The first family serves up a malarkey buffet.
As long as the Trumps were hijacking the White House for their convention finale, they may as well have built a golden escalator from the Truman Balcony to the South Lawn.
That way, Ivanka could have made her power move with true Trumpian flair. In every other sense, she went for it. With her blond mane rippling, she was full-on MAGA, shoving the amped-up Don Jr. and fortissimo Kimberly Guilfoyle out of the way and positioning herself as the heir to her father’s political dynasty.
The night was so Borgia, it made sense to end it with opera. (Or they could have just played the “Succession” theme song.)
The old joke that if Trump became president, he’d slap his name on the White House almost came true during the egomania jubilee, when fireworks spelled out the name “Trump.”
Ivanka must realize now that she and Jared can never go back to their life as New York society darlings. So why not double down on Washington and lay the groundwork for a presidential run of her own?
Now that her father has turned the Republican Party into a political machine bearing her last name, she must feel entitled to jump into the driver’s seat when papa is done with it.
Her speech Thursday night was about him but it was also pointedly about “I.”
“Four years ago, I introduced to you a builder …” “Tonight, I stand before you …” “When Jared and I moved with our three young children to Washington, we didn’t exactly know what we were in for …” “I’ve seen in Washington, it’s easy for politicians to survive if they silence their convictions …” “I couldn’t believe so many politicians actually prefer to complain …” “I was shocked to see …” “I am more certain than ever before …” “I’ve been with my father …” “I sat with him in the Oval Office …” “I was with my father when …” “I promised that …” “I said that Americans needed …”
“Four years ago, I told you I would fight alongside my father, and four years later, here I am.’’
Yes, there she was, daddy’s little girl, on her imaginary escalator. The pungent aroma of the S.N.L. Ivanka perfume, “Complicit,” wafted across the lawn on the balmy night. All the dynamics that make Donald Trump’s administration, and the way he runs the country, so chaotic — the backbiting, the warring factions, the grifting, the neglect, the power grabs — were echoed in the family portrait on display this past week.
The most dramatic tableau Thursday night was not the president’s somniferous speech, but Ivanka’s scorching moment with the Day-Glo-garbed Melania.
After her speech, the first daughter strode past the first lady to greet her father. Melania, who had first smiled broadly at Ivanka, suddenly went stony.
The exchange was particularly loaded given the context: Melania’s former BFF and aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, is beginning to dish on her new tell-all about the first lady, which includes accounts of conversations in which Melania mocks Ivanka.
It has been reported that Melania calls Ivanka “the princess” — Trump singled out his favorite child in his convention speech — and Ivanka has reportedly called Melania “the portrait.”
After many tugs of war, Melania has resigned herself to the fact that Jared and Ivanka run the White House. The basic view in the building is that Ivanka has wrestled Melania to a draw.
Wolkoff writes that Melania was so annoyed by her stepdaughter’s attempts to, as she saw it, infringe on her role in planning the Inauguration that she launched “Operation Block Ivanka.”
“Melania was not thrilled about Ivanka’s steering the schedule and would not allow it,’’ Wolkoff writes in a New York magazine excerpt. “Neither was she happy to hear that Ivanka insisted on walking in the Pennsylvania Avenue parade with her children.’’
The Portrait decided to try to exclude the Princess from the portrait — the “special moment” of the swearing-in.
“Yes, Operation Block Ivanka was petty,’’ Wolkoff writes. “Melania was in on this mission. But in our minds, Ivanka shouldn’t have made herself the center of attention in her father’s inauguration.”
On Ivanka’s other flank is Don Jr., who was never as favored by their father but who has morphed from family dunce to one of Trumpworld’s most effective battering rams.
Junior, as Jason Zengerle writes in The New York Times Magazine this week, “is wagering that by going all in on his father’s presidency and the tribal passions it has unleashed, he can claim his own durable place in American politics.” He has come to represent “the emotional center of the MAGA universe,’’ Jason Miller, a Trump campaign adviser, told Zengerle.
The convention speeches from Trump’s other children, Tiffany and Eric, lacked the sort of warmth and affection seen in the sweet and personal video of Joe Biden’s granddaughters.
The Trump kids’ speeches could have been given by anyone, they were so devoid of humanizing anecdotes.
Even worse, they were trying to sell a version of Donald Trump that was a total fiction. The plan, with the family and other speakers, was to push the idea that Trump is caring and informed behind the scenes — “colorblind and gender neutral,’’ as Ivanka said at the last convention.
As W. did at his convention in 2000, Trump offered a panoply of Blacks and Latinos — though some of them have said they did not know they were going to be a part of the Trump convention. With W., you could look out at the audience and see the falsity of it, since the audience was full of white fat cats. Republicans were fortunate that for the first three nights, they did not have an audience of delegates, donors and apparatchiks that would pull the curtain back on the party’s hypocrisy; though you could see a front row of white fat-cat men during Thursday’s speeches at the White House.
