Trump Revealed CSPAN November 12, 2016 9:45am-11:01am EST
men coming to power in the united states. of course it is horrifying, very oppressive, dictatorial state so i wanted to see what there was particularly in those books. you have to watch this really weird movie idiotic with the -- you see glimmers. the appeal, there was a famous moment i can't remember which primary, arizona after arizona. i love the poorly educated because he had done so well in that demographic. in those books the leaders that become totalitarian figures had strong appeal among what we now call low information voters. you see some parallels, and
expectation that there is something wrong is these are very dystopian novel to go much further than i think donald trump would ever go. there are these kind of interludes in history and sinclair lewis, what happened, excuse me, in the plot against america, charles lindbergh comes to power and the country horribly for two years and disappears and roosevelt comes back and everything picks up as we know it. which can happen in real life. i was looking for inspiration in fiction and i think there are elements that you recognize in trump's personal style and rhetoric and his appeal to the audience. >> the most important thing i
learned at work, mister trump writes, is not to be overly impressed by academic credentials. didn't take me long to realize there is anything awesome or exceptional about my classmates. michael kruse, let's go back to where we started. is this campaign playbook? >> it can be seen as such. there are lots of books he has written or cowritten or been written for him that all added up, the campaign playbook for donald trump. >> monica langley. >> i say definitively yes. it is classic donald trump and elements of the deal, the elements of his campaign. >> monica langley, michael kruse, carlos lozada, thank you for being on this roundtable on booktv.
>> next up on our block of programs about donald trump, trump revealed, with authors marc fisher and michael kranish. >> why don't we get started? my name is marty barron, executive editor of the washington post. we are excited that all of you came out this evening, to welcome you here. tonight you are going to get the chance to meet some of the journalists and editors of "trump revealed: an american journey of ambition, ego, money and power". this was an exhaustively researched book about the life and career of donald trump. the post has a long tradition with the presidential nominees of each major party and this year donald trump's shall we say novel and oversized presence in
the political arena, and opportunity to do a book. we are especially grateful, all these folks who came in on time for making that possible. i want to mention we have publisher nan brown, there we go. [applause] >> editor in chief colin harrison. you all worked incredibly fast and incredibly hard and with skill throughout and we are grateful. from the post there are two doesn't journalists who worked on this book. they needed to go very deep. that is why we deployed such a large scheme. scott wilson, our national editor who could not be here this evening assembled that
team, flowing from every department in our newsroom. all that came together in a matter of months. this evening you will hear from five of the people who worked on this book and with the co-authors, michael kranish who is here and marc fisher who is behind me and i will step away, the primary authors of "trump revealed: an american journey of ambition, ego, money and power," everyone contributed to it. this is a conference of examination of donald trump's life, his personality, his personal feelings and long-running encounters with politicians. we believe this is the kind of in-depth reporting we expect from the post and with that a special pleasure for me to introduce today's moderator and one of the co-authors of the book "trump revealed: an american journey of ambition, ego, money and power," senior editor marc fisher. [applause]
>> thank you all for coming out, a big crowd but i understand many of you are here, one thing we can't find enough of these days is information about donald trump. that is kind of true because he is the first major party candidate in 60 years since dwight eisenhower who has not previously held elected office. that means he has not been vetted in the way most politicians are as a matter of course as they run for their office. obviously he has had celebrity for decades. celebrity is a different kind of attention from having your life and career, background rigorously examined in a way that would help voters understand how you think, how you make decisions, what you really believe in. making the rounds on tv, promotion of this book, we found
