«Robert O'Harrow: I don’t know if you remember Shawn, but Shawn Boburg is here and Drew Harwell. Amy Goldstein and Jerry Markon are joining us ...»
Washington Post Live
Interview with Donald Trump
May 18, 2016
Robert O'Harrow: -- I don’t know if you remember Shawn,
but Shawn Boburg is here and Drew Harwell. Amy Goldstein and
Jerry Markon are joining us because they have some related
financial questions. With that said, I’m going to defer to
Shawn here, who is going to ask a question.
Shawn Boburg: Hi, Mr. Trump.
Donald Trump: Hello, Shawn.
Shawn Boburg: Hi. I wanted to ask you about your father, Fred’s death in 1999. You wrote in The America We Deserve that his death had a profound effect on you and made you see your obligation to rebuild the world and make it a better place. I just want to ask you briefly, did your dad’s death have any influence on your decision to go into politics?
Donald Trump: Well, my father was my best friend. I had an amazing relationship with my father, and I have a very good relationship with my siblings, very, very good. But my father was my best friend. We worked at business and we got along, and then I moved to Manhattan and left the Brooklyn office, but my father was a special man to me. He taught me much. He was just great.
I would imagine perhaps it did, but maybe inwardly. I don’t know, Shawn, that I could exactly say that it was specific as to why I’m doing what I’m doing right now. We had a good night last night, as you probably heard, but why, in Oregon.
But why I’m doing what I’m doing right now? I think what he taught me and maybe my love for him had a lot of influence on things I do even if it’s not knowingly.
Shawn Boburg: Okay.
Donald Trump: If that makes sense.
Shawn Boburg: Yeah, and so if you could just summarize why you did go in politics.
Donald Trump: Personally, I’ve been doing deals all my life and it’s worked out. In fact, I guess you probably saw I filed the updated financial [audio glitch] yesterday. I don’t know if you saw that. But I built a great company. There were some people, these are sick people. These are really sick people. They wrote my father gave me a $100 million when I started, but there was no such thing. It’s so ridiculous, as you know I’m sure if you did any research. He gave me a small amount of money, but he gave me great knowledge. He didn’t give it to me. I borrowed a small amount of money, but he gave me great knowledge.
When I looked at over the last -- I looked at it very seriously only once, and that was last night, the Romney time.
I thought that was an election that should have been won, but I looked at it very, very seriously then, andI decided I wouldn’t do it then. And a lot of it was I was under contractual relationship to The Apprentice, which by way, the folks at Comcast and NBC, as you know, Steve Burke came up to my office with the top people at NBC. They wanted me to renew three months before I announced. They wanted me to renew. I couldn’t renew. I said I can’t. I own the show with Mark Burnett, but I said I can’t.
Shaw Boburg: But Mr. Trump, why did you go into politics, like a big thought about what was driving you to actually put yourself out there?
years ago. And then this time, I told Steve, Steve, I’m not going to renew for The Apprentice and my jobs were mostly finished other than the old post office, which is going to be finished ahead of schedule in September. We’re about a year ahead of schedule, and so that’s going to be in September. And Doral is now finished, and Turnberry is finishing up in Scotland. A lot of jobs that I’m doing are finishing up other than licensing deals, which can go on because it’s a different
100 percent are all finishing up.
I looked and I said the country is just not doing well.
It’s doing horribly. We’re in a bubble and I’ve been saying that for the last period of time, for a short period of time, but I’ve been thinking about it for a long period of time. I looked at the Iran deal, which could have been -- I mean, I have no objection to making any deal on nuclear. I mean, if it’s a good deal, it’s very important, but it’s such a poor deal. I looked at what’s going on with the country and the problems with ISIS and the problems [audio glitch] thing and frankly, the problems with our trade deals, the problems with our borders, the problems with our military being so totally depleted, and all of the different problems.
going to turn out quite this way or quite this quickly in terms of the short term. I never thought I’d be sitting home watching Hillary Clinton fight until the end and that was supposed to be [cross-talking] until July or the convention or during and they even talked about even through the convention. But I did not know it was going to go this well and I did not know it was going to go this quickly.
just want to keep things moving because we want to cover some other grounds.
[Phone conversation cut. Conversation between interviewers 00:05:10 – 00:06:45]
phone went out. I don’t know something happened.
Male Voice: You would finish the question about why you decided to go in politics and Shawn had a follow up question and then Amy.
Shawn Boburg: Mr. Trump, going to August of 2001, you decide to join the Democratic Party and you stayed in the Democratic Party through 2009. Can you just describe why you’ve decided to join the Democratic Party at that time?
Donald Trump: Yeah, an interesting question and a good question. Primarily because in Manhattan in particular, in New York, New York is a state that is largely a Democrat. As an example in the presidential elections, other than me who I think I really do put New York into play, we’re going to give them very strong push. You saw how well I did in the primaries and we’re going to give them a very, very strong push. But New York is not a state that a Republican will even enter unless they want to buy dinner. They’re not going to enter the state and try and compete. They won’t spend $10 cents in New York. This was before I ever thought of 2001, before I had any grand notion of running for president and I just felt that because of the fact that it was so –As an example, when you run for mayor of New York, I mean generally, unless in the case of Bloomberg who spent hundreds of millions of dollars, that’s a little bit different story, and even he almost lost. He won by two percent after spending hundreds of millions that last term. So it’s very, very hard for a Republican to even consider running for office or doing anything in New York. And most of my friends, many of my friends are in the city are Democrat and it just seems to be mostly a Democrat place. So I switched the party and that was it. I mean, no big deal other than, as you know, even the state of New York is about three-to-one and the city is much more than that.
company. We’ve been taking a look at your company back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, a long time ago. We know that at that time, the bankers were very easy about lending money.
