Trump Revealed CSPAN October 8, 2016 5:46pm-6:56pm EDT
>> we have a great photographer, and if you want to take some of your own with your own camera, that's perfectly all right, okay? thank you very much. [applause] >> we continue our programs on the presidential candidates with a round table discussion featuring marc fisher and michael kranish on their book, "trump revealed." [inaudible conversations]
>> why don't we get started. my name is marty pair on, i'm the -- baron, i'm the executive editor of "the washington post", and we're really delighted all of you came out this evening to the post. we're happy to welcome you here. tonight you're going to get the chance to meet some of the journalists and the editors behind the post's book "trump revealed." as you know. this was an exhaustively researched book about the life and the career of donald trump. you know, the post has a long tradition of delving deeply into the presidential nominees of each major party. and this year given donald trump's, shall we say, novel and oversized presence in the political arena, there was an opportunity to do a book. and we were happy to seize that opportunity. and we're especially grateful to scrivener, so we're here, all these folks who just came in just on time for making that possible. i'm not going to mention all of
them, but i do want to mention that we have publisher nan graham. raise your hand, nan. there we go. [applause] and we have editor-in-chief colin harrison here. thank you for -- [applause] all you did. they worked incred write fast and incredibly hard and with impressive skill throughout, and we're very grateful. from the post there were two dozen journalists who worked on this book. they needed to both work quickly and to go very, very deep. and that's why we deployed such a large team. scott wilson, our national editor who, unfortunately, could not be here this evening, assembled that team drawing from throughout our newsroom, from every department in our newsroom. and all this came together in a matter of months. this evening you'll that hear from five of people who worked on this book, and, you know,
with the co-authors were michael kranish who is here and marc fisher right behind me, and i'll try to step away, they were the primary authors of "trump revealed," but everyone, this entire team, contributed to it. and this represents a comprehensive examination of donald trump's life, his personal i, his business dealings and his long-running encounters with politicians and politics. we believe this is the kind of in-depth reporting that readers expect from the post. and with that, it's a special pleasure for me to introduce tonight's moderator and one of the co-authors of the book, "trump revealed," senior editor marc fisher. [applause] >> thank you, marty, and and thank you all for coming out. it's great to see such a big crowd. i think i understand why so many of you are here. there's one thing that americans can't just seem to find enough of these days, it's information about donald trump. [laughter] but actually, that's kind of
true because he is the first major party candidate in 60 years, since dwight eisenhower, who has not previously held elective office, and that means he has not been vetted in the way most politicians are as a matter of course as they run for various offices. so, obviously, he's had celebrity for decades, and celebrity is actually a very different kind of attention from having your life and career and background rigorously examined in the way that would help voters understand how you think, how you make decisions and what you really believe in. as michael and i have been making the rounds on tv and radio appearances in promotion of this book, we've found that the single most effective way to sell this book was one single tweet from a guy named donald j. trump of jamaica estates, new york. the night before the book was actually released -- so he couldn't have possibly seen
it -- he put out a tweet saying, calling the book a hit job and saying that it was boring and shouldn't buy it. [laughter] and, of course, our numbers went soaring after that. so we're tremendously grateful to him -- [laughter] since he incomed 11 million -- informed 11 million of his closest friends about the book. but what was fascinating about that was that he, obviously, couldn't help himself. any rational campaign adviser would have told him, just ignore the thing. but he couldn't help himself, and so he did this. and it was also -- so this was confirmation of a major theme in the book which is that this is a man who deeply believes that the proper response, the only proper response to anything that could be at all critical is to attack and to attack hard. and we trace in the book the derivation of that characteristic of donald trump which traces not only to his childhood and having a father who taught him to be a killer
and warned him against being a nothing, but also to his relationship with roy cohn, the infamous new york attorney who was kind of his mentor in his 20s when he was just starting out on his own in business. marty mentioned the origins of this book, but i want to give you a little more on that before we get going with the discussion. this book came together in late march, so if you recall back to the primary season, it was really only around that time that it became very clear that donald trump was the likely nominee. and so at that point, this team of more than 20 reporters was put together. and the deal that we struck with scribner, i think, came to -- was finally signed on a thursday. and the plan was to announce this to the public the following monday. so the next day, friday, i called hope hicks who was donald trump's press secretary as a court i to let her -- courtesy
to let her know that this would be announced on the following monday and also to ask her, we wanted to have a series of interviews with donald trump. we wanted to get as much of his time as we could because although we had this large team of reporters who would be digging into every aspect of trump's life, looking at records, documents, talking to everyone from his friends and classmates and neighbors as he grew up all the way through his business associates, partners, competitors, vendors, contractors and so on. and we wanted as much time as we could get with him. so i explained the deal that we'd made and book that we'd be doing and how a lot of reporters would be calling them, and before i could get the full explanation out hope hicks said you are profiteering off mr. trump -- [laughter] which was kind of curious given that he spends a good chunk of his day talking to reporters, nearly all of them from profit-making institutions, or ideally profit-making institutions.