the single most effective way to sell this book was one single tweet from donald jade trump, late of jamaica estates new york, the book was actually released, he put out a tweet saying, calling the book a job saying it was boring and you shouldn't buy it. our numbers went soaring after that. tremendously grateful to him since he informed the million -- 11 million of his closest friends about the book. what was fascinating about that was he could not help himself. any rational campaign advisor would have told him to ignore it but he couldn't help himself so he did this. this was confirmation of something in the book, this is a man who deeply believes the proper response, the only proper response to anything that could
be at all critical is to attack and attack hard. the derivation of that characteristic of donald trump, not only to his childhood, a father taught him to be a killer and warned him against being nothing but also to his relationship with work, home, the infamous new york attorney which was his mentor when he was just starting out on his own in business. marty barron, the origins of this book, a little more on that before we get into the discussion. this book came together in late march. back to the primary season, it became very clear donald trump was the likely nominee. at that point this team of 20 reporters was put together. the deal we struck that came,
was signed on a thursday, the plan was to announce it to the public the following monday. the next day, friday, i called hope hits, donald trump's press secretary, to let her know this would be on the following monday and asked her, we wanted to have a series of interviews with donald trump, get as much of his time as we could because although we had a large group of reporters digging into every aspect of trump's life, he had documents, talking to everyone from his friend and classmate and neighbors through his business associates, partners, competitors, contractors and so on. we wanted as much time as we could get with them. i explained the deal we made and the book we would be doing a lot of reporters would be calling them and she cut me off and said
we are profiteering off of mister trump. which was kind of curious given that he spent a lot of his time talking to reporters, profit-making institutions. she was not open to that line of reasoning and cut off the conversation and that we will not cooperate with this book, you are on your own. it was a fairly likely outcome anyway that did not affect our plan how to report on this book but low and behold the following monday she called back and said she had a chance to as she put it tell mister trump about your fabulous idea and he actually liked the idea and wanted us to come to trump tower as often as we like and as long as we like to see the book is fair and accurate and get the real story
out about his life when interesting curiosity is his own press secretary worked with him for a number of months, he would very much like the opportunity to talk about his favorite subject, himself. as we talked to trump in the weeks that followed he regularly extended our interview time, doubled and tripled the amount of time he spent with us, some he answered in more detail than others, but he spoke with a number of reporters on the phone, as they went into greater depth that they were digging into, we had people working on this book who were experts in reporting in atlantic city on finances, organized crime
connections, looked into brief experience as a sports franchise in the football league. every chapter of his life. one of the goals is completeness and another, transparency. we know the document in the book donald trump is highly litigious person, he has sued the author of the previous biography for $5 billion. we asked, a certain curiosity about that, we asked about that case, he said he never read the book. i was puzzled by that. how do you go about suing somebody for $5 billion when you never read the book? he said people told me it was a bad book. a classic trump is him, he
didn't see anything untoward about that. he was very gracious, very generous with his time, answered questions but every once in a while would slip in a thread about how if it was a bad book as he put it he would come after us and come after the post. there was this alternating graciousness and tension through the whole relationship we had with him. this kind of approach, a good book or a bad book, something shot through the book, shot through his life, one of the things that makes him decide whether a book or article is good or bad is whether it questions the extent of his wealth.
