word, is confidential,” said the attorney, Mark Ressler. In 2009, a judge dismissed Trump’s case against O’Brien. Trump appealed, but in 2011 that was denied, too. Along the way, this once-confidential deposition become part of the public record when O’Brien’s attorneys attached it to one of their motions.
In a brief statement this week, Trump said he felt the lawsuit was a success, despite his loss. “O’Brien knows nothing about me,” Trump said. “His book was a total failure and ultimately I had great success doing what I wanted to do — costing this third rate reporter a lot of legal fees.” O’Brien, now executive editor of Bloomberg View, said Trump got that wrong. The publisher and insurance companies covered the cost. “Donald Trump lost his lawsuit and, unlike him, it didn’t cost me a penny to litigate it,” he said.
The Most Blatant Falsehoods
Memberships at his golf club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., cost $300,000.
The memberships to this golf club were being sold for $200,000. Trump said he arrived at the higher number by including yearly fees that members had to pay after joining.
Trump Tower Las Vegas was mostly sold out.
Trump was keeping a number of units for himself. The lawyer estimated that closer to three-quarters of the units had been sold. Trump's response was "What would you like me to say, 'Oh, gee, the building is not doing well, blah, blah, blah, come by the building’? Nobody talks that way. Who would ever talk that way?"
Trump Tower Las Vegas was worth $4.3 million.
His Seven Springs property was worth $150 million because he planned to build homes on it.
Trump was touting that higher value, but he had not made any significant effort to build the homes that the value was based on. “I don't have a plan to build homes, because I don't want to build homes,” he said.
He sold a home lot in California for about $4 million.
Property records indicated it was $1.4 million.
The operating income at Trump Tower was $17.5 million per year.
He actually got about $4 million in the year in question. Trump said the property was unusually vacant that year because of a turnover in tenants.
He had “zero borrowings” from his father’s estate.
Trump said he borrowed about $9 million from his father’s estate.
Trump said 22,000 people worked for him.
Trump was counting people who weren’t actually on his payroll -- employees of his businesses’ subcontractors and suppliers.
Trump owned a 50 percent stake in the West Side Yards real estate development partnership.
Trump actually owned 30 percent, but he gave himself credit for a bigger stake because he had not been required to put up money to get that share: “Because of the fact that I put no money up, that 30 percent is equated to 50 percent.”
He was paid $1 million for a single speech in 2005.
In reality, Trump was paid $400,000 for the speech. But, he said, advertising for the speech had added to the value of his brand. He believed that with the value of that publicity included, the true payment for the speech was more than $1 million.
He “largely” owned the Waikiki Trump Tower building.
He didn’t own the building. Somebody else did. Trump had agreed to let his name be used on the building. But, Trump said, this licensing deal was so advantageous to him that it was “a form of ownership.”
In the early 1990s, he was $9.2 billion in debt.
This was published in Trump's book "How to Get Rich” Trump uses this figure to make his comeback seem even more impressive. But his debt was never that high. Trump shifted the blame, saying co-author Meredith McIver put the number in.
Trump Tower Las Vegas brought in $1.3 billion.
Trump acknowledged the actual value of units sold was $956 million but said the units he was “not actively selling,” and keeping as an investment, brought the total to $1.3 billion. Trump's falsehoods often include specific numbers, making them easily disprovable.
For Trump, A New ‘Rigged’ System: The Election Itself
(By David Weigel, Washington Post, 02 August 2016)
Donald Trump, trailing narrowly in presidential polls, has issued a warning to worried Republican voters: The election will be “rigged” against him — and he could lose as a result. Trump pointed to several court cases nationwide in which restrictive laws requiring voters to show identification have been thrown out. He said those decisions open the door to fraud in November. “If the election is rigged, I would not be surprised,” he told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “The voter ID situation has turned out to be a very unfair development. We may have people vote 10 times.”
Those comments followed a claim Trump made Monday, to an audience in Ohio, that “the election is going to be rigged.” That same day, in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, he beseeched Republicans to start “watching closely” or the election will be “taken away from us” through fraud. Like much of what Trump says, the “rigged” riff defies the recent norms of politics. And it taps into fears that long predate his campaign. One is a growing and unsubstantiated worry that elections are being stolen. The other is a broader unease that regular Americans are being cheated by Wall Street, by Washington and by a duplicitous media.
Those worries have found voice in both parties this year, with Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) both rallying their supporters during the Republican and Democratic primaries with the assessment that the system is rigged. Now, Trump is reviving the theme to highlight the possibility of voter fraud in November. Since the 2000 election, which ended in a legal battle that stopped recounts of ballots in Florida, paranoia about the nation’s election system has mushroomed. According to a Pew Research Center survey, just 48 percent of Americans were confident that “the votes across the country were accurately counted” in the 2004 election.
After 2012, an election with a wider popular vote margin, that percentage fell to 31 percent. Among Republicans, it was 21 percent. “The idea that the person who won the presidency did so illegitimately is not new,” said Jesse Walker, the author of “The United States of Paranoia,” a history of conspiracy theories. “What’s new is the possibility of a possible loser in the presidential contest making an issue out of it. I can’t think of another example in the last century.” Jokes about Democrats counting votes from dead people or bused-in fraudsters are part of the Republican lingua franca. During his unsuccessful presidential bid, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) often encouraged his audiences to bring friends and family to the polls with a joke about Democratic election theft. “I want you to vote 10 times,” he would say. “Don’t worry — we’re not Democrats.”
In his interview with The Post, Trump offered that his chief concern about fraud was that states without strict identification requirements would see rampant repeat voters. “If you don’t have voter ID, you can just keep voting and voting and voting,” he said. On Fox News, Trump’s only evidence for fraud consisted of “precincts where there were practically nobody voting for the Republican” in the 2012 election. In reality, voter fraud is rare. A 2014 study by Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School, found just 31 possible instances of fraud over 14 years of elections with a total of 1 billion votes cast. The low Republican vote in some urban centers squares with the low support black voters gave GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012.
Still, the battle against “voter fraud” has made gains with Republican lawmakers and conservative journalists. Since the 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder undid some requirements of the Voting Rights Act, restrictive new voter ID and registration laws have passed through Republican-run states. Those laws have been challenged successfully in court, with North Carolina, North Dakota and Wisconsin losing cases in the days before Trump made his “rigged” comments. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory accused judges of “undermining the integrity of our elections.”
In an interview Tuesday with CBS12 in Florida, Trump seemed to condemn the rulings against the states. “Some bad court cases have come down,” he said. Some of his more freewheeling supporters went even further, with the radio host Alex Jones warning listeners that the Obama administration might cancel the election, and off-again, on-again adviser Roger Stone telling Breitbart News that Trump needed to be ready for a violent post-election contest. “I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be rhetorical,” Stone said. “I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath. The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in.”
To Ari Berman, a reporter for the Nation and the author of the voting rights history “Give Us the Ballot,” Trump’s worry about “rigging” sounded like an adaptation of something already mainstream among Republicans. “There’s been a two-decade campaign on the right to drum up fears of ‘voter fraud’ stealing elections,” Berman said. “They’re trying to say that these voting rights victories will lead to more fraud. They want to spin these court victories not as something that’s good for democracy, but something that will hurt democracy. That’s what Trump is buying into.”
At the same time, many supporters of Sanders’s presidential run have argued that the Democratic nomination was effectively stolen from him — another sentiment Trump has tried to exploit. Long before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Sanders supporters asked whether a purge of New York voters, California’s slow ballot count or the closure of polling places in Arizona’s largest county had suppressed their votes. “The Bernie Sanders folks don’t believe all the ballots were counted,” Chuck Pennachio, an academic and a Sanders delegate from Pennsylvania, said at a news conference last week. “They don’t believe that the process was clean. If you look at the exit polls, they don’t match up with the results in 11 of the 12 closest states.”
Every theory about how the primaries were stolen has been debunked. The famous New York purge, for example, disproportionately affected nonwhite voters, who had been breaking for Clinton. The same was true of the long lines in Arizona’s Maricopa County, which resulted from a decision by the county’s Republican-run elections team. But in trying to explain how some early exit poll results diverged from vote totals, debunkers found themselves struggling to convince their listeners. Joe Lenski, the lead pollster for exit poll provider Edison Research, explained to the skeptical left-wing site Counterpunch that Sanders voters and young voters had been more likely to fill out the surveys. That did not stop the spread of theories that millions of Sanders votes might have been switched or suppressed. Last week, when more than 200 Sanders supporters invaded a media tent at the DNC, some left behind charts attempting to prove that vote-counters skewed the election.
Clinton’s 2.9 million-vote margin in the primaries may have set the upper bounds for speculation that an American election had been stolen. Sanders supporters also latched onto internal emails between staff members at the Democratic National Committee, in which they speculated about a Clinton nomination even before the primaries were over. Trump, who previously accused Republicans of rigging primaries through the delegate selection process, found solace in the email scandal. Like Sanders, whose voters he wants to convert, he had found the idea of a rigged process syncing perfectly with his outsider brand. On Fox News, Trump tried to tell Sanders’s supporters that they already had seen an election wrested away by the political elite. “It was rigged a little bit [against] me, and we won,” he said. “It was rigged a little bit against Bernie Sanders.” “We know it was rigged,” Hannity said. “We’ve seen the emails.”
Trump’s Ryan Snub Underscores Divisions In The GOP
(By Philip Rucker, Washington Post, 02 August 2016)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump escalated his war with his own party’s leadership Tuesday by refusing to endorse House Speaker Paul D. Ryan or Sen. John McCain, two of the GOP’s highest-ranking elected officials, in their primary campaigns. Trump’s comments — an extraordinary breach of political decorum that underscores the party’s deep divisions — came as President Obama delivered his sternest rebuke yet of the celebrity mogul candidate. Obama declared Trump “unfit to serve as president” and “woefully unprepared to do this job,” and he challenged Republican leaders to withdraw their support of their nominee.
Obama punctuated his remarks, delivered at a Tuesday morning news conference, by explaining that he had never before felt compelled to so thoroughly denounce a political opponent. While he recalled disagreeing with McCain and Mitt Romney on policy issues in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Obama said that he never questioned their qualifications or their “basic decency,” and that he knew they would “abide by certain norms and rules and common sense. But that’s not the situation here.”
In an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Trump said he was not backing Ryan in his primary election next Tuesday in Wisconsin, or McCain in his Arizona primary later this month. Both have endorsed Trump but have criticized some of his policies and statements, most recently his belittling of the parents of dead U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan. Trump praised Ryan’s underdog opponent, Paul Nehlen, for running “a very good campaign” and said of Ryan: “I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”
Trump’s comments underscore the continuing divisions in the GOP two weeks after the party’s national convention in Cleveland, which was carefully choreographed to showcase unity. Also Tuesday, Rep. Richard L. Hanna (N.Y.) became the first sitting Republican member of Congress to declare publicly his plans to vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump said that Ryan has sought his endorsement but that he is only “giving it very serious consideration.” Responding to Trump, Ryan spokesman Zack Roday said in a statement: “Neither Speaker Ryan nor anyone on his team has ever asked for Donald Trump’s endorsement. And we are confident in a victory next week regardless.” Trump made his comments during a wide-ranging 50-minute interview Tuesday afternoon over lunch at the Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia.
He said he will work to negotiate the terms of general-election debates in his favor, saying that three is “the right number” but that they should not be scheduled on the same nights as National Football League games or the baseball World Series. He said that he should have influence in selecting “a fair moderator” for each debate and that third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein should not be allowed on stage. “I’d rather have head to head” with Clinton, Trump said.
He took issue with the characterization of Clinton at last week’s Democratic National Convention as a fighter and a change-maker. “Hillary’s not a change person. She’s going to be a person to keep it just the way it is,” Trump said, biting into his cheeseburger. “It’s going to be four more years of Obama.” Trump lashed out at the media, including The Post, which he accused of turning sharply against him since he secured the nomination. “It’s myself really against the media,” he said, citing what he views as “a tremendous bias against me.” Trump’s statements about Ryan are the latest hiccup in what has been a fraught relationship for the two party leaders. Ryan endorsed Trump this spring and spoke on his behalf at the convention, but only after a period of public soul-searching. Ryan has disagreed with Trump on several key issues — including his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States — and he issued a statement over the weekend that indirectly criticized Trump’s comments about the Khans. “Many Muslim Americans have served valiantly in our military, and made the ultimate sacrifice,” Ryan said in the statement. “Captain Khan was one such brave example. His sacrifice — and that of Khizr and Ghazala Khan — should always be honored. Period.”
Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic convention with his wife, Ghazala, at his side. He said that Trump “smears the character of Muslims” and challenged his knowledge of the Constitution. The Khans have sat for numerous interviews in the days since, calling Trump’s character into question. In the Tuesday interview, Trump defended his commentary about the Khans by saying, “I was viciously attacked on the stage, and I have a right to answer back.” However, his campaign acknowledged the crisis in an email sent to congressional supporters this week with the subject line “Urgent Pivot: Khan and TPs.” The email asked allies on Capitol Hill to defend Trump’s heavily criticized remarks about the Khans by underscoring his commitment to ending “radical Islamic terror” and deemphasizing his most confrontational comments.
In the interview, Trump rejected the suggestion that some people have concluded that he lacks common decency. “I think frankly a lot of people agree with what I’m saying,” he said. “I was viciously attacked on the stage. All I did was respond to it. Pure and simple. It should’ve been a one-hour story, and they make it a longer story.” He blamed what he called “unfair media” for giving the Khans a platform. Nehlen, Ryan’s primary opponent, came to Trump’s defense over his confrontation with the Khans, for which Trump thanked him in a tweet Monday night. Trump’s shout-out sparked speculation that he might endorse Nehlen.
Asked about this in the interview, Trump said Ryan’s “opponent is a big fan of what I’m saying — big fan. His opponent, who’s running a very good campaign, obviously, I’ve heard — his opponent sent me a very scholarly and well-thought-out letter yesterday, and all I did was say thank you very much for your very nice letter.” In making his comments Tuesday, Trump may have been seeking retribution for Ryan’s dragging his feet about endorsing Trump in May. Trump’s phrasing of his uncertainty about Ryan — “I’m just not quite there yet” — echoes what Ryan told CNN’s Jake Tapper in a May interview about endorsing Trump: “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now.”
On Monday, McCain, a Vietnam War hero, issued a lengthy statement denouncing Trump for his comments about the Khan family. Asked about McCain’s rebuke, Trump said, “I haven’t endorsed John McCain. “I’ve never been there with John McCain because I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets,” Trump continued. “He has not done a good job for the vets, and I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. So I’ve always had a difficult time with John for that reason, because our vets are not being treated properly. They’re not being treated fairly.” McCain did not comment on Trump’s remarks Tuesday. But he did meet with Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who was in Arizona on Tuesday for two rallies.
McCain is locked in a three-way primary — the election is Aug. 30, and early voting begins this week — against former state senator Kelli Ward and tea party activist Clair Van Steenwyk. A third challenger, Alex Meluskey, suspended his campaign this week. In the interview, Trump said he thought it was a mistake for senators to distance themselves from him because of his popularity with the Republican base. He singled out Sen. Kelly Ayotte — who, like Ryan and McCain, criticized his comments about the Khans — as a weak and disloyal leader in New Hampshire, a state whose presidential primary Trump won handily. “New Hampshire is one of my favorite places,” Trump said. “You have a Kelly Ayotte who doesn’t want to talk about Trump, but I’m beating her in the polls by a lot. You tell me. Are these people that should be representing us, okay? You tell me.” He continued: “I don’t know Kelly Ayotte. I know she’s given me no support — zero support — and yet I’m leading her in the polls. I’m doing very well in New Hampshire. We need loyal people in this country. We need fighters in this country. We don’t need weak people. We have enough of them. We need fighters in this country. But Kelly Ayotte has given me zero support, and I’m doing great in New Hampshire.” Ayotte, whose aides said she still plans to vote for Trump, responded with a statement: “I call it like I see it, and I’m always going to stand up for our military families and what’s best for the people of New Hampshire.”
Trump went on to say that if he loses the election, he will start two or three “anti-certain candidate” super PACs, which he vowed to fund with $10 million apiece, to savage Republicans or Democrats of his choosing in future elections. He said his targets might include Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) or Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who both lost in the primaries to Trump but are eyeing another run in 2020. Hanna, a three-term congressman who is not running for reelection this year, has bucked his party in the past on issues including same-sex marriage and climate change. He said Trump’s prolonged feud with the Khans was the final straw that pushed him to declare his support for Clinton. “I saw that and felt incensed,” Hanna told Syracuse.com. “I was stunned by the callousness of his comments.”
If the Republican disunity is alarming Trump, he did not show it in the interview. He predicted that he would “do great” in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine campaigned together over the weekend. “I’m going to do great in states that some people aren’t even thinking about,” Trump said. “I’ve got states that we can win that other Republican candidates wouldn’t even stop over for dinner.” Asked which states he had in mind, Trump paused. “Well,” he said. “I’d rather not say. . . . That’s my attitude on the military. I don’t like telling the enemy what I’m doing.”
Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All
(By Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 25 July 2016)
Last June, as dusk fell outside Tony Schwartz’s sprawling house, on a leafy back road in Riverdale, New York, he pulled out his laptop and caught up with the day’s big news: Donald J. Trump had declared his candidacy for President. As Schwartz watched a video of the speech, he began to feel personally implicated. Trump, facing a crowd that had gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue, laid out his qualifications, saying, “We need a leader that wrote ‘The Art of the Deal.’ ” If that was so, Schwartz thought, then he, not Trump, should be running. Schwartz dashed off a tweet: “Many thanks Donald Trump for suggesting I run for President, based on the fact that I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal.’ ”
Schwartz had ghostwritten Trump’s 1987 breakthrough memoir, earning a joint byline on the cover, half of the book’s five-hundred-thousand-dollar advance, and half of the royalties. The book was a phenomenal success, spending forty-eight weeks on the Times best-seller list, thirteen of them at No. 1. More than a million copies have been bought, generating several million dollars in royalties. The book expanded Trump’s renown far beyond New York City, making him an emblem of the successful tycoon. Edward Kosner, the former editor and publisher of New York, where Schwartz worked as a writer at the time, says, “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein.”
Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. Until Schwartz posted the tweet, though, he had not spoken publicly about Trump for decades. It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”
It seemed improbable that Trump’s campaign would succeed, so Schwartz told himself that he needn’t worry much. But, as Trump denounced Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” near the end of the speech, Schwartz felt anxious. He had spent hundreds of hours observing Trump firsthand, and felt that he had an unusually deep understanding of what he regarded as Trump’s beguiling strengths and disqualifying weaknesses. Many Americans, however, saw Trump as a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for business—a mythical image that Schwartz had helped create. “It pays to trust your instincts,” Trump says in the book, adding that he was set to make hundreds of millions of dollars after buying a hotel that he hadn’t even walked through.
In the subsequent months, as Trump defied predictions by establishing himself as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Schwartz’s desire to set the record straight grew. He had long since left journalism to launch the Energy Project, a consulting firm that promises to improve employees’ productivity by helping them boost their “physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual” morale. It was a successful company, with clients such as Facebook, and Schwartz’s colleagues urged him to avoid the political fray. But the prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.
Schwartz thought about publishing an article describing his reservations about Trump, but he hesitated, knowing that, since he’d cashed in on the flattering “Art of the Deal,” his credibility and his motives would be seen as suspect. Yet watching the campaign was excruciating. Schwartz decided that if he kept mum and Trump was elected he’d never forgive himself. In June, he agreed to break his silence and give his first candid interview about the Trump he got to know while acting as his Boswell. “I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”
The idea of Trump writing an autobiography didn’t originate with either Trump or Schwartz. It began with Si Newhouse, the media magnate whose company, Advance Publications, owned Random House at the time, and continues to own Condé Nast, the parent company of this magazine. “It was very definitely, and almost uniquely, Si Newhouse’s idea,” Peter Osnos, who edited the book, recalls. GQ, which Condé Nast also owns, had published a cover story on Trump, and Newhouse noticed that newsstand sales had been unusually strong. Newhouse called Trump about the project, then visited him to discuss it. Random House continued the pursuit with a series of meetings. At one point, Howard Kaminsky, who ran Random House then, wrapped a thick Russian novel in a dummy cover that featured a photograph of Trump looking like a conquering hero; at the top was Trump’s name, in large gold block lettering. Kaminsky recalls that Trump was pleased by the mockup, but had one suggestion: “Please make my name much bigger.” After securing the half-million-dollar advance, Trump signed a contract.
Around this time, Schwartz, who was one of the leading young magazine writers of the day, stopped by Trump’s office, in Trump Tower. Schwartz had written about Trump before. In 1985, he’d published a piece in New York called “A Different Kind of Donald Trump Story,” which portrayed him not as a brilliant mogul but as a ham-fisted thug who had unsuccessfully tried to evict rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants from a building that he had bought on Central Park South. Trump’s efforts—which included a plan to house homeless people in the building in order to harass the tenants—became what Schwartz described as a “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.” An accompanying cover portrait depicted Trump as unshaven, unpleasant-looking, and shiny with sweat. Yet, to Schwartz’s amazement, Trump loved the article. He hung the cover on a wall of his office, and sent a fan note to Schwartz, on his gold-embossed personal stationery. “Everybody seems to have read it,” Trump enthused in the note, which Schwartz has kept.
“I was shocked,” Schwartz told me. “Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote.” He went on, “Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest. I became the greatest. He wanted to be seen as a tough guy, and he loved being on the cover.” Schwartz wrote him back, saying, “Of all the people I’ve written about over the years, you are certainly the best sport.” And so Schwartz had returned for more, this time to conduct an interview for Playboy. But to his frustration Trump kept making cryptic, monosyllabic statements. “He mysteriously wouldn’t answer my questions,” Schwartz said.
After twenty minutes, he said, Trump explained that he didn’t want to reveal anything new about himself—he had just signed a lucrative book deal and needed to save his best material. “What kind of book?” Schwartz said. “My autobiography,” Trump replied. “You’re only thirty-eight—you don’t have one yet!” Schwartz joked. “Yeah, I know,” Trump said. “If I were you,” Schwartz recalls telling him, “I’d write a book called ‘The Art of the Deal.’ That’s something people would be interested in.” “You’re right,” Trump agreed. “Do you want to write it?”
Schwartz thought it over for several weeks. He knew that he would be making a Faustian bargain. A lifelong liberal, he was hardly an admirer of Trump’s ruthless and single-minded pursuit of profit. “It was one of a number of times in my life when I was divided between the Devil and the higher side,” he told me. He had grown up in a bourgeois, intellectual family in Manhattan, and had attended élite private schools, but he was not as wealthy as some of his classmates—and, unlike many of them, he had no trust fund. “I grew up privileged,” he said. “But my parents made it clear: ‘You’re on your own.’ ” Around the time Trump made his offer, Schwartz’s wife, Deborah Pines, became pregnant with their second daughter, and he worried that the family wouldn’t fit into their Manhattan apartment, whose mortgage was already too high. “I was overly worried about money,” Schwartz said. “I thought money would keep me safe and secure—or that was my rationalization.”
At the same time, he knew that if he took Trump’s money and adopted Trump’s voice his journalism career would be badly damaged. His heroes were such literary nonfiction writers as Tom Wolfe, John McPhee, and David Halberstam. Being a ghostwriter was hackwork. In the end, though, Schwartz had his price. He told Trump that if he would give him half the advance and half the book’s royalties he’d take the job. Such terms are unusually generous for a ghostwriter. Trump, despite having a reputation as a tough negotiator, agreed on the spot. “It was a huge windfall,” Schwartz recalls. “But I knew I was selling out. Literally, the term was invented to describe what I did.” Soon Spy was calling him “former journalist Tony Schwartz.”
Schwartz thought that “The Art of the Deal” would be an easy project. The book’s structure would be simple: he’d chronicle half a dozen or so of Trump’s biggest real-estate deals, dispense some bromides about how to succeed in business, and fill in Trump’s life story. For research, he planned to interview Trump on a series of Saturday mornings. The first session didn’t go as planned, however. After Trump gave him a tour of his marble-and-gilt apartment atop Trump Tower—which, to Schwartz, looked unlived-in, like the lobby of a hotel—they began to talk. But the discussion was soon hobbled by what Schwartz regards as one of Trump’s most essential characteristics: “He has no attention span.”