[laughter] and she was not open to that line of reasoning, and she cut off the conversation and said we will not be cooperating with this book. you're on your own. and so we had thought, well, that was a fairly likely outcome anyway. that didn't really affect our plan for how to report out this book. but then, lo and behold, the following monday she called back and said that she had had a chance to, as she put it, tell mr. trump about your fabulous idea. [laughter] and she said that he actually liked the idea and that he wanted us to come up to trump tower as often as we liked for as long as we liked because he wanted this book to be fair and accurate, and he wanted to get the real story out about his life. so one interesting curiosity there was that his own press secretary who'd worked with him for a number of months didn't realize that he would very much like the opportunity to talk about his favorite subject, himself. [laughter]
but, indeed, as we talked to trump in the weeks that followed, he regularly extended our interview time, doubled and tripled the amount of time that he pent with us. he -- he spent with us. he took all questions. some of them he answered in more detail than others but he, indeed, had us back time and again. he spoke with a number of the reporters in the front row here tonight on phone and in person as they went into greater depth on topics they were digging into. we had people working on this book who were experts in reporting on atlantic city, on finances, on casino gaming, on organized crime connections. we had people who looked into his brief experience as a sports franchise owner in the u.s. football league. and so on all through every chapter of his life. and one of our goals here, therefore, was that kind of completeness and another was transparency.
we know and we document in the book that donald trump is a highly litigious perp. in fact, he -- person. in fact, he has sued the author of a previous biography for $5 billion -- [laughter] and we asked him, michael and i had a certain curiosity about that when we were talking with trump, so we asked him about that case, and he said that he'd actually never read the book. [laughter] so i was kind of puzzled by that. i said, well, how do you go about suing somebody for $5 billion when you've actually never read the book, and he said, well, you could probably say this along with me, people told me it was a bad book. [laughter] the classic trumpism. and he didn't see anything untoward about that. he was very gracious with his time, very open to answering questions, and yet every once in a while he would slip p in a threat about how if it was a bad book, as he put it, he would
come after us, and he would come after the post. so there was this kind of alternating gracious beness and tension -- graciousness and tension through the whole relationship that we had with him. and kind of binary approach where it's either a good book or a bad book, that's something that's also shot through the book, shot through his life. one of the things that makes him decide whether a book or an article is good or bad is whether it questions the extent of his wealth. and this is -- [laughter] this is, we have several anecdotes in the book about his sensitivity to that question. when he sued the timothy o'brien, the author of the other biography, trump lost twice many that lawsuit -- in that lawsuit, and what triggered the lawsuit was, indeed, a chapter questioning whether donald trump is as wealthy as he claims to be. and if you'd been watching the campaign closely, you'd know that the number he gives for his
wealth varies a lot. he sometimes says 9 billion, 10 billion, $12 billion. and we don't have any way of giving you a definitive number of what he's really worth because he hasn't released his tax returns. but we do have ways of coming to the conclusion that he's probably not worth nearly as much as he says he is. in fact, a judge in that libel case came to exactly that conclusion in almost those exact words. and, in fact, in a deposition in that case which we have as part of the archive that backs up this book, trump was asked directly how do you come up with this number that you bandy about about how much you're worth. and he said, quote: it depends on how i feel on a given day. [laughter] now, there's actually something legitimate about that because his brand is his name, and his name is what gives value to many
of his properties and other businesses, and so people decide to stay at a trump hotel or go to a trump golf course in part because of that name. so there's a clear value to it. and putting a number to that value is more an art than a science. but how he assesses himself is he takes the actual assessed value of properties that anyone can look up on the tax rolls, and he adds the value that he connects from his name, his reputation and his brand. so he is a tricky figure to write about in that sense. in fact, when he was -- comedy central, the cable channel, was going to do a roast of donald trump some years back, and the directions went out to the comedians who were going to be roasting him that, unlike most of these roasts, his family is fair game. you can joke about his kids, you can joke about his background, any of that is totally fair. only one thing the comedians were told they may not joke about, and that was the extend of his wealth.
extent of his wealth. [laughter] so he's a tricky character to write about. but we did have this great team of folks who you're going to hear from tonight and want to turn over to michael kcanish -- kranish, my co-writer, who will give you a couple examples of the things that made donald trump what he is today. [applause] >> thank you, marc. thank everybody for coming out here. it's a great honor to be part of this project. i don't know if the post folks know this, but when i was growing up in d.c., i was a washington post paper boy for about five years. [laughter] the ink has not worn off, and i'm proud to be working on this project. we do fantastic stories and biography is sort of the thread of all of those stories that we try to put together.