With hilarious euphemisms, the family also painted the potty-mouthed patriarch’s outrageous behavior and degrading language as simply colorful.
“We all know Donald Trump makes no secrets about how he feels about things,’’ Melania said. “Total honesty is what we as citizens deserve from our president. Whether you like it or not, you always know what he’s thinking.’’ And that, she said with a straight face, is because he’s “an authentic person.”
Ivanka chimed in: “Dad, people attack you for being unconventional, but I love you for being real.”
It was impossible for this to ring true, given that the president’s own sister was heard describing Trump in secret recordings made by his rogue niece, Mary Trump, as “a brat” and a liar with “no principles.” (Or, as Trump’s children would say, a totally honest people’s champion with strong convictions.)
In New Hampshire on Friday night, the president considered his dynastic possibilities. “I want to see the first woman president also,” he said, but called Kamala Harris “not competent.”
“They’re all saying, ‘We want Ivanka,’’’ he said.
Video: Donald Trump Presidential Announcement Speech
Introduction by Ivanka Trump:
Today, I have the honor of introducing a man who needs no introduction. His legend has been built and his accomplishments are too many to name. That man is my Father.
Most people strive their entire lives to achieve great success in a single field. My father has succeeded in many—at the highest level and on a global scale.
He’s enjoyed success in a vast diversity of industries because the common denominator is him—his vision, his brilliance, his passion, his work ethic, and his refusal to take no for an answer.
I’ve enjoyed the good fortune of working alongside my father for 10 years now and I’ve seen these principles in action—daily.
I remember my father telling me as a little girl, “Ivanka, if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well be thinking big.” That’s how he approaches any task he undertakes—he thinks big.
He has employed tens of thousands of people throughout his career and has inspired them to do extraordinary things. He has the strength to make hard decisions and motivate those around him to achieve the impossible. He is an optimist who chases big dreams and sees potential where others do not. He leads by example and will outwork anyone in any room.
He is the opposite of politically correct—he says what he means and means what he says. My father is also the best negotiator I have ever met. Countless times, I’ve stood by his side and watched him make deals that were seemingly impossible to get done. He has the discernment to understand exactly what the other party needs and then get exactly what he wants.
My father knows how to be a fierce opponent, but also how to be a very loyal friend. When it comes to building bridges, he can do so figuratively, but also has the rare ability to do so literally—on time and under budget.
Throughout his career, my father has repeatedly been called upon by both local and federal governments to step in and save long-stalled, grossly over-budget public projects. Whether building a skating rink in Central Park, meticulously restoring the exterior façade of Grand Central Terminal, enabling the development of NYC’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, creating a championship public golf course for the City of New York, or redeveloping the iconic, but underutilized, Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, my father succeeds, time and time again, where government has failed before him.
I consider myself fortunate to have learned from the best—both as an entrepreneur, and, most importantly, a parent. My father is a man who is deeply grounded in tradition. He raised my siblings and me to work hard and strive for excellence in all that we do. He taught us that we have a responsibility to make a positive contribution to society. Here today, my father is again leading me by example.
My generation finds itself at a crossroads. Our leadership has been mired in bureaucracy of its own creation. If we don’t adapt politically and economically our country will be left behind.
To address the many challenges we face, we don’t need talk. We need action! We need execution! We need someone who is bold and independent, with a proven track record of successfully creating, building and running large, dynamic and complicated organizations—and in the process enabling many Americans to better their lives.
I can tell you that there is no better person than my father to have in your corner when you are facing tough opponents or making hard decisions. He is battle-tested. He is a dreamer, but, as importantly, he is a doer.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my honor to introduce to you today, a man who I have loved and respected my entire life, my father, Donald J. Trump.
Donald Trump Presidential Announcement Speech:
Wow. Whoa. That is some group of people. Thousands.
So nice, thank you very much. That’s really nice. Thank you. It’s great to be at Trump Tower. It’s great to be in a wonderful city, New York. And it’s an honor to have everybody here. This is beyond anybody’s expectations. There’s been no crowd like this.
And, I can tell, some of the candidates, they went in. They didn’t know the air-conditioner didn’t work. They sweated like dogs.
They didn’t know the room was too big, because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS? I don’t think it’s gonna happen.
Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them. When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time. All the time.
When did we beat Japan at anything? They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn’t exist, folks. They beat us all the time.
When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.
The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.
Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.
It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.
Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East. They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them.
They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel. When I have to build a hotel, I pay interest. They don’t have to pay interest, because they took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken.