>> away do -- we do have ways of coming to the conclusion that he's not worth what he says he is. and, in fact, in a deposition in the 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 feelen on a given -- 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, 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. isso 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, his background, any of that is totally fair. only one thing they were told they may not joke about, and that was the 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 i want to turn over to michael kranish, my co-writer, who will give you a couple examples of the things that made donald trump what he ised today. 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 folks know this, but when i was a kid growing up in d.c., i was a washington post paper boy for about fife years. [laughter]
-- five years. i'm thrilled to be here working on this project. i want to tell you a story that explains why i think biography is so important in writing about a presidential be candidate. we do fantastic stories, and biography is sort of the thread 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 person's life, how they've dealt with crises, that to me is one of the most important things. someone who has dealt with dark moments in their life and, certainly, donald trump fits that category very, very well. so i want to take you to the morning of october 10th of 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 x he's about to open a third, the taj mahal. and these three executives are about to 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, they have a press conference at the plaza hotel in new york, they meet with donald trump at the trump tower on the 26th floor. the meeting goes a little bit long, and they can no longer take the sikorsky back to atlantic city, so 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 was that there was a small scratch on one of the rotor blades and that helicopter basically burst apart, and the three men and the two crew were killed. it is one of the most tragic days in donald trump's life ask, certainly, for the people killed in that tragedy. for donald trump, i asked him about this, 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. these men were in charge of making sure he would be successful. donald trump had built some buildings 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, so he had two casinos, was about to open a third, and suddenly the people who were 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 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 ride, but instead he was in hawaii competing in an athletic event, and he'd sent a junior executive. donald now basically had 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 this was the first time he'd seen such fear and uncertainty in donald trump's eyes and voice. and long story short because i want to give everybody a chance to talk and questions and so forth. what happened next was 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 a lot of people were fired. donald trump said somebody who was running the casino be 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 ordeal of his career in atlantic city, and the fact that he did survive tells you something. 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 he did survive. so with that story, you understand why those who underestimate him would do so at their peril. thank you very much. [applause] >> so i'm going to turn to some of the other reporters who worked on the book. bob o'hare row 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 would talk about that period that michael was just talking about in atlantic city. some very rough times for donald trump. and, bob, you learned a lot about trump's business style and about the kinds of characters he was willing to associate himself with in order to get a start in a very rough and tumble of atlantic city's casino world. talk to us a little bit about that. >> it's actually remarkable
because it was a long time ago, but it feels very fresh. and 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 the 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 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 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 obscurity throughout his career. deals are complex, answers are complex and vague often times, and the documents that we were able the 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, 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 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 the 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 i it. >> so i got the women. [laughter] and karen heller is here, another great reporter, and boy, was that interesting. okay. theres 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, from the former czechoslovakia who coined the term, the donald. she's also the one when they had a wicked, wicked public divorce, it 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 see her. second wife, she's still alive, she's been married four times and donald went to her fourth wedding. 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 the paper.
at that time he wasn't running for office x 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, this woman. and 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's like miss peach. [laughter] but she was very, 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 current wife, sometimes people think there's more
coming. [laughter] but anyway, so his third wife, melania trump, she was miss -- she has nod been heard of since the -- 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 roll back, 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 was the shock jock. and he'd 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 it was 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, 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 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 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. especially during this gap when he wasn't married, 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. you know, constantly surrounding himself with women and at openings. so i said to his lawyer, you know, how did he have time for this? he's always telling many me that he's 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] this is how he talks, how could i possibly have been with all these women? so asked dick goldberg, and he agreed completely. he said, actually, he's on the
trump tower and he works in part of it, he really just likes to take the elevator up and turn on the tube and watch tv. so i said this to trump and trump said, well, you know, maybe it wasn't as glamorous as it's out to be. i mean, image, you know, he was great at getting attention. i mean, how many women did he really is have and how much tv? i don't know. [laughter] >> robert samuels looked into the transition donald trump made from celebrity into politician, so tell us a little -- 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? [laughter] and it was very clear from speaking with people who knew
him that at some point he didn't realize the phenomenon and the movement that that we've seen sweep across the country. what we know through his political life and 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 old decisions. 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 these tapes.
and early on from his very first major network television interview this 1980 -- 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, ask he says abraham lincoln could never win this 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 so what we see over the course of time is donald trump assessing 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 okay job until obama who he considers a total disaster. by this point in 2012, donald trump has mastered the celebrity that he said 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. [laughter] 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." 9 and so you see the thematics of his campaign starting 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 about what was making him decide to run or not to run. was that -- >> it's interesting, and maybe it was 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 -- rona barrett asked him, do you want to be president? he said, no, i love building, i'm an around the u.s., i love building -- artist, i love building my buildings, and over it really affects him. 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. well, we want to turn it over to all of you to take your questions, so if you want to raise your hand, we'll have the folks with the microphones come by and start -- go ahead.