In those days, Schwartz recalls, Trump was generally affable with reporters, offering short, amusingly immodest quotes on demand. Trump had been forthcoming with him during the New York interview, but it hadn’t required much time or deep reflection. For the book, though, Trump needed to provide him with sustained, thoughtful recollections. He asked Trump to describe his childhood in detail. After sitting for only a few minutes in his suit and tie, Trump became impatient and irritable. He looked fidgety, Schwartz recalls, “like a kindergartner who can’t sit still in a classroom.” Even when Schwartz pressed him, Trump seemed to remember almost nothing of his youth, and made it clear that he was bored. Far more quickly than Schwartz had expected, Trump ended the meeting. Week after week, the pattern repeated itself. Schwartz tried to limit the sessions to smaller increments of time, but Trump’s contributions remained oddly truncated and superficial.
“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.
In a recent phone interview, Trump told me that, to the contrary, he has the skill that matters most in a crisis: the ability to forge compromises. The reason he touted “The Art of the Deal” in his announcement, he explained, was that he believes that recent Presidents have lacked his toughness and finesse: “Look at the trade deficit with China. Look at the Iran deal. I’ve made a fortune by making deals. I do that. I do that well. That’s what I do.” But Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” He added, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.” During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.
Other journalists have noticed Trump’s apparent lack of interest in reading. In May, Megyn Kelly, of Fox News, asked him to name his favorite book, other than the Bible or “The Art of the Deal.” Trump picked the 1929 novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Evidently suspecting that many years had elapsed since he’d read it, Kelly asked Trump to talk about the most recent book he’d read. “I read passages, I read areas, I’ll read chapters—I don’t have the time,” Trump said. As The New Republic noted recently, this attitude is not shared by most U.S. Presidents, including Barack Obama, a habitual consumer of current books, and George W. Bush, who reportedly engaged in a fiercely competitive book-reading contest with his political adviser Karl Rove.
Trump’s first wife, Ivana, famously claimed that Trump kept a copy of Adolf Hitler’s collected speeches, “My New Order,” in a cabinet beside his bed. In 1990, Trump’s friend Marty Davis, who was then an executive at Paramount, added credence to this story, telling Marie Brenner, of Vanity Fair, that he had given Trump the book. “I thought he would find it interesting,” Davis told her. When Brenner asked Trump about it, however, he mistakenly identified the volume as a different work by Hitler: “Mein Kampf.” Apparently, he had not so much as read the title. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them,” Trump told Brenner.
Growing desperate, Schwartz devised a strategy for trapping Trump into giving more material. He made plans to spend the weekend with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, his mansion in Palm Beach, where there would be fewer distractions. As they chatted in the garden, Ivana icily walked by, clearly annoyed that Schwartz was competing for her husband’s limited free time. Trump again grew impatient. Long before lunch on Saturday, Schwartz recalls, Trump “essentially threw a fit.” He stood up and announced that he couldn’t stand any more questions.
Schwartz went to his room, called his literary agent, Kathy Robbins, and told her that he couldn’t do the book. (Robbins confirms this.) As Schwartz headed back to New York, though, he came up with another plan. He would propose eavesdropping on Trump’s life by following him around on the job and, more important, by listening in on his office phone calls. That way, extracting extended reflections from Trump would not be required. When Schwartz presented the idea to Trump, he loved it. Almost every day from then on, Schwartz sat about eight feet away from him in the Trump Tower office, listening on an extension of Trump’s phone line. Schwartz says that none of the bankers, lawyers, brokers, and reporters who called Trump realized that they were being monitored.
The calls usually didn’t last long, and Trump’s assistant facilitated the conversation-hopping. While he was talking with someone, she often came in with a Post-it note informing him of the next caller on hold. “He was playing people,” Schwartz recalls. On the phone with business associates, Trump would flatter, bully, and occasionally get mad, but always in a calculated way. Before the discussion ended, Trump would “share the news of his latest success,” Schwartz says. Instead of saying goodbye at the end of a call, Trump customarily signed off with “You’re the greatest!” There was not a single call that Trump deemed too private for Schwartz to hear. “He loved the attention,” Schwartz recalls. “If he could have had three hundred thousand people listening in, he would have been even happier.”
This year, Schwartz has heard some argue that there must be a more thoughtful and nuanced version of Donald Trump that he is keeping in reserve for after the campaign. “There isn’t,” Schwartz insists. “There is no private Trump.” This is not a matter of hindsight. While working on “The Art of the Deal,” Schwartz kept a journal in which he expressed his amazement at Trump’s personality, writing that Trump seemed driven entirely by a need for public attention. “All he is is ‘stomp, stomp, stomp’—recognition from outside, bigger, more, a whole series of things that go nowhere in particular,” he observed, on October 21, 1986. But, as he noted in the journal a few days later, “the book will be far more successful if Trump is a sympathetic character—even weirdly sympathetic—than if he is just hateful or, worse yet, a one-dimensional blowhard.”
Eavesdropping solved the interview problem, but it presented a new one. After hearing Trump’s discussions about business on the phone, Schwartz asked him brief follow-up questions. He then tried to amplify the material he got from Trump by calling others involved in the deals. But their accounts often directly conflicted with Trump’s. “Lying is second nature to him,” Schwartz said. “More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.” Often, Schwartz said, the lies that Trump told him were about money—“how much he had paid for something, or what a building he owned was worth, or how much one of his casinos was earning when it was actually on its way to bankruptcy.”
Trump bragged that he paid only eight million dollars for Mar-a-Lago, but omitted that he bought a nearby strip of beach for a record sum. After gossip columns reported, erroneously, that Prince Charles was considering buying several apartments in Trump Tower, Trump implied that he had no idea where the rumor had started. (“It certainly didn’t hurt us,” he says, in “The Art of the Deal.”) Wayne Barrett, a reporter for the Village Voice, later revealed that Trump himself had planted the story with journalists. Schwartz also suspected that Trump engaged in such media tricks, and asked him about a story making the rounds—that Trump often called up news outlets using a pseudonym. Trump didn’t deny it. As Schwartz recalls, he smirked and said, “You like that, do you?”
Schwartz says of Trump, “He lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it.” Since most people are “constrained by the truth,” Trump’s indifference to it “gave him a strange advantage.” When challenged about the facts, Schwartz says, Trump would often double down, repeat himself, and grow belligerent. This quality was recently on display after Trump posted on Twitter a derogatory image of Hillary Clinton that contained a six-pointed star lifted from a white-supremacist Web site. Campaign staffers took the image down, but two days later Trump angrily defended it, insisting that there was no anti-Semitic implication. Whenever “the thin veneer of Trump’s vanity is challenged,” Schwartz says, he overreacts—not an ideal quality in a head of state.
When Schwartz began writing “The Art of the Deal,” he realized that he needed to put an acceptable face on Trump’s loose relationship with the truth. So he concocted an artful euphemism. Writing in Trump’s voice, he explained to the reader, “I play to people’s fantasies. . . . People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and it’s a very effective form of promotion.” Schwartz now disavows the passage. “Deceit,” he told me, is never “innocent.” He added, “ ‘Truthful hyperbole’ is a contradiction in terms. It’s a way of saying, ‘It’s a lie, but who cares?’ ” Trump, he said, loved the phrase. In his journal, Schwartz describes the process of trying to make Trump’s voice palatable in the book. It was kind of “a trick,” he writes, to mimic Trump’s blunt, staccato, no-apologies delivery while making him seem almost boyishly appealing. One strategy was to make it appear that Trump was just having fun at the office. “I try not to take any of what’s happened too seriously,” Trump says in the book. “The real excitement is playing the game.”
In his journal, Schwartz wrote, “Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.” Looking back at the text now, Schwartz says, “I created a character far more winning than Trump actually is.” The first line of the book is an example. “I don’t do it for the money,” Trump declares. “I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.” Schwartz now laughs at this depiction of Trump as a devoted artisan. “Of course he’s in it for the money,” he said. “One of the most deep and basic needs he has is to prove that ‘I’m richer than you.’ ” As for the idea that making deals is a form of poetry, Schwartz says, “He was incapable of saying something like that—it wouldn’t even be in his vocabulary.” He saw Trump as driven not by a pure love of dealmaking but by an insatiable hunger for “money, praise, and celebrity.” Often, after spending the day with Trump, and watching him pile one hugely expensive project atop the next, like a circus performer spinning plates, Schwartz would go home and tell his wife, “He’s a living black hole!”
Schwartz reminded himself that he was being paid to tell Trump’s story, not his own, but the more he worked on the project the more disturbing he found it. In his journal, he describes the hours he spent with Trump as “draining” and “deadening.” Schwartz told me that Trump’s need for attention is “completely compulsive,” and that his bid for the Presidency is part of a continuum. “He’s managed to keep increasing the dose for forty years,” Schwartz said. After he’d spent decades as a tabloid titan, “the only thing left was running for President. If he could run for emperor of the world, he would.” Rhetorically, Schwartz’s aim in “The Art of the Deal” was to present Trump as the hero of every chapter, but, after looking into some of his supposedly brilliant deals, Schwartz concluded that there were cases in which there was no way to make Trump look good. So he sidestepped unflattering incidents and details. “I didn’t consider it my job to investigate,” he says.
Schwartz also tried to avoid the strong whiff of cronyism that hovered over some deals. In his 1986 journal, he describes what a challenge it was to “put his best foot forward” in writing about one of Trump’s first triumphs: his development, starting in 1975, of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, on the site of the former Commodore Hotel, next to Grand Central Terminal. In order to afford the hotel, Trump required an extremely large tax abatement. Richard Ravitch, who was then in charge of the agency that had the authority to grant such tax breaks to developers, recalls that he declined to grant the abatement, and Trump got “so unpleasant I had to tell him to get out.” Trump got it anyway, largely because key city officials had received years of donations from his father, Fred Trump, who was a major real-estate developer in Queens. Wayne Barrett, whose reporting for the Voice informed his definitive 1991 book, “Trump: The Deals and the Downfall,” says, “It was all Fred’s political connections that created the abatement.”
In addition, Trump snookered rivals into believing that he had an exclusive option from the city on the project, when he didn’t. Trump also deceived his partner in the deal, Jay Pritzker, the head of the Hyatt Hotel chain. Pritzker had rejected an unfavorable term proposed by Trump, but at the closing Trump forced it through, knowing that Pritzker was on a mountain in Nepal and could not be reached. Schwartz wrote in his journal that “almost everything” about the hotel deal had “an immoral cast.” But as the ghostwriter he was “trying hard to find my way around” behavior that he considered “if not reprehensible, at least morally questionable.”
Many tall tales that Trump told Schwartz contained a kernel of truth but made him out to be cleverer than he was. One of Trump’s favorite stories was about how he had tricked the company that owned Holiday Inn into becoming his partner in an Atlantic City casino. Trump claimed that he had quieted executives’ fears of construction delays by ordering his construction supervisor to make a vacant lot that he owned look like “the most active construction site in the history of the world.” As Trump tells it in “The Art of the Deal,” there were so many dump trucks and bulldozers pushing around dirt and filling holes that had just been dug that when Holiday Inn executives visited the site it “looked as if we were in the midst of building the Grand Coulee Dam.” The stunt, Trump claimed, pushed the deal through. After the book came out, though, a consultant for Trump’s casinos, Al Glasgow, who is now deceased, told Schwartz, “It never happened.” There may have been one or two trucks, but not the fleet that made it a great story.
Schwartz tamped down some of Trump’s swagger, but plenty of it remained. The manuscript that Random House published was, depending on your perspective, either entertainingly insightful or shamelessly self-aggrandizing. To borrow a title from Norman Mailer, who frequently attended prizefights at Trump’s Atlantic City hotels, the book could have been called “Advertisements for Myself.”
In 2005, Timothy L. O’Brien, an award-winning journalist who is currently the executive editor of Bloomberg View, published “Trump Nation,” a meticulous investigative biography. (Trump unsuccessfully sued him for libel.) O’Brien has taken a close look at “The Art of the Deal,” and he told me that it might be best characterized as a “nonfiction work of fiction.” Trump’s life story, as told by Schwartz, honestly chronicled a few setbacks, such as Trump’s disastrous 1983 purchase of the New Jersey Generals, a football team in the flailing United States Football League. But O’Brien believes that Trump used the book to turn almost every step of his life, both personal and professional, into a “glittering fable.”
Some of the falsehoods in “The Art of the Deal” are minor. Spy upended Trump’s claims that Ivana had been a “top model” and an alternate on the Czech Olympic ski team. Barrett notes that in “The Art of the Deal” Trump describes his father as having been born in New Jersey to Swedish parents; in fact, he was born in the Bronx to German parents. (Decades later, Trump spread falsehoods about Obama’s origins, claiming it was possible that the President was born in Africa.)
In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump portrays himself as a warm family man with endless admirers. He praises Ivana’s taste and business skill—“I said you can’t bet against Ivana, and she proved me right.” But Schwartz noticed little warmth or communication between Trump and Ivana, and he later learned that while “The Art of the Deal” was being written Trump began an affair with Marla Maples, who became his second wife. (He divorced Ivana in 1992.) As far as Schwartz could tell, Trump spent very little time with his family and had no close friends. In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump describes Roy Cohn, his personal lawyer, in the warmest terms, calling him “the sort of guy who’d be there at your hospital bed . . . literally standing by you to the death.” Cohn, who in the fifties assisted Senator Joseph McCarthy in his vicious crusade against Communism, was closeted. He felt abandoned by Trump when he became fatally ill from AIDS, and said, “Donald pisses ice water.” Schwartz says of Trump, “He’d like people when they were helpful, and turn on them when they weren’t. It wasn’t personal. He’s a transactional man—it was all about what you could do for him.”
According to Barrett, among the most misleading aspects of “The Art of the Deal” was the idea that Trump made it largely on his own, with only minimal help from his father, Fred. Barrett, in his book, notes that Trump once declared, “The working man likes me because he knows I didn’t inherit what I’ve built,” and that in “The Art of the Deal” he derides wealthy heirs as members of “the Lucky Sperm Club.”
Trump’s self-portrayal as a Horatio Alger figure has buttressed his populist appeal in 2016. But his origins were hardly humble. Fred’s fortune, based on his ownership of middle-income properties, wasn’t glamorous, but it was sizable: in 2003, a few years after Fred died, Trump and his siblings reportedly sold some of their father’s real-estate holdings for half a billion dollars. In “The Art of the Deal,” Trump cites his father as “the most important influence on me,” but in his telling his father’s main legacy was teaching him the importance of “toughness.” Beyond that, Schwartz says, Trump “barely talked about his father—he didn’t want his success to be seen as having anything to do with him.” But when Barrett investigated he found that Trump’s father was instrumental in his son’s rise, financially and politically. In the book, Trump says that “my energy and my enthusiasm” explain how, as a twenty-nine-year-old with few accomplishments, he acquired the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Barrett reports, however, that Trump’s father had to co-sign the many contracts that the deal required. He also lent Trump seven and a half million dollars to get started as a casino owner in Atlantic City; at one point, when Trump couldn’t meet payments on other loans, his father tried to tide him over by sending a lawyer to buy some three million dollars’ worth of gambling chips. Barrett told me, “Donald did make some smart moves himself, particularly in assembling the site for the Trump Tower. That was a stroke of genius.” Nonetheless, he said, “The notion that he’s a self-made man is a joke. But I guess they couldn’t call the book ‘The Art of My Father’s Deals.’ ”
The other key myth perpetuated by “The Art of the Deal” was that Trump’s intuitions about business were almost flawless. “The book helped fuel the notion that he couldn’t fail,” Barrett said. But, unbeknown to Schwartz and the public, by late 1987, when the book came out, Trump was heading toward what Barrett calls “simultaneous personal and professional self-destruction.” O’Brien agrees that during the next several years Trump’s life unravelled. The divorce from Ivana reportedly cost him twenty-five million dollars. Meanwhile, he was in the midst of what O’Brien calls “a crazy shopping spree that resulted in unmanageable debt.” He was buying the Plaza Hotel and also planning to erect “the tallest building in the world,” on the former rail yards that he had bought on the West Side. In 1987, the city denied him permission to construct such a tall skyscraper, but in “The Art of the Deal” he brushed off this failure with a one-liner: “I can afford to wait.” O’Brien says, “The reality is that he couldn’t afford to wait. He was telling the media that the carrying costs were three million dollars, when in fact they were more like twenty million.” Trump was also building a third casino in Atlantic City, the Taj, which he promised would be “the biggest casino in history.” He bought the Eastern Air Lines shuttle that operated out of New York, Boston, and Washington, rechristening it the Trump Shuttle, and acquired a giant yacht, the Trump Princess. “He was on a total run of complete and utter self-absorption,” Barrett says, adding, “It’s kind of like now.”
Schwartz said that when he was writing the book “the greatest percentage of Trump’s assets was in casinos, and he made it sound like each casino was more successful than the last. But every one of them was failing.” He went on, “I think he was just spinning. I don’t think he could have believed it at the time. He was losing millions of dollars a day. He had to have been terrified.”
In 1992, the journalist David Cay Johnston published a book about casinos, “Temples of Chance,” and cited a net-worth statement from 1990 that assessed Trump’s personal wealth. It showed that Trump owed nearly three hundred million dollars more to his creditors than his assets were worth. The next year, his company was forced into bankruptcy—the first of six such instances. The Trump meteor had crashed.
But in “The Art of the Deal,” O’Brien told me, “Trump shrewdly and unabashedly promoted an image of himself as a dealmaker nonpareil who could always get the best out of every situation—and who can now deliver America from its malaise.” This idealized version was presented to an exponentially larger audience, O’Brien noted, when Mark Burnett, the reality-television producer, read “The Art of the Deal” and decided to base a new show on it, “The Apprentice,” with Trump as the star. The first season of the show, which premièred in 2004, opens with Trump in the back of a limousine, boasting, “I’ve mastered the art of the deal, and I’ve turned the name Trump into the highest-quality brand.” An image of the book’s cover flashes onscreen as Trump explains that, as the “master,” he is now seeking an apprentice. O’Brien said, “ ‘The Apprentice’ is mythmaking on steroids. There’s a straight line from the book to the show to the 2016 campaign.”
It took Schwartz a little more than a year to write “The Art of the Deal.” In the spring of 1987, he sent the manuscript to Trump, who returned it to him shortly afterward. There were a few red marks made with a fat-tipped Magic Marker, most of which deleted criticisms that Trump had made of powerful individuals he no longer wanted to offend, such as Lee Iacocca. Otherwise, Schwartz says, Trump changed almost nothing. In my phone interview with Trump, he initially said of Schwartz, “Tony was very good. He was the co-author.” But he dismissed Schwartz’s account of the writing process. “He didn’t write the book,” Trump told me. “I wrote the book. I wrote the book. It was my book. And it was a No. 1 best-seller, and one of the best-selling business books of all time. Some say it was the best-selling business book ever.” (It is not.) Howard Kaminsky, the former Random House head, laughed and said, “Trump didn’t write a postcard for us!”
Trump was far more involved in the book’s promotion. He wooed booksellers and made one television appearance after another. He publicly promised to donate his cut of the book’s royalties to charity. He even made a surprise trip to New Hampshire, where he stirred additional publicity by floating the possibility that he might run for President. In December of 1987, a month after the book was published, Trump hosted an extravagant book party in the pink marble atrium of Trump Tower. Klieg lights lit a red carpet outside the building. Inside, nearly a thousand guests, in black tie, were served champagne and fed slices of a giant cake replica of Trump Tower, which was wheeled in by a parade of women waving red sparklers. The boxing promoter Don King greeted the crowd in a floor-length mink coat, and the comedian Jackie Mason introduced Donald and Ivana with the words “Here comes the king and queen!” Trump toasted Schwartz, saying teasingly that he had at least tried to teach him how to make money.
Schwartz got more of an education the next day, when he and Trump spoke on the phone. After chatting briefly about the party, Trump informed Schwartz that, as his ghostwriter, he owed him for half the event’s cost, which was in the six figures. Schwartz was dumbfounded. “He wanted me to split the cost of entertaining his list of nine hundred second-rate celebrities?” Schwartz had, in fact, learned a few things from watching Trump. He drastically negotiated down the amount that he agreed to pay, to a few thousand dollars, and then wrote Trump a letter promising to write a check not to Trump but to a charity of Schwartz’s choosing. It was a page out of Trump’s playbook. In the past seven years, Trump has promised to give millions of dollars to charity, but reporters for the Washington Post found that they could document only ten thousand dollars in donations—and they uncovered no direct evidence that Trump made charitable contributions from money earned by “The Art of the Deal.”
Not long after the discussion of the party bills, Trump approached Schwartz about writing a sequel, for which Trump had been offered a seven-figure advance. This time, however, he offered Schwartz only a third of the profits. He pointed out that, because the advance was much bigger, the payout would be, too. But Schwartz said no. Feeling deeply alienated, he instead wrote a book called “What Really Matters,” about the search for meaning in life. After working with Trump, Schwartz writes, he felt a “gnawing emptiness” and became a “seeker,” longing to “be connected to something timeless and essential, more real.”
Schwartz told me that he has decided to pledge all royalties from sales of “The Art of the Deal” in 2016 to pointedly chosen charities: the National Immigration Law Center, Human Rights Watch, the Center for the Victims of Torture, the National Immigration Forum, and the Tahirih Justice Center. He doesn’t feel that the gesture absolves him. “I’ll carry this until the end of my life,” he said. “There’s no righting it. But I like the idea that, the more copies that ‘The Art of the Deal’ sells, the more money I can donate to the people whose rights Trump seeks to abridge.”
Schwartz expected Trump to attack him for speaking out, and he was correct. Informed that Schwartz had made critical remarks about him, and wouldn’t be voting for him, Trump said, “He’s probably just doing it for the publicity.” He also said, “Wow. That’s great disloyalty, because I made Tony rich. He owes a lot to me. I helped him when he didn’t have two cents in his pocket. It’s great disloyalty. I guess he thinks it’s good for him—but he’ll find out it’s not good for him.”
Minutes after Trump got off the phone with me, Schwartz’s cell phone rang. “I hear you’re not voting for me,” Trump said. “I just talked to The New Yorker—which, by the way, is a failing magazine that no one reads—and I heard you were critical of me.”
“That’s your right, but then you should have just remained silent. I just want to tell you that I think you’re very disloyal. Without me, you wouldn’t be where you are now. I had a lot of choice of who to have write the book, and I chose you, and I was very generous with you. I know that you gave a lot of speeches and lectures using ‘The Art of the Deal.’ I could have sued you, but I didn’t.”
“My business has nothing to do with ‘The Art of the Deal.’ ”
“That’s not what I’ve been told.”
“You’re running for President of the United States. The stakes here are high.”
“Yeah, they are,” he said. “Have a nice life.” Trump hung up.
Schwartz can understand why Trump feels stung, but he felt that he had to speak up before it was too late. As for Trump’s anger toward him, he said, “I don’t take it personally, because the truth is he didn’t mean it personally. People are dispensable and disposable in Trump’s world.” If Trump is elected President, he warned, “the millions of people who voted for him and believe that he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows—that he couldn’t care less about them.”
Donald Trump Threatens The Ghostwriter Of “The Art Of The Deal”
(By Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 20 July 2016)
On the first day of the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump made a surprise speech—and the Trump Organization’s general counsel sent a threatening letter to Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of “The Art of the Deal.” When Tony Schwartz, Donald Trump’s ghostwriter for his 1987 memoir, “The Art of the Deal,” decided to tell the public about his concerns that Trump isn’t fit to serve as President, his main worry was that Trump, who is famously litigious, would threaten to take legal action against him. Schwartz’s premonition has proved correct.
On Monday, July 18th, the day that this magazine published my interview with Schwartz, and hours after Schwartz appeared on “Good Morning America” to voice his concerns about Trump’s “impulsive and self-centered” character, Jason D. Greenblatt, the general counsel and vice-president of the Trump Organization, issued a threatening cease-and-desist letter to Schwartz. In it, Greenblatt accuses Schwartz—who has likened his writing of the flattering book to putting “lipstick on a pig”—of making “defamatory statements” about the Republican nominee and claiming that he, not Trump, wrote the book, “thereby exposing” himself to “liability for damages and other tortious harm.”
