Trump gave the Post team more than 20 hours of interviews but declined to give permission for them to talk to his siblings or past associates who’d signed non-disclosure agreements.
.. They grew up with a lot of the kinds of accoutrements of wealth that their neighbors and friends didn’t have.
And Donald Trump was very cognizant of this. And when he was in high school, he began what became a lifelong pattern of trying to be one of the guys, one of the people, close to people, very much a the kind of plainspoken character we’ve come to know. And he took pride always in having this kind of easy rapport and connection with the construction workers on his father’s sites and with the other blue-collar workers around town. He saw himself as someone who could connect with blue-collar people in a way that others of his wealth might not.
.. He was by both his friend’s description and his own a rambunctious kid who got in trouble a lot and who was a bit of a ruffian. From the youngest age, about age 6 or 7, he pelted the neighbor’s toddler with rocks from across the yard. He pulled the pig tails of a classmate. He got into a physical altercation with one of his teachers.
And so he was someone who was kind of a rambunctious kid, even obnoxious by some accounts. And he says that he hasn’t changed since second grade. So that kind of in-your-face provocateur character that we’ve come to see in the campaign is something that traces back very cleanly and consistently to this childhood as kind of a tough kid.
DAVIES: I have to ask, did he crave attention then?
FISHER: (Laughter) Yes, he certainly did. And he was someone who was very full of himself. He had some good friends early on. But after he left middle school to go to the military academy, from then on it’s hard to find any evidence of close relationships, friendships. In fact, when I asked him about friendships, he said he really doesn’t have friendships of the kind that most people would describe. He said, if you think about friendships as people going out and having dinner together, he said he doesn’t have anyone like that and never really has.
.. And yet what we’re told by people very close to him, and including women who were publicly linked to him romantically, is that one would never end up in the bedroom with Donald Trump. In fact, he would go upstairs to his apartment by himself with a bag of candy and watch TV. And that was his pattern. That was his preferred way to spend an evening. And the romances that he touted on the gossip pages were not necessarily actual romances. They were for show.
DAVIES: There is a moment late in the book when you ask him to name some close friends, and he says…
FISHER: Yeah, I asked him well, who would you turn to if you’re going through a troubled time, if you have some problem that you want to discuss? Are there any friends you could turn to? And he paused and he was uncharacteristically quiet and almost humble, and he said, well, I don’t really have anyone quite like that. I would turn to my children. And he does have a close relationship with his older children, his adult children.
And it’s interesting, he followed the same pattern with his children that his father did with him where when Donald was growing up, he found that his father was actually kind of cold and distant in the early years. But when Donald was old enough in his mid-teens to spend time at the office, he would go there and hang out with his father and go out and collect rents together and drive around to the various properties. And they really bonded over the business, learning the business.
Donald has now done the same thing with his children. Each of them lived with their mothers once the couples had divorced and were really quite distant from their father until, again, that period in the teens when they were able to come to the office and learn the family business and become a part of that. And that’s when Donald Trump really engaged with his kids as he had not previously.
.. And one night in Manhattan, he walked into a nightclub that he belonged to. And there was a man named Roy Cohn.
And Roy Cohn, of course, is the famous – or infamous – lawyer who was the aide to Joseph McCarthy of the Army-McCarthy hearings that was held in the 1950s. And Donald got to talking to Roy Cohn and told him about this racial bias case brought by the federal government.
And Cohn, who himself had fought the federal government, said, don’t settle. Fight like hell. When they hit you, hit back 10 times harder. And the bottom line is after this discussion at the nightclub, Donald Trump decided that he would, in fact, fight like hell. And he absorbed a philosophy that he maintains to this day. When you’re hit, hit back 10 times harder.
.. The sure-fire way to get sued by Donald Trump apparently is to question the amount of his wealth, the extent of his wealth. And he said as much to us several times that – that’s something that he gets quite angered by. In fact, when Comedy Central, the cable channel, did a roast, a celebrity roast of Donald Trump, the word was put out to all of the comedians coming on the show that you can joke about anything to do with Donald Trump and his family – you could even joke about his children – but do not question the extent of his wealth. And the comedians abided by that rule.
And similarly, when Trump did sue Timothy O’Brien, the author of a previous biography, the thing that ticked him off, the thing that triggered the lawsuit was in fact a question – a chapter that goes into just how wealthy is Donald Trump really.
.. DAVIES: You know, a lot of people call Donald Trump a narcissist. Listen to me – a lot of people – that’s the way Donald Trump describes things that – when he wants to make…
FISHER: (Laughter) You’re not saying it, just a lot of people are saying it.
DAVIES: Well, more than one observer has suggested that he seems to have narcissistic tendencies. But I bring this up because you note something he said in, I guess, one of his books about the value of narcissism and successful business pursuits.
FISHER: He wrote in one of his books about his belief that narcissism is an extremely valuable and important asset for a business person. Only through narcissism, he wrote, can someone have the kind of drive and dedication to their task and to their work that would allow them to be successful on this grand scale. So he truly believes this about himself.