yep. >> could you discuss his personality? was he warm? did he look you in the idea? 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 eave, and he was -- 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 time. and talk with him about a business trip he 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 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 talk about his tv ratings. >> there's 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 be 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 in a groove. >> he's a completely different person, i think, in person. he's very 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 worked with this guy for 20 years, turn on the tv, i don't know who this is. >> this gentleman here. yep. >> i'm curious of the aspects of trump's life and his 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, 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 til you go through ancillary sources like casino control commission records which bob and other reporters did, for example. he did have six corporate bankruptcies. he has often said he had four corporate bankruptcies. this is instructive to understand how he sort of thinks.
and, clearly, there were six. we asked him to explain when you say four, what do you mean? he said, well, i think of the three casinos as one bankruptcy. in fact, there were three separate corporations for pre-packaged bankruptcies as they're called, and there clearly were three separate ones, but to him it's one. part of it, he wants to put the best image out there. but the answer directly to your question is that he was told by his father, don't go deeply into debt. and as bob mentioned, he ends up going into junk bonds. he was hundreds of millions or even billions in debt. time anden again he thought that he was not going to survive. we talked to a person who was basically given the job of negotiating with bondholders or and banks, and and that person told us 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 trumpment 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 nexting? and he had this ability to try to be thinking positively, one of his mentors was norman vincent peale, the power of positive thinking. that could mean he's detached from real estate or he's just so positive-oriented that he doesn't want to think about some of the deep problems he had. but the reality is while he certainly says he's a great business person, his businesses had trouble time and time again. drew can talk more, he's a reporter here in the audience who worked on this. he had a public company at one point, one time only, because he
had to raise a lot of capita. that -- capital. that company did do well at first, but the stock price went from something like $35 to 17 cents. and the shareholders were very angry, this were lawsuits filed that we write about, but the bottom line is that trump was able to survive. another example of being at the absolute depths ask and finding a way for himself to survive. and this is instructive. this is, you know, donald trump views it as, you know, his words are it's a one-man army. and he talked in one of his books about the power of narcissism, for example. he started a book by that name, and he said it's a very powerful thing. the you want to be successful, you have to think in that tunnel vision way only about making sure 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 the book, you know, the peaks and the valleys and actually how he's operated, it seems to be the best guide for how he might try to operate -- >> one huge question comes up there is that 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 azerbaijan, we had reporters in moscow looking at his dealings, they're in panama, and we've never had anybody who would be in the white house who has a global business empire. 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. >> i think, you know, the 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 ram a of some kind. -- 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 instinct. and 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 or, very good at persuading people that he knows a way forward, but when it comes to persuading people individually in the way that the 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 associations who credit him for that, or but we've also soaken to a lot of people -- spoken to a lot of people who work 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. [inaudible conversations] >> 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, kevin sullivan, and we went to interview the last two
presidents about this, vicente fox and philippe 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 popular thing he says. there's no hint that he's always, i mean, not liked mexico or anything. he, 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 too, is 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 periodically, and the patterns are very similar. they say what people want to hear, they try to appeal to people's anger and frustration, and it's possible that donald trump doesn't have any animus towards mexicans and that he's only playing the cards that he sees are out there for him to play with. and if that's the case, we should be troubled because what we need to some degree in our leaders, i suppose, is a general sense that they're telling us what they really feel and the truth and at least pursuing policies that are sort of generally in the interests of the country. >> to add to what bob's saying, i'd like to contrast this -- well, his current position on mexicans with what he said in the previous time when he was really close to running for president in 1999 and 2000. up to that point, he was considering running as a third party candidate against pat buchanan, remember him? and donald trump said that the