Greenblatt demands that Schwartz send “a certified check made payable to Mr. Trump” for all of the royalties he had earned on the book, along with Schwartz’s half of the book’s five-hundred-thousand-dollar advance. (The memoir has sold approximately a million copies, earning Trump and Schwartz each several million dollars.) Greenblatt also orders Schwartz to issue “a written statement retracting your defamatory statements,” and to offer written assurances that he will not “generate or disseminate” any further “baseless accusations” about Trump.
On Thursday, reached by e-mail on an airplane, Schwartz said that he would continue to speak out against Trump, and that he would make no retractions or apologies. “The fact that Trump would take time out of convention week to worry about a critic is evidence to me not only of how thin-skinned he is, but also of how misplaced his priorities are,” Schwartz wrote. He added, “It is axiomatic that when Trump feels attacked, he will strike back. That’s precisely what’s so frightening about his becoming president.”
That day, a lawyer representing Schwartz, Elizabeth A. McNamara, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, sent Greenblatt a response. McNamara states that Schwartz “will not be returning any of the advance or royalties from the Book, and he has no intention of retracting any of his opinions about the character of the Republican nominee for the presidency, nor does he have any obligation or intention to remain silent about the issue going forward.” She describes Trump’s cease-and-desist letter as “nothing more than a transparent attempt to stifle legitimate criticism.” As McNamara notes, Greenblatt’s letter does not actually refute Schwartz’s claim that he, not Trump, wrote the book. Instead, Greenblatt writes that Trump “was the source of all of the material in the Book and the inspiration for every word in the Book,” rather than the author. Greenblatt acknowledges that Trump provided Schwartz “with the facts and facets of each of these deals in order for you to write them down.”
On “Good Morning America,” Schwartz told host George Stephanopoulos that “The Art of the Deal” very likely contained “falsehoods” owing to the fact that Trump, in his opinion, has a strong propensity to exaggerate and lie. Greenblatt attacks Schwartz’s statement, arguing that if the book is less than accurate, then Schwartz had breached his obligations as the book’s co-author. In response, Schwartz’s lawyer notes that because Trump takes credit for providing “all of the material in the book,” if there are falsehoods they must have been provided by Trump. “Any purported failure by Mr. Schwartz to be ‘accurate in the completion of [his] duties’ would be entirely because of misleading statements by Mr. Trump,” McNamara writes.
In his letter, Greenblatt also accuses Schwartz of having tried to profit from his association with Trump after “The Art of the Deal” was published, as Trump had said in a phone interview with me. Greenblatt quotes from a friendly letter that Schwartz wrote to Trump in 1988, soon after “The Art of the Deal” was published, in which he described their “partnership” as “a success in every respect,” and said, “I hope we’ll be able to work together again, on other projects.” Greenblatt does not acknowledge that when Trump asked Schwartz to co-author a sequel to “The Art of the Deal,” Schwartz rejected the offer. Greenblatt’s letter claims that Schwartz has “pleaded with Mr. Trump to provide you with more work.” Schwartz says this is “totally false,” and that he has made no business overtures to Trump during the last twenty-eight years. Asked last night to provide any evidence that Schwartz had ever sought work from Trump after the publication of “The Art of the Deal,” Greenblatt said he could provide none at that moment, but would try to find some soon.
Speaking by phone from the Republican National Convention, in Cleveland, he added that “Mr. Trump is a bit busy tonight,” so would not be available to back up his allegations with any specifics, either. Instead, he cited Schwartz’s agreement, earlier this year, to a plan to issue an audio version of “The Art of the Deal.” (Schwartz has pledged to donate all royalties from the book in 2016 to charity.) Other than that, Schwartz reiterated to me that he has had almost no contact with Trump, and until a few months ago had kept almost silent about him. “I fully expected him to attack me, because that is what he does, so I can’t say I am surprised,” Schwartz noted. “But I’m much more worried about his becoming president than I am about anything he might try to do to me.”
Trump spent more than $1 million in May reimbursing his companies and family
(By Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy, Washington Post, 21 June 2016)
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, raised just $5.4 million in May, including $2.2 million that he loaned his campaign. Almost as startling was how little Trump had in the bank when June began: less than $1.3 million. Where did it go? The real estate mogul does not have much of a ground operation yet or a significant paid media effort. But he managed to shell out $6.7 million last month, including more than $1 million in payments to Trump companies or to reimburse his family for travel expenses. Here are some of the campaign's biggest expenditures.
Campaign swag and printing: $958,836
About a dozen companies were paid for hats, pens, T-shirts, mugs, stickers and printing services.
Air charters: $838,774
Nearly $350,000 of the money spent on private jets went to Trump's own TAG Air.
Event staging and rentals: $830,482
This includes the fees for renting facilities such as the Anaheim Convention Center ($43,000) and the Fresno Convention Center ($24,715). But the biggest sum went to Trump's own Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., which was paid $423,317 for rental and catering. The Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., got $35,845, while the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fl., was paid $29,715. His son Eric Trump's wine company received nearly $4,000.
Payroll and consultants: $684,337
Trump had less than 70 people on staff in May, versus Hillary Clinton's 683. But his top aides were paid well: now-departed campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager Michael Glassner each received $20,000 for the month, while the firm of Dan Scavino, director of social media, got nearly $21,000. Eli Miller, who came aboard as the chief operating officer in mid-May, was paid $13,038.
Data and technology: $603,143
Giles-Parscale, a San Antonio-based Web-design firm that began working for Trump's companies in 2011, received two big payments totaling $543,000.
Direct mail and telemarketing: $253,969
The bulk of the payments went to a Purcellville, Va.-based company called Left Hand Enterprises, which was registered in Delaware in late April by an incorporation service. It is unclear who owns it.
Does It Matter That Donald Trump Has Banned Us?
(By Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post, 14 June 2016)
Does Donald Trump believe in the well-established role of the press in American democracy? It certainly doesn’t look that way. In recent months, his staff has roughed up a reporter and thrown another one out of a press event, and he has insulted journalists and blasted unfavorable news coverage. Yet he has benefited from oodles (that’s the technical term) of free exposure in the media. And he obviously craves media attention — in much the same way an addict craves his fix.
Now, the latest chapter: Calling The Washington Post phony and dishonest, Trump has revoked the press credentials that allow Post reporters access to his campaign rallies. This gives The Post unwanted membership in a growing club of banned news organizations, including Politico, BuzzFeed, the Des Moines Register and the Huffington Post. The Post’s executive editor, Martin Baron, called Trump’s action “nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press” and pledged that his paper would keep reporting vigorously about the presumptive Republican nominee.
Trump’s immediate complaint was with a Post article written off a Fox News interview, in which the candidate criticized President Obama after the Orlando massacre: “Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart or he’s got something else in mind. . . . It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.” The Post reported that Trump was suggesting some tie between the president and the shooting; the article was a reasonable interpretation of what he said. An early headline was rewritten and made more restrained, not after a complaint, but at the editors’ behest.
On Tuesday, I tried to ask Trump to further explain his action against The Post, to see how broadly he intended to define the ban and to ask him how he sees the role of America’s free press. His communications director, Hope Hicks, didn’t shut down the idea of such an interview, but she said she would get back to me. As of deadline, I hadn’t heard from her, but I’ll keep trying to get Trump to answer these questions, sooner or later. It’s worth noting that Hillary Clinton — although she hasn’t revoked any credentials or made bombastic speeches about phony coverage — has been far less accessible than Trump, giving no press conferences and very few serious interviews. None of this bodes well for press access in 2017 and beyond. I’ll be trying to ask Clinton, too, how she intends to handle journalists if elected.
That’s something that ought to matter deeply to American citizens. After all, journalists represent the public when they attend events, ask questions and dig for information. Trump, like Sarah Palin before him, may be trying to score points with his base, which considers the media infected with liberal bias. Beyond the troubling big-picture questions, how much does it really hurt The Post not to have the credentials? National political correspondent Karen Tumulty told me that’s still unclear: “The value of that little piece of paper on a string around your neck is actually pretty limited. Often, it is most useful for the opportunity to talk to people in the crowd and hear what is on their minds.” It becomes crucial, though, she said, when a candidate takes a trip overseas, as Trump is going to do soon. And “my real question here is whether a credential is the same as access.” Will The Post be able to get its questions answered by campaign officials and Trump himself, or will it be entirely cut off?
At BuzzFeed, politics editor Katherine Miller told me that her organization’s best reporting work to date has had nothing to do with access, or lack of access, to Trump rallies, but much more with the time-consuming tasks of digging through audio recordings and following up on tips that reporter Andrew Kaczynski has been doing, far removed from public events. A lack of credentials has never “impeded our coverage or what we’re trying to do,” Miller said. “The most interesting stuff isn’t happening inside the arenas.” She’s right. And that’s always been the case. Bob Woodward recalled the early retaliation by the Nixon administration in 1972 to The Post’s Watergate reporting: A society reporter, Dorothy McCardle, was banned from White House dinners and parties. “It was absurd,” he said. But it became far less so when The Post’s broadcast licenses were challenged, which in turn caused the company’s stock price to plummet. “They hit Katharine Graham where it could hurt,” Woodward told me. “And she didn’t flinch.” That’s a solid tradition at The Post, where Baron said Monday that Trump coverage would plow forward, “honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly.” That matters more — a lot more — than a little piece of paper on a string.
As Its Stock Collapsed, Trump’s Firm Gave Him Huge Bonuses
(By Drew Harwell, The Washington Post, 12 June 2016)
It was promoted as the chance of a lifetime: Mom-and-pop investors could buy shares in celebrity businessman Donald Trump’s first public company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts. Their investments were quickly depleted. The company known by Trump’s initials, DJT, crumbled into a penny stock and filed for bankruptcy after less than a decade, costing shareholders millions of dollars, even as other casino companies soared. In its short life, Trump the company greatly enriched Trump the businessman, paying to have his personal jet piloted and buying heaps of Trump-brand merchandise. Despite losing money every year under Trump’s leadership, the company paid Trump handsomely, including a $5 million bonus in the year the company’s stock plummeted 70 percent.
Many of those who lost money were Main Street shareholders who believed in the Trump brand, such as Sebastian Pignatello, a retired private investor in Queens. By the time of the 2004 bankruptcy, Pignatello’s 150,000 shares were worth pennies on the dollar. “He had been pillaging the company all along,” said Pignatello, who joined shareholders in a lawsuit against Trump that has since been settled. “Even his business allies, they were all fair game. He has no qualms about screwing anybody. That’s what he does.”
Trump’s bid for the White House relies heavily on his ability to sell himself as a master businessman, a standout performer in real estate and reality TV. But interviews with former shareholders and analysts as well as years of financial filings reveal a striking characteristic of his business record: Even when his endeavors failed and other people lost money, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee found a way to make money for himself, to market his Trump-branded products and to pay for his expensive lifestyle. Trump was the chairman of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts in Atlantic City from 1995 to 2009, his only outing as the head of a major public company. During that time, the company lost more than $1 billion, financial records show. He also was chief executive from 2000 to 2005, during which time share prices plunged from a high of $35 to as low as 17 cents.
Trump received more than $44 million in salary, bonuses and other compensation during his time at the company, filings show. He also benefited from tens of millions of dollars more in special deals, advisory fees and “service agreements” he negotiated with his company. Trump’s campaign did not make him available to respond to specific questions about the company, but in a recent Washington Post interview, Trump said he “made a lot of money in Atlantic City,” adding, “I make great deals for myself.” He expounded: “They say, ‘Why don’t you take the casinos public or something?’ You know, if you take them public, you make money on that. All I can say is I wasn’t representing the country. I wasn’t representing the banks. I wasn’t representing anybody but myself.”
Corporate governance experts say it’s rare for executives of public companies to suggest that they haven’t been looking out for the shareholders who financed them. “When companies go public, when they first invite investors in . . . they say: ‘I promise you, you will come first. We are here to create shareholder value, and that’s why you should trust us,’ ” said Nell Minow, the vice chair of ValueEdge Advisors, which advises shareholders on corporate governance issues. “For them to say, ‘I don’t really care about you,’ it’s basically your [sell] signal. Who’s going to make sure my interests as a shareholder are going to be protected?”
Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts started out as a holding company that owned the Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, and then it steadily added other Trump properties. Because it was publicly traded, Trump could sell shares and quickly raise money while other corners of his empire were in distress. Virtually all of Trump’s other businesses are privately held, so key information about their performance is hidden from view. The company began advertising its public offering of stock in 1995, saying shareholders would benefit from “the widespread recognition of the ‘Trump’ name and its association with high quality amenities and first class service.” When it debuted that year on the New York Stock Exchange, Trump’s company raised $140 million from investors, at $14 a share, and said the money would go toward expanding the Plaza and developing a riverboat casino in Indiana. But much of that money went to pay off tens of millions of dollars in loans Trump had personally guaranteed, filings show. Those loans were taken out before the company went public, but Trump’s private fortune could have been at risk if they went unpaid.
The company got off to an encouraging start. An improving national economy and an upturn in Atlantic City gambling helped shares soar to a peak of $35 in 1996. That boosted the value of Trump’s stake in the company and helped him return to the Forbes 400 list — the magazine’s ranking of America’s wealthiest people — for the first time since 1989. The early success didn’t last long. In less than a year, the company paid premium prices for two of Trump’s deeply indebted, privately-held casinos, the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Castle. In essence, he was both buyer and seller, able to set whatever price he wanted. The company bought his Castle for $100 million more than analysts said it was worth. Trump pocketed $880,000 in cash after arranging the deal, financial filings show.
By the end of 1996, shareholders who had bet on a rosy Trump future were now investors in a company with $1.7 billion of Trump’s old debt. The company was forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on interest payments, more than the casinos brought in, securities filings show. The unprofitable company couldn’t afford the upgrades it needed to compete with newer gambling rivals. Spooked investors fled the company in 1996, sending its share price down to $12. As millions of dollars in shareholder value evaporated, the company gave Trump a $7 million pay package, including a 71 percent raise to his salary, financial filings show. Trump defended his compensation by telling the Wall Street Journal, “Other than the stock price, we’re doing great.” “He ran these companies into the ground,” said Graef Crystal, an executive-pay consultant who watched the company at the time, in an interview.
As the company spiraled downward, it continued to pay for Trump’s luxuries. Between 1998 and 2005, it spent more than $6 million to “entertain high-end customers” on Trump’s plane and golf courses and about $2 million to maintain his personal jet and have it piloted, a Post analysis of company filings shows. Trump also steered the company toward deals with the rest of the Trump-brand empire. Between 2006 and 2009, the company bought $1.7 million of Trump-brand merchandise, including $1.2 million of Trump Ice bottled water, the analysis shows. “If you’re chairman of the company, there have to be safeguards to avoid that kind of blatant self-dealing,” said Pignatello, who said he lost tens of thousands of dollars in the investment. “He was milking the company.”
The grand promises and boasting Trump had become famous for as a private businessman became a source of tension with public investors. Wall Street traders spoke of the “Donald discount” to highlight the gap between what Trump promised and what they believed his stock was actually worth. Trump said in 1997 that he was “the biggest there is in the casino business.” But that March, when the stock was trading at a quarter of its price 10 months before, Chase bond analyst Steve Ruggiero said the company wasn’t “forthcoming” about its financial performance with analysts, which he said “raises suspicions.” The company at times ran into trouble. In 1998, the U.S. Treasury fined one of the Trump casinos $477,000 for failing to file reports designed to help guard against money laundering. Trump did not comment then on the action. The company agreed last year to pay a $10 million civil penalty after regulators found that it had continued to violate the reporting and record-keeping requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act. In 2000, Trump and his partners paid $250,000 to settle a case brought by New York state alleging that they had secretly funded an ad blitz opposing the opening of competing casinos in the Catskill Mountains. “It’s been settled. We’re happy it all worked out nicely,” Trump said then.
And in 2002, federal securities regulators issued a cease-and-desist order against the company, saying it had misled shareholders by publishing a news release with numbers “deceptively” skewed to appear more upbeat. The company said it quickly corrected the error and was not fined. Trump defended the release by saying that it “was just a statement that was too verbose.” The company lost money every year of Trump’s leadership, and its share price suffered. A shareholder who bought $100 of DJT shares in 1995 could sell them for about $4 in 2005. The same investment in MGM Resorts would have increased in value to about $600. In 2004, the year Trump took home a $1.5 million salary, stock-exchange officials froze trading in the company — and, later, delisted it entirely — as word spread that it was filing for bankruptcy because of about $1.8 billion in debt.
Under the company’s Chapter 11 reorganization plan, shareholders’ stake in the company shrunk from roughly 40 percent to about 5 percent. Trump, meanwhile, would remain chairman – and receive a $2 million annual salary, a $7.5 million beachfront tract in Atlantic City and a personal stake in the company’s Miss Universe pageant. “I don’t think it’s a failure. It’s a success,” Trump said in 2004 about the bankruptcy. “The future looks very good.” Shareholders sued, saying in court filings that the “sweetheart deal” amounted to a “basket of goodies” for Trump. “Chairmen of public companies usually don’t celebrate when millions of dollars of shareholder equity are being wiped out,” attorneys wrote in a court filing that year. “Donald Trump apparently does.”
Trump settled, agreeing to give creditors $17.5 million in cash and the proceeds from an auction of the Atlantic City land. Trump has said he had no regrets about the company’s performance. “Entrepreneurially speaking, not necessarily from the standpoint of running a company but from an entrepreneur’s standpoint, [the stock offering] was one of the great deals,” he told Fortune in 2004. Company decisions were, as in most public companies, approved by a board of directors. None of the original directors responded to requests for comment. Trump wrote in his book “Surviving at the Top” that he “personally didn’t like answering to a board of directors.” Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, said Trump exemplified the corporate-American role once known as the “imperial CEO”: an unchallenged, dominant leader who singlehandedly steered the company. “The CEO ran the show ... and the board was the creature of the CEO,” Elson said. “These days, it’s very different,” he added, because of a shift toward greater oversight from company directors and the increasing presence of activist shareholders.
One later director was close to Trump: his daughter. Ivanka Trump was named to the board of directors in 2007, when she was 26 and had been working for two years at her father’s private company, the Trump Organization. The public company paid her $188,861 in cash and stock awards that year, filings show. Representatives for Ivanka Trump declined to comment. Ivanka and Donald Trump both resigned from the company in 2009, after Trump declared in a statement that he strongly disagreed with bondholders who had been pushing the company to file again for bankruptcy. “The company has represented for quite some time substantially less than 1 percent of my net worth, and my investment in it is worthless to me now,” Trump said at the time.
The company, now called Trump Entertainment Resorts, never escaped its crippling debt and filed for bankruptcy twice more, in 2009 and 2014. Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor Trump has called a friend, took control of the public company this year. Trump’s corporate reign was disruptive enough to give even his biggest supporters pause. Jimmy Mullins, a Trump superfan who once paid for specialty “TRMP 1” license plates, said he bought some of the company’s first publicly traded shares believing that Trump would lead the casinos to glory. “How could you lose money at a casino?” Mullins said in a recent interview. But in 2009, after losing money, Mullins told the Press of Atlantic City newspaper: “He let us down. . . . I could have bought another [car]. That’s how much money I lost in this company.”
Mullins, now 64 and working part time at a catering hall in New York, said Trump called him after the story appeared and offered him complimentary hotel stays at the casino. Mullins said he was upset when interviewed in 2009 but no longer feels that way. He said he intends to vote for Trump for president. “Other people did lose money,” Mullins said. “But he took care of me.”
Hundreds Allege Donald Trump Doesn’t Pay His Bills
(By Steve Reilly, USA Today, 09 June 2016)
During the Atlantic City casino boom in the 1980s, Philadelphia cabinet-builder Edward Friel Jr. landed a $400,000 contract to build the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars and other cabinets at Harrah's at Trump Plaza. The family cabinetry business, founded in the 1940s by Edward’s father, finished its work in 1984 and submitted its final bill to the general contractor for the Trump Organization, the resort’s builder. Edward’s son, Paul, who was the firm’s accountant, still remembers the amount of that bill more than 30 years later: $83,600. The reason: the money never came. “That began the demise of the Edward J. Friel Company… which has been around since my grandfather,” he said.
Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them. At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.
Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages. In addition to the lawsuits, the review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens — filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies or his properties claiming they were owed money for their work — since the 1980s. The liens range from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm. On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing. “Let’s say that they do a job that’s not good, or a job that they didn’t finish, or a job that was way late. I’ll deduct from their contract, absolutely. That’s what the country should be doing.”
The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether. Trump and his daughter Ivanka, in an interview with USA TODAY, shrugged off the lawsuits and other claims of non-payment. If a company or worker he hires isn’t paid fully, the Trumps said, it’s because The Trump Organization was unhappy with the work.
“Let’s say that they do a job that’s not good, or a job that they didn’t finish, or a job that was way late. I’ll deduct from their contract, absolutely,” Trump said. “That’s what the country should be doing.”
To be sure, Trump and his companies have prevailed in many legal disputes over missing payments, or reached settlements that cloud the terms reached by the parties. However, the consistent circumstances laid out in those lawsuits and other non-payment claims raise questions about Trump’s judgment as a businessman, and as a potential commander in chief. The number of companies and others alleging he hasn’t paid suggests that either his companies have a poor track record hiring workers and assessing contractors, or that Trump businesses renege on contracts, refuse to pay, or consistently attempt to change payment terms after work is complete as is alleged in dozens of court cases.
In the interview, Trump repeatedly said the cases were “a long time ago.” However, even as he campaigns for the presidency, new cases are continuing. Just last month, Trump Miami Resort Management LLC settled with 48 servers at his Miami golf resort over failing to pay overtime for a special event. The settlements averaged about $800 for each worker and as high as $3,000 for one, according to court records. Some workers put in 20-hour days over the 10-day Passover event at Trump National Doral Miami, the lawsuit contends. Trump’s team initially argued a contractor hired the workers, and he wasn’t responsible, and counter-sued the contractor demanding payment.
“Trump could have settled it right off the bat, but they wanted to fight it out, that’s their M.O.” said Rod Hannah, of Plantation, Fla., the lawyer who represented the workers, who he said are forbidden from talking about the case in public. “They’re known for their aggressiveness, and if you have the money, why not?”
Similar cases have cropped up with Trump’s facilities in California and New York, where hourly workers, bartenders and wait staff have sued with a range of allegations from not letting workers take breaks to not passing along tips to servers. Trump's company settled the California case, and the New York case is pending. Trump's Doral golf resort also has been embroiled in recent non-payment claims by two different paint firms, with one case settled and the other pending. Last month, his company’s refusal to pay one Florida painter more than $30,000 for work at Doral led the judge in the case to order foreclosure of the resort if the contractor isn’t paid. Juan Carlos Enriquez, owner of The Paint Spot, in South Florida, has been waiting more than two years to get paid for his work at the Doral. The Paint Spot first filed a lien against Trump’s course, then filed a lawsuit asking a Florida judge to intervene.
In courtroom testimony, the manager of the general contractor for the Doral renovation admitted that a decision was made not to pay The Paint Spot because Trump “already paid enough.” As the construction manager spoke, “Trump’s trial attorneys visibly winced, began breathing heavily, and attempted to make eye contact” with the witness, the judge noted in his ruling. That, and other evidence, convinced the judge The Paint Spot’s claim was credible. He ordered last month that the Doral resort be foreclosed on, sold, and the proceeds used to pay Enriquez the money he was owed. Trump’s attorneys have since filed a motion to delay the sale, and the contest continues. Enriquez still hasn’t been paid.
Trump frequently boasts that he will bring jobs back to America, including Tuesday in a primary-election night victory speech at his golf club in suburban New York City. “No matter who you are, we're going to protect your job,” Trump said Tuesday. “Because let me tell you, our jobs are being stripped from our country like we're babies.” But the lawsuits show Trump’s organization wages Goliath vs David legal battles over small amounts of money that are negligible to the billionaire and his executives — but devastating to his much-smaller foes. In 2007, for instance, dishwasher Guy Dorcinvil filed a federal lawsuit against Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Palm Beach, Fla., alleging the club failed to pay time-and-a-half for overtime he worked over three years and the company failed to keep proper time records for employees.