So now ISIS has the oil, and what they don’t have, Iran has. And in 19— and I will tell you this, and I said it very strongly, years ago, I said— and I love the military, and I want to have the strongest military that we’ve ever had, and we need it more now than ever. But I said, “Don’t hit Iraq,” because you’re going to totally destabilize the Middle East. Iran is going to take over the Middle East, Iran and somebody else will get the oil, and it turned out that Iran is now taking over Iraq. Think of it. Iran is taking over Iraq, and they’re taking it over big league.
We spent $2 trillion in Iraq, $2 trillion. We lost thousands of lives, thousands in Iraq. We have wounded soldiers, who I love, I love — they’re great — all over the place, thousands and thousands of wounded soldiers.
And we have nothing. We can’t even go there. We have nothing. And every time we give Iraq equipment, the first time a bullet goes off in the air, they leave it.
Last week, I read 2,300 Humvees— these are big vehicles— were left behind for the enemy. 2,000? You would say maybe two, maybe four? 2,300 sophisticated vehicles, they ran, and the enemy took them.
Last quarter, it was just announced our gross domestic product— a sign of strength, right? But not for us. It was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It’s never below zero.
Our labor participation rate was the worst since 1978. But think of it, GDP below zero, horrible labor participation rate.
And our real unemployment is anywhere from 18 to 20 percent. Don’t believe the 5.6. Don’t believe it.
That’s right. A lot of people up there can’t get jobs. They can’t get jobs, because there are no jobs, because China has our jobs and Mexico has our jobs. They all have jobs.
But the real number, the real number is anywhere from 18 to 19 and maybe even 21 percent, and nobody talks about it, because it’s a statistic that’s full of nonsense.
Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger by the way, and we as a country are getting weaker. Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work.
It came out recently they have equipment that is 30 years old. They don’t know if it worked. And I thought it was horrible when it was broadcast on television, because boy, does that send signals to Putin and all of the other people that look at us and they say, “That is a group of people, and that is a nation that truly has no clue. They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
We have a disaster called the big lie: Obamacare. Obamacare.
Yesterday, it came out that costs are going for people up 29, 39, 49, and even 55 percent, and deductibles are through the roof. You have to be hit by a tractor, literally, a tractor, to use it, because the deductibles are so high, it’s virtually useless. It’s virtually useless. It is a disaster.
And remember the $5 billion website? $5 billion we spent on a website, and to this day it doesn’t work. A $5 billion website.
I have so many websites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a website. It costs me $3. $5 billion website.
Well, you need somebody, because politicians are all talk, no action. Nothing’s gonna get done. They will not bring us— believe me— to the promised land. They will not.
As an example, I’ve been on the circuit making speeches, and I hear my fellow Republicans. And they’re wonderful people. I like them. They all want me to support them. They don’t know how to bring it about. They come up to my office. I’m meeting with three of them in the next week. And they don’t know— “Are you running? Are you not running? Could we have your support? What do we do? How do we do it?”
I like them. And I hear their speeches. And they don’t talk jobs and they don’t talk China. When was the last time you heard China is killing us? They’re devaluing their currency to a level that you wouldn’t believe. It makes it impossible for our companies to compete, impossible. They’re killing us.
But you don’t hear that from anybody else. You don’t hear it from anybody else. And I watch the speeches.
I watch the speeches of these people, and they say the sun will rise, the moon will set, all sorts of wonderful things will happen. And people are saying, “What’s going on? I just want a job. Just get me a job. I don’t need the rhetoric. I want a job.”
And that’s what’s happening. And it’s going to get worse, because remember, Obamacare really kicks in in ’16, 2016. Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be on one of my courses. I would invite him, I actually would say. I have the best courses in the world, so I’d say, you what, if he wants to— I have one right next to the White House, right on the Potomac. If he’d like to play, that’s fine.
In fact, I’d love him to leave early and play, that would be a very good thing.
But Obamacare kicks in in 2016. Really big league. It is going to be amazingly destructive. Doctors are quitting. I have a friend who’s a doctor, and he said to me the other day, “Donald, I never saw anything like it. I have more accountants than I have nurses. It’s a disaster. My patients are beside themselves. They had a plan that was good. They have no plan now.”
We have to repeal Obamacare, and it can be— and— and it can be replaced with something much better for everybody. Let it be for everybody. But much better and much less expensive for people and for the government. And we can do it.
So I’ve watched the politicians. I’ve dealt with them all my life. If you can’t make a good deal with a politician, then there’s something wrong with you. You’re certainly not very good. And that’s what we have representing us. They will never make America great again. They don’t even have a chance. They’re controlled fully— they’re controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors, and by the special interests, fully.