reason -- he'd be a better reform party candidate than pat buy canna because he was all about inclusiveness, and he did not like the way pat buchanan spoke about numbers of people including jews, blacks, gays and mexicans. what you're seeing now when you go to the rallies and you experience that -- and he's said it himself -- is that when the crowd gets low, he loves to bring out the issue of who's going to build the wall, because the crowd goes nuts. it's a way to add something to the political perspective that people can understand and that they have a very visceral response about. and for him, that's very important. in fact, we spoke to a number of people who were talking to him about the decision to run for president, and when he talked about the issues that were really important to him, the relationship with mexico didn't really come up. in fact, a number of them were surprised when he talked, he made the allusions to rapists
and criminals crossing the border in the first speech. >> one of the people who we spoke to who was closest to trump gave us some guidance and said when you're trying to understand his motives, always go first to the idea that he thinks of himself foremost as a showman. and he will always choose the most provocative line of attack because he wants to get the response, the affirmation from the crowd. yes, sir, over here. >> yeah. i want to ask about something that's really important in a president, and that's his temper. i want to let you know that in the '80s and early '90s i was in charge of promoting atlantic city, so i have a little bit of knowledge about this. when donald trump saw an article in the atlantic city press or worse, an editorial, he pulled the newspaper off the newsstands in all of his hotels and
atlantic city magazine, which they also owned. he didn't like what the casino association did, he stopped paying the dues which was 25% of the budget. so i always think of him at 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's said, you know, many times i can be a screamer, quote-unquote. and i'm familiar with the anecdote you're talking about in atlantic city. and the person i referenced when i started talking this evening was john o'donnell who wrote a book called trumped, exclamation point, and he repeatedly cites these temperament issue. and, in fact, donald trump, he got so frustrated, he ended up quitting. i asked trump about this, he said, no, i fired him. [laughter] but you do hear that from a number of people, and trump himself has said he is a
screamer, those were his own words. as to how that would reflect, you know, bob mentioned roy cohn. roy cohn was the lawyer for donald trump when the u.s. government sued donald trump and his father fred trump for race bias in 1973. and roy cohn advised donald trump when you're hit, hit back ten times harder or a hundred times harder and that, you know, is the root of his personality. they actually settled that case eventually. but time and time again we see a lot of lawsuits, and he has, you know, indeed that philosophy, hit himself. and that case gave him an animus towards the federal government. >> he settled the case only after dragging it out and attacking viciously the prosecutors through roy cohn x. that's an aspect that he's more than a screamer, he is very open about wanting to punish people who -- he often uses the phrase viciously attack me. and, you know, a lot of politicians want payback can
come now or later, so he fits into that mold. >> and it's worth noting that a lot of americans find this appealing. again, i think that there's a lot of people who think this guy, when he's hit, says he's going to hit ten times harder, and that's what he's going to do out there. they like his, you know, confidence, and he is clearly feeding off of an enormous amount of americans who like what they see on tv. >> and that pugnacious attitude is something that we trace in the book all the way back to his childhood. a number of examples of stories going back to element reschool -- elementary school of really kind of ruffian behavior, as he calls it. yes, sir. >> you guys are really amazing. [laughter] [inaudible]
[laughter] >> thank you. [applause] >> [inaudible] my question, my question is which is very scary to me, is that after 2000 the press said they fell down on the job in not going after bush's motives for going into iraq. and it wasn't until a day or two ago i have seen the press begin to say this isn't true. and not merely report on what he is saying, but some juxtaposition of it. he said in this this day and sad that that day and actually confront it. because i'm very scared about voters who, as you said, their passions, they like what they hear. but my credo is, let's get the facts and argue about conclusions.