Mar-a-Lago LLC agreed to pay Dorcinvil $7,500 to settle the case in 2008. The terms of the settlement agreement includes a standard statement that Mar-a-Lago does not admit fault and forbids Dorcinvil or his lawyers from talking about the case, according to court records. Developers with histories of not paying contractors are a very small minority of the industry, said Colette Nelson, chief advocacy officer of the American Subcontractors Association. But late or missing payments can be devastating for small businesses and their employees. “Real estate is a tough and aggressive business, but most business people don’t set out to make their money by breaking the companies that they do business with,” she said, stressing she couldn’t speak directly to the specifics of cases in Trump’s record. “But there are a few.” In the interview, Trump said that complaints represent a tiny fraction of his business empire and dealings with contractors and employees, insisting all are paid fairly. “We pay everybody what they’re supposed to be paid, and we pay everybody on time,” he said. “And we employ thousands and thousands of people. OK?”
Despite the Trumps’ assertion that their companies only refuse payment to contractors “when somebody does a bad job,” he has sometimes offered to hire those same contractors again. It’s a puzzling turn of events, since most people who have a poor experience with a contractor, and who refuse to pay and even fight the contractor in court, aren’t likely to offer to rehire them. Nevertheless, such was the case for the Friels. After submitting the final bill for the Plaza casino cabinet-building in 1984, Paul Friel said he got a call asking that his father, Edward, come to the Trump family’s offices at the casino for a meeting. There Edward, and some other contractors, were called in one by one to meet with Donald Trump and his brother, Robert Trump. “He sat in a room with nine guys,” Paul Friel said. “We found out some of them were carpet guys. Some of them were glass guys. Plumbers. You name it.”
In the meeting, Donald Trump told his father that the company’s work was inferior, Friel said, even though the general contractor on the casino had approved it. The bottom line, Trump told Edward Friel, was the company wouldn't get the final payment. Then, Friel said Trump added something that struck the family as bizarre. Trump told his dad that he could work on other Trump projects in the future. “Wait a minute,” Paul Friel said, recalling his family's reaction to his dad’s account of the meeting. “Why would the Trump family want a company who they say their work is inferior to work for them in the future?” Asked about the meeting this week, Trump said, “Was the work bad? Was it bad work?” And, then, after being told that the general contractor had approved it, Trump added, “Well, see here’s the thing. You’re talking about, what, 30 years ago?”
Ivanka Trump added that any number of disputes over late or deficient payments that were found over the past few decades pale in comparison to the thousands of checks Trump companies cut each month. “We have hundreds of millions of dollars of construction projects underway. And we have, for the most part, exceptional contractors on them who get paid, and get paid quickly,” she said, adding that she doubted any contractor complaining in court or in the press would admit they delivered substandard work. “But it would be irresponsible if my father paid contractors who did lousy work. And he doesn’t do that.”
But, the Friels’ story is similar to experiences of hundreds of other contractors over the casino-boom decade in Atlantic City. Legal records, New Jersey Casino Control Commission records and contemporaneous local newspaper stories recounted time and again tales about the Trumps paying late or renegotiating deals for dimes on the dollar.
A half-decade after the Friels’ encounter, in 1990, as Trump neared the opening of his third Atlantic City casino, he was once again attempting to pay contractors less than he owed. In casino commission records of an audit, it was revealed that Trump’s companies owed a total of $69.5 million to 253 subcontractors on the Taj Mahal project. Some already had sued Trump, the state audit said; others were negotiating with Trump to try to recover what they could. The companies and their hundreds of workers had installed walls, chandeliers, plumbing, lighting and even the casino’s trademark minarets. One of the builders was Marty Rosenberg, vice president of Atlantic Plate Glass Co., who said he was owed about $1.5 million for work at the Taj Mahal. When it became clear Trump was not going to pay in full, Rosenberg took on an informal leadership role, representing about 100 to 150 contractors in negotiations with Trump.
Rosenberg’s mission: with Trump offering as little as 30 cents on the dollar to some of the contractors, Rosenberg wanted to get as much as he could for the small businesses, most staffed by younger tradesmen with modest incomes and often families to support. “Yes, there were a lot of other companies," he said of those Trump left waiting to get paid. "Yes, some did not survive." Rosenberg said his company was among the lucky ones. He had to delay paying his own suppliers to the project. The negotiations led to him eventually getting about 70 cents on the dollar for his work, and he was able to pay all of his suppliers in full.
The analysis of Trump lawsuits also found that professionals, such as real estate agents and lawyers, say he's refused to pay them sizable sums of money. Those cases show that even some loyal employees, those selling his properties and fighting for him in court, are only with him until they’re not. Real estate broker Rana Williams, who said she had sold hundreds of millions of dollars in Manhattan property for Trump International Realty over more than two decades with the company, sued in 2013 alleging Trump shorted her $735,212 in commissions on deals she brokered from 2009 to 2012. Williams, who managed as many as 16 other sales agents for Trump, said the tycoon and his senior deputies decided to pay her less than her contracted commission rate “based on nothing more than whimsy.”
Trump and Williams settled their case in 2015, and the terms of the deal are confidential, as is the case in dozens of other settlements between plaintiffs and Trump companies. However, Williams' 2014 deposition in the case is not sealed. In her sworn testimony, Williams said the 2013 commission shortage wasn't the only one, and neither was she the only person who didn't get fully paid. “There were instances where a sizable commission would come in and we would be waiting for payment and it wouldn’t come,” she testified. “That was both for myself and for some of the agents.” Another broker, Jennifer McGovern, filed a similar lawsuit against the now-defunct Trump Mortgage LLC in 2007, citing a six-figure commission on real-estate sales that she said went unpaid. A judge issued a judgment ordering Trump Mortgage to pay McGovern $298,274.
Even Trump’s own attorneys, on several occasions, sued him over claims of unpaid bills. One law firm that fought contractors over payments and other issues for Trump — New York City’s Morrison Cohen LLP — ended up on the other side of a similar battle with the mogul in 2008. Trump didn’t like that its lawyers were using his name in press releases touting its representation of Trump in a lawsuit against a construction contractor that Trump claimed overcharged him for work on a luxury golf club.
As Trump now turned his ire on his former lawyers, however, Morrison Cohen counter-sued. In court records, the law firm alleged Trump didn’t pay nearly a half million dollars in legal fees. Trump and his ex-lawyers settled their disputes out of court, confidentially, in 2009. In 2012, Virginia-based law firm Cook, Heyward, Lee, Hopper & Feehan filed a lawsuit against the Trump Organization for $94,511 for legal fees and costs. The case was eventually settled out of court. But as the case unfolded, court records detail how Trump's senior deputies attacked the attorneys' quality of work in the local and trade press, leading the firm to make claims of defamation that a judge ultimately rejected on free speech grounds.
Trump claims in his presidential personal financial disclosure to be worth $10 billion as a result of his business acumen. Many of the small contractors and individuals who weren’t paid by him haven’t been as fortunate. Edward Friel, of the Philadelphia cabinetry company allegedly shortchanged for the casino work, hired a lawyer to sue for the money, said his son, Paul Friel. But the attorney advised him that the Trumps would drag the case out in court and legal fees would exceed what they’d recover. The unpaid bill took a huge chunk out of the bottom line of the company that Edward ran to take care of his wife and five kids. “The worst part wasn’t dealing with the Trumps,” Paul Friel said. After standing up to Trump, Friel said the family struggled to get other casino work in Atlantic City. “There’s tons of these stories out there,” he said. The Edward J. Friel Co. filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 5, 1989. Says the founder's grandson: “Trump hits everybody.”
Trump Said ‘University’ Was About Education. Actually, Its Goal Was: ‘Sell, Sell, Sell!’
(By Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman and Dalton Bennett, Washington Post, 04 June 2016)
When Donald Trump introduced his new university from the lobby of his famous tower, he declared that it would be unlike any of his other ventures. Trump University would be a noble endeavor, he said, with an emphasis on education over profits. It was a way for him to give back, to share his expertise with the masses, to build a “legacy as an educator.” He wouldn’t even keep all the money — if he happened to make a profit, he would turn the funds over to charity. “If I had a choice of making lots of money or imparting lots of knowledge, I think I’d be as happy to impart knowledge as to make money,” Trump said at the inaugural news conference in the spring of 2005.
The launch of Trump University coincided with two auspicious developments for the real estate mogul: Through his then-year-old hit TV show “The Apprentice,” the billionaire was developing an image as America’s savviest boss, while the nation’s booming real estate market was giving hope to many who dreamed of striking it rich. Ads touted Trump University as “the next best thing to being Trump’s apprentice.” Trump, who every week on TV singled out someone to be fired, pledged in a promotional video to “hand-pick” instructors. “Priceless information” would help attendees build wealth in the same real estate game that made Trump rich. In the end, few if any of these statements would prove to be true.
Trump University was not a university. It was not even a school. Rather, it was a series of seminars held in hotel ballrooms across the country that promised attendees they could get rich quick but were mostly devoted to enriching the people who ran them. Participants were enticed with local newspaper ads featuring images of Trump, then encouraged to write checks or charge tens of thousands of dollars on credit cards for multi-day learning sessions. Participants were considered “buyers,” as one internal document put it. According to the company’s former president, Trump did not personally pick the instructors. Many attendees were trained by people with little or no real estate expertise, customers and former employees have alleged in lawsuits against the company.
“I was told to do one thing,” said James Harris, a Trump University instructor whose sessions have been repeatedly cited in the litigation, in an interview with The Washington Post. “And that one thing was: . . . to show up to teach, train and motivate people to purchase the Trump University products and services and make sure everybody bought. That is it.” A Trump spokesman said Harris’s comments “have no merit” and accused Harris of “looking for media attention to further his own agenda.” All told, Trump University received about $40 million in revenue from more than 5,000 participants before it halted operations in 2010 amid lawsuits in New York and California alleging widespread fraud. The New York attorney general estimated Trump netted more than $5 million during the five years it was active. He has since acknowledged that he gave none of the profits to charity.
This account is based on a review of hundreds of pages of internal company records that have become public as a result of the lawsuits, as well as new interviews with former Trump University employees and customers. Many of the company’s internal records, including several “playbooks” that advised employees on strategies for pressuring customers, were unsealed in court over the past week in response to a request by The Post.
Trump and his lawyers have vigorously disputed the allegations, predicting that they will win in court and reopen the business. They point to positive customer-satisfaction surveys that have been submitted in the lawsuits and suggest they have been unfairly targeted by trial lawyers and a politically motivated attorney general in New York. “We continue to believe that people got substantial value and that people were overwhelmingly satisfied,” said Trump’s general counsel, Alan Garten. “We are not going to be stopping what we are doing. We are going to continue to zealously defend this case because, at the end of the day, we know we are not being tried by The Washington Post or by CNN — but in a courtroom by a jury.” Garten acknowledged that Trump never gave away the profits to charity. He said it was always Trump’s intention but that the lawyers leading the class-action suits against the company “got a hold of this and . . . whatever profits existed sort of evaporated.” The unfulfilled promise was first reported last year by Time magazine.
In his defense, Trump has often cited the many positive reviews by former customers. A number of them submitted sworn statements in court explaining their positive experiences at Trump University.
Kissy and Mark Gordon, who own a residential development company in Virginia and jointly signed up for the most expensive program in 2008, said in an interview that they still use techniques they learned from the course today. “Did we have an expectation that Trump was going to teach us? No,” Kissy Gordon said. “We have a building background and the economy changed, and we were looking for something in the same field to do something with it. So we were there to learn.” Gregory Leishman, another former customer, recalled speaking to his assigned Trump University mentor on the phone weekly and touring potential properties for purchase with him in New Haven, Conn. “They gave me information I didn’t have otherwise,” he said. “You can probably get all that information from reading books. But Trump University was a crash course. You pay more, you get more.”
Nonetheless, the company has emerged as one of the most potent lines of attack against Trump’s campaign for president. In the Republican primary, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) cited it as a “fake university” and sought to use it to help build a case that Trump was a “con artist.” In recent days, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and her campaign have picked up on that theme.
“Trump U is devastating because its a metaphor for his whole campaign: promising hardworking Americans a way to get ahead, but all based on lies,” tweeted press secretary Brian Fallon. Trump also last week invited a torrent of criticism, including from legal scholars on the left and right, for accusing the judge presiding over the California suits, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, of being biased because he is of Mexican descent. Trump has said that Curiel is “Mexican,” although the 62-year-old was born in Indiana, and that because Trump wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border the judge cannot properly do his job.
The focus on Trump University also reignited a controversy in Texas over the decision there by the state attorney general not to file a fraud case against the business. Newly disclosed documents reported by Texas media show that investigators had probed the company for seven months and recommended a lawsuit. The inquiry was shut down when Trump University closed up shop in the state. Trump later gave $35,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of then-Attorney General Greg Abbott. A spokesman for Abbott, now the Republican governor of Texas, has said it’s “absurd” to suggest a connection between the case and the donation that came several years later and that Trump University was “forced out of Texas and consumers were protected.” Garten also dismissed any connection between the Texas decision and Trump’s donation, saying investigators reviewed “a few complaints . . . and decided not to proceed.”
The Trump University sales pitch began at free seminars, such as one hosted at a Holiday Inn just outside of Washington in 2009. A placard outside the ballroom read, “Trump, think BIG.” Inside, aspiring real estate investors heard the theme song from “The Apprentice,” the O’Jays classic, “For the Love of Money.” Then, a Trump University instructor took the microphone. “All right, you guys ready to be the next Trump real estate millionaire? Yes or No!?” he yelled, according to a Post account at the time. The purpose of these free 90-minute introductions was not to turn attendees into millionaires, but rather to “set the hook” for future sales, according to employee playbooks.
The playbooks directed leaders of the free seminars to conclude introductory events by getting “in the sales mindset,” “ready to sell, sell, sell!”
Three-day courses typically cost $1,495, the records show. But people who paid to attend them were then urged to sign up for even pricier “elite” programs. A “workshop enrollment form” distributed to participants laid out the options in categories, starting with the “Trump Gold Elite” program. At $34,995, it was the most expensive option — providing three days of personal, in-the-field mentorship as well as special programs on real estate investment, “wealth preservation” and “creative financing.” The “Trump Silver Elite” package, priced at $19,495, offered real estate and finance training. The “Trump Bronze Elite,” priced at $9,995, offered similar, but fewer, courses.
Employees distributed “profile” surveys on the first day of the seminars, in which participants would outline their financial goals, as well as current assets and liabilities. Attendees were told that the information would help them figure out how much they had to invest in real estate, according to customer complaints.
But in the evenings, after seminars had concluded for the first day, staff members were instructed to use the information to rank each participant according to assets they had available to spend on more Trump University programs. “If they can afford the gold elite,” the playbook advised, “don’t allow them to think about doing anything besides the gold elite.” A 43-page “sales playbook” offered guidance on using psychological tools to convince students that they needed to sign up for the classes to fulfill their own goals — overcoming their worries that they might not need or be able to afford the classes. “Customers don’t have needs — they have problems,” the book advised. “Problems are like health. The more a problem hurts now, the more the need for a solution now. And the more it hurts, the more they’ll be prepared to pay for a speedy solution.”
In a section devoted to “negotiating student resistance,” sales people were offered sample responses to common objections from potential students. If a potential customer said he was concerned about going into debt to pay for the classes, staff were advised to needle them: “I see, do you like living paycheck to paycheck?” If doubts persisted, staffers were advised to invoke the big boss himself.
“Mr. Trump won’t listen to excuses and neither will we,” the instructors were told to say. Former students have said they were instructed to call their credit card companies on the spot and raise their borrowing limit to pay for the program.
Harris, the former instructor, recalled one of his typical pitches to urge customers to find money for programs: “Do you have any equity on your home? Do you have a 401(k) or IRA?” Harris, 47, said he was one of Trump University’s biggest sellers. Garten, Trump’s lawyer, said Harris was one of the most highly rated instructors. Instructors had to sell hard to turn participants at free seminars into paying customers. For the four years Trump University operated, more than 80,300 people attended the free introductory sessions. Those previews were offered 2,000 times in nearly 700 locations around the country. But only around 6,000 people paid between $995 and $1,995 to attend three-day seminars, director of operations Mark Covais said in a 2012 affidavit. According to Covais, 572 people paid the full $34,995 for the top-level Trump University mentorship.
The entire program was built around Trump — his picture, his quotes and the promise of obtaining access to his special formula for prosperity. One ad for the free Trump University seminars that appeared in a Corpus Christi, Tex., newspaper in 2009 promised attendees that they would “Learn from the Master,” below a picture of Trump. “I can turn anyone into a successful real estate investor,” read a quote on the ad, attributed to Trump. The California class-action lawsuit contains 49 separate instances of Trump University attendees being told their instructor or future mentor was personally chosen by Trump in 2009 alone. “Donald Trump personally picked me,” one instructor told a group at a free seminar in May 2009, according to a transcript of the session filed as part of the New York case. “He could have picked anybody in this world but he picked me and the reason he picked me is because I’ve been very, very successful helping average people make a lot of money.”
Harris, the former instructor, told an introductory meeting of potential customers in 2009 that Trump’s personal generosity was a core element of the program. “He did not have to start this university,” Harris told the group, according to a transcript in the New York case. “He does not need the money. . . . He does not get a dime of it. Does everyone understand this? Please say ‘yes.’ He does not need the money.” In one presentation cited in the New York lawsuit, Harris described Trump as instrumental to his own efforts to turn his life around just after high school. “I lived on the streets of New York, mostly down in the subways for the first nine months, and I did a lot of things to make some money,” he told a group attending a 2008 event. “And then I met a gentleman and he took me in, and I lived with him for a year and he taught me how to do real estate. He is still my mentor today. So the reason I am here is because Donald Trump picked me.”
In an interview, Harris said he met Trump once in the early 1990s, backstage at an event at the Taj Mahal casino. “Here is the truth,” he said. “When I was at Trump University, I had not one interaction with him ever. Not one.” In reality, the instructors were not close to Trump, and many were not experts in real estate, according to several ex-staffers who have testified in the lawsuits. “The Trump University instructors and mentors were a joke,” said Jason Nicholas, who worked for the company for seven months in 2007 and submitted a statement in the lawsuit. “In my opinion, it was just selling false hopes and lies.” Michael Sexton, who was president of Trump University, acknowledged in sworn testimony in the New York case that none of the event instructors were hand-picked by Trump. Trump told lawyers in California that he would not dispute Sexton’s statement — nor could he remember a series of instructors, including Harris, by name or face. Trump also did not review course curriculum, Sexton said. “He would never do that,” Sexton said. “Mr. Trump is not going to go through a 300-page, you know, binder of content.”
Only when it came to marketing material was Trump deeply involved, reviewing every piece of advertisement, Sexton testified. “Mr. Trump understandably is protective of his brand and very protective of his image and how he’s portrayed,” Sexton said. “And he wanted to see how his brand and image were portrayed in Trump University marketing materials. And he had very good and substantive input as well.” Garten, the Trump attorney, said Trump was engaged as any CEO would be in the operations. Outside experts designed the curriculum, Garten said, but Trump was “intimately involved” in the process. While Trump may not have selected every instructor, Garten said he was “very much involved in the process and the discussion of what type of instructor was desired.”
At the courses, students were supposed to learn Trump’s secrets of real estate success. But in sworn testimony in New York, Sexton could recall only one Trump practice that was incorporated into the courses: Invest in foreclosed properties. The lesson underscored how Trump University, which was formed to teach aspiring business people to profit from the fast-expanding housing market, tailored itself after the 2008 economic crash to offer guidance on profiting from the aftermath. One ad placed in the San Antonio Express-News in October 2009 promised that seminars would allow participants to “learn from Donald Trump’s handpicked experts how you can profit from the largest real estate liquidation in history.”
At a seminar called “Fast Track to Foreclosure,” students were instructed to find OPM, “other people’s money,” to buy homes out of foreclosure at depressed prices, dress them up with new paint and attractive landscaping — then flip them for profit. Attendees were advised to use credit cards to invest in real estate, and they were told how to persuade credit card companies to raise their credit limits. If a credit card company representative asked for their income, they were advised to add $75,000 in anticipated earnings from their real estate venture before providing a figure for their expected earnings for the year.
Some customers have also alleged they were told there would be a personal appearance at the session by Trump. Instead, they received the opportunity to get their photograph taken with a life-size cardboard cutout of the mogul. John Brown, a customer who provided a sworn statement in the New York case, described how he “came to realize that I was not adequately trained, which caused me to feel that Trump University had taken advantage of me.” Brown said he paid $1,495 for a three-day seminar in 2009 and then used multiple credit cards to charge a $24,995 Trump mentorship program. “Because of the Trump name,” he said, “I felt these classes would be the best.” Three years later, he said he had made no real estate investments using Trump knowledge — but was still paying off $20,000 from the courses.
If The GOP Had Superdelegates, We Might Not Be In This Trump Mess
(By Charles Lane, Washington Post, 08 June 2016)
Though often fiercely partisan, Americans have no great love for political parties as such. Ever since James Madison wrote his mistrust of “factions” into the Constitution, parties and their “bosses” have been repeatedly attacked as privileged insiders bent on thwarting or twisting democratic processes.
Madison’s plan worked, partially. With 50 state governments and with a federal government divided between a bicameral legislative branch and a president, the United States produces parties that are relatively unstructured and ideologically amorphous — and generally only two of them. Parliamentary systems encourage multiple disciplined parties, representing more, and more distinct, interests and sentiments.
The other side of the story is that American parties still provided valuable public services, including the facilitation of collective action by like-minded, or at least compatible, citizens; continuity and responsibility in ideology; and, last but not least, the vetting of aspirants for public office.
Well-functioning parties are political gatekeepers, necessary to representative democracy but antithetical to the utopian alternative, direct democracy. A belief in direct democracy, apparently, is behind the attack by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Democratic “progressives” on the institution of “superdelegates” — elected officials and other insiders who get automatic votes at the Democratic Party’s convention, much to their fellow insider Hillary Clinton’s advantage, the critics allege.
“Rigged system!” Sanders cries. It’s hard to separate Sanders’s proclaimed principles from self-interest and sour grapes, especially because when he’s not denouncing the existence of superdelegates, he’s desperately trying to get their votes. Until last year, Sanders thought himself too pure a progressive to actually join the party he now presumes to lead and to lecture. But to the extent he is making a good-faith claim — that it’s undemocratic to allocate a critical mass of convention votes to 700-plus elected officials and other party “regulars,” rather than let primary voters, non-Democrats included, pick new delegates every four years — it’s a simplistic one.
Parties are entitled to think about continuity and electability, without which, obviously, they can never achieve their policy goals. Hence, they’re entitled to favor loyalists, like the superdelegates, and known quantities, like Clinton — for all her flaws — over interlopers, like Sanders. The tension between the internal discipline necessary to the efficient functioning of left-wing political parties, on the one hand, and these parties’ egalitarian principles, on the other, is a commonplace of political analysis: German sociologist Robert Michels called it the “iron law of oligarchy” way back in 1911, after making a careful study of Germany’s Social Democratic Party — the original democratic socialists.
If Sandersistas ever took over the Democratic Party, as they might yet do, they too would eventually mutate from dewy-eyed outsiders to system-rigging insiders. Heck, Clinton got her start organizing Texas’s African Americans and Latinos for the left-wing insurgent Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern in 1972. The McGovern campaign grew out of the mother of all Democratic internal-democracy psychodramas. After a convention dominated by party regulars picked Vice President Hubert Humphrey for president in 1968, Democrats promised the next nomination race would be open to ’68’s outsiders. McGovern — who helped draft the new procedures — went on to capture the nomination, then lead Democrats to a landslide defeat. Jimmy Carter, another rules-enabled outsider, eked out a win in 1976, but his reelection failure in 1980 convinced Democrats to reempower moderate party veterans, resulting, ultimately, in the superdelegate rule.
Nevertheless, some on the Democratic left appear bent on abolishing the superdelegate rule to appease the Sandersistas and make a statement about democracy. As Sanders himself said with unintended irony Tuesday, “Defying history is what this campaign has been about.” Clinton got more primary votes and non-superdelegates than Sanders did anyway; thus, as many election analysts have noted, she probably would have won sans superdelegates. Still, the latter served as a fail-safe, protecting the party against a hostile outside takeover in the event that Sanders denied Clinton a majority of pledged delegates.