Yes, they control them. Hey, I have lobbyists. I have to tell you. I have lobbyists that can produce anything for me. They’re great. But you know what? it won’t happen. It won’t happen. Because we have to stop doing things for some people, but for this country, it’s destroying our country. We have to stop, and it has to stop now.
Now, our country needs— our country needs a truly great leader, and we need a truly great leader now. We need a leader that wrote “The Art of the Deal.”
We need a leader that can bring back our jobs, can bring back our manufacturing, can bring back our military, can take care of our vets. Our vets have been abandoned.
And we also need a cheerleader.
You know, when President Obama was elected, I said, “Well, the one thing, I think he’ll do well. I think he’ll be a great cheerleader for the country. I think he’d be a great spirit.”
He was vibrant. He was young. I really thought that he would be a great cheerleader.
He’s not a leader. That’s true. You’re right about that.
But he wasn’t a cheerleader. He’s actually a negative force. He’s been a negative force. He wasn’t a cheerleader; he was the opposite.
We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. It’s not great again.
We need— we need somebody— we need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that.
And, I will tell you, I love my life. I have a wonderful family. They’re saying, “Dad, you’re going to do something that’s going to be so tough.”
You know, all of my life, I’ve heard that a truly successful person, a really, really successful person and even modestly successful cannot run for public office. Just can’t happen. And yet that’s the kind of mindset that you need to make this country great again.
So ladies and gentlemen…I am officially running… for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again.
It can happen. Our country has tremendous potential. We have tremendous people.
We have people that aren’t working. We have people that have no incentive to work. But they’re going to have incentive to work, because the greatest social program is a job. And they’ll be proud, and they’ll love it, and they’ll make much more than they would’ve ever made, and they’ll be— they’ll be doing so well, and we’re going to be thriving as a country, thriving. It can happen.
I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created. I tell you that.
I’ll bring back our jobs from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places. I’ll bring back our jobs, and I’ll bring back our money.
Right now, think of this: We owe China $1.3 trillion. We owe Japan more than that. So they come in, they take our jobs, they take our money, and then they loan us back the money, and we pay them in interest, and then the dollar goes up so their deal’s even better.
How stupid are our leaders? How stupid are these politicians to allow this to happen? How stupid are they?
I’m going to tell you— thank you. I’m going to tell you a couple of stories about trade, because I’m totally against the trade bill for a number of reasons.
Number one, the people negotiating don’t have a clue. Our president doesn’t have a clue. He’s a bad negotiator.
He’s the one that did Bergdahl. We get Bergdahl, they get five killer terrorists that everybody wanted over there.
We get Bergdahl. We get a traitor. We get a no-good traitor, and they get the five people that they wanted for years, and those people are now back on the battlefield trying to kill us. That’s the negotiator we have.
Take a look at the deal he’s making with Iran. He makes that deal, Israel maybe won’t exist very long. It’s a disaster, and we have to protect Israel. But…
So we need people— I’m a free trader. But the problem with free trade is you need really talented people to negotiate for you. If you don’t have talented people, if you don’t have great leadership, if you don’t have people that know business, not just a political hack that got the job because he made a contribution to a campaign, which is the way all jobs, just about, are gotten, free trade terrible.
Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people, but we have people that are stupid. We have people that aren’t smart. And we have people that are controlled by special interests. And it’s just not going to work.
So, here’s a couple of stories happened recently. A friend of mine is a great manufacturer. And, you know, China comes over and they dump all their stuff, and I buy it. I buy it, because, frankly, I have an obligation to buy it, because they devalue their currency so brilliantly, they just did it recently, and nobody thought they could do it again.
But with all our problems with Russia, with all our problems with everything— everything, they got away with it again. And it’s impossible for our people here to compete.
So I want to tell you this story. A friend of mine who’s a great manufacturer, calls me up a few weeks ago. He’s very upset. I said, “What’s your problem?”
He said, “You know, I make great product.”
And I said, “I know. I know that because I buy the product.”
He said, “I can’t get it into China. They won’t accept it. I sent a boat over and they actually sent it back. They talked about environmental, they talked about all sorts of crap that had nothing to do with it.”
I said, “Oh, wait a minute, that’s terrible. Does anyone know this?”
He said, “Yeah, they do it all the time with other people.”
I said, “They send it back?”
“Yeah. So I finally got it over there and they charged me a big tariff. They’re not supposed to be doing that. I told them.”
Now, they do charge you tariff on trucks, when we send trucks and other things over there.
Ask Boeing. They wanted Boeing’s secrets. They wanted their patents and all their secrets before they agreed to buy planes from Boeing.
Hey, I’m not saying they’re stupid. I like China. I sell apartments for— I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them? I own a big chunk of the Bank of America Building at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, that I got from China in a war. Very valuable.