because in the case of donald trump, you have a man who has never run for public office or held public office, so there's an awful lot that we don't know about him even though he's one of the most covered figures of our generation. so if you look at a perp's life -- at a person's life, how they've dealt with crisis, that, to me, is one of the most important things. someone who has dealt with dark moments in their life, and and certainly donald trump fits that category very well. i want to take you to october 10, 1989, in atlantic city. it's a bright, sunny day, and three of donald trump's top casino executives -- he's got two at this moment, and he's about to open taj mahal. and these three executives are about to the take a helicopter ride to new york city to meet with donald trump and to promote a boxing match to be held at one of his casinos. so the three men get onboard a sikorsky helicopter and have a press conference at the plaza hotel in new york. they meet with donald trump at trump tower on the 26th floor,
and the meeting goes a little bit long, and they can no longer take the sikorsky back to atlantic city, so is they book a charter flight, and they take an italian-made augusta helicopter. they board the helicopter, and a few minutes into the flight they're over the garden state parkway, and what they couldn't have known is there was a small scratch on one of the rotor blades, and at 2200 feet that helicopter basically burst apart, and the three men and the two crew are killed, and it is one of the most tragic days in donald trump's life and, certainly, for the people who were killed in that tragedy. and for donald trump, i asked him about this, we had a separate interview where i talked to him extensively about this incident, and he does say aside from the deaths of his parents and his brother, fred jr., this was the most difficult day of his life. because these men were in charge of making sure he would be successful. he had built trump tower in new york city, and he was taking a big gamble in atlantic city. at that time, this was the only
legal casino operation on the east coast, and donald trump wanted to be the biggest and best operator. so he had two casinos, was about to open a third, and suddenly the people in charge of that had perished. donald trump had not really focused himself on that business. in fact, at the time he was having an affair with marla maples, and as he said in interviews for this book, he had taken his eye off the ball. and suddenly he realized that he was in deep, deep trouble. so there was one person he got a phone call from shortly after the accident, that man's name was john o'donnell, and o'donnell was supposed to have been on the helicopter, but instead he was in hawaii competing in an athletic event, and he'd sent a junior executive. he basically had now all this operation on his shoulders, and donald trump met with him when he came back from hawaii, and he said now it's your turn, and then he said don't leave me. and o'donnell later said that this was the first time he'd seen such fear and uncertainty in donald trump's eyes and in his voice.
and long story short, because i want to give everybody a chance to talk and question, so forth, what happened next was that things had gotten so bad, donald trump had gone so deeply in debt that there were great, great problems despite the public acclaim for the opening of the taj mahal. and pretty soon all three casinos went into bankruptcy, and there were three other corporate bankruptcies, and a lot of people were fired. donald trump said somebody who was running the casino had a type c personality, and he blamed others. but as i mentioned, he also told us he'd taken his eye off the ball. we tell the story about how he managed to survive the nadir of his career in atlantic city. he basically had to look out for himself, and as he told us, i was looking out for donald trump. i needed to survive, and that's what mattered at the moment. and be he did survive. so with that story, you understand why those who understand estimated him would
do so at their peril. thank you very much. ms. . >> so we'll turn to some of the other reporters. bob o'hara was a reporter in the post investigations unit, and he did some of the very difficult document work on this book as well as finding some people who were willing to talk about that period that michael was just talking about in atlantic city, some very rough time ifs for donald trump. -- times for donald trump. and, bob, you learned a lot about trump's business style and about the kind of characters he was willing to associate himself with in order to get a start in the very rough and tumble of atlantic city's casino world. talk to us a little about that. >> it's actually remarkable because it was a long time ago, but it feels very fresh. i think predictive in some ways about the type of personality that he is. probably the most formidable character that he connected himself with was roy cohn.
and if people don't remember roy cohn, he's worth looking into. he was brains behind the mccarthy hearings in the '50s, and he was a brilliant, something of a prodigy as a young man and was pretty much a savage legal mind who focused on attacking as much as possible and never apologizing. and he ran into trump in the early '70s, and trump embraced him, and they became -- they developed an interesting relationship that was both legal and a friendship, and cohn sort of squired him around new york, introduced him to a lot of powerful people. and i think that that was probably set the tone for much of the rest of his career. cohn represented him through the '80s, and there are qualities that we see in donald trump now, some of the harsher qualities that are remarkably similar to
roy cohn's methods and demeanor. >> and just briefly, tell us a little bit about assembling the documents that gave us insights into trump's finances in that period. >> oh, there's a massive trove of information, and and we probably tapped -- well, we tapped a lot of it, but there's a lot of material to be examined. one of the things that we found is that donald trump has surrounded himself in complexity and kind of a cloud of on to security throughout his -- obscurity throughout his career. deals are complex, answers are complex and vague often times. and the documents that we were able to compile particularly from the casino control commission in new jersey helped us to cut through the fog of obfuscation and to get to particulars. and the one that was most striking to me, and it was so striking i actually did not believe it for a while until i reported it thoroughly and realized it was true, was that
when donald trump was trying to get his third casino, the taj, he had to show that he was financially capable of managing himself and making it thrive. and he promised the regulators that he was not going to use junk bonds to finance the taj. and in the, in his testimony which is in black and white, you can actually read it online, he says that people that use junk bonds are losers, in effect, and that they're stupid and that companies that use junk bonds are, in effect, junk. and it was only -- and they approved his move to go forward, and it was only a few months later that he could not raise the money at the low prime rates that he had promised and used junk bonds. and in making that decision and actually signing off on those junk bonds, he sealed his fate, and his whole empire was almost certain to go down the tubes as
was predicted by a financial analyst who was watching everything very closely. so that's the kind of detail that we were able to mine to get to the particulars rather than the generalities that had surrounded him and that he surrounded himself with. >> mary jordan is the national reporter at the post who led a group of reporters who looked into donald trump's family, his relationships with his wives, three wives and his five children. and as part of that, we made an effort to talk to all of those people. talk a little bit about what that was like and what came out of it. >> so i got the women. [laughter] and karen heller is here, another great reporter, and boy, was that interesting. okay. there has never been a president who has three wives alive walking around. [laughter] that's never happened, right? and where are they? we know everything. this guy is on the air all the time. where is his first wife? ivana?