If only the Republicans had such a circuit breaker! Instead, they were left at the mercy of an untameable intruder, Donald Trump, and the large but motivated minority of primary voters he inflamed by attacking the GOP and its leaders — as well as by vilifying various minority groups and repeatedly violating basic behavioral norms.
Laugh at the Republicans’ comeuppance if you want; Heaven knows it’s richly deserved. But now the entire country is at risk of a Trump inauguration in 2017. Decry, if you must, the party “duopoly” that has presided over, not resolved, the country’s recent troubles — but also kept us on an even keel in now-forgotten better times. When Democrats and Republicans have passed through this crucible of disruption and realignment, we will still need them, or some new, improved version, to frame issues, channel political participation, select candidates and, one hopes, forge consensus. No party can perform any of those functions without the power to differentiate between “one of us” and everyone else.
Even In Victory, Donald Trump Can’t Stop Airing His Grievances
(By Jenna Johnson, Washington Post, 29 May 2016)
Donald Trump could have taken a victory lap last week. Instead, he went on a grudge tour. During his first big campaign swing since locking up the Republican presidential nomination, Trump went after an odd and seemingly random group of people — Democrats and Republicans, famous and obscure. There seemed little to gain politically from the attacks, and his targets were linked by just one thing: Trump felt they had all done him wrong.
So he blasted Republicans who have yet to endorse him, including Jeb Bush, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Mitt Romney, who Trump said “walks like a penguin.” He declared that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton doesn’t look presidential, and he went after her allies, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whom Trump continues to call “Pocahontas” even after being told the nickname is offensive. He mocked those protesting him and slammed reporters covering his candidacy. During the four-day, four-state tour, Trump also went after people who were probably unknown to his supporters until he brought them up: Barbara Res, a former employee quoted in an article about his treatment of women, and U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is assigned to hear a fraud case against now-defunct Trump University.
Trump’s cutting insults and simplistic attacks have been a hallmark of his candidacy, viewed by supporters as proof that he is fearless and willing to attack institutions from the Republican Party to the Vatican. During Trump’s fight for the Republican nomination, his calculated shots at rivals helped take them out, one by one. But with the nomination apparently secured, last week’s fusillade of digs seemed counterproductive. Why go after the GOP’s only two female minority governors — Martinez and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley — when there are many other elected Republicans who have not endorsed him? What does he gain from smearing a former employee and a federal judge whom most of his supporters have never heard of? Why comment on Clinton’s voice and appearance instead of her record?
“I have real issues with the way that he conducted himself at certain aspects of this campaign, throughout the campaign. That remains,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a CNN interview Sunday even as he announced his endorsement of Trump. “He’s now the Republican nominee, or presumptive nominee, and will be the nominee. And I think he has an opportunity now to enter a second phase in this campaign.” Content from JPMorgan Chase & CO. In Context quotes are content from JPMorgan Chase & CO.
“What’s happening in Detroit is instructive for policymakers, business leaders and nonprofits everywhere.” — Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co. More
Trump’s journey of grievances began Tuesday night with a rally in Albuquerque. The score-settling started right away: As he listed troubling statistics about the local economy — something he usually does at rallies — Trump told the crowd of several thousand that their two-term Republican governor was to blame. “Your governor has got to do a better job,” Trump said to boisterous cheers. “She’s not doing the job.”
Martinez, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, has been critical of Trump and did not attend the rally, telling the local media she was “really busy” running the state. The attack on her stunned many Republicans, who are not accustomed to a nominee who will throw one of their own to an angry mob. Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, both former 2016 candidates, and others came to Martinez’s defense. A Martinez spokesman also fired back, saying she “will not be bullied into supporting a candidate until she is convinced that candidate will fight for New Mexicans.” Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, defended the attacks on “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s no attack on a Latino or a woman governor,” he said. “What this was was laying out the economic perspective of what the state of New Mexico was doing, and he’s saying we need to do a better job.”
Trump brought up additional grudges Wednesday at a rally in Anaheim, Calif. He hit Romney for refusing his help in 2012 and then losing the general election. And Haley for refusing to endorse him ahead of the South Carolina primary. And Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, for refusing to acknowledge Trump’s success. And Bush for refusing to get over losing and endorse him.
A brief respite came Thursday — the day he cleared the number of delegates needed to be the nominee — when Trump gave his only scripted speech of the week at an energy conference in Bismarck, N.D. Standing between two teleprompters, Trump seemed to find his confidence not only as a winner but as the Republican nominee that many want him to be. Trump argued that returning to more use of coal and lifting environmental regulations are keys to making the nation wealthy again. “Politicians have used you and stolen your votes. They have given you nothing,” Trump said. “I will give you everything. I will give you what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one.”
Still, Trump continued to carry that chip on his shoulder. At a rally hours later in Billings, Mont., he listed people who said he would never be his party’s nominee. “Ten months ago they’d say: ‘Oh, he’s not going to run. Nah, he’s just having a good time.’ I am having a good time — but, you know, I could be doing other things right now,” Trump said, putting extra emphasis on “having a good time,” as if trying to make it true. On Friday, his final day on the trail, Trump continued to hit Republicans — but he also went after Res, whom he hired more than three decades ago to oversee the construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Res told the New York Times that Trump used to comment on her weight and often paraded around his most attractive female employees. “My father’s from the old school — it’s okay, it’s okay to say this, right, women? — and he said: ‘Don’t put her in there, Don’t put her in,’ ” Trump said Friday morning in Fresno, Calif. “I said: ‘Dad, I’m telling you, she’s going to be fine.’ ‘Don’t put her in!’ I said: ‘Pop, she’s going to be fine. Besides that, it’s my building, I can do what I want, okay?’ Trump Tower.” He paused so the crowd could cheer his landmark skyscraper. “Nah, I had the greatest father. He’s the greatest teacher you could ever have. He was a great guy. He said: ‘All right, look, if you want to do it.’ And now I think he was right because of this.”
He also went after Clinton. “Do you think — honestly, honestly, honestly — do you think Hillary looks presidential?” The crowd answered in unison as Trump smirked: “Noooo!” “I don’t think so,” Trump continued, shaking his head. “And I’m not going to say it because I’m not allowed to say it because I want to be politically correct, so I refuse to say that I cannot stand her screaming into the microphone all of the time.” Trump covered his ears as the crowd laughed and applauded. A few hours later, Trump was at his last rally of the week, in San Diego, where thousands showed up to see him and hundreds more showed up to curse his name at a protest that became violent at times.
Trump basked in the glow of being the presumptive nominee — and then launched into a 11-minute monologue about the federal judge assigned to handle a civil case against Trump University, which is accused of defrauding students. “Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater,” Trump said. “He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.” Curiel sits on the federal bench in San Diego.
As Trump angrily rambled on and on — at one point, explaining why a law firm involved with the case has the name it does — the crowd grew quiet. Some turned their attention to their cellphones, while others looked around the room for something more interesting. “The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine,” Trump said of Curiel, who was born in Indiana. “You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, okay?” Trump tried to tie the case back to his run for the White House, noting that it has been used in attack ads against him and comparing the legal system to the “rigged” nomination system. Trump said that he could easily settle the case but refuses to give in to litigious former students. A trial has been set for November. “We’ll come back in November,” Trump said, finally wrapping up, to the delight of his crowd. “Wouldn’t that be wild if I’m president, and I come back to do a civil case?”
Donald Trump Calls Global Warming A Hoax, Until It Threatens His Golf Course
(By Ben Guarino, Washington Post, 24 May 2016)
Donald Trump has mixed feelings about climate change. In January 2014, he publicly wondered how the United States could be spending money to combat what, in his words, was a “GLOBAL WARMING HOAX.” In October, when Trump was bitten by the autumnal chill, the Republican presidential candidate snarked on Twitter that he could use “a big fat dose of global warming.” He told The Washington Post editorial board in March that he is “not a great believer in man-made climate change.” But when it came to protecting his own investments from global warming’s effects, Trump canned the screaming capital letters and jokes. Instead, Trump wants to curtail climate change with a wall.
The Trump International Golf Links Ireland, a golf course by the sea in Ireland’s County Clare, faces the Atlantic’s pounding waves and coastal erosion. As Politico reported Monday, the Trump Organization has submitted a permit to build a sea wall, which cites rising sea levels from climate change as a threat. Not just any wall will do — one plan called for a limestone barricade 20 meters wide, what Friends of the Irish Environment’s Tony Lowes described to CNBC as a “monster sea wall” in March.
As part of the approval process to build the sea wall, Trump International Golf Links filed an environmental-impact statement. It includes specific concern for erosion, beyond one governmental study that did not take into account sea-level rise from climate change, according to Politico. “If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct, however, it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates not just in Doughmore Bay but around much of the coastline of Ireland,” the application notes. “In our view, it could reasonably be expected that the rate of sea level rise might become twice of that presently occurring.”
Environmentalists pounced on the apparent self-contradiction. Former congressman Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina who supports conservative efforts to mitigate global warming, told Politico that the dissonance between Trump’s public stance and his business practice is “diabolical.”
“Donald Trump clearly cares more about the fate of his golf courses than the health of the millions of families already affected by the climate crisis,” said Adam Beitman of the Sierra Club to the Associated Press.
Republicans, according to a recent New York Times report, may be concerned about Trump’s lack of a clear stance regarding climate change, at least beyond the denials or jokes in his Twitter feed. “I think there is concern about where he stands because he hasn’t come out strongly one way or another,” one anonymous aide told the Times. There is a scientific consensus that humans are causing the planet to warm. A 2009 review of more than 4,000 climate-science papers found that scientists faulted humans for global warming in 97 out of every 100 studies.
What We Know (And What We Don’t) About Money Trump Raised For Veterans
(By David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 24 May 2016)
Since late Monday, Donald Trump has been using social media to denounce reporting about a fundraiser he held in Iowa on Jan. 28, to benefit veterans' groups. "Bad publicity from the dishonest and disgusting media," Trump said on Twitter last night. "Absolutely disgraceful" Trump said in a video posted on Instagram today. Some of that reporting has been done by The Washington Post, including a story posted Friday, in which Trump's campaign manager said that the actual total raised was less than the $6 million Trump claimed at the time. As of now, here's what we know -- and what we don't -- about the money Trump raised.
How much money did Trump actually bring in?
We don't know. Trump on the night of the fundraiser said he'd raised $6 million. But last week, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told The Post that the real figure was about $4.5 million. On Monday night, Trump tweeted that the figure was "between 5 & 6 million." Then, on Tuesday, Trump said on Instagram that it was "almost $6 million." But Trump's general counsel, Michael Cohen, told CNN that "Right now it is 4 or 5 million." The Post has asked repeatedly -- including again on Tuesday -- for an exact figure.
Why did the total fall short of the $6 million that Trump claimed?
We don't know. Lewandowski blamed Trump's wealthy acquaintances. He said some donors had pledged to give, but then backed out. He did not say who. At the fundraiser itself, Trump identified nine big donors, including himself. For at least seven of them, The Post has found some confirmation -- from the donor himself, from a veterans' group or from the Trump campaign -- that the donor made good on his pledge. Those donations add up to $3.78 million. If you add to that the $670,000 that Trump says he raised from small-dollar donors online, you get $4.45 million. The remaining two donors that Trump named include the presumptive Republican presidential nominee himself and a shopping-mall magnate from Ohio, J.J. Cafaro, who Trump said would give $50,000. The Post has sought to contact Cafaro repeatedly to verify his donation, with no success.
Did Trump give any money out of his own pocket?
Trump says he gave $1 million of his own money to veterans' groups. But he has not named any of the groups he donated it to or provided any evidence that his donations were made. On Tuesday morning, Lewandowski told CBS News that he would inquire about making the donations public: "I mean, I'll ask him to do that." The Post has made inquiries at a number of veterans' groups and associations, and so far found no evidence of a personal gift from Trump.
How much money has actually been given away to veterans' groups, so far?
At least $3.1 million, by The Post's most recent accounting. The Post's accounting has relied on reports from the veterans' groups themselves, and from information provided in early March by the Trump campaign. When The Post showed this accounting to Lewandowski last week, he said, "You’ve got a pretty good handle on a lot of the money that’s been pretty distributed." Some of this $3.1 million was given directly to veterans' charities by other donors who were inspired by Trump. In some cases, big donors sent their money to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which passed the money on. In all, 28 charities received money. The bulk of the giving seems to have happened in February and early March. The most recent check that The Post could find was dated March 25. The Post has asked the Trump campaign repeatedly for the amount of money still remaining to be given away. That number has not been provided.
Are these charities chosen by Trump legitimate?
By all appearances, yes. The recipients included large, well-known organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans charity and the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, as well as small charities that do things such as train service dogs to help disabled veterans. One group identified as a recipient of the money -- Projects for Patriots, an Iowa-based group that refits houses for disabled vets -- said it has not received its money yet, because it still needs to be officially certified as a charity by the Internal Revenue Service.
What will happen to the rest of the money?
It will be given away by Monday -- Memorial Day -- Lewandowski told CBS.
Lewandowski earlier told The Post that the Trump campaign identified "probably two dozen or more" charities that would get the money, in amounts ranging from $20,000 to $100,000. He said that the groups were selected through word of mouth and connections with Trump associates and that all had been screened to be sure they were legitimate charities.
Donald Trump, The Welfare King
(By Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 23 May 2016)
A generation after Ronald Reagan denounced the “welfare queen,” the Grand Old Party is evidently on the verge of nominating its first welfare king. Four years ago last week, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, famously wrote off the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes. Romney, secretly recorded at a fundraiser, said the 47 percent “who are dependent upon government” won’t vote for him because “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Now, just one presidential cycle later, Republicans have settled on a presumptive nominee who is himself among the 47 percent of non-taxpayers. Trump has been refusing to release his tax returns, and now we have a pretty good idea why: He has been feeding at the public trough. The Post’s Drew Harwell reported over the weekend that, for at least two years in the late 1970s (the last time Trump’s tax information was made public), Trump paid no federal income taxes. Several tax experts I spoke with said it’s entirely possible that Trump has continued to report negative income — and therefore not pay taxes — because of loopholes and dubious deductions that benefit powerful real estate interests. They say it’s likely that whatever taxes he does pay would be at a rate lower than the average worker pays. That’s typical for Trump’s line of work. Because of depreciation, the deductibility of interest and other tax breaks, the effective tax rate on the real estate sector is lower than most industries, and in some cases negative.
There is no shame in being on public assistance. The earned-income tax credit, which subsidizes low-income workers and has helped millions out of poverty, is the main reason for the 47 percent (though they still have state, payroll and other taxes). But the corporate welfare Trump receives is nothing to be proud of — not least because Trump has claimed to represent the American worker and has condemned corporate executives who “make a fortune” but “pay no tax.”
Investors such as Trump can write off depreciation of investment properties even if those properties actually increase in value, and because most real estate development is financed with debt, they can deduct the interest. Instead of selling buildings, they can incorporate them and make “like kind” exchanges that defer capital gains taxes indefinitely. Trump, depending on how he structures his taxes, may also be avoiding taxes by amortizing his name as an intangible asset. And, because his brand is his main asset and his business interests are far flung, he could argue that virtually all of his expenses are business related, and therefore deductible. “I’d be shocked if he isn’t pretty much writing off his whole life,” says Bob McIntyre, head of Citizens for Tax Justice. “When you can write off your income and write off your consumption, you’re in a Leona Helmsley situation.” The late Helmsley, who also had a real estate fortune, is remembered for observing that “only the little people pay taxes.”
Trump, who would be the first presidential nominee in 40 years not to release his returns, says he’s refusing because he’s being audited. But an audit doesn’t prevent him from releasing returns, and he won’t release returns from years not under audit, either. “It’s not because he’s being audited,” said Roberton Williams of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “My sense is he’s got something in those tax returns that doesn’t look good.” He may have less income than believed, potentially undermining his standing as a good businessman. He may be avoiding taxes by shifting profits overseas — a practice he denounces. But whatever other reasons he has, there’s a good chance that his returns would show that he pays a lower tax rate than the typical working American.
The middle 20 percent of Americans pay about 14 percent of their income in all federal taxes. To them, Trump’s zero-percent rate could be a cause of some resentment — particularly because his peers in the top percentile typically pay 34 percent. The typical wage slave can’t donate his golf course for a conservation easement, or take a low salary so that his income is taxed at the capital-gains rate of 15 percent rather than the regular rate of 39 percent. The average worker can’t skirt rules on loss limitation by arguing that he’s a material participant and not a passive investor, or use “flow-throughs” to convert ordinary income into capital gains. “Real estate is notorious for having a lot of different deductions,” said Steven Rosenthal, a longtime tax lawyer now with Urban-Brookings.
The only limitation Trump has faced is how creative and aggressive he wants to be — a likely explanation for his wish to keep his returns hidden.
Donald Trump Masqueraded As Publicist To Brag About Himself
(By Marc Fisher and Will Hobson, Washington Post, 13 May 2016)
The voice is instantly familiar; the tone, confident, even cocky; the cadence, distinctly Trumpian. The man on the phone vigorously defending Donald Trump says he’s a media spokesman named John Miller, but then he says, “I’m sort of new here,” and “I’m somebody that he knows and I think somebody that he trusts and likes” and even “I’m going to do this a little, part time, and then, yeah, go on with my life.”
A recording obtained by The Washington Post captures what New York reporters and editors who covered Trump’s early career experienced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s: calls from Trump’s Manhattan office that resulted in conversations with “John Miller” or “John Barron” — public-relations men who sound precisely like Trump himself — who indeed are Trump, masquerading as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself, according to the journalists and several of Trump’s top aides.
In 1991, Sue Carswell, a reporter at People magazine, called Trump’s office seeking an interview with the developer. She had just been assigned to cover the soap opera surrounding the end of Trump’s 12-year marriage to Ivana, his budding relationship with the model Marla Maples and his rumored affairs with any number of celebrities who regularly appeared on the gossip pages of the New York newspapers. Within five minutes, Carswell got a return call from Trump’s publicist, a man named John Miller, who immediately jumped into a startlingly frank and detailed explanation of why Trump dumped Maples for the Italian model Carla Bruni. “He really didn’t want to make a commitment,” Miller said. “He’s coming out of a marriage, and he’s starting to do tremendously well financially.”
Miller turned out to be a remarkably forthcoming source — a spokesman with rare insight into the private thoughts and feelings of his client. “Have you met him?” Miller asked the reporter. “He’s a good guy, and he’s not going to hurt anybody. . . . He treated his wife well and . . . he will treat Marla well.” Some reporters found the calls from Miller or Barron disturbing or even creepy; others thought they were just examples of Trump being playful. Today, as the presumptive Republican nominee for president faces questions about his attitudes toward women, what stands out to some who received those calls is Trump’s characterization of women whom he portrayed as drawn to him sexually.
“Actresses,” Miller said in the call to Carswell, “just call to see if they can go out with him and things.” Madonna “wanted to go out with him.” And Trump’s alter ego boasted that in addition to living with Maples, Trump had “three other girlfriends.” Miller was consistent about referring to Trump as “he,” but at one point, when asked how important Bruni was in Trump’s busy love life, the spokesman said, “I think it’s somebody that — you know, she’s beautiful. I saw her once, quickly, and beautiful . . . ” and then he quickly pivoted back into talking about Trump — then a 44-year-old father of three — in the third person.
In 1990, Trump testified in a court case that “I believe on occasion I used that name.” In a phone call to NBC’s “Today” program Friday morning after this article appeared online, Trump denied that he was John Miller. “No, I don’t think it — I don’t know anything about it. You’re telling me about it for the first time and it doesn’t sound like my voice at all,” he said. “I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice and then you can imagine that, and this sounds like one of the scams, one of the many scams — doesn’t sound like me.” Later, he was more definitive: “It was not me on the phone. And it doesn’t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that, and it was not me on the phone. And when was this? Twenty-five years ago?”
Then, Friday afternoon, Washington Post reporters who were 44 minutes into a phone interview with Trump about his finances asked him a question about Miller: “Did you ever employ someone named John Miller as a spokesperson?” The phone went silent, then dead. When the reporters called back and reached Trump’s secretary, she said, “I heard you got disconnected. He can’t take the call now. I don’t know what happened.” Trump has never been terribly adamant about denying that he often made calls to reporters posing as someone else. From his earliest years in business, he occasionally called reporters using the name “John Barron.”
A “John Baron,” described as a “vice-president of the Trump organization,” appeared in a front-page New York Times article as early as 1980, defending Trump’s decision to destroy sculptures on the facade of the Bonwit Teller department store building, the Fifth Avenue landmark he was demolishing to make way for his Trump Tower. Barron was quoted variously as a “Trump spokesman,” “Trump executive” or “Trump representative” in New York magazine, The Washington Post and other publications.
Trump’s fascination with the name “Barron” persisted for decades. When he was seeing Maples while still married to Ivana, he sometimes used the code name “the Baron” when he left messages for her. In 2004, when Trump commissioned a dramatic TV series based on the life of a New York real estate mogul like him, his only request to the writer was to name the main character “Barron.” And when Trump and his third wife, Melania, had a son, they named him Barron.
In the 1991 recording, Miller sounded quite at ease regaling the reporter with tales of Trump hanging out with Madonna at a ball at the Plaza Hotel, which he owned at the time. Asked about the rumored Madonna-Trump friendship, Miller, unlike every other PR man on the planet, neither batted the question away nor gave it short shrift. Rather, he said, “Do you have a second?” Carswell, the reporter, sounded a bit startled: “Yeah, obviously,” she replied. Whereupon Miller offered a detailed account of the Trump encounter with Madonna, who “came in a beautiful evening gown and combat boots.” The PR man assured the reporter that nothing untoward occurred: “He’s got zero interest that night.”
Miller also revealed to Carswell why Trump seemed to relish any and all media coverage, even the most critical. “I can tell you that he didn’t care if he got bad PR until he got his divorce finished,” Miller said. The more the press wrote about Trump’s money troubles, the greater advantage he would have in negotiations toward a financial settlement with his then-estranged wife, Ivana. Then, “once his divorce is finished,” Miller said, you would see stories about how Trump was “doing well financially and he’s doing well in every other way.”
Carswell this week recalled that she immediately recognized something familiar in the Queens accent of Trump’s new publicist. She thought, “It’s so weird that Donald hired someone who sounds just like him.” After the 20-minute interview, she walked down the hall to play the tape to co-workers, who identified Trump’s voice. Carswell then called Cindy Adams, the longtime New York Post gossip columnist who had been close to Trump since the early 1970s. Adams immediately identified the voice as Trump’s. “Oh, that’s Donald,” Carswell recalled Adams saying. “What is he doing?”
Then Carswell played the tape for Maples, who confirmed it was Trump and burst into tears as she heard Miller deny that a ring Trump gave her implied any intent to marry her. Carswell, now a reporter-researcher at Vanity Fair, said the tape cuts off mid-interview, leaving out the part in which Miller said that actress Kim Basinger had been trying to date Trump. Hearing the tape for the first time in decades, Carswell said, “This was so farcical, that he pretended to be his own publicist. Here was this so-called billion-dollar real estate mogul, and he can’t hire his own publicist. It also said something about the control he wanted to keep of the news cycle flowing with this story, and I can’t believe he thought he’d get away with it.” The Post obtained the recording from a source who provided it on the condition of anonymity. Carswell shared the microcassette of the call with the source shortly after the interview.
From the start of his career as a builder in New York, Trump worked the press. He believed in carrots and sticks, showering reporters with praise, then pivoting to a threat to sue them if they wrote something he considered inaccurate. He often said that all publicity, good or bad, was good for his business. He made himself available to reporters at nearly any time, for hours on end. And he called them, too, to promote his own projects, but also with juicy bits of gossip. “One thing I’ve learned about the press is that they’re always hungry for a good story, and the more sensational the better,” Trump wrote in “The Art of the Deal,” his bestseller. “The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.”
Trump did not describe using false identities to promote his brand, but he did write about why he strays from the strict truth: “I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”
Carswell was far from the only reporter who received calls from suspiciously Trumpian characters. Linda Stasi, then a New York Daily News gossip columnist, said Trump once left her a voice mail from an “anonymous tipster” who wanted it known that Trump had been spotted going out with models. And editors at New York tabloids said calls from Barron were at points so common that they became a recurring joke on the city desk.
