July 18, 2019


Donald Trump Says He's 'Never Used Racist Remarks.' I Know Different.: His recent attacks on immigrants fit a pattern of bigoted behavior toward minorities I watched for years. (JACK O'DONNELL November 07, 2018, POLITIC0

We can go back to the start of his career in the early 1970s and the outrage he expressed when Trump and his father were charged by the federal government with discriminating against African-Americans in the rental housing they owned in New York City. Trump's response was to hire Roy Cohn, who then countersued, calling the Justice Department attorneys "storm troopers" and "Gestapo." The Trumps ultimately agreed to integrate their buildings, but the Justice Department acknowledged they never really complied. Because they didn't want to. As Donald saw it, and I remember him voicing a version of this idea within the inner circle of his executives on several occasions: "Blacks don't want to live with whites, so why isn't it OK for whites not to want to live with blacks?" I know that in similar fashion he despised the affirmative action guidelines (50 percent female and 30 percent minority at every level) we were required to implement to maintain our gaming license. He would say it was not realistic and a waste of money to train people who did not have the ability.

I recall one busy Saturday night, walking the cas[***]o floor with him, when he saw what he considered an inordinate number of black customers. "It's looking a little dark in here," he calmly stated. It was his way of telling me to limit our charter bus programs in urban neighborhoods. I ignored him and continued to run the business in the best interest of Donald, the bondholders and the employees.

His prejudices didn't stop at the color of one's skin. Everyone was subject to judgment. It could be their ethnicity, their gender, their religion. It could be their social "caste." Like the time we were speaking of the fianceĢe of one of our executives who had died in a tragic helicopter crash while returning to Atlantic City from a news conference with Donald in New York. The woman happened to be a cocktail server at the ca[***]o. Donald's take was, "Poor girl. Her ticket out was Jon. She got lucky. Now she will be serving drinks the rest of her life."

Sometimes his petty prejudices begat very public tirades. One day, he flew into a rage over a limousine driver who arrived to pick him up wearing gray shoes, soiling his image by "looking like a f------ Puerto Rican."

In 1988, shortly after I was promoted to president of Trump Plaza Hotel & Cas[***]o, he invited me up to New York for lunch. There was a lot to talk over one issue in particular: one of our senior managers, who happened to be African-American. Donald considered him incompetent and wanted him fired. When I acknowledged some shortcomings in the man's performance, he instantly became enthused. "Yeah, I never liked the guy," he said. "And isn't it funny, I've got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day."

I was mortified. We were in a restaurant in Trump Tower. I worried he'd be overheard. But he went on, "Besides that, I've got to tell you something else: I think the guy is lazy, and it's probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is. I believe that. It's not anything they can control."

Then, eyeing me closely, he said, "Don't you agree?"

When I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not, he swiped aside my objections with a chop of his hand. "Ah, it's a trait," he said.

Where did the bigotry come from? Was he possessed of some insatiable inner need for reassurance that there is a social order of which he occupies the pinnacle? Certainly, he was no less self-obsessed back then. No less brittle, mercurial, vindictive. I think it explains in no small part the reflexive ease with which he slinks into the most sordid identity politics whenever he feels threatened, as when he claimed the judge presiding over the federal lawsuits in the Trump University swindle, the American-born Gonzalo Curiel, was "Mexican" and therefore biased against him. He's suggested the same of any Muslim judge. Knowing Donald, I'm sure he wondered how a "Mexican" came to be a judge in the first place.

Posted by at July 18, 2019 12:38 PM