the famous one who was the one, in fact, she's from the former czechoslovakia, who coined the term "the donald." she's also the one when they had a wicked, wicked public divorce was on the cover every day of tabloids said don't get mad, get everything. [laughter] okay. this woman likes to talk, and she's just disappeared. never seen her. second wife, is she's still alive. she's been married four times, and donald went to her fourth wedding. [laughter] but marla maples comes along, and he's still married -- inconveniently -- to the first woman. and so this was hidden for a while, but then there was this big scene in aspen at christmas time, and the two women were fighting over donald. he loved it. it was in paper. at that time he wasn't running for office, and he loved, loved that women -- he was on page 6 in the tabloids in new york. in fact, many, many people we talked to said he cultivated this. he loved being in the newspaper
about this woman, and now along came -- and that woman. and along came marla maples with a great name, former beauty pageant winner in georgia. it wasn't even, like, miss georgia, it was like miss peach. [laughter] but she was, obviously, very good looking and younger, and in the end he got divorced from ivana, married marla. where is she? she's gone. you don't see her at all during this campaign. it is really stunning, especially -- and the last thing i just posted a story a couple hours ago, today, about his current wife -- or i should say his third wife, because if you say his current wife, people think there's more coming. [laughter] but anyway, so his third wife -- [laughter] melania trump. she was -- she has not been heard of since the republican national convention on the 21st
of july. we're in the home stretch of a presidential campaign where if he wins, she is the first lady of the united states. she has an office in the white house, she has a public platform, and she has literally gone silent. it's very, very unusual. as many things in this campaign are unusual. okay. so three wives, all of them are not talking while the kids are. but just if i could for a minute, let's go back, roll back. since we're a book on his life, about what it used to be about donald and women. he used to go on howard stern, for instance. he's the shock jock. and he would go on all the time, and stern would say, donald, what do you think about diane sawyer, would you do her, you know? and all this kind of talk. and they would -- and with much more graphic than that. and he was always talking about women, he was always talking about how princess diana got away from him, you know?
if he only had a chance really to go, you know? but women defined him. and i think when we talk to people who know him, who knew him in the '80s, the '90s, they said, you know what? there were a lot of rich people in new york. there were a lot of rich people who had buildings in new york, but there was only one donald trump who was always in the paper with some other babe who wanted him. and that was a direct quote from someone who knew him. so i think for a long time women got attention for donald trump. and for some reason, i think he liked attention. [laughter] and i think that he, when you go to his office, i've interviewed him in his office, and i've talked to melania on the phone, it's very striking that there's only really good looking women in the office. he talks about women's appearances nonstop. i mean, he's 70 years old, and i know a lot of older people often, you know, when they see somebody, they say it, but it's
very unusual to have a presidential candidate -- and he's getting tripped up on this every so often because appearances do matter. so in contrast to the old days where he just loved talking about donald trump ask women -- and women, we don't hear from them anymore. >> mary had an especially revealing interview with donald trump's lawyer about this question of how trump had spent years and years cultivating this playboy image and inviting reporters to come out and see him at a club when he would be there with the prettiest models, and yet his lawyer told you that when the cameras were turned off, it was actually a very different kind of dynamic. >> well, he would go to all the nightclub openings, studio 54, in the day. you know, especially during this gap when he wasn't married. there was a time after marla maples and before melania that he wasn't married, and he blitzed the scene. but he was very careful about how he spent his time, because
it was where there were cameras. and he was always with models. he would call modeling agencies up and, in fact, when he had parties, make sure that his own parties had a ratio of 5 to 1 gorgeous women to men. and he was, you know, constantly surrounding himself with women and at openings. so i said to his lawyer, dick goldberg, i said, you know, how did he have time for this? he's always telling me that work, how could i do all this stuff, mary? i mean, i'm working. i have all this money and responsibility, i have great buildings, have you seen my great buildings? [laughter] you know, this is how he talks. how could i possibly have been with all these women. so i asked goldberg, and he agreed completely. actually, he's on trump tower, and he works in part of it, he really just likes to turn the elevator up and turn on the tube and watch tv. so i said to trump, and then trump said, well, you know, maybe it wasn't as glamorous as
it's all out to be. so, i mean, image, you know, he was great at getting attention. how many women did he really have and how much tv did he have, i don't know. [laughter] >> robert samuels is a national political reporter at the post, and robert looked into the transition that donald trump made from celebrity to politician and the roots of his interest in running for office. and tell us a little bit -- did he see this as a completely different kind of pursuit, or was it kind of a natural progression for him? >> right. well, one of the governing questions that i was really interested in finding was why is this man doing this? and it was very clear from speaking with people who knew him that at some point he didn't realize the phenomena and the movement that we've seen sweep across the country. what we know through his political life and his affiliation is that he didn't
really have much stomach for partisan principles. between 1999 and 2012, he changed political parties seven times. [laughter] he's donated between 1995 and 2012, he donated $3.1 million by himself without looking at his companies to all sorts of politicians. he donated to clinton, he donated to carter. he loved ronald reagan. so what is this about really. and to do that, we started looking at lots and lots of footage and interviews that he's done over the years. and we talked some people into showing us the unaired, unedited versions of this, of these tapes. and and early on from his very first major network television interview in 1980, we see a theme that starts to emerge. he's talking about a building, and then he begins to rail on the idea that america's being laughed at.