After Carswell’s story appeared — headlined “Trump Says Goodbye Marla, Hello Carla . . . And a Mysterious PR Man Who Sounds Just Like Donald Calls to Spread the Story” — Trump invited the reporter out for a night on the town with him and Maples. Carswell said Maples persuaded Trump to issue the invitation as an apology for tricking her. A few weeks later, when People ran a story about Trump and Maples getting engaged, Trump was quoted saying that the John Miller call was a “joke gone awry.”
Carswell had been skeptical all along. On the recording, she challenged Miller: “Where did you come from?” “I basically worked for different firms,” he replied cryptically. And then he marveled at his boss’s ability to withstand critical news coverage: “I’ve never seen somebody so immune to . . . bad press.” Miller was also impressed by his client’s social life: “I mean, he’s living with Marla and he’s got three other girlfriends. ” But the PR man wanted the reporter to know that Trump believed in “the marriage concept” and planned to settle down, on his own terms: “He does things for himself. When he makes a decision, that will be a very lucky woman.”
Few Stand In Trump’s Way As He Piles Up The Four-Pinocchio Whoppers
(By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, 07 May 2016)
At the Fact Checker, we have often said we do not write fact checks to change the behavior of politicians. Fact checks are intended to inform voters and explain complicated issues. Still, most politicians will drop a talking point if it gets labeled with Four Pinocchios by The Fact Checker or “Pants on Fire” by PolitiFact. No one wants to be tagged as a liar or misinformed, and we have found most politicians are interested in getting the facts straight. So the claim might be uttered once or twice, but then it gets quietly dropped or altered.
But the news media now faces the challenge of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Trump makes Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again, even though fact checkers have demonstrated them to be false. He appears to care little about the facts; his staff does not even bother to respond to fact-checking inquiries. But, astonishingly, television hosts rarely challenge Trump when he makes a claim that already has been found to be false. For instance, Trump says he was against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but research by BuzzFeed found that he did express support for an attack. He said the White House even sent a delegation to tell him to tone down his statements —and we found that also to be false.
Yet at least a dozen television hosts in the past two months allowed Trump to make this claim and failed to challenge him. There is no excuse for this. TV hosts should have a list of Trump’s repeated misstatements so that if he repeats them, as he often does, he can be challenged on his claims. (On Thursday, Bret Baier of Fox News finally pressed Trump on his support for the Iraq War. “I said very weakly, well, blah, blah, blah, yes, I guess,” Trump responded.)
The online version of the Fact Checker keeps a running list of Trump’s Four-Pinocchio statements. He now has 26, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of Trump’s statements that have been fact checked. Since many of these fact checks, done with my colleague Michelle Ye Hee Lee, have appeared only online, here is a summary of recent Four-Pinocchio statements made by Trump.
Trump often falsely suggests he opposed the intervention in Libya when he was actually an advocate for toppling Libya’s then-dictator, Moammar Gaddafi. He also has repeatedly made the bizarre claim that the terror group known as the Islamic State has control of oil fields and is making a fortune there. Claudia Gazzini, a Tripoli-based senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, said it is simply not true that the Islamic State has control of any Libyan oil.
“While it is true that ISIS has attacked oil fields in the Sirte basin area and destroyed key equipment there, they have not sought to keep control of the oil fields,” Gazzini said. “At the moment, they appear to have adopted a hit-and-run strategy. There is no evidence that they are pumping out the crude oil and certainly no evidence that they are trading it.” A review of recent news articles confirms that while some fields have been temporarily closed in response to Islamic State attacks, not a single field has been taken by the terrorist group.
It took some time but we finally determined that this appears to be a bungled reference to a list from the office of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) of 30 foreign-born individuals who were arrested on charges relating to terrorism in recent years. This list is quoted in several articles and described as a “partial inventory of recently implicated terrorist migrants.”
We checked indictment records and looked for citizenship or immigration information, where available. The majority of the 30 cases involved naturalized U.S. citizens — people who came to the U.S. as children or had arrived before 2011. We reviewed similar lists of cases from 2014 and 2015, involving 76 people charged with activities relating to foreign terrorist organizations. Of them, 57 were U.S. citizens, seven were lawful permanent residents, and two were refugees. The rest were visa overstays or unknown. There were both naturalized and natural-born U.S. citizens (including those of Caucasian, African American or Hispanic descent), and many of the naturalized citizens had arrived in the country as children.
In general, individuals must live in America at least five years with a green card to qualify for U.S. citizenship. The actual citizenship process can take up to a year or more. So even if Trump is counting naturalized citizens as “migrants,” the ones listed in these cases would not qualify as “recent.”
“You know who started the birther movement? Hillary Clinton. She’s the one that started it. She brought it up years before it was brought up by me.”
This zombie claim repeatedly has been debunked by fact checkers. The allegation that Clinton herself was the first, or even one of the first, to question President Obama’s birth certificate is simply false. Trump might have been on safer ground if he blamed her supporters for stoking the birther rumors, which do have some Democratic roots. In spring 2008, some of Clinton’s supporters began circulating anonymous emails questioning Obama’s citizenship. FactCheck.org and Politico cited these emails as the first time his citizenship was called into question, by a small group of “diehard” Clinton supporters during the Democratic primary as her path toward the nomination began to fade.
Chain emails surfaced claiming Obama was ineligible to become president because he was born in Kenya, as his mom was too young to travel by plane back to America to give birth. Others claimed Obama was refusing to release his full birth certificate because it likely contained information that he had dual Kenyan and U.S. citizenship at birth. But we found no evidence that Clinton or her campaign coordinated any of these email chains questioning Obama’s citizenship. While some have pointed to a 2008 interview on “60 Minutes” in which Clinton said Obama was not a Muslim “as far as I know,” that quote has been taken out of context. She actually said that it was a “ridiculous” rumor and that there “isn’t any reason to doubt” Obama.
This is an exaggeration of a mistranslation. After Putin’s annual news conference in December, he was cornered by a reporter for ABC News and asked what he thought of Trump. Here’s how ABC News translated Putin’s remarks: “He’s a very colorful person. Talented, without any doubt, but it’s not our affair to determine his worthiness — that’s up to the United States voters.” Russian is notoriously complex to translate into English, so various news organizations rendered the key quote in slightly different ways. Instead of “colorful,” The Washington Post said “lively.” The New York Times used “flamboyant.”
None of that sounds anything like “genius.” Some news organizations, such as the Guardian newspaper, used “bright.” The Guardian issued a correction a day later: “The word he used was ‘yarkii,’ which can mean bright or brilliant, but not in the sense of intelligent; it can also be translated as colorful, vivid or flamboyant.” In other words, the Russian president said he regarded Trump as a “colorful” figure, which is not the same thing as someone with a 140 IQ. No doubt about that. A colorful person may earn lots of Pinocchios; a genius does not.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/few-stand-in-trumps-way-as-he-piles-up-the-four-pinocchio-whoppers/2016/05/07/8cf5e16a-12ff-11e6-8967-7ac733c56f12_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines
Recidivism Watch: Trump’s Eight Repeated Falsehoods In 16 Hours
(By Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, 28 April 2015)
Donald Trump is now closer than ever to clinching the Republican nomination on the first ballot. But what hasn’t changed since he entered the presidential race is his propensity for Pinocchios and Pinocchio recidivism. We know politicians repeat falsehoods — on purpose or by mistake. So last year, we launched a feature to track politicians who repeat claims that we previously found to be incorrect. The Fact Checker Recidivism Watch columns are usually short summaries of previous findings, with links to original fact-checks. (Suggestions are always welcome.)
Tracking every repeated falsehood by Trump would be a full-time job. But we couldn’t help but notice that in a roughly 16-hour period after his sweeping victories in the I-95 primaries, Trump repeated numerous untruths, like a “Best of” citation of his Pinocchio ratings. (Our running list of Trump’s Four-Pinocchio ratings can be found at: wapo.st/Trumps4Ps) For the first time, we have compiled a mega-roundup Recidivism Watch of eight claims Trump repeated on April 26 and April 27, 2016. Each summary includes links to the full fact-check.
“As soon as Kasich gets hit with the first negative ad — he’s had none — bing, that’s the end of that.”
— primary night speech, April 26, 2016
It’s fine to say far more ads have aired attacking Trump than Ohio Gov. John Kasich, but Trump goes further to say that no ads have attacked Kasich. That’s just not true. In fact, his own campaign has run a Four-Pinocchio ad attacking Kasich.
Outside groups have spent nearly $5 million opposing Kasich in direct mail pieces, digital ads and TV ads, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of filings with the Federal Election Commission. Attack ads sponsored by candidate committees and outside groups were fairly consistent earlier in the primary cycle, especially ones contrasting Kasich’s record with those of other governors in the race. We fact-checked some of them — here, here and here. We awarded this claim Four Pinocchios.
“I was asked a question recently by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, and he talked about NATO. I gave a great answer. I gave an answer that at first people didn’t like, and then they said, ‘You know what, Trump is right,’ experts said. I said it’s obsolete and too many people are getting a free ride because we’re funding 72, 73 percent of NATO.” — primary night speech, April 26, 2016
Actually, the United States pays just 22 percent of the cost of NATO in direct funding. He begins to have a point when talking about indirect spending on NATO: The U.S. defense expenditure represents about 72 percent of the spending on defense by all countries that are NATO members. U.S. defense spending far exceeds the spending of other NATO members, and that imbalance is driven by America’s role as a world power. It makes little sense to count defense spending in Asia as part of “NATO funding.” We awarded this claim Three Pinocchios.
To his credit, Trump more precisely described NATO spending in his prepared foreign policy speech the next day: “In NATO, for instance, only four of 28 other member countries besides America are spending the minimum required 2 percent of GDP [gross domestic product] on defense.” NATO documents show that the majority of members fail to meet the guideline. The United States and four other countries currently exceed the guideline, established in 2006.
“I’ll stick with my feelings on immigration. If you look at what’s going on with immigration, and just look at the record numbers of people right now that are pouring across the borders of this country.”
— primary night speech, April 26, 2016
He can stick with his feelings all he wants. But the illegal immigration flow across the U.S.-Mexico border has been declining for years, as we’ve repeatedly noted. The flood of undocumented immigrants from Mexico peaked in 2000, when more than 1.6 million people were apprehended, according to Department of Homeland Security data. Those numbers have steadily decreased since then. In fiscal 2015, there were 337,117 apprehensions — the lowest since fiscal 2000. Apprehensions of people from Mexico have decreased to 188,122 in fiscal 2015, from 1.6 million in fiscal 2000. Apprehensions in fiscal 2015 were the lowest since 1972 (321,326), with the exception of fiscal 2011, when the number of undocumented immigrant apprehensions along the southern border dipped to 327,577.
George Stephanopoulos: “You were for it [the Iraq War], though, before you were against it.”
Trump: “No, I wasn’t. I was never for it. I was against it — before it ever started, I was against it. And I was against it from before 2004. I was against the war in Iraq, and I was against it for years. And [President George W.] Bush used to hate me for being so against it, and they sent people from the White House to try and convince me. All I’d say is, ‘It will destabilize the Middle East, and Iran will take over the Middle East.’ And that’s exactly what happened.” — exchange on “Good Morning America,” April 27, 2016
This is blatantly false. Trump did not oppose the Iraq War before 2004, as we and countless other media outlets have found. We compiled a complete timeline of all his public statements in 2002 and 2003 relating to the Iraq invasion and found no evidence to support this. In fact, in a September 2002 interview, Trump gave lukewarm support for the war.
Trump has said since October 2015 that the White House tried to hush his (nonexistent) opposition ahead of the invasion. Trump never answered our request for the names of White House officials he supposedly met with. We checked with a dozen former Bush White House officials, and none could recall a meeting with Trump, concerns about his opposition, or even Trump’s views being on their radar prior to 2004. We awarded this claim Four Pinocchios.
“I don’t play by the traditional rules. I’m self-funding my campaign, which maybe has an impact on them [the media].” — MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” April 27, 2016
While Trump has provided the majority of funds raised by the campaign committee so far, he has raised money from individual donations, as we’ve written. Of the $48.4 million raised as of April 16, 2016, 75 percent ($36 million) was money from Trump. The rest came from mostly individual donations, according to FEC data maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics. As of April 16, 2016, outside groups contributed $2.8 million to the Trump campaign.
“Clinton blames it all on a video, an excuse that was a total lie, proven to be absolutely a total lie. Our ambassador was murdered, and our secretary of state misled the nation.” — foreign policy speech, April 27, 2016
The Fact Checker has written 20 fact-checks about the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were killed. We looked into allegations that Hillary Clinton had told two stories after the attacks — a private one that it was a terrorist attack and the public one that blamed Muslim outrage over a YouTube video. The evidence was mixed, open to interpretation, but we concluded that there was not enough for GOP rivals to make definitive judgments that she lied.
We also reached out to family members to get their side of the story. Their recollections fell into three camps: Clinton talked about the video; Clinton said something odd; Clinton never mentioned the video. This is difficult to fact-check, since the conversations weren’t recorded and memories can evolve over time. Most family members interviewed said she did not mention a video — but we’ll leave it up to readers to draw their own conclusions.
“And now ISIS is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libya oil.” — foreign policy speech, April 27, 2016
The terror group known as the Islamic State has, at times, disrupted the flow of oil. But the Islamic State does not control any oil fields and is not “making millions” from Libyan oil. Not a single expert or news article we consulted said that the Islamic State has grabbed an oil field in Libya. A review of recent news articles confirms that while some fields have been temporarily closed in response to Islamic State attacks, not a single field has been taken by the terrorist group. We awarded this claim Four Pinocchios.
“NAFTA, as an example, has been a total disaster for the United States and has emptied our states — literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs.” — foreign policy speech, April 27, 2016
Trump was not as specific as usual in terms of claiming that 900,000 jobs have been lost to Mexico because of the North American Free Trade Agreement. But in some ways, he was more sweeping, claiming states have been “literally emptied” because of the 1993 trade pact.
As we have noted before, economists generally have been skeptical of such claims, as it is difficult to separate out the impact of trade agreements on jobs, compared with other, broader economic trends. The Congressional Research Service in 2015 concluded that the “net overall effect of NAFTA on the U.S. economy appears to have been relatively modest, primarily because trade with Canada and Mexico accounts for a small percentage of U.S. GDP.” The report, however, noted that there were “worker and adjustment costs” as the three countries established a single market. That means there were some losers — but also winners.
Nearly a quarter-century later, as a result of NAFTA, the United States, Canada and Mexico constitute an economically integrated market, especially for the auto industry. Auto parts and vehicles produced in each country freely flow over the borders, without tariffs or other restrictions, as thousands of part suppliers serve the automakers that build the vehicles. This is known as the “motor vehicle supply chain.” In fact, a prospective Ford plant in Mexico that Trump often complains about appears to be intended to produce cars for export from Mexico — and thus would free up production to produce more trucks in the United States.
Play The ‘Woman Card’ And Reap These ‘Rewards’!
(By Alexandra Petri , Washington Post, 27 April 2016)
“Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card,” Trump said Tuesday night, after winning 5 primaries. Ah yes, the woman’s card.
I have been carrying one of these for years, proudly.
It is great. It entitles you to a sizable discount on your earnings everywhere you go (average 21 percent, but can be anywhere from 9 percent to 37 percent, depending on what study you’re reading and what edition of the Woman Card you have.) If you shop with the Woman Card at the grocery, you will get to pay 11 percent more for all the same products as men, but now they are pink.
Hook up the Woman Card to your TV and you will get a barrage of commercials telling you that you did something wrong with your face and must buy ointment immediately so as not to become a Hideous Crone. Also, you are now expected to spend your whole life removing hair from your body, except for the areas of your body where your hair must be long and luxurious. (Do not get these two areas confused!)
Unlike Man Cards, Woman Cards do not increase in value as they age. In fact, they depreciate. Do not collect Woman Cards. Even in mint condition, they are worthless. The great news is that if you use your Woman Card to hurt other women, you get access to a special place in hell.
It’s about more than discounts, though.
Take the Woman Card on the subway with you, put your headphones in, and you are guaranteed a free, lengthy, one-on-one conversation or lecture from a man who will not leave you alone unless you also remembered to bring your I Have A Boyfriend Card (they accept no substitutes).
Show the Woman Card to your health-care provider and you will enjoy new limits on your reproductive rights, depending on what the legislators of your state have decided is wise. Get ready to have a lot of things about your body explained to you!
The Woman Card is not, itself, a form of birth control (no matter what Todd Akin suggests) but it can prevent you from getting coverage for yours.
Use the Woman Card at the library to get a book with squiggly pastel handwriting on the cover that Gay Talese will not take seriously.
Present the Woman Card to a man you have just met at a party and it is good for one detailed, patronizing explanation of the subject you literally got your PhD in.
Offer it to someone on the red carpet and, instead of any substantive questions about your work, you will get a barrage of inquiries EXCLUSIVELY about what you are wearing.
On the bright side, running for office as a Woman Card-holder is a blast, because it allows people to accuse your female supporters of only liking you because of your gender. Don’t try suggesting the opposite! That doesn’t work.
Show off the Woman Card on your way to work and you will get free comments from total strangers, telling you to smile. Play it in the sciences and you will get to leave the sciences.
Take the Woman Card anywhere and you will instantly be surrounded by men who feel entitled to your time. Also, to your space. Do not take up too much space; the Woman Card does not cover that. It also does not cover female protagonists or not being harassed online. You are on your own for those. The Woman Card doesn’t even entitle you to shorter lines in the restroom. Frankly, as fun as it is to be a member of the exclusive club, and as much as I enjoy the occasional door-holding, I’m not even sure I want to re-up this year.
But it’s not all fun discounts and free experiences!
The Woman Card entitles you to constant scrutiny and judgment from all corners at all times, whether you asked for it or not. Try talking! Or rather, don’t.
You can also use it in fun card games, including but not limited to “Go Fish” (what your boss says when you ask for a raise), “Can You Have It All” (fundamentally identical to “War” but you can’t win), “Sorry!” (compete to see who can say this the most in the course of a single meeting), “Don’t Wake Daddy” (mom has to do all the child-rearing by default), and “Five Card Slut Poker” (for men, this is called Five-Card Stud, but this is the double-standard edition).
Literally in the course of writing this piece a man came up and asked if I could explain how it was that I came to type so fast, then continued with several follow-ups, and did not seem to notice that I was busy. I am not joking.
The amazing thing about this card is that men seem to think it is a trump card (or a Trump Card, as the case may be). It’s many things. But that’s the one thing it’s not.
Oh, Thank Heaven! We Now Know How Trump Will Make America Great Again.
(By Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 19 April 2016)
During a campaign rally in Buffalo, N.Y., Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accidentally referred to 9/11 as "7-Eleven" while talking about what he considers to be "New York values." (Reuters)“It’s very close to my heart because I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen down at 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Center right after it came down, and I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action.” — Donald Trump, April 18, 2016
Presumed Remarks by President Trump, The White House, May 1, 2017I want to welcome all of my Cabinet secretaries here for this meeting. We have completed our first 100 days in office and already we have made America Great Again. Amazing! The best!
I know everybody took a Big Gulp when I changed 9/11 to 7-Eleven last year. They thought I was a stupid person. A loser! Erin Gloria Ryan of Vocativ said I would start talking about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Jam and the Native Americans’ Trail of Sears. Other terrible people — the worst! — thought I would refer to the eBay of Pigs, the Normandy landing on DQ Day, the Dodge Challenger disaster, Black & Decker Tuesday of 1929, the 1906 San FranCisco Systems Fire and the 1814 burning of the White Castle by the British.Wrong! Turning 9/11 into 7-Eleven was the beginning of something huge. Phenomenal! The people at 7-Eleven — great retailer, decent coffee, convenient! — loved it. Loved it! They said to me: Mr. Trump, if you could mention us and other corporations more often at unexpected moments, we think it would really help to Make America Great Again. And I said: We will do even better. We will Make America Great Again by selling some of our greatest assets to you and to America’s other great corporations.
We are meeting here in the MapQuest Room of the Trump National White House because our new Crate & Barrel Cabinet Room is being refurnished. Next we’ll have a drink in the Johnnie Walker Blue Room, and we’ll eat in the Allstate Dining Room. Look out the window there and you’ll see amazing billboards going up on the Washington Mutual Monument, across the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Financial Group Memorial. In the distance you’ll see the white dome of Capital One, the Tide Basin and Boeing National Airport. Huge!Jeff Sessions, our phenomenal secretary of Homeland Depot Security — great guy! — tells me Mexico has already paid for the wall. It’s now the Aeromexico Wall — “because the only way around it is over it!” Great slogan! We are making only the best deals, throughout the Federal Express government and across the entire United States of American Eagle Outfitters.
They said I couldn’t unify the Republican Party. But then I renamed the Navy the Ted Cruz Line. They said I couldn’t hold on to the evangelical Christians. But then I renamed the Liberty University Bell and Niagara Falwells.Most of all, they said I couldn’t get rid of the entire federal debt — $19 trillion! — in one year. They said I was stupid — a loser! But I traveled this land, from the Redwood Inn forest to the Gulfstream G-650, and knew that everybody wanted to buy American! So I sold the Treasury Department to Citigroup, the Pentagon to Lockheed Martin, the Food and Drug Administration to Pfizer, HHS to CVS, the EPA to Waste Management, the FBI to Apple, the NSA to Google and the Grand Canyon to GMC. Great deals! China gave up all $1.3 trillion of our debt — and all I had to give them was the Walt Disney Company. Phenomenal deal!
Now we are placing corporations’ names in amazing places — the greatest — and we are winning, winning, winning, and we are making a lot of money. A lot. We are bringing out the best in America, the fast and convenient spirit of 7-Eleven, and I say: Oh, thank heaven. We are Making America Great Again.[APPLAUSE]
Donald Trump’s Interview With The Washington Post Is Totally Bananas
(By Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, 22 March 2016)
Donald Trump sat down with the Washington Post's editorial board on Monday. The interview was, well, amazing. Using Genius, I annotated it. You can too! Sign up for Genius and annotate alongside me! To see an annotation, click or tap the highlighted part of the transcript.FREDERICK RYAN JR., WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHER: Mr. Trump, welcome to the Washington Post. Thank you for making time to meet with our editorial board.
DONALD TRUMP: New building. Yes this is very nice. Good luck with it.RYAN: Thank you… We’ve heard you’re going to be announcing your foreign policy team shortly… Any you can share with us?
TRUMP: Well, I hadn’t thought of doing it, but if you want I can give you some of the names… Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus, and counter-terrorism expert; Carter Page, PhD; George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy; the Honorable Joe Schmitz, [former] inspector general at the Department of Defense; [retired] Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; and I have quite a few more. But that’s a group of some of the people that we are dealing with. We have many other people in different aspects of what we do, but that’s a representative group.FRED HIATT, WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Do you want to start out?
TRUMP: No, other than to say, we’re working hard, I think we’re all in the same business of trying to make our country better, a better place, so we have something in common. I’ve been treated very, very badly by The Washington Post, but, you know, I guess — and I’m your neighbor, I’m your neighbor right down the road, in fact we’re actually giving a press conference there in a little while, I think your people are going to be there. And by the way, Bob Costa is an excellent reporter, I’ve found him to be just an excellent reporter. I should tell you, because I have to give you the good and the bad. Not that he does me any favors, because he doesn’t, but he’s a real professional.
So we’re having a news conference today in the new building that’s going up, and the building is very much ahead of schedule, because it was supposed to open two years from September, and we’re going to open it in September. We could open it actually sooner but we’re going to break it in a little bit, so we’re going to open it in September, and it’s under budget, even though we’ve increased the quality of the finishes substantially, marble finishes, very high quality of marble, so we’re under budget and ahead of schedule. And I’m, you know, I am that way when I build, I know how to build, I know how to get things done.HOPE HICKS, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: It’s at 2:15.
The GSA [General Services Administration], I will say, GSA has been very professional, they’ve been very, very professional. They chose us over—I think they had more than 100 people who bid, you can imagine, because of the location, but they had over 100 people that bid, and it was broken down into ten finalists, and I got it. We got it because of the strength of my financial statement and also because of the strength of what we were proposing. So we’re having a news conference there today. What time is that, Hope?