what do you expect the press to do, what is the obligation of the press to hold him accountable? i'm not necessarily talking about "the washington post," but just in general, to hold him accountable and say you can't, you can't make these allegations when the facts belie it. >> all right. we've actually, i'd say everywhere we go we get a question about this sense that many people have that there's been late or not aggressive coverage of donald trump. we also get the same question about hillary clinton. and, you know, i think the reporting that went into this book also fed more than 30 major stories that appeared in the post over the last few months that go into great detail in pushing back existence trump's own narrative -- against trump's own narrative, own version of his life and successes and career. but you're right, there are other aspects of the news media that have not been as aggressive
in doing the reporting that we think is our obligation in any presidential campaign, in any campaign. so, you know, i think particularly in television there are questions to be asked about, you know, giving over vast stretches of time to running his rallies and so on, you know, greatly more time than was given to other candidates. but, you know, we can't control what they do. we decided that this was our obligation to do this deep reporting and commit enormous resources to this book and and the stories that have appeared in the paper and will continue to appear in the post. >> and the post has been banned by trump, you know? i mean, he hates what we write. we have a fact checker full time, we've had all these big stories. but, you know, it is a key question. i think the debates and strong moderating in the upcoming debates is absolutely critical because that's when everyone's watching. because people look at one story, and then they call -- one
story about hillary clinton, and they'll say whyen aren't you going -- why aren't you going after donald trump, and then they'll see one thing about donald trump and why this? the debate is going to depend a lot on the moderators. >> and just to be clear, he made the idea that hasn't been talked about the last couple of days. this has been written about for months by other organizations, by our organization. many times the fact checker that mary mentioned, i mean, they do extraordinary work where they check everything in almost realtime, and there's a story up today that, basically, they went over again what donald trump said. he said that i was against the war from the beginning but, in fact, every fact check has said that's not the case, that he said on howard stern that -- he didn't say he was against the war at that time. so everything time that statement's made -- every time the statement's made, the fact checker puts something out to say, no, that's not the case. >> all the way in the back. >> do you think he means what he says, or is it all just part of the show?
>> it depends what he's saying. [laughter] i mean, it's hard to believe sometimes when talking to him that he actually means what he says. >> i think it's also important to note that, you know, there's an accuracy question, and there's an honesty question for people. and so many people who support donald trump, it's not so much the facts, but it's the genuine passion that he elicits when he's speaking. and be i think that's a very important distinction to make, and it's an important distinction to acknowledge, the fact that he gets up there and he says something that aligns with people. it's an empowering feeling. for those who feel that the obama years have disenfranchised their ideas of how the country should operate and what a political leader should be. and one of the things that has been so important for his candidacy is that skill is one skill that hillary clinton has acknowledged that she really struggles with. and so i think, you know, when
we talk about this genuine question, i think a lot of voters are wondering whether or not the person is, the candidates are genuinely listening to them. and on that front, donald trump is. >> yes. >> i am, i am imrested with how many of our institutions are being privatized. and i see this as potentially giving other people who have aspirations to enter into a power structure the chance. are we, are we looking to a day when we're going to profit from many of trump's spawn in our political system? [laughter] >> i don't know where to start. i think, you know, i'm out
there, i'm talking to voters a lot. and i think in some senses, yes. i mean, i think people have been drawn, i mean, it seems so far ago but, you know, six months ago everyone was talking about bernie sanders and the impact that he was having on the democratic party and that process. and we're seeing a lot of different types of voices enter into the standard two-party system. and that will inevitably change who people pick and how they perform in terms of when they're trying to win votes. >> yes, sir. >> how did -- the thing that i've been pondering is, building on this other question, a lot of people seem to say, well, he's -- there's checks and balances, he's not really going to do what he says he's going to do. what reason do we really think with the forces that he's unleashed and the legitimacy by the attention given to some of
the racism and bigotry and things like that, that forces have been unleashed in our society that the checks and balances we think exist maybe won't exist? and i get really troubled, for instance, when you see former members of senior officers on both sides getting involved, and it just -- i wonder what kind of, at what point do we become close to a banana republic? you know? at what point do, are we being too -- say, well, he really doesn't mean it. does it really matter if he doesn't really mean it if he's really about power and the forces that he's unleashed become bigger than him and you have like the essay or out there or -- >> i've heard this so many times. you know, it's really just the presidency. [laughter] i mean, and they're not kidding. they say look at washington. i mean, there's congress, really not much gets done. it's the image. he's a strong guy and, number
two, he's not the same old thing. so that's what they're electing. and for some amazing reason, so we started writing a story about, actually, the president has a lot of power. i mean, it seems so obvious to. [laughter] you could get us into a lot of trouble very quickly. [laughter] and we should keep writing that, because that sentiment is out there. and even more than that, you know, you'll talk to people and you'll say, well, you support the muslim ban. but do -- how does that work exactly? and then you started talking about money and the work. you know, we don't really think he's going to do that, it's more like he's going to be strong against it, and he'll be thinking about he wants to keep that. the same with the wall. wait a minute, it's 2,000 miles. how much money would that cost? and again -- so he's getting the benefit of it because people want him to say it, they shout it at rafters, and yet they're like, oh, we don't really expect he's going to build it. it's the sentiment. it's that he wants to.