that there's something that's happening in the political system where leaders aren't strong enough like they used to be. and he begins to ponder whether or not politicians today can be like an abraham lincoln. and he says abraham lincoln could never win in 1980 because he was too ugly, he did not look good on tv, and he didn't know how to master the media. and the president of the united states in this modern era needs to know how to do these skills. and and so what we see over the course of time is donald trump assessing politicses and presidents on -- politicians and presidents on their ability to affect messages, to communicate messages effectively and to figure out whether or not they make the country feel great again and everyone does a pretty great job until obama who he
considers a total disaster. by this point in 2012, donald trump has mastered the celebrity that he says those great minds in 1980 did not master. he's become the star of "the apprentice," he has this twitter following that everyone enjoys because he's talking about everything from whether or not barack obama's from the united states to whether or not katy perry's marriages are going to work out. and he decides that he is, in fact, the person who could best symbolize the greatness and tough leadership of america. and so there's a lot of, there's been a lot of skepticism about whether or not donald trump wanted to do this, whether he wanted to run for president. but it is true that days after romney lost that election, he was the one who filed an application to the patent office, and he copyrighted one phrase, and that phrase was make america great again. and so you see the thematics of his campaign starting from early
on in his public persona, but it had been something he had been thinking about and toying around with for several decades. >> great. there's one piece of video that you got from it was an old rona barrett celebrity interview from the 1980s which had never aired. you got parts that had never aired, and he was remarkably similar in the way he talked about political issues, but he was also very frank about the sort of dynamic of what was making him decide to run or not to run. >> it's interesting, and maybe it's because it was so early in donald trump's political career, but rona barrett really got probably the best information out of donald trump than any interview that i had seen, us notwithstanding. [laughter] and you see, you see him going through -- he said -- rona
barrett asks him, do you want to be president? he said, no, i love building. i'm an artist, i love building my buildings. and over time it really affects him. and he starts to take to this idea that, huh, maybe one day i could be president. particularly because people continuously ask him whether or not he wants to be the president of the united states. >> and he shows up in polls through the decades again and again not because he was running for anything, but because of his name recognition people put him on polls and he did very well. so it kind of built. but we want to turn it over to all of you to take your questions, so if you want to raise your hand, one of the folks with the microphones will come by and start -- ma'am? go ahead, yep. >> could you discuss his personality? was he warm? did he look you in the eye? was he reserved? did you see him with melania? a little bit about his personality. >> sure. in our interviews at trump
tower, they were in his office on the 26th floor with this glorious view of central park and fifth avenue, and he was very courteous and was, you know, as i said before, quite generous with his time. we never saw melania. his kids would wander in. ivanka and eric would wander in from time to from time to time and talk with him about a business trip they were going on or a problem at the property in miami. but he's very soft spoken in that setting. you get none of the bluster that we're familiar with from the rallies. and he, on the other hand, it is difficult to have a linear conversation with him. you can ask him about stuff, and he knows his field extraordinarily well. if you ask him about business deals he made in 1978, he will remember building materials and subcontractors' names and the
whole process of making, of working through a negotiation. but if you ask him anything that veers off of what he knows best, the knowledge base is very thin, and he tends to change the topic very quickly, a sentence or two, and he's off on to something else. he has his sort of base topics that he goes back to when he's a little bit flustered about not knowing something. he'll all of a sudden start talking about his tv ratings. >> he's -- >> there was another thing that he would do, i spoke to him only on the phone several times. if he was pressed on something, he would almost seem to get caught in a groove, and he would repeat the same thing over and over and over again. and sometimes one of my colleagues, drew, was especially adept at this, he would sort of say, mr. trump, mr. trump, and kind of bring him back -- [laughter] on course, and then we'd move on. but sort of joking aside, it was really a pronounced thing to be talking with someone who seemed
to veer off and get caught many a groove. >> he's a completely different person, i think, in person. he's really charming, he's very nice, he knows your name, he looks at you. i mean, everyone says that. it's not this bombastic guy that you see on tv. and everybody that's worked with him over the years say i turn on the tv -- i worked with this guy for 20 years, turn on the tv, i don't know who this is. >> this gentleman here. yep. >> most of -- i'm courteous -- curious of the aspects of trump's life and the experiences that you researched, what of the challenges or situations were most analogous to the kinds of challenges a president faces? and what can we learn from those? i mean, you've, your book has researched, and i'm looking forward to the chance to read it, how he dealt with women, how he dealt with celebrity, you know, and business deals, but
this is clearly not a direct analogy to what a president would face. >> right. >> and so what can we learn are, what is most instructive in this in understanding what he would be actually like as a president? >> michael? >> well, you know, it's a great question. and the parallel is what he did running his businesses. and nearly all the businesses that he ran were private businesses. so they're difficult to examine until you go through ancillary sources like sake know -- casino control commission records which bob and other reporters did, for example. he did have six corporate bankruptcies. he has often said four corporate bankruptcies, this is instructive to understand how he thinks. clearly, there were six. and we asked him to explain when you say four, what do you mean? and he said, well, i think of the three casinos as one bankruptcy. in fact, there were three separate court actions for prepackaged bankruptcies as they're called, and there
clearly were three separate ones, but to him, it's one. partly, he wants to the put the best image out this. the answer to your question, he was told by his father don't go deeply in debt, and he ended up going into junk bonds. he was hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in debt. time and again he thought he was not going to survive. we talked to a person who was, basically, given the job of negotiating with bondholders and banks, and that person told us that he was very concerned. this was someone who knew donald trump as well as anybody, and he was very concerned about donald trump at this moment. he said i'm looking at him, it's bankruptcy after bankruptcy. he's in the midst of a huge divorce. he's being humiliated day after day on the front pages of the newspapers, and i worry that, you know, he might take his own life. it's a very striking statement for someone who actually feels affectionately about donald trump. and what he said was but when i walked into the office of donald trump, there he was.