Amy Goldstein: And people familiar with the airline industry said that you paid too much for the Shuttle. And obviously, you ended up over, you know, a couple of years defaulting and missing a lot of interest and principle payments.
So even if the bankers were very willing to lend you all that money, did you feel a sense of responsibility about the fact that you were in a situation in which you were missing these payments or it was no big deal that you were missing them?
banks and they gave me more money than I paid. On the airline, as you know, they gave me beyond what I paid.
Jerry Markon: Yes, that’s correct.
time -- and there were great tax benefits to that also, which people don’t understand, but there were tremendous tax benefits.
Tremendous, beyond tremendous. And so buying The Plaza -- and I was proud of The Plaza because I fixed it. When I sold The Plaza, I was able because they had somebody, one of the banks had a very big client from the Middle East that they wanted to make very happy. And because of the fact that I agreed to do it because -- I could have held up that sale for years. I could’ve held it up very easily for years. And because of the fact that they were so anxious to satisfy that very big Middle Eastern client, I got out of tremendous obligations. I mean, The Plaza was actually a great deal for all of the wrong reasons but it turned out to be a phenomenal deal for me because, in other words, they wanted that deal to go through very quickly. I could’ve held them up for years. By allowing that deal to go through and for making it easy for the banks, I got out of tremendous other obligations.
With the airline, you know, they gave me a tremendous
economy stayed good or went better, it would’ve been a good deal. But the economy didn’t go good and I got out of the airline without any damage. I mean, it worked out fine. You have to understand, those were the go-go days where the banks would give you more money than you needed.
they weren’t ending in terms of the banks putting up the monies.
Now, shortly after that, the banks became very tight because they made lots of deals where they gave far too much money. But if you’re somebody like me, an entrepreneur, a bank is going to give you -- you’re going to get more than 100 percent financing on deals, on various deals. You take it because if things go good, you make a lot of money. If things go bad, you didn’t put money into the deal.
Amy Goldstein: Well, you actually put in a fair amount of personal guarantees. I think the figure is $832 million in personal guarantees.
Donald Trump: Yeah, but they released me from all of the guarantees. There were numerous reasons, but one of the reasons they released me is they were so anxious to have this deal go through quickly.
Amy Goldstein: They released a guarantee sometimes excuse me sir - in exchange for acquiring a big portion of the equity. And one of the things that we’ve been wondering is whether when you had to relinquish half of -- almost. It wasn’t quite half, but all but half of it, your interest in the casinos or some other assets. Was that a little hurtful or that was like no big deal?
a big deal. Look, the one thing, and I’ve said this to people and only business people really understand it, I mean frankly, but I made a lot of money in Atlantic City. I was there early.
I was there in the best times. You know, there was a time where Atlantic City was better than Las Vegas. I mean, it was doing great for a fairly long number of years. I built Trump Plaza.
It was a tremendous success. I then bought with total financing, bought the Casas. Actually, $405 million. The press was -- somebody said it was 5-something. People write so inaccurately, it’s absolutely incredible.
But anyway, it was financed by Manufacturers Hanover Trust, which is no longer in existence, but it was financed by Manny Hanny. They used to call it Manufacturers Hanover Trust. John McGillicuddy, and I think it was more than 100 percent financing. Yeah, but during these periods, I did tremendously well. And then the junk bond market started really kicking in
then ultimately, about seven years ago, I got out of Atlantic City. You know, Atlantic City today, Caesar’s is bankrupt and many [cross-talking] in Atlantic City. Can you hear me?
nice to talk to you again. I talked to you one time before.
We’re going to take you back briefly to the early ‘90s. It was the period we’re looking at. And as you remember, your personal life was kind of complicated during this period with Marla Maples.
That, I agree.
Jerry Markon: You gave the Post a short interview during that period in which you were quoted as saying, as admitting that you had taken your eye off the ball a little bit on your businesses because of these personal troubles, and that your casino bondholders had some reason to be displeased with you because of that. Looking back, does that still seem true? How did your personal issues that were in the headlines every day, how did they affect your businesses at the time?
going to take that back. The fact is I had the difficulty with the marriage, and, people, that does happen. What was going on?
I had such tremendous success during the ‘80s. One of the magazines said in a story, everything he touches turns to gold, and frankly I believed that. Everything I was hitting was -Trump Tower was a huge hit. I did the convention center site.
I did the Grand Hyatt. I mean, they’re all hits. I had all these hits, and all of a sudden, the market crashed.
Now, I don’t blame myself for the market crash but I’ve done very well. Like in the last market crash, I made a lot of money because I was focused. You could make more money in a
would be focus. You know, you don’t focus as much as you would if things are going swimmingly. This is true for I would imagine most people, but you wouldn’t be focused the same as you would if things were going fine. On top of that, I mean, in all fairness, what did happen, and that was a reason. Because I’ve always made money in down markets. I like down markets from their point of investing. I’ve always done great in down
bought from Ireland. I bought a lot of different things and they’ve been great investments. That was a really big -- you’re talking about the early ‘90s, the collapse of the economy. That was, by far, the biggest one that I’ve seen. That was definitely a much bigger collapse than the one from 1984 [sounds like].