it's that he's telling us i hear you, you're fed up with all the immigration and a lot of people who think that nafta was bad, took their jobs. so he's just better than his to object kind of connecting with people through tv. >> there's another aspect to your question, and 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 come into play in the last several months which is i think what we're seeing now has been in play, has been developing and unfolding and unpacking itself for about 15 or 20 years, maybe 25 years. and the separation, the lack of comity in congress, the -- ironically with the rise of the internet, we've seen a surge, a deepening of anti-intellectual behavior. and i sort of feel like it's come into play almost cresting now with this election.
and to me, that's the more -- those are the undercurrents that are more troubling because it's not who gets elected president necessarily, it's deeper trends in our society which i suspect we'll be exploring after the election, because they're not going to go away immediately. >> i would just add one cautionary note because there's an assumption often among trump opponents that the rallies are these gatherings of extremists and racists and so on, and it's just not the case. there are crazies at his rallies, to be sure. there are extremists. but there are also a lot of -- i did a story a few weeks ago about obama/trump voters, and there are a lot of them. and these are the hope and change voters, and these are people who saw in barack obama someone who heard exactly the kinds of things that robert and bob mentioned and took that to heart and reflected what the
frustrations and troubles that people were going through. and a lot of those same people see that in donald trump, and those are not extremists. so we have time for just one last question. yes, ma'am. >> [inaudible] do you think trump appreciates -- [inaudible] the requirements of the presidency and thinks about his own skills vis-a-vis those requirements? >> he knows he's good at everything. [laugher] >> yeah. >> i mean, that's what he was -- i mean, he would say that. and people respond to his confidence. he has said that he will get really smart people around him and, i mean, it's all about the confidence. and he is not, i mean, he has not said, you know, what is aleppo yet. [laughter] >> but we did learn that he would have caught osama bin laden before 9/11 today. [laughter]
>> i think, i think the undercut of your question's a really important thing to explore. and throughout this country i think there's a big debate over what is the requirement for a president, right? and for donald trump, he said what the requirement was 30 years ago, and he reiterated it 20 years ago. and that was a person who could reinvigorate the spirit of america who has boldness and pomposity. those are his words. and so does he fit, think he fits the requirement? absolutely. i think, i mean, the question is a sort of values question on what the presidency should be. and that's, you know, that's where things get interesting. >> i think it's remarkable with trump, he's always had this very small circle of people he can really rely on. there are usually a couple family members w. the casino there were one or two people, like i mentioned, who died this that helicopter crash. and time and time again you see
there's one or two vital persons who can really tell him what to do. he does prefer having an act lite. he doesn't like to be told he's wrong, so often times you see people being fired. he's gone through two campaign managers already. so that would be a big question for him. as president, he would have to tackle many, many issues that he doesn't know anything about. and would he rely on that advice? how would he organize and synthesize that? i think that's one of the big questions. >> he talks about getting things done the best way is an army of one. and it's very hard to run the country with just one person: hillary clinton has, i mean, it's polar opposite. she's had all this experience in government, and he is certainly going to answer this and say that he has the temperament, he's shown through his businesses and he has the confidence to get the right people around him. >> if he's right, he'll 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'll be the first person to come this far in an election -- he is first person to come this far in an election campaign. and if he's elected, he'll break all the molds. >> and he has a ready answer for your question which is when things go right, he was fully prepared, he knew what to do, and he takes all the credit. and when things go wrong -- and we show this in various stages throughout his career -- when things go wrong, the system is rigged. and we've heard these words from him in recent weeks x. that is exactly the frays that he use -- phrase that he uses throughout his life when he's faced with troubles or failure. so when we hear that now, you can sort of see the gears moving and, you know, he's not oblivious to his position in the polls, and so he's preparing himself and all of us for the message that he will have if he loses. so i think we have to leave it there, but thanks so much for coming out -- [applause]