The GSA [General Services Administration], I will say, GSA has been very professional, they’ve been very, very professional. They chose us over—I think they had more than 100 people who bid, you can imagine, because of the location, but they had over 100 people that bid, and it was broken down into ten finalists, and I got it. We got it because of the strength of my financial statement and also because of the strength of what we were proposing. So we’re having a news conference there today. What time is that, Hope?
TRUMP: 2:15. I hear a lot of the press is going to be there, we’re going to give them a tour of the building. It’s still a little bit rough — as an example, a lot of the marble surfaces all have sheetrock covering, and plywood covering on them, so a lot of people won’t see as much as they think. It’ll be like a miracle, you take it off and it explodes, like it’s finished, right? But that’ll be a fun news conference.
HIATT: If I could, I’d start by asking is there a secretary of state and a secretary of defense in the modern era who you think have done a good job? Who do you think were the best?TRUMP: Well, because I know so many of them, and because in many cases I like them, I hate to get totally involved. I think George Shultz was very good, I thought he was excellent. I can tell you, I think your last secretary of state and your current secretary of state have not done much. I think John Kerry’s deal with Iran is one of the worst things that I’ve ever seen negotiated of any kind. It’s just a horrible giveaway.
HIATT: What in particular?TRUMP: Well, I think, number one, we shouldn’t have given the money back. I think, number two, we should have had our prisoners before the negotiations started. We should have doubled up the sanctions. We should have gone in and said, ‘release our prisoners,’ they would have said ‘no,’ and we would have said, ‘double up the sanctions,’ and within a short period of time we would have had our prisoners back. And I think that was a terrible mistake. I think giving the money back was a terrible mistake. And by the way they are not using the money on us, they are not buying anything from us, they’re buying, you noticed, they didn’t buy Boeing, they bought Airbus, 118 planes from what I understand, but they bought them all from Airbus, they go out of their way not to spend any money in our country. So I wouldn’t have done that. And I think it’s going to just lead, actually, to nuclear problems. I also think it’s going to be bad for Israel. It’s a very bad deal for Israel.
HIATT: George Shultz, it’s interesting, was associated with a foreign policy of Reagan that was very much devoted to promoting democracy and freedom overseas. Is that something you think in today’s world the United States should be doing?
TRUMP: I do think it’s a different world today and I don’t think we should be nation building anymore. I think it’s proven not to work. And we have a different country than we did then. You know we have 19 trillion dollars in debt. We’re sitting probably on a bubble and, you know, it’s a bubble that if it breaks is going to be very nasty. And I just think we have to rebuild our country. If you look at the infrastructure — I just landed at an airport where, not in good shape, not in good shape. If you go to Qatar and if you go to (inaudible) you see airports the likes of which you have never seen before. Dubai, different places in China. You see infrastructure, you see airports, other things, the likes of which you have never seen here.
HIATT: Short of nation building, is there any role in promoting values or democracy? Or that’s not something…TRUMP: Well, there is, I just think that we have values in our country that we have to promote. We have a country that is in bad shape, it’s in bad condition. You look at our inner cities, our inner cities are a horrible mess. I watched Baltimore, I have many, many friends in Baltimore, we watched what happened. St. Louis, Ferguson, Oakland, it could have been much worse over the summer. And it will probably be worse this summer. But you look at some of our inner cities. And yet you know I watched as we built schools in Iraq and they’d be blown up. And we’d build another one and it would get blown up. And we would rebuild it three times. And yet we can’t build a school in Brooklyn. We have no money for education, because we can’t build in our own country. And at what point do you say hey, we have to take care of ourselves. So, you know, I know the outer world exists and I’ll be very cognizant of that but at the same time, our country is disintegrating, large sections of it, especially in the inner cities.
HIATT: So what would you do for Baltimore, let’s say.TRUMP: Well, number one, I’d create economic zones. I’d create incentives for companies to move in. I’d work on spirit because the spirit is so low, it’s incredible, the unemployment, you look at unemployment for black youth in this country, African American youth, is 58-59 percent. It’s unthinkable. Unemployment for African Americans – not youth, but African Americans – is very high. And I would create in the inner cities, which is what I really do best, that’s why when I open a building and I show you it’s way ahead of schedule, under budget and everything else—I think it was the Rite Aid store, the store in Baltimore it took them 20 years to get it built, one store, and then it burned down in one night—we have to create incentives for people to love what they are doing, and to make money. And to create, you know, to really create a better life for themselves. And you can’t – it doesn’t seem right that you will have a situation like Baltimore, and many other places, let’s use Baltimore as an example, there are many Baltimores in this country. Detroit is maybe even a better example than Baltimore. But that you’ll have a situation like that, and then we’re over nation building with other, with countries that in many cases don’t want us there. They want our money, but they don’t want us.
HIATT: The root of many people’s unhappiness in Baltimore was the perception that blacks are treated differently by law enforcement. And the disproportionate – do you think it’s a problem that the percentage of blacks in prison is higher than whites, and what do you think is the root of that situation?TRUMP: Well I’ve never really see anything that – you know, I feel very strongly about law enforcement. And, you know, if you look at the riot that took place over the summer, if that were stopped – it all, it mostly took place on the first evening, and if that were stopped on the first evening, you know, you’d have a much nicer city right now, because much of that damage and much of the destruction was done on Evening One. So I feel that law enforcement, it’s got to play a big role. It’s got to play a big role. But that’s a pretty good example, because tremendous amounts of damage was done that first evening – first two evenings, but the first evening in particular. And so I’m a very strong believer in law enforcement, but I’m also a very strong believer that the inner cities can come back.
HIATT: Do you see any racial disparities in law enforcement – I mean, what set it off was the Freddie Gray killing, as you know. Is that an issue that concerns you?TRUMP: Well, look, I mean, I have to see what happens with the trial. I—
HIATT: Well, forget Freddie Gray, but in general, do you believe there are disparities in law enforcement?
TRUMP: I’ve read where there are and I’ve read where there aren’t. I mean, I’ve read both. And, you know, I have no opinion on that. Because frankly, what I’m saying is you know we have to create incentives for people to go back and to reinvigorate the areas and to put people to work. And you know we have lost million and millions of jobs to China and other countries. And they’ve been taken out of this country, and when I say millions, you know it’s, it’s tremendous. I’ve seen 5 million jobs, I’ve seen numbers that range from 6 million to, to smaller numbers. But it’s many millions of jobs, and it’s to countries all over. Mexico is really becoming the new China. And I have great issue with that. Because you know I use in speeches sometimes Ford or sometimes I use Carrier – it’s all the same: Ford, Carrier, Nabisco, so many of the companies — they’re moving to Mexico now. And you know we shouldn’t be allowing that to happen. And tremendous unemployment, tremendous. They’re allowing tremendous people that have worked for the companies for a long time, they’re allowing, if they want to move around and they want to work on incentives within the United States, that’s one thing, but when they take these companies out of the United States. Other countries are outsmarting us by giving them advantages, you know, like in the case of Mexico. In the case of many other countries. Like Ireland is, you’re losing Pfizer to Ireland, a great pharmaceutical company that with many, many jobs and it’s going to move to Ireland.RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST: But Mr. Trump, if I could just follow up on Fred’s question. I think that what he was trying to get at was the anger in the African American community that held some of the riots and disturbances this summer about disparate treatment and about … clearly you say you’ve read where there is disparate treatment. But it is pretty undeniable that there is disproportionate incarceration of African Americans vs. whites. What would you – is that something that concerns you?
TRUMP: That would concern me, Ruth. It would concern me. But at the same time it can be solved to a large extant with jobs. You know, if we can rebuild those communities and create incentives for companies to move in and create jobs. Jobs are so important. There are no jobs. There are none. You go to those communities and you can’t – there is nothing there. There is no incentive for people. It is a very sad situation. And what makes it even sadder is that we are spending so much money in other countries and our own country has vast pockets of poverty and a lot of this is caused by the fact that there are no jobs. So we can create jobs in places like Baltimore and Detroit. You know, Detroit made a move, but I don’t know but it just seems to be fizzling. I don’t know what is going on. I watched Detroit four, five years ago and it looked like they were really putting a full-court press on and it doesn’t seem to be, from what I’ve been told, friends of mine that are very much involved in that whole process that it doesn’t seem to be, doesn’t seem to be something that is being pursued like it should be pursued. But if we can create jobs, it will solve so many problems.CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER/COLUMNIST: Can I follow up on that? I mean, to take the case of Baltimore, I mean one of the things that’s so remarkable about Baltimore and Detroit is that both of these cities, like many others have been – it’s not as if no one has ever said before we should have economic zones, it’s not as if no one has ever said before we need incentives and taxes etc., etc. And Baltimore received a lot of federal aid over the years. So I guess the question, then, is what’s different specifically about your approach to these issues from what’s been tried in the past, because a lot of effort has been put in just the direction you just described.
TRUMP: I think what’s different is we have a very divided country. And whether we like it or not, it’s divided as bad as I’ve ever seen it. I‘ve been, you know, I’ve been doing things for a long time. I see it all the time. I mean I see it so often. I see it when we go out and we have 21,000 people in Phoenix, Arizona, the other day, the division – not so much Phoenix, because that was actually very smooth, there wasn’t even a minor, they did block a road, but after that, that was Sheriff Joe Arpaio, when the road was unblocked everyone left and it was fine. But in Tucson, you can see the division. You can see the division. There’s a racial division that’s incredible actually in the country. I think it’s as bad, I mean you have to say it’s as bad or almost as bad as it’s ever been. And there’s a lack of spirit. And one thing I thought that would happen, and it hasn’t happened, unfortunately, I thought that President Obama would be a great cheerleader for the country. And it just hasn’t happened. I mean we can say it has. But it hasn’t happened. When you look at the Ferguson problems and the Baltimore problems and the Detroit problems. And you know there’s a lack of spirit. I actually think I’d be a great cheerleader – beyond other things, the other things that I’d do – I actually think I’d be a great cheerleader for the country. Because a lot of people feel it’s a hopeless situation. A lot of people in the inner cities they feel that way. And you have to start by giving them hope and giving them spirit and that has not taken place. Just has not taken place.RYAN: Mr. Trump, you’ve mentioned many times during the campaign, in fact including this morning, instances you feel where the press has been biased or unfair or outright false in their reporting, and you’ve mentioned that you want to “open up” the libel laws. You’ve said that several times.
TRUMP: I might not have to, based on Gawker. Right?[CROSSTALK]
TRUMP: That was an amazing—RYAN: My question is not so much why you feel they should be open but how. What presidential powers and executive actions would you take to open up the libel laws?
TRUMP: Okay, look, I’ve had stories written about me – by your newspaper and by others – that are so false, that are written with such hatred – I’m not a bad person. I’m just doing my thing – I’m, you know, running, I want to do something that’s good. It’s not an easy thing to do. I had a nice life until I did this, you know. This is a very difficult thing to do. In fact I’ve always heard that if you’re a very successful person you can’t run for office. And I can understand that. You’ll do a hundred deals, and you’ll do one bad one or two bad ones — that’s all they read about are the bad ones. They don’t read about the one hundred and fifty great ones that you had. And even some of the ones they write that are good, they make them sound bad. You know, so I’ve always heard that. I’ve heard that if you’re successful – very successful – you just can’t run for—RYAN: But how would you fix that? You’ve said that you would open up the libel laws.
TRUMP: What I would do, what I would do is I’d – well right now the libel laws, I mean I must tell you that the Hulk Hogan thing was a tremendous shock to me because – not only the amount and the fact that he had the victory — because for the most part I think libel laws almost don’t exist in this country, you know, based on, based on everything I’ve seen and watched and everything else, and I just think that if a paper writes something wrong — media, when I say paper I’m talking about media. I think that they can do a retraction if they’re wrong. They should at least try to get it right. And if they don’t do a retraction, they should, they should you know have a form of a trial. I don’t want to impede free press, by the way. The last thing I would want to do is that. But I mean I can only speak for – I probably get more – do I, I mean, you would know, do I get more publicity than any human being on the earth? Okay? I mean, [Editor’s note: Trump points at Ruth Marcus] she kills me, this one – that’s okay, nice woman.RYAN: Would you expand, for example, prior restraints against publications?
TRUMP: No, I would just say this. All I want is fairness. So unfair. I have stories and you have no recourse, you have no recourse whatsoever because the laws are really impotent.MARCUS: So in a better world would you be able to sue me?
TRUMP: In a better world — no — in a better world I would be able to get a retraction or a correction. Not even a retraction, a correction.RYAN: Well, now, you’ve been a plaintiff in libel suits so you know a little bit of the elements …
TRUMP: I had one basic big libel suit, it was a very bad system, it was New Jersey. I had a great judge, the first one, and I was going to win it. And then I had another good judge, the second one, and then they kept switching judges. And the third one was a bad judge. That’s what happened. But, uh…RYAN: But there’s standards like malice is required. Would you weaken that? Would you require less than malice for news organizations?
TRUMP: I would make it so that when someone writes incorrectly, yeah, I think I would get a little bit away from malice without having to get too totally away. Look, I think many of the stories about me are written badly. I don’t know if it’s malice because the people don’t know me. When Charles writes about me or when Ruth writes about me, you know, we’ve never really met. And I get these stories and they’re so angry and I actually say, I actually say, “How could they write?” – and many stories I must tell you, many stories are written that with a brief phone call could be corrected before they’re written. Nobody calls me.STEPHEN STROMBERG, EDITORIAL WRITER: How are you defining “incorrect?” It seems like you’re defining it as fairness or your view of fairness rather than accuracy.
TRUMP: Fairness, fairness is, you know, part of the word. But you know, I’ve had stories that are written that are absolutely incorrect. I’ll tell you now and the word “intent”, as you know, is an important word, as you know, in libel. I’ll give you an example. Some of the media, not all of it, but some of it, is very, very strong on – you know I get these massive crowds of people, and we’ll get protesters. And these protesters are honestly, they’re very bad people. In many cases, they’re professionals. Highly trained professionals. And I will rent an arena for 20,000 seats and they will come in – because there’s really no way – how you going to be able to tell – somebody said “oh you shouldn’t let ‘em in” – how you gonna know, you know? They walk in. [Inaudible] So we had an incident this weekend, which was amazing in Tucson, Arizona where a man, a protestor, wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit, another one dragging an American flag, was walking out of the arena, and an African American man who was a supporter was sitting there listening to the speech and we had to stop because they were so loud – they’re so loud, these people, I don’t know what they do, they’re trained voices or something. And they’re walking up and you saw it, because it was all over television, and the African American man became incensed I think the guy said something to him like you know what, like “screw you,” okay? Or worse. I think, because he looked over to him and said something to him and the guy just had it. Now, they were together, these two. The one wearing a Ku Klux Klan, the other dragging a flag or something, but the African American man, who I think was an Air Force person, I just read he had a pretty stellar life so far. And he just became incensed. So when I saw the television yesterday early in the morning I saw the Ku Klux Klan, I saw exactly what happened. By the time it got on to the national shows that was for the most part taken out. They just had this African American smacking, you know, fighting. And it didn’t make sense, you know, why, why. But if you saw it in the morning it made a lot more sense. We don’t condone violence at all but it’s very, very unfair reporting and we, you know…HIATT: Sorry, when you say we don’t condone violence —
TRUMP: I say that.HIATT: You say that. But you’ve also said, “In the good old days, he would have been ripped out of his seat so fast, you wouldn’t believe it.” Isn’t that condoning violence?
TRUMP: No, because what I am referring to is, we’ve had some very bad people come in. We had one guy — and I said it — he had the voice — and this was what I was referring to — and I said, “Boy, I’d like to smash him.” You know, I said that. I’d like to punch him. This guy was unbelievably loud. He had a voice like Pavarotti. I said if I was his manager I would have made a lot of money for him, because he had the best voice. I mean, the guy was unbelievable, how loud he was. And he was a swinger. He was hitting people. He was punching and swinging and screaming — you couldn’t make — so you have to stop. You know, there is also something about the First Amendment, but you had to stop. And, so, this one man was very violent and very loud. And when he was being taken out, he walked out like this, with his finger way up, like, “screw everybody.” And that’s when I made that statement. He was absolutely out — I mean, he hit people and he screamed and then he was walking out and he’s giving everybody the finger. And they don’t talk about that. See, they don’t talk about that. They say, “Donald, wait a second, Donald, don’t” —HIATT: But your answer is you condone violence when the guy is really egregious and terrible?
TRUMP: No, I condone strong law and order. I’ll tell you what they —HIATT: Rip him out of his seat, punch him in the face, isn’t that violent?
TRUMP: Well he punched other people.HIATT: No, I understand that.
TRUMP: Fred, he punched other people. He was punching people. He was — one guy was, you know, I’d like to say —JO-ANN ARMAO, ASSOCIATE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: The Fayetteville protester who was sucker punched — he didn’t punch anyone —
TRUMP: No.ARMAO: He was being escorted from police, and he was sucker punched.
TRUMP: No. When are you talking about? When?ARMAO: In Fayetteville.
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, TRUMP 2016 CAMPAIGN MANAGER [to Trump]: North Carolina.TRUMP: I don’t know. I don’t know which one.
ARMAO: Yes you do.TRUMP: I don’t know. Because we’ve had so many —
ARMAO: That’s the gentleman you said you were going to look into to see whether or not to pay his legal fees.TRUMP: Oh well that’s a different — that’s different from the one I’m talking about. This one was about a month ago. This one was before Fayetteville.
ARMAO: Well, okay, Fayetteville, do you condone violence in that case —TRUMP: No I don’t, no I don’t, that’s different —
ARMAO: Where the protester is being walked out —TRUMP: By the way, that’s different —
ARMAO: But, yet, you explained it that he was giving the finger and so he provoked it, so he got sucker punched. And you are going to possibly pay for his legal expenses.TRUMP: He did give the finger, and —
ARMAO: So that’s okay?TRUMP: Well, a lot of people don’t — you know, the finger means, “F you.” A lot of people think — and you have children there, you have a lot of children that go, you know, they go with their parents — a lot of people think that’s very inappropriate. I mean, you know —
ARMAO: It’s certainly inappropriate.TRUMP: Well, I think it is.
ARMAO: But does it — is it — does it qualify to —TRUMP: So do you let him —
ARMAO: — to punch him in the face?TRUMP: Again I don’t condone it. So do you let him walk out, he’s holding up his finger, telling everybody. Same thing happened, you know, the last one in —
HIATT: I guess the question is, when you then offer to pay the guy’s legal fees, isn’t that —TRUMP: I didn’t offer —
HIATT: Isn’t that condoning?TRUMP: No, I didn’t offer, Fred —
HIATT: You said you would consider it —TRUMP: I said I want to look into it. I said I want to look into it. I didn’t say that.
HIATT: Isn’t that condoning?TRUMP: No, I don’t think so.
HIATT: Doesn’t that convey a message of approval?TRUMP: Don’t think so.
LEWANDOWSKI: To be fair, before every event, there is a public service announcement made about -TRUMP: It’s true.
LEWANDOWSKI: — any potential protesters. That is made to everybody that says —TRUMP: Strong.
LEWANDOWSKI: — please do not engage these protesters. You know, they may cause a disturbance. Please do your best, let local law enforcement handle this or security at that venue. The problem becomes, with a massive crowd of twenty or thirty or forty thousand people, the resources that are there don’t have the ability to get to all these people in a manner before the crowd reacts, because the agitators are inciting those people. So we are very clear at the onset, that there is a loud public notice that says, “please do not engage these people, please let them do their job, and let the local law enforcement deal with that.” That’s said at the very front end at every event.TRUMP: Very loud, and it’s repeated over and over. Actually, I guess it’s on tape, but they repeat it over and over. One thing that was interesting this weekend. We had in Phoenix, Arizona, we had an interesting incident. We had people, we had a major highway coming into the arena. It’s not an arena, it’s a huge open space, 60 acres, and it was packed. And we had a major highway coming in, and people — protesters — stopped their car in the middle of the highway, chained themselves to their cars, and the cars — blocked. They were there for a while. A car was not able to move. They were backed up for 20 — I mean, like, just forever. And, it was terrible. And they were very abusive, screaming, you know, “screw you, screw you, pigs, pigs” — meaning to the cops. Sheriff Joe Arpaio — now that was his territory. Okay, he’s a tough cookie. Sheriff Joe saw this, he gave them a couple of minutes to move their car — they didn’t move them — cut the chains, arrested the people and just moved the cars over. I don’t know how they did it — just, they were gone in minutes after he came there. Minutes. It was amazing how quick. They actually had chains around their necks. They didn’t even know why they were there. People – somebody was interviewed, “Why are you here?” “Well, I don’t know, I’m not sure.” They didn’t even know.
Nobody ever talks about these people. They say, “Oh, Trump had a bad rally,” or something. You know there are two sides to it, and honestly, there is really one side of it – because you see how bad this was. So what happened is they arrested three people. There were probably a hundred or a hundred-fifty protesters, there were 21,000 people there, there were 150 protesters that were creating havoc. As soon as the three people were arrested, everybody else ran. That was the last we heard, and I made a speech for, you know, a half hour, 45 minutes – not one person stood up and started screaming at this speech. It was sort of an amazing thing.Now Tucson was different. Different police force, different level of, you know, whatever, and we had numerous interruptions during the speech. You know, I’ll be speaking, I’ll be ready to make a point, and a guy will stand up and start, just screaming. Out of — from nowhere, for, like, no reason. Not even screaming things that make sense, and often screaming tremendous obscenities.
I know [Lewandowski] went in – he took a lot of heat a couple of days ago in that same rally because he went in to get – to quiet people down, and they had a couple of signs “F-you” – it just said “F-you,” meaning the word spelled out, and you have cameras there, you know, it’s on live television, and you have guys holding signs saying “F-you Trump” or just “F-you,” and they had numerous of those – there were, you know, probably ten of those signs throughout the arena.And he went in to say, please would you move the sign, and the woman in front – and I saw it – this guy grabbed the woman in front, okay, he [Lewandowski] hardly touched him – he took him – If he touched him at all it was just grabbing the shirt a little bit. But the guy was a real wiseguy. And he was screaming obscenities. He did grab the woman in front and ultimately he was led out by the security guy, who was right behind him.
But the reason is that the police were slow to get there. And the point is this: You’re making a speech and you have guys getting up saying, [Editor’s note: Trump says the next few words in a hushed voice] “fuck you,” and the whole place goes, “Whoa,” and it incites the place. They incite the place, because then everyone goes, “USA, USA.” That’s why they’re all screaming “USA, USA,” or “Trump, Trump, Trump.”You can have 20,000 people and you can have like two people. Usually – it’s amazing – usually it’s one person. I mean, it’s like they stage it. It’s very professional. They have like one person here, one person here, one person.
Okay, we’re talking about the media. So, I’ve never seen the media cover it from that angle. It’s always, “Trump had a” — and here’s the big thing, I mean, honestly, essentially nobody has heardHIATT: But just – given the Supreme Court rulings on libel — Sullivan v. New York Times — how would you change the law?
TRUMP: I would just loosen them up.RUTH MARCUS: What does that mean?
[Crosstalk]TRUMP: I’d have to get my lawyers in to tell you, but I would loosen them up. I would loosen them up. If The Washington Post writes badly about me – and they do, they don’t write good – I mean, I don’t think I get – I read some of the stories coming up here, and I said to my staff, I said, “Why are we even wasting our time? The hatred is so enormous.” I don’t know why. I mean, I do a good job. I have thousands of employees. I work hard.
I’m not looking for bad for our country. I’m a very rational person, I’m a very sane person. I’m not looking for bad. But I read articles by you, and others. And, you know, we’ve never – we don’t know each other, and the level of hatred is so incredible, I actually said, “Why am I – why am I doing this? Why am I even here?” And I don’t expect anything to happen–RYAN: Would that be the standard then? If there is an article that you feel has hatred, or is bad, would that be the basis for libel?
TRUMP: No, if it’s wrong. If it’s wrong.RYAN: Wrong whether there’s malice or not?