his suit looked perfect, his tie was perfect as well. and he would say, you know, what's next? what do we do next? and he had this ability for whatever reason to, instead of looking at, oh, my gosh, all these terrible problems, to try to be thinking positively. one of his mentors was the power of positive thinking. that could either mean he's detached from reality if you look at it that way, or that he just is so positive-oriented that he doesn't want to think about some of the deep problems he had. but the reality is, is that while he certainly says he's a great business person, that his businesses had trouble time and time again. drew can talk more, he's here in the audience, a reporter who worked on this. but he had a public company at one point, one time only, because he had to raise a lot of capital. and that company did do well at first, it paid donald trump millions of dollars, djt for his initials. but the stock price went from something like $35 to 17 cents, and the shareholders were very angry, there were lawsuits filed
that we write about. but the bottom line is that trump was able to survive. it's another example of being at the absolute depths and finding a way for himself to survive. and this is instructive. this is, you know, donald trump views it as, you know, i am there. his words are i'm a one-man army. and he talked in one of his books about the power of narcissism, for example. he cited a book by that name, and he said it's a very powerful thing. if you want to be successful, you have to think in that sort of tunnel vision way only about making sure that you do survive. and another one of his points in the book, think like a billionaire, he advise ares that you have a, quote, short attention span, unquote. so either he sees that as an attribute or he knows he has this particular disposition, and he tries to put it in the most positive way. but examining that business career and seeing, you know, as we try to do in book, you know, the peaks and the valleys and exact arely how he's operated,
it seems to be the best guide for how he might try to operate as -- >> one huge question comes up there. he is the first president who has a lot of foreign holdings as people look at his foreign policy, you know? he's expanding abroad. kevin sullivan is here, went to asker azerbaijan. we had reporters looking at his dealings in moscow, in panama, and we've never had anybody who would be in the white house who has their global business empire. and so your good question is how would this work? is he going to divest, and is it enough to divest himself? is the trump organization with the kids? i mean, the value goes up of his holdings all around the world. and he is increasing his worldwide holdings. it goes up if he's in the white house. >> you know, if you think about what do presidents do, they synthesize information and come to decisions. they persuade people of their positions, and they have a program of some kind. well, donald trump is not someone who takes in information
very deeply. we asked him about how he makes decisions, what he reads, and he says he doesn't read reports or briefings or anything like that. he doesn't like to read anything of any length. he believes that he comes to decisions by gut, by stint. instinct. so he very much wants people to come in and tell him about something orally, and he believes that he will get the nub of it in a matter of seconds. he's, obviously, very good at persuading people that he knows a way forward. but when et comes to persuading people individually in the way that a president has to to form coalitions and achieve compromises, that's something that he's done very little of in his career. he talks about being a great negotiator, and we've certainly spoken to some of his business associates who credit him for that, but we've also spoken to a lot of people who worked with him who say that he's all about getting his way, and he's not
one to reach compromises. yes, over here. go ahead. no, right here. >> i just wonder, his strong anti-mexican narrative in this campaign which has pretty much defined the campaign, where does it come from? and did you have people in mexico researching or looking into his deals there? could it come from his frustration? apparently, he didn't do very well down there? >> well, i was the bureau chief in mexico for five years with my husband, ken sullivan, and we went to interview the last two presidents to talk about this. presidents fox and calderon. and as far as we can tell -- and especially having been at rallies, it comes from a lot of people in america like what he has to say, and he knows that. he gets reinforced every day.