[inaudible conversations] >> president-elect donald trump will soon begin the transition of power between his administration and president obama's. in "before the oath," martha kumar reports on the transfer of power between presidents bush and obama. >> host: professor kumar, welcome to "after words." i'm delighted to be here with you and anxious to hear much more about your book, "before the oath: transition of george w. bush and barack obama and how they managed a transition to power." certainly, this transition period is an important period not real well known by the broad public, and you pull back the curtain on the inner workings of this particular transition and refer to it as a model and a template. and i was struck by a number of
revelations which we'll get into including the level of cooperation and trust. >> guest: yeah. >> host: but before we do that, let's start with kind of a hollywood thriller. [laughter] let's go straight to the inaugural that was almost complicated or maybe even postponed with the terrorist threat. so just what was that threat and how did the bush and obama teams deal with it? >> guest: okay. well, thank you very much for being here and for talking with me about the book. when you look at the front of the cover of the book here and you see bush and obama, both of them actually looking pretty serious and grim -- >> host: they are. >> guest: and they had walked out of the blue room where they had had the traditional coffee where the president-elect and first lady to be come in to be
hosted by the sitting president. and the vice presidents on both sides too. so while they were there discussing whatever of the day's activities ahead, they were talking about in the situation room there was a meeting about a threat on the inauguration that had come up over the weekend. there was a threat of a terrorist attack on the inauguration. probably not close to the podium itself, but farther back and the assumption was that there would be possibly people killed. and so it was something of great concern. >> host: very serious. >> guest: to the intelligence community, the security community. and so what they, and what they did was bring everyone together who was involved in security. so you had the cabinet secretaries outgoing, incoming
like homeland security and state and defense, and then national security adviser and then the incoming terrorism adviser for president obama. and they discussed the threat and what kinds of things should be done. and one person who was in the meeting who told me about it said that hillary clinton asked -- >> host: familiar with the inaugural ceremony -- [laughter] >> guest: yeah. and with politics and with presidential image that she had the best question which was is the president going to be pulled off the podium, i don't think so. because the optics of that would have just been terrible to show -- >> host: yeah, could disrupt. >>
>> guest: -- what a fragile system we have that we couldn't inaugurate a president. so the obama people talked to him. but they had found out about it over the weekend. and one of the -- an article that i read, david axlerod talked about having talked to obama about it on saturday. and that they had decided not to do a final run-through of his inaugural address. but one of the things that made that work was that both sides were comfortable -- >> host: yeah. key point. >> guest: they had been dealing with one another for months at a a lower level where you had transition people dealing with white house staff on a variety of issues. and then president obama, president-elect named his people early enough that they could
work together with the people who were sitting in the offices before they left. and so they could get information about how things worked. and that was a really, i think, an excellent part of the transition. you know, you can give people paper, give them memoranda, but sitting down and talking to them is a different thing. and that happened, like, in the national security council, for example, after general jones -- >> host: general jim jones. >> guest: was selected as national security adviser, and he appointed the people who were the directorates in the national security council, and they worked together with the people, side by side with the people who were the outgoing. and so they worked there for several weeks. and the advantage that has is, well, you can talk about what's