TRUMP: I mean, The Washington Post never calls me. I never had a call, “Why – why did you do this?” or “Why did you do that?” It’s just, you know, like I’m this horrible human being. And I’m not. You know, the one thing we have in common I think we all love the country. Now, maybe we come at it from different sides, but nobody ever calls me. I mean, Bob Costa calls about a political story – he called because we’re meeting senators in a little while and congressmen, supporters – but nobody ever calls.RYAN: The reason I keep asking this is because you’ve said three times you’ve said we are going to open up the libel laws and when you ask you what you mean you say hatred, or bad–
TRUMP: I want to make it more fair from the side where I am, because things are said that are libelous, things are said about me that are so egregious and so wrong, and right now according to the libel laws I can do almost nothing about it because I’m a well-known person you know, etc., etc.JACKSON DIEHL, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Back to foreign policy a little bit, can you talk a little bit about what you see as the future of NATO? Should it expand in any way?
TRUMP: Look, I see NATO as a good thing to have – I look at the Ukraine situation and I say, so Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we are doing all of the lifting, they’re not doing anything. And I say, why is it that Germany is not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of the Ukraine not dealing with — why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war, okay, with Russia? Why are we always the ones that are doing it? And I think the concept of NATO is good, but I do think the United States has to have some help. We are not helped. I’ll give you a better example than that. I mean, we pay billions– hundreds of billions of dollars to supporting other countries that are in theory wealthier than we are.DIEHL: Hundreds of billions?
TRUMP: Billions. Well if you look at Germany, if you look at Saudi Arabia, if you look at Japan, if you look at South Korea — I mean we spend billions of dollars on Saudi Arabia, and they have nothing but money. And I say, why? Now I would go in and I would structure a much different deal with them, and it would be a much better deal. When you look at the kind of money that our country is losing, we can’t afford to do this. Certainly we can’t afford to do it anymore.DIEHL: About Ukraine, was it right for the United States to impose sanctions on Russia when they invaded Crimea and would you keep those sanctions on them?
TRUMP: I think the answer is yes, it was, but I don’t see other people doing much about it. I see us doing things about it, but I don’t see other people doing much about it.
DIEHL: And could I ask you about ISIS, speaking of making commitments, because you talked recently about possibly sending 20 or 30,000 troops and—TRUMP: No I didn’t, oh no no no, okay, I know what you’re saying. There was a question asked to me. I said that the military, the generals have said that 20- to 30,000. They said, would you send troops? I didn’t say send 20,000. I said, well the generals are saying you’d need because they , what would it take to wipe out ISIS, I said pretty much exactly this, I said the generals, the military is saying you would need 20- to 30,000 troops, but I didn’t say that I would send them.
DIEHL: If they said that, would you go along with that and send the troops?TRUMP: I find it hard to go along with—I mention that as an example because it’s so much. That’s why I brought that up. But a couple of people have said the same thing as you, where they said did I say that and I said that that’s a number that I heard would be needed. I would find it very, very hard to send that many troops to take care of it. I would say this, I would put tremendous pressure on other countries that are over there to use their troops and I’d give them tremendous air supporters and support , because we have to get rid of ISIS, okay, just so — we have to get rid of ISIS. I would get other countries to become very much involved.
DIEHL: What about China and the South China Sea. What do you think they’re up to and—TRUMP: I think it’s a terrible situation, I think it’s terrible they have no respect for–
DIEHL: –and what should we do about it?TRUMP: Well look, we have power over China and people don’t realize it. We have trade power over China. I don’t think we are going to start World War III over what they did, it affects other countries certainly a lot more than it affects us. But—and honestly, you know part of—I always say we have to be unpredictable. We’re totally predictable. And predictable is bad. Sitting at a meeting like this and explaining my views and if I do become president, I have these views that are down for the other side to look at, you know. I hate being so open. I hate when they say — like I said get rid of the oil, keep the oil, different things over the years, when people are saying what would you do with regard to the Middle East, when we left — We should have never been in Iraq. It was a horr- it was one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of our country. We then got out badly, then after we got out, I said, “Keep the oil. If we don’t keep it Iran’s going to get it.” And it turns out Iran and ISIS basically—
HIATT: How do you keep it without troops, how do you defend the oil?TRUMP: You would… You would, well for that– for that, I would circle it. I would defend those areas.
HIATT: With U.S. troops?TRUMP: Yeah, I would defend the areas with the oil. And I would have taken out a lot of oil. And, uh, I would have kept it. I mean, I would have kept it, because, look: Iran has the oil, and they’re going to have the oil, well, the stuff they don’t have, because Iran is taking over Iraq as sure as you’re sitting there. And I’ve been very good on this stuff. My prognostications, my predictions have become, have been very accurate, if you look.
HIATT: So what do you think China’s aims are in the South China Sea?TRUMP: Well I know China very well, because I deal with China all the time. I’ve done very well. China’s unbelievably ambitious. China is, uh… I mean, when I deal with China, you know, I have the Bank of America building, I’ve done some great deals with China. I do deals with them all the time on, you know, selling apartments, and, you know, people say ‘oh that’s not the same thing.’ The level of… uh, the largest bank in the world, 400 million customers, is a tenant of mine in New York, in Manhattan. The biggest bank in China. The biggest bank in the world.
China has got unbelievable ambitions. China feels very invincible. We have rebuilt China. They have drained so much money out of our country that they’ve rebuilt China. Without us, you wouldn’t see the airports and the roadways and the bridges; I mean, the George Washington Bridge is like, that’s like a trinket compared to the bridges that they’ve built in China. We don’t build anymore, and it, you know, we had our day. But China, if you look at what’s going on in China, you know, they go down to seven percent or eight percent and it’s like a national catastrophe. Our GDP is right now zero. Essentially zero.DIEHL: Could you use trade to cause them to retreat in the South China Sea?
TRUMP: I think so, yeah. I think soDIEHL: What would you do?
TRUMP: We, well, you start making it tougher. They’re selling their products to us for… you know, with no tax, no nothing. By the way, we can’t deal with them, but they can deal with us. See, we are free trade. The story is, and I have so many people that deal with China –they can easily sell their product here. No tax, no nothing, just ‘come on, bring it all in, you know, bring in your apples, bring in everything you make’ and no taxes whatsoever, right? If you want to deal with China, it’s just the opposite. You can’t do that. In other words, if you want to, if you’re a manufacturer, you want to go into China? It’s very hard to get your product in, and if you get it in you have to pay a very big tax.HIATT: So, if they occupied what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands, is that something the United States…
TRUMP: Well, I, you know, again, I don’t like to tell you what I’d do, because I don’t want to… You understand what I’m saying, Fred? If I… Okay, if I say ‘Well, we should go in and do this or that or that,’ I don’t want to, I don’t want to sort of… red flag all over it. I do think this: It’s an unbelievable thing that they’ve done, it’s unbelievable aggression, it’s unbelievable lack of respect for this country.HIATT: This theory of unpredictability, I want to push a little bit, I mean – there are many people who think that North Korea invaded South Korea precisely because Acheson wasn’t clear that we would defend South Korea. So I’m curious, does ambiguity sometimes have dangers?
TRUMP: Well I’ll give you, I’ll give you an example. President Obama, when he left Iraq, gave a specific date – we’re going to be out. I thought that was a terrible thing to do. And the enemy pulled back, because they don’t want die. Despite what you read, you know, they don’t want to die — and they just pulled back, and after we left, all hell broke out, right? And I’ll give you another example that I think was terrible: when they sent, a few months ago, they sent fifty troops in. You know, fifty elite troops. Now, why do we have to have a news conference to announce that we’re sending fifty troops? So those troops now have targets on their back. And…you shouldn’t do it. We’re so predictable: “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re sending fifty troops into Iraq or Syria. And these are our elite troops. And they’re going to do this and that and that and this.” And those troops now are being hunted. If you didn’t send them, they wouldn’t – if you didn’t say that, they wouldn’t know. I mean, there are times when you just can’t be… You talk too much. We talk too much. I guess they thought that was good politically, to say we’re sending fifty troops? I don’t think it was good.LANE: Can I ask you…Just going back to NATO, because…
TRUMP: Yes.LANE: As you know, the whole theory of NATO from the beginning was to keep the United States involved in the long term in Europe to balance, to promote a balance of power in that region so we wouldn’t have a repeat of World War I and World War 2. And it seems to be like what you’re saying is very similar to what President Obama said to Jeffrey Goldberg, in that we have allies that become free riders. So it seems like there’s some convergence with the president there. What concerns me about both is that to some extent it was always thought to be in our interest that we, yes, we would take some of the burden on, yes, even if the net-net was not 100 percent, even steven, with the Germans. So I’d like to hear you say very specifically, you know, with respect to NATO, what is your ask of these other countries? Right, you’ve painted it in very broad terms, but do you have a percent of GDP that they should be spending on defense? Tell me more. Because it’s not that you want to pull the U.S. out.
TRUMP: No, I don’t want to pull it out. NATO was set up at a different time. NATO was set up when we were a richer country. We’re not a rich country. We’re borrowing, we’re borrowing all of this money. We’re borrowing money from China, which is a sort of an amazing situation. But things are a much different thing. NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, we’re protecting Europe but we’re spending a lot of money. Number 1, I think the distribution of costs has to be changed. I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved. And I think we bear the, you know, not only financially, we bear the biggest brunt of it. Obama has been stronger on the Ukraine than all the other countries put together, and those other countries right next door to the Ukraine. And I just say we have, I’m not even knocking it, I’m just saying I don’t think it’s fair, we’re not treated fair. I don’t think we’re treated fair, Charles, anywhere. If you look everything we have. You know, South Korea is very rich. Great industrial country. And yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do. We’re constantly, you know, sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games, doing other. We’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing.
LANE: You know, well, they say and I think this is on public record, it’s basically 50 percent of the non-personnel cost is paid by South Korea and Japan.TRUMP: 50 percent?
LANE: Yeah.TRUMP: Why isn’t it 100 percent?
HIATT: Well I guess the question is, does the United States gain anything by having bases?
TRUMP: Personally I don’t think so. I personally don’t think so. Look. I have great relationships with South Korea. I have buildings in South Korea. But that’s a wealthy country. They make the ships, they make the televisions, they make the air conditioning. They make tremendous amounts of products. It’s a huge, it’s a massive industrial complex country. And —HIATT: So you don’t think the US gains from being the force that sort of that helps keep the peace in the Pacific?
TRUMP: I think that we are not in the position that we used to be. I think we were a very powerful, very wealthy country. And we’re a poor country now. We’re a debtor nation. How you going to get rid – let me ask you – how are you going get rid of $21 trillion in debt? You’re going to be at 21 trillion in a matter of minutes because of that new omnibus budget. So they passed that ridiculous omnibus budget. How you going to get rid of that debt. We’re spending that to protect other countries. We’re not spending it on ourselves. Because we have, we have armor-plated vehicles that are obsolete. The best ones are given to the enemy. We give them to our allies over in the Middle East. A bullet shot in the air and they immediately run and the enemy takes over. I have a friend whose son is in his third, his third tour over in Iraq. He’s over in, I mean he’s a very special kid, he’s a great kid. But he’s over in the Middle East, and, uh, Afghanistan, different parts of the Middle East, actually. And he said to me, I said to him what do you think. And he said, it’s so sad. He said the enemy has our equipment – the new version — and we have all the old version, and the enemy has our equipment, because they get into a fight with the so-called people like the Freedom Fighters, you know the whole Syrian deal, where we’re sending billions and billions of dollars worth, and they capture the equipment. In most cases the shots are fired and everybody leaves. And these are the people we’re backing. And we don’t know if it’s going to be another Saddam Hussein deal, in other words, let’s get rid of Assad with these people and these people end up being worse. Okay? But he said, they have better equipment. It’s our equipment. They have, I guess we send 2,300 Humvees over, all armor-plated. So we have wounded warriors, with no legs, with no arms, because they were driving in stuff without the armor. And the enemy has most of the new ones we sent over that they captured. And he said, it’s so discouraging when they see that the enemy has better equipment than we have – and it’s our equipment.HIATT: I’d like to come back to the campaign. You said a few weeks ago after a family in Chicago gave some money to a PAC opposing you, you said, “They better watch out. They have a lot to hide.” What should they watch out for?
TRUMP: Look, they are spending vicious … I don’t even know these people. Those Ricketts. I actually said they ought to focus on the Chicago Cubs and, you know, stop playing around. They spent millions of dollars fighting me in Florida. And out of 68 counties, I won 66. I won by 20 points, almost 20 points. Against, everybody thought he was a popular sitting senator. I had $38 million dollars spent on me in Florida over a short period of time. $38 million. And, you know, the Ricketts, I don’t even know these people.HIATT: So, what does it mean, “They better watch out”?
TRUMP: Well, it means that I’ll start spending on them. I’ll start taking ads telling them all what a rotten job they’re doing with the Chicago Cubs. I mean, they are spending on me. I mean, so am I allowed to say that? I’ll start doing ads about their baseball team. That it’s not properly run or that they haven’t done a good job in the brokerage business lately.RYAN: Would you do that while you are president?
TRUMP: No, not while I am president. No, not while I’m president. That is two phases. Right now, look, you know, I went to a great school, I was a good student and all. I am an intelligent person. My uncle, I would say my uncle was one of the brilliant people. He was at MIT for 35 years. As a great scientist and engineer, actually more than anything else. Dr. John Trump, a great guy. I’m an intelligent person. I understand what is going on. Right now, I had 17 people who started out. They are almost all gone. If I were going to do that in a different fashion I think I probably wouldn’t be sitting here. You would be interviewing somebody else. But it is hard to act presidential when you are being … I mean, actually I think it is presidential because it is winning. And winning is a pretty good thing for this country because we don’t win any more. And I say it all the time. We do not win any more. This country doesn’t win. We don’t win with trade. We don’t win with … We can’t even beat ISIS. And by the way, just to answer the rest of that question, I would knock the hell out of ISIS in some form. I would rather not do it with our troops, you understand that. Very important. Because I think saying that is very important because I was against the war in Iraq, although they found a clip talking to Howard Stern, I said, “Well…” It was very unenthusiastic. Before they want in, I was totally against the war. I was against it for years. I actually had a delegation sent from the White House to talk to me because I guess I get a disproportionate amount of publicity. I was just against the war. I thought it would destabilize the Middle East, and it did. But we have to knock out ISIS. We are living like in medieval times. Who ever heard of the heads chopped off?HIATT: Just back to the campaign. You are smart and you went to a good school. Yet you are up there and talking about your hands and the size of private …
TRUMP: No …HIATT: … your private parts.
TRUMP: No, no. No, no. I am not doing that.HIATT: Do you regret having engaged in that?
TRUMP: No, I had to do it. Look, this guy. Here’s my hands. Now I have my hands, I hear, on the New Yorker, a picture of my hands.MARCUS: You’re on the cover.
TRUMP: A hand with little fingers coming out of a stem. Like, little. Look at my hands. They’re fine. Nobody other than Graydon Carter years ago used to use that. My hands are normal hands. During a debate, he was losing, and he said, “Oh, he has small hands and therefore, you know what that means.” This was not me. This was Rubio that said, “He has small hands and you know what that means.” Okay? So, he started it. So, what I said a couple of days later … and what happened is I was on line shaking hands with supporters, and one of supporters got up and he said, “Mr. Trump, you have strong hands. You have good-sized hands.” And then another one would say, “You have great hands, Mr. Trump, I had no idea.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “I thought you were like deformed, and I thought you had small hands.” I had fifty people … Is that a correct statement? I mean people were writing, “How are Mr. Trump’s hands?” My hands are fine. You know, my hands are normal. Slightly large, actually. In fact, I buy a slightly smaller than large glove, okay? No, but I did this because everybody was saying to me, “Oh, your hands are very nice. They are normal.” So Rubio, in a debate, said, because he had nothing else to say … now I was hitting him pretty hard. He wanted to do his Don Rickles stuff and it didn’t work out. Obviously, it didn’t work too well. But one of the things he said was “He has small hands and therefore, you know what that means, he has small something else.” You can look it up. I didn’t say it.
MARCUS: You chose to raise it …TRUMP: No, I chose to respond.
MARUS: You chose to respond.TRUMP: I had no choice.
MARCUS: You chose to raise it during a debate. Can you explain why you had no choice?TRUMP: I don’t want people to go around thinking that I have a problem. I’m telling you, Ruth, I had so many people. I would say 25, 30 people would tell me … every time I’d shake people’s hand, “Oh, you have nice hands.” Why shouldn’t I? And, by the way, by saying that I solved the problem. Nobody questions … I even held up my hands, and said, “Look, take a look at that hand.”
MARCUS: You told us in the debate ….TRUMP: And by saying that, I solved the problem. Nobody questions. Everyone held my hand. I said look. Take a look at that hand.
MARCUS: You told us in the debate that you guaranteed there was not another problem. Was that presidential? And why did you decide to do that?TRUMP: I don’t know if it was presidential, honestly, whether it is or not. He said, ‘Donald Trump has small hands and therefore he has small something else.’ I didn’t say that. And all I did is when he failed, when he was failing, when he was, when Christie made him look bad, I gave him the– a little recap and I said, and I said, and I had this big strong powerful hand ready to grab him, because I thought he was going to faint. And everybody took it fine. Whether it was presidential or not I can’t tell you. I can just say that what he said was a lie. And everybody, they wanted to do stories on my hands; after I said that, they never did. And then I held up the hand, I showed people the hand. You know, when I’ve got a big audience. So yeah, I think it’s not a question of presidential …
MARCUS: He said he regrets …HIATT: Okay, let’s move on here. Let’s move on.
TRUMP: I did feel I should respond. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. But I felt I should respond because everybody was talking about it.RYAN: You [MUFFLED] mentioned a few minutes earlier here that you would knock ISIS. You’ve mentioned it many times. You’ve also mentioned the risk of putting American troop in a danger area. If you could substantially reduce the risk of harm to ground troops, would you use a battlefield nuclear weapon to take out ISIS?
TRUMP: I don’t want to use, I don’t want to start the process of nuclear. Remember the one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual, he hit me first. I spent, by the way he spent 18 million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting [MUFFLED]…
RYAN: This is about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?[CROSSTALK]
TRUMP: I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?HIATT: Sure, then I’d like to let a couple of them get in questions.
LEWANDOWSKI: We have got five minutes, hard out.HIATT: Okay.
TRUMP: Oh is it?CORY: Yeah. You have a meeting you have to get to.
TRUMP: Okay we do.ARMAO: I’m Jo-Ann Armao. I cover D.C. events. I want to ask you a question about what you think about D.C. voting rights or statehood.
TRUMP: Okay. I’ll talk about that.TOM TOLES, EDITORIAL CARTOONIST: Tom Toles.
TRUMP: Hi, Tom.LANE: I’m Charles …
TRUMP: Yes, I know Charles.STROMBERG: Steve Stromberg, editorial writer.
TRUMP: Right.MARCUS: Ruth Marcus.
TRUMP: Right.RYAN: Fred Ryan.
TRUMP: Right, right.DIEHL: Jackson Diehl.
TRUMP: Good.JAMES DOWNIE: James Downie, digital opinions editor.
TRUMP: Hi, James.MICHAEL LARABEE: Mike Larabee, I’m the op-ed editor.
TRUMP: Yes.CHRISTINE EMBA: Christine Emba.
TRUMP: Hi, Christine.JAMIE RILEY: Jamie Riley, letters and local opinions.
TRUMP: Good, yes, yes.KAREN ATTIAH: Karen Attiah, deputy digital editor.
HIATT: Karen, you want to get a question in?ATTIAH: Uh, yeah, I mean speaking again of the system of what a lot of people would say are some of the uglier components of your campaign; a lot of people have said you’ve been running a very divisive campaign as far as racial divides, you’ve noted you know your comments about Muslims, about Mexicans, immigrants and such. You have information that the country is becoming browner, is becoming younger, is becoming blacker. What in your vision of president, in your presidency, how would you bridge these divides and how will you address a– how are you going to run on a message of inclusion of all Americans?
TRUMP: Well, first of all, if you look at some polls that have come out, I’m doing very well with African Americans. I’m doing, actually if you look at the polls, a lot of the polls that came out, in the, um, what do they call it? Exit polls, like from Nevada and other places, I’m doing very well with Hispanics.ATTIAH: I think some of the polls are saying you’re doing [in the] negatives.
TRUMP: We do, if it’s illegals, in other words, if it’s everybody, but people that are legally living here, I’m doing very well. In other words, people that are here, like Hispanics that are in the country, I’m doing very well. People that vote. Like people leaving voting booths and all, I’m doing very well with them. I want to be inclusive, but at the same time, people should come here legally. They should be here legally. And I think the reason I’m doing, that I will do well, especially once I get started, don’t forget I haven’t even focused on Hillary yet. And, and as you know, you know I’ve had polls that are against me, but I’ve had many polls that say I’d beat Hillary, but they’re not that, that, they don’t mean anything now because it’s too early. Because I haven’t hit her. I’ve only hit her once, and that was eight weeks ago, but, I haven’t started on Hillary yet, and when I do I think I’ll be able to make my points. I mean, you know, but, but I think that just to try and answer your question: Uh, I am the least racist person that you will ever meet. Okay. That I can tell you.
ATTIAH: But do you feel that your messages, your rhetoric, are dangerous and divisive for this country? How do you feel they’re ….TRUMP: I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so. With the Muslim thing I think it’s a serious problem. I’ve had Muslims call and tell me you’re right with the Muslim thing, I think it’s a serious problem. And it’s a problem that has to be addressed. I mean, there’s tremendous hatred. Even the, even the guy they caught in Paris. He was being hid out by other Muslims, and everybody is after him, and he’s living right next to where he grew up. There’s a serious, serious problem with the Muslims and it’s got to be addressed. It’s temporary, and it’s got to be addressed. And you know you may think of it as negative. Many people think it’s very positive.
HIATT: How would you identify people to keep them out of this country?TRUMP: Well look, there’s many exceptions. There’s many – everything, you’re going to go through a process. But we have to be very careful. And I was really referring in particular, you know, to migrations – Syrians, the whole migration, where we’re going to take in thousands. And I heard in the Democrat debate, I heard 55,000, okay. 55,000. Now they say it’s really ten [thousand], but it’s already 10, and I just don’t think we can take people into this country. You saw what two people did – the woman and the man, whether she radicalized him or [inaudible] – but you saw what two people did, and I just don’t think we can take people in when we have no idea who they are, where they come from. There’s no documents, there’s no paper, and we have ISIS looming over our head, and we have tremendous destruction. We lost the World Trade Center, we lost the Pentag – you know, we had a plane go into the Pentagon, etc.
ARMAO: D.C.: You told Chuck Todd last year on “Meet the Press” that you love D.C., you love the people, that you want to do what’s best for them. They think what’s best for them is statehood or at the very least voting rights. What is your position on those two things?
TRUMP: I think statehood is a tough thing for D.C. I think it’s a tough thing. I don’t have a position on it yet. I would form a position. But I think statehood is a tough thing for D.C.ARMAO: Tough politically?
TRUMP: I think it’s just something that I don’t think I’d be inclined to do. I’d like to study it. It’s not a question really – maybe Chuck didn’t ask me like you’re asking me – I don’t see statehood for D.C.ARMAO: What about having a vote in the House of Representatives?
TRUMP: I think that’s something that would be okay. Having representation would be okay.
HIATT: Last one: You think climate change is a real thing? Is there human-caused climate change?TRUMP: I think there’s a change in weather. I am not a great believer in man-made climate change. I’m not a great believer. There is certainly a change in weather that goes – if you look, they had global cooling in the 1920s and now they have global warming, although now they don’t know if they have global warming. They call it all sorts of different things; now they’re using “extreme weather” I guess more than any other phrase. I am not – I know it hurts me with this room, and I know it’s probably a killer with this room – but I am not a believer. Perhaps there’s a minor effect, but I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.
STROMBERG: Don’t good businessmen hedge against risks, not ignore them?TRUMP: Well I just think we have much bigger risks. I mean I think we have militarily tremendous risks. I think we’re in tremendous peril. I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons. The biggest risk to the world, to me – I know President Obama thought it was climate change – to me the biggest risk is nuclear weapons. That’s – that is climate change. That is a disaster, and we don’t even know where the nuclear weapons are right now. We don’t know who has them. We don’t know who’s trying to get them. The biggest risk for this world and this country is nuclear weapons, the power of nuclear weapons.
RYAN: Thank you for joining us.