it may be the most populist thing that he says. there's no hint that he's always, you know, not liked mexico or anything. his gift is that he is saying -- this is what we keep hearing at rallies and talking to millions of americans, they're fed up. and he says, and he'll tell you that in interviews, that he's a reflection of what people want. you know, he thinks that our immigration policies have been wrong. >> to amplify that, i think one thing that's a safe bet with donald trump -- although we can't be sure of it -- is that he's actually the embodiment of a populist politician, and we've had a history of those going back 200-plus years. and they emerge period create, and the patterns are very similar. they say what people want to hear. they try to, they try to appeal to people's anger and frustration, and it's possible that donald trump doesn't have
buchanan spoke about people including jews, blacks, gays and mexicans. what we are seeing now when you go to the rallies and you experience that, and he said it himself, when the crowd gets low, he loves to bring out the issue of who's going to build the wall because the crowds go nuts. it's a way to add something to the political perspective that something can understand. for him that's very important. in fact, he spoke to a number of people who are talking to him about the decision to run for president. when you talk about the issues that were really important to him, the relationship with mexico didn't really come up. in fact, a a number of them were a surprise. he made allusions to racist and criminal talks in the first speech. >> one of the people we spoke to who is closest with trump gave us some guidance and said when you're trying to understand his
motives, always go first to the fact that he thinks of himself as a showman and he wants to get affirmation from the crowd. >> and when asked about something that's important with the president and that is his temper. i want to let you know, in the 80s and early '90s i was in charge of promoting atlantic city so i have some knowledge about this. when donald trump saw an article in the atlantic city press or an editorial, he pulled the newspaper off the newsstand and all of his hotels and atlantic city magazine which he owned. he stopped paying the dues which was 25% of the budget. i always think of him is petulant.
i was wondering if you found in your research anything that would give you some guidance as to what his temper will be like if he gets elected. >> he has said many times, i can be a screamer. i was talking about john o'donnell who wrote a book about trump and he cites these temper issues and temperament issues. donald got so frustrated with this that he ended up quitting. i asked trump about this and he said jack o'donnell didn't quit, i fired him so we went back and forth bread you hear that from a number of people and trump himself said he was a screamer. those are his own words. how would that reflect, donald trump and his father fred trump
in 1973, they advised donald trump, when you're hit, hit back harder. that is the root of his personality to a great degree he settled that case eventually but he has endued that philosophy. >> he settled the case only after dragging it out and attacking viciously the prosecutor and that's an aspect that he is very open about wanting to punish people who, as he says, viciously attacked me. a lot of politicians want payback to come now or later so he is fixing to that mold. >> it's worth noting that a lot of americans find this appealing. again, i think there are a lot
of people that think when he's hit, he's going to hit tens times harder and that's what he's going to do out there, they like his confidence and he is clearly feeding off an enormous amount of americans who like what they see on tv. >> that audacious attitude is something that we trace in the book all the way back to his childhood. there's a number of examples going back to elementary school of that behavior. [inaudible] my question is, which is very
scary to me, after 2000 the press said they went down on the job, not going after bush's motives for going into iraq. it wasn't until a day or two ago i have seen the press begin to say this isn't true. not really report on what he is saying but some just abyss disposition of it. after he confronted, i'm very scared about voters who, as you said, but their passion, they like that what they hear but my credo is, let's get the facts argue about conclusion. what is the press to hold him accountable. i'm not to talk about the washington post, to hold him accountable and say you can't
make these allegations. >> i'd say every waco we get a question about the sense that many people have that there is none aggressive coverage donald trump. ask a question about hillary clinton. yes i think the recording that went into this book also said some of the 30 major stories that appeared and there is great detail and pushing back against his own narrative and version of his life and successes and career. you're right, there are other aspects that have not been as aggressive in doing the reporting that we think is our obligation in the presidential campaign so, there are real questions to be asked about
getting over vast stretches of time to running his valleys and so on, more time was given to other candidates. we can't control what they do, this was our obligation to report and commit them enormous resources to this book and the stories that appear the paper will continue to appear in the post. >> trump hates what we write, we have a fact fact checker full-time, we've had all these big stories, but it is a key question. i think the debate and strong moderating in the upcoming debate is absolutely critical because that's what everybody's watching. people look at one story and then i'll say why energy going after donald trump. then i'll say this. the debates are both there and
it's going to depend a lot on the moderator. >> just be clear, he, he made the idea that hasn't been talked about in the last couple days. many times the fact checker, they do extraordinary work and check everything in almost real-time and there's a story up today that basically they went over again what donald trump said. he said i was against the war from the beginning when in fact every fact check has shown that's not the case. every time that statement is made, the fact fact checker puts things out, they know that's not actually correct. >> do you think he means what he says or is that all part the show. >> it depends what he's saying. it's hard to believe in talking to him that he means what he says.
>> i think it's important to note that there is an accuracy question and there's an honesty question and so many people who support donald trump, it's not so much the fact that the genuine passion that he elicits when he speaking. i think it's a important distinction to make make and acknowledge. the fact that he gets up there and he says something that aligns with people. for those who feel that they have disenfranchised their idea of how a political leader should operate and what their ideas should be. one thing that's been so important for his candidacy is that skill is one skill that hillary clinton really struggles with. i think we need talk about this genuine question, a lot of voters are wondering if there genuinely listening.