I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower. I love China. People say, “Oh, you don’t like China?”
No, I love them. But their leaders are much smarter than our leaders, and we can’t sustain ourself with that. There’s too much— it’s like— it’s like take the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and have them play your high school football team. That’s the difference between China’s leaders and our leaders.
They are ripping us. We are rebuilding China. We’re rebuilding many countries. China, you go there now, roads, bridges, schools, you never saw anything like it. They have bridges that make the George Washington Bridge look like small potatoes. And they’re all over the place.
We have all the cards, but we don’t know how to use them. We don’t even know that we have the cards, because our leaders don’t understand the game. We could turn off that spigot by charging them tax until they behave properly.
Now they’re going militarily. They’re building a military island in the middle of the South China sea. A military island. Now, our country could never do that because we’d have to get environmental clearance, and the environmentalist wouldn’t let our country— we would never build in an ocean. They built it in about one year, this massive military port.
They’re building up their military to a point that is very scary. You have a problem with ISIS. You have a bigger problem with China.
And, in my opinion, the new China, believe it or not, in terms of trade, is Mexico.
So this man tells me about the manufacturing. I say, “That’s a terrible story. I hate to hear it.”
But I have another one, Ford.
So Mexico takes a company, a car company that was going to build in Tennessee, rips it out. Everybody thought the deal was dead. Reported it in the Wall Street Journal recently. Everybody thought it was a done deal. It’s going in and that’s going to be it, going into Tennessee. Great state, great people.
All of a sudden, at the last moment, this big car manufacturer, foreign, announces they’re not going to Tennessee. They’re gonna spend their $1 billion in Mexico instead. Not good.
Now, Ford announces a few weeks ago that Ford is going to build a $2.5 billion car and truck and parts manufacturing plant in Mexico. $2.5 billion, it’s going to be one of the largest in the world. Ford. Good company.
So I announced that I’m running for president. I would…
… one of the early things I would do, probably before I even got in— and I wouldn’t even use— you know, I have— I know the smartest negotiators in the world. I know the good ones. I know the bad ones. I know the overrated ones.
You get a lot of them that are overrated. They’re not good. They think they are. They get good stories, because the newspapers get buffaloed. But they’re not good.
But I know the negotiators in the world, and I put them one for each country. Believe me, folks. We will do very, very well, very, very well.
But I wouldn’t even waste my time with this one. I would call up the head of Ford, who I know. If I was president, I’d say, “Congratulations. I understand that you’re building a nice $2.5 billion car factory in Mexico and that you’re going to take your cars and sell them to the United States zero tax, just flow them across the border.”
And you say to yourself, “How does that help us,” right? “How does that help us? Where is that good”? It’s not.
So I would say, “Congratulations. That’s the good news. Let me give you the bad news. Every car and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35-percent tax, and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction, and that’s it.
Now, here’s what is going to happen. If it’s not me in the position, it’s one of these politicians that we’re running against, you know, the 400 people that we’re (inaudible). And here’s what’s going to happen. They’re not so stupid. They know it’s not a good thing, and they may even be upset by it. But then they’re going to get a call from the donors or probably from the lobbyist for Ford and say, “You can’t do that to Ford, because Ford takes care of me and I take care of you, and you can’t do that to Ford.”
And guess what? No problem. They’re going to build in Mexico. They’re going to take away thousands of jobs. It’s very bad for us.
So under President Trump, here’s what would happen:
The head of Ford will call me back, I would say within an hour after I told them the bad news. But it could be he’d want to be cool, and he’ll wait until the next day. You know, they want to be a little cool.
And he’ll say, “Please, please, please.” He’ll beg for a little while, and I’ll say, “No interest.” Then he’ll call all sorts of political people, and I’ll say, “Sorry, fellas. No interest,” because I don’t need anybody’s money. It’s nice. I don’t need anybody’s money.
I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich. I (inaudible).
And by the way, I’m not even saying that’s the kind of mindset, that’s the kind of thinking you need for this country.
So— because we got to make the country rich.
It sounds crass. Somebody said, “Oh, that’s crass.” It’s not crass.
We got $18 trillion in debt. We got nothing but problems.
We got a military that needs equipment all over the place. We got nuclear weapons that are obsolete.
We’ve got nothing. We’ve got Social Security that’s going to be destroyed if somebody like me doesn’t bring money into the country. All these other people want to cut the hell out of it. I’m not going to cut it at all; I’m going to bring money in, and we’re going to save it.
But here’s what’s going to happen:
After I’m called by 30 friends of mine who contributed to different campaigns, after I’m called by all of the special interests and by the— the donors and by the lobbyists— and they have zero chance at convincing me, zero— I’ll get a call the next day from the head of Ford. He’ll say. “Please reconsider,” I’ll say no.
He’ll say, “Mr. President, we’ve decided to move the plant back to the United States, and we’re not going to build it in Mexico.” That’s it. They have no choice. They have no choice.
There are hundreds of things like that. I’ll give you another example.
Saudi Arabia, they make $1 billion a day. $1 billion a day. I love the Saudis. Many are in this building. They make a billion dollars a day. Whenever they have problems, we send over the ships. We say “we’re gonna protect.” What are we doing? They’ve got nothing but money.
If the right person asked them, they’d pay a fortune. They wouldn’t be there except for us.
And believe me, you look at the border with Yemen. You remember Obama a year ago, Yemen was a great victory. Two weeks later, the place was blown up. Everybody got out— and they kept our equipment.
They always keep our equipment. We ought to send used equipment, right? They always keep our equipment. We ought to send some real junk, because, frankly, it would be— we ought to send our surplus. We’re always losing this gorgeous brand-new stuff.
But look at that border with Saudi Arabia. Do you really think that these people are interested in Yemen? Saudi Arabia without us is gone. They’re gone.
And I’m the one that made all of the right predictions about Iraq. You know, all of these politicians that I’m running against now— it’s so nice to say I’m running as opposed to if I run, if I run. I’m running.
But all of these politicians that I’m running against now, they’re trying to disassociate. I mean, you looked at Bush, it took him five days to answer the question on Iraq. He couldn’t answer the question. He didn’t know. I said, “Is he intelligent?”
Then I looked at Rubio. He was unable to answer the question, is Iraq a good thing or bad thing? He didn’t know. He couldn’t answer the question.
How are these people gonna lead us? How are we gonna— how are we gonna go back and make it great again? We can’t. They don’t have a clue. They can’t lead us. They can’t. They can’t even answer simple questions. It was terrible.
But Saudi Arabia is in big, big trouble. Now, thanks to fracking and other things, the oil is all over the place. And I used to say it, there are ships at sea, and this was during the worst crisis, that were loaded up with oil, and the cartel kept the price up, because, again, they were smarter than our leaders. They were smarter than our leaders.
There is so much wealth out there that can make our country so rich again, and therefore make it great again. Because we need money. We’re dying. We’re dying. We need money. We have to do it. And we need the right people.
So Ford will come back. They’ll all come back. And I will say this, this is going to be an election, in my opinion, that’s based on competence.
Somebody said — thank you, darlin’.
Somebody said to me the other day, a reporter, a very nice reporter, “But, Mr. Trump, you’re not a nice person.”
That’s true. But actually I am. I think I am a nice person. People that know me, like me. Does my family like me? I think so, right. Look at my family. I’m proud of my family.
By the way, speaking of my family, Melania, Barron, Kai, Donnie, Don, Vanessa, Tiffany, Evanka did a great job. Did she do a great job?
Great. Jared, Laura and Eric, I’m very proud of my family. They’re a great family.
So the reporter said to me the other day, “But, Mr. Trump, you’re not a nice person. How can you get people to vote for you?”
I said, “I don’t know.” I said, “I think that number one, I am a nice person. I give a lot of money away to charities and other things. I think I’m actually a very nice person.”
But, I said, “This is going to be an election that’s based on competence, because people are tired of these nice people. And they’re tired of being ripped off by everybody in the world. And they’re tired of spending more money on education than any nation in the world per capita, than any nation in the world, and we are 26th in the world, 25 countries are better than us in education. And some of them are like third world countries. But we’re becoming a third word country, because of our infrastructure, our airports, our roads, everything. So one of the things I did, and I said, you know what I’ll do. I’ll do it. Because a lot of people said, “He’ll never run. Number one, he won’t want to give up his lifestyle.”
They’re right about that, but I’m doing it.
Number two, I’m a private company, so nobody knows what I’m worth. And the one thing is that when you run, you have to announce and certify to all sorts of governmental authorities your net worth.
So I said, “That’s OK.” I’m proud of my net worth. I’ve done an amazing job.
I started off— thank you— I started off in a small office with my father in Brooklyn and Queens, and my father said — and I love my father. I learned so much. He was a great negotiator. I learned so much just sitting at his feet playing with blocks listening to him negotiate with subcontractors. But I learned a lot.
But he used to say, “Donald, don’t go into Manhattan. That’s the big leagues. We don’t know anything about that. Don’t do it.”
I said, “I gotta go into Manhattan. I gotta build those big buildings. I gotta do it, Dad. I’ve gotta do it.”
And after four or five years in Brooklyn, I ventured into Manhattan and did a lot of great deals— the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I was responsible for the convention center on the west side. I did a lot of great deals, and I did them early and young. And now I’m building all over the world, and I love what I’m doing.