>> i am impressed with how many of our institutions are being privatized and i see this as potentially giving other people aspirations to enter into a power structure and give them the chance. are we talking to a day where we are going to profit from many in our political system. >> i'm out there and talking to voters a lot. i think in some sense, yes, people have been drawn, it seems so far ago but they were talking
about bernie sanders and the impact he was having on the democratic party in that process. we've seen a lot of people enter into the two-party system and that will change who people pick and how they perform in their vote. >> a lot of people seem to say, there's checks and balances, he's not really going to do what he says he's going to do, what reason do we think, with the forces that he has unleashed and the legitimacy by the attention given to the race and bigotry and things like that that forces have been unleashed and the checks and balances we think exist maybe won't exist.
i saw them getting involved, at what point do we become close to a banana republic? at what point are we gonna say he really doesn't mean it. doesn't matter if he really doesn't mean it if he is really about power and the forces that he has unleashed become bigger than him and you have the essay out there. >> i've heard this so many times it's really just a presidency. they're not kidding. they say look at washington. look at congress. really not much get done. it's an image but he's a strong guy and he's not the same old thing. that's what they are electing in for some amazing reason, we started reading of story about the president does have a lot of power.
it seems so obvious but they can get us into a lot of trouble very quickly. we should keep writing that because that sediment is out there. even more than that, they will talk to people and they'll say you support the muslim ban, but how would that work exactly. then you start talking about the money and how it works and they say well we don't think he's really gonna do that. it's it's just like he's going to be strong against it and he'll be thinking about how he wants to keep that. >> seem at the wall. you're likely to minute, it's 2000 miles. how much money with that cost. he's getting the benefit because people want him to say it and they shout at the rallies. it's the sentiment, it's that he wants to. he is telling us, i hear you, you're fed up with all the immigration and a lot of people who think that nafta was bad and took their jobs so he's just
better than his opponents kind of connecting with people through tv. >> there's another aspect to your question. it comes from the word unleashed i've had this in the back of my mind for a long time, before the election, but it's really coming to a play in the last several months which is, i think what we are saying has been developing an unfolding and i'm packing itself for 15 or 20 years. maybe 25 years. the separation, the rise of the internet, we have seen a surge in deepening of anti- intellectual behavior and i sort of feel like it's coming to play, almost cresting with the election. to me, those are the undercurrents that are more troubling because it's not who gets elected president, it's deeper trends in our society
which i suspect will be exploring after the election because they're not going to go away immediately. >> i would just add one cautionary note. there is an assumption often about trump's opponents that the rallies are these gatherings of extremists and races and so on and that's just not the case. there are crazies at his rally, to be sure, but there are also a lot of obama trump voters. these are the hope and change voters. we have people who saw someone who heard exactly the kind of things that bob mentioned and took that to heart and reflected what frustration and troubles people were going through people see that and donald trump. >> one must question.
[inaudible] does he think about his own skills. >> he knows he's good at everything. [laughter] >> that's what he would say. people respond to his confidence he has said he will get really smart people around him and it's all about the confidence. he has not said what is aleppo but we did learn he would've caught osama bin laden for. i think the undercut of your question is really important to explore. throughout this country, what is the requirement for president.
for donald trump he said what the requirement was 30 years ago and he reiterated it 20 years ago and that was the person who could reinvigorate the spirit of america who has boldness and pomposity. those are his word. does he think he fits the requirement? absolutely. the question is sort of a values question and that's where things get interesting. he has always had this very small circle of people he can really rely on. they're usually core family members. at the casinos there was one or two people who died in a helicopter crash and time and time again you see there is one to vital people who can tell him what to do. he doesn't like to be told he's wrong. often times you see people being fired.
you see it again in this campaign. he's gone through to campaign managers already in this campaign. he would have to tackle many issues that he doesn't know anything about. how would he organize that and emphasize that. >> he talks about getting things done. he thinks the best way is an army of one and it's hard to run a country with one person. i think this would be a key thing because hillary clinton, it's polar opera site. she's had all this experience in government and he is certainly going to answer this and say he has the temperament, he is shown through his businesses and has the confidence to get the right people. >> if he's right he will completely redefine what it means to be president given his biography, his track record, his lack of experience in the public life. if he's right, he will be the first person to come this far in an election campaign. if he's elected, he will break
all the motes. >> he has an answer for question. when things go right, he knew what to do and he takes all the credit. when things go wrong and he showed this in various stages throughout the career, but then the system is rigged. we've heard these words from him and that is exactly the phrase he uses throughout his life whether he's facing trouble or failure. when we see that now you can sort of see that he's not oblivious to the position in the pool and he's preparing himself and all of us for the message that he will have if he loses. i think we have to leave it there, but thank you for coming out. [applause]
president of judicial watch, welcome to our educational panel on the clinton scandal update. joining us is an expert panel of clinton watchers who have examined her career over the decades and have made some, has some pretty startling information for you as we begin this panel. judicial watch is a nine partisan educational foundation. we prosecute government corruption wherever we find it whether it is republican or democrat and judicial watch is pleased to be able to present you the special panel on facebook life, the y american news network and c-span. welcome. to provide you some context before i introduce our panelist, i thought i would give you a brief update on the clinton e-mail matter