But they all said, a lot of the pundits on television, “Well, Donald will never run, and one of the main reasons is he’s private and he’s probably not as successful as everybody thinks.”
So I said to myself, you know, nobody’s ever going to know unless I run, because I’m really proud of my success. I really am.
I’ve employed— I’ve employed tens of thousands of people over my lifetime. That means medical. That means education. That means everything.
So a large accounting firm and my accountants have been working for months, because it’s big and complex, and they’ve put together a statement, a financial statement, just a summary. But everything will be filed eventually with the government, and we don’t [use] extensions or anything. We’ll be filing it right on time. We don’t need anything.
And it was even reported incorrectly yesterday, because they said, “He had assets of $9 billion.” So I said, “No, that’s the wrong number. That’s the wrong number. Not assets.”
So they put together this. And before I say it, I have to say this. I made it the old-fashioned way. It’s real estate. You know, it’s real estate.
It’s labor, and it’s unions good and some bad and lots of people that aren’t in unions, and it’s all over the place and building all over the world.
And I have assets— big accounting firm, one of the most highly respected— 9 billion 240 million dollars.
And I have liabilities of about $500 million. That’s long-term debt, very low interest rates.
In fact, one of the big banks came to me and said, “Donald, you don’t have enough borrowings. Could we loan you $4 billion”? I said, “I don’t need it. I don’t want it. And I’ve been there. I don’t want it.”
But in two seconds, they give me whatever I wanted. So I have a total net worth, and now with the increase, it’ll be well-over $10 billion. But here, a total net worth of—net worth, not assets, not— a net worth, after all debt, after all expenses, the greatest assets— Trump Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, Bank of America building in San Francisco, 40 Wall Street, sometimes referred to as the Trump building right opposite the New York— many other places all over the world.
So the total is $8,737,540,00.
Now I’m not doing that…
I’m not doing that to brag, because you know what? I don’t have to brag. I don’t have to, believe it or not.
I’m doing that to say that that’s the kind of thinking our country needs. We need that thinking. We have the opposite thinking.
We have losers. We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain.
So I put together this statement, and the only reason I’m telling you about it today is because we really do have to get going, because if we have another three or four years— you know, we’re at $8 trillion now. We’re soon going to be at $20 trillion.
According to the economists— who I’m not big believers in, but, nevertheless, this is what they’re saying— that $24 trillion— we’re very close— that’s the point of no return. $24 trillion. We will be there soon. That’s when we become Greece. That’s when we become a country that’s unsalvageable. And we’re gonna be there very soon. We’re gonna be there very soon.
So, just to sum up, I would do various things very quickly. I would repeal and replace the big lie, Obamacare.
I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.
Mark my words.
Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump. Nobody.
I will find — within our military, I will find the General Patton or I will find General MacArthur, I will find the right guy. I will find the guy that’s going to take that military and make it really work. Nobody, nobody will be pushing us around.
I will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And we won’t be using a man like Secretary Kerry that has absolutely no concept of negotiation, who’s making a horrible and laughable deal, who’s just being tapped along as they make weapons right now, and then goes into a bicycle race at 72 years old, and falls and breaks his leg. I won’t be doing that. And I promise I will never be in a bicycle race. That I can tell you.
I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration, immediately.
Fully support and back up the Second Amendment.
Now, it’s very interesting. Today I heard it. Through stupidity, in a very, very hard core prison, interestingly named Clinton, two vicious murderers, two vicious people escaped, and nobody knows where they are. And a woman was on television this morning, and she said, “You know, Mr. Trump,” and she was telling other people, and I actually called her, and she said, “You know, Mr. Trump, I always was against guns. I didn’t want guns. And now since this happened”— it’s up in the prison area— “my husband and I are finally in agreement, because he wanted the guns. We now have a gun on every table. We’re ready to start shooting.”
I said, “Very interesting.”
So protect the Second Amendment.
End— end Common Core. Common Core should— it is a disaster. Bush is totally in favor of Common Core. I don’t see how he can possibly get the nomination. He’s weak on immigration. He’s in favor of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can’t do it. We have to end education has to be local.
Rebuild the country’s infrastructure.
Nobody can do that like me. Believe me. It will be done on time, on budget, way below cost, way below what anyone ever thought.
I look at the roads being built all over the country, and I say I can build those things for one-third. What they do is unbelievable, how bad.
You know, we’re building on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Old Post Office, we’re converting it into one of the world’s great hotels. It’s gonna be the best hotel in Washington, D.C. We got it from the General Services Administration in Washington. The Obama administration. We got it. It was the most highly sought after— or one of them, but I think the most highly sought after project in the history of General Services. We got it. People were shocked, Trump got it.
Well, I got it for two reasons. Number one, we’re really good. Number two, we had a really good plan. And I’ll add in the third, we had a great financial statement. Because the General Services, who are terrific people, by the way, and talented people, they wanted to do a great job. And they wanted to make sure it got built.
So we have to rebuild our infrastructure, our bridges, our roadways, our airports. You come into La Guardia Airport, it’s like we’re in a third world country. You look at the patches and the 40-year-old floor. They throw down asphalt, and they throw.
You look at these airports, we are like a third world country. And I come in from China and I come in from Qatar and I come in from different places, and they have the most incredible airports in the world. You come to back to this country and you have LAX, disaster. You have all of these disastrous airports. We have to rebuild our infrastructure.
Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it.
Get rid of the fraud. Get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it. People have been paying it for years. And now many of these candidates want to cut it. You save it by making the United States, by making us rich again, by taking back all of the money that’s being lost.
Renegotiate our foreign trade deals.
Reduce our $18 trillion in debt, because, believe me, we’re in a bubble. We have artificially low interest rates. We have a stock market that, frankly, has been good to me, but I still hate to see what’s happening. We have a stock market that is so bloated.
Be careful of a bubble because what you’ve seen in the past might be small potatoes compared to what happens. So be very, very careful.
And strengthen our military and take care of our vets. So, so important.
Sadly, the American dream is dead.
But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
Web-only extended interview with investigative journalist Vicky Ward, author of “Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.”
At Deutsche Bank, Mr. Offit’s mandate was to lend money to big real estate developers, package the loans into securities and sell the resulting bonds to investors. He said in an interview that one way to stand out in a crowded market was to make loans that his rivals considered too risky.
In 1998, a broker contacted him to see if he would consider lending to a Wall Street pariah: Mr. Trump, who was then a casino magnate whose bankruptcies had cost banks hundreds of millions of dollars.
Mr. Offit took the meeting.
A few days later, Mr. Offit’s secretary called him. “Donald Trump is in the conference room,” she whispered. Mr. Offit said he rushed in, expecting to find an entourage. Mr. Trump was alone.
He was looking for a $125 million loan to pay for gut renovations of 40 Wall Street, his Art Deco tower in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Offit was impressed by the pitch, and the loan sailed through Deutsche Bank’s approval process.
Mr. Trump seemed giddy with gratitude, Mr. Offit recalled. He took Mr. Offit golfing. He flew him by helicopter to Atlantic City for boxing matches. He wrote a grateful note to Sidney Offit for having “a great son!”
Mr. Offit commissioned a detailed model of 40 Wall Street. A golden plaque on its pedestal bore the names and logos of Deutsche Bank and the Trump Organization. Mr. Offit gave one to Mr. Trump and kept another in his office.
Mr. Trump soon came looking for $300 million for the construction of a skyscraper across from the United Nations headquarters. The loan was approved. He wanted hundreds of millions more for his Trump Marina casino in Atlantic City. Mr. Offit pledged to line up cash for that, too.
Not long after, Edson Mitchell, a top bank executive, discovered that the signature of the credit officer who had approved the Trump Marina deal had been forged, Mr. Offit said. (Mr. Offit was never accused of forgery; the loan never went through.)
Mr. Offit was fired months later. He said it was because Mr. Mitchell claimed that he was reckless, a charge Mr. Offit disputed.
It was the first hiccup in the Trump relationship. It would not be the last.
Over the next few years, the commercial real estate group, with Mr. Kennedy now in a senior role, kept lending to Mr. Trump, including to buy the General Motors building in Manhattan. Occasionally, Justice Kennedy stopped by Deutsche Bank’s offices to say hello to the team, executives recalled.
At an annual pro-am golf tournament the bank hosted outside Boston in the early 2000s, Mr. Trump sat down for a recorded interview with the bank’s public relations staff, who asked about his experience with Deutsche Bank.
“It’s great,” Mr. Trump exclaimed, according to a person who witnessed the interview. “They’re really fast!”
In 2003, a Deutsche Bank team led by Richard Byrne — a former casino-industry analyst who had known Mr. Trump since the 1980s — was hired to sell bonds on behalf of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. Bank officials escorted Mr. Trump to meet institutional investors in New York and Boston, according to an executive who attended.
The so-called roadshow seemed to go well. At every stop, Mr. Trump was greeted by large audiences of fund managers, executives and lower-level employees eager to see the famous mogul. The problem, as a Deutsche Bank executive would explain to Mr. Trump, was that few of them were willing to entrust money to him.
Mr. Trump requested an audience with the bank’s bond salesmen.
According to a Deutsche Bank executive who heard the remarks, Mr. Trump gave a pep talk. “Fellas, I know this isn’t the easiest thing you’ve had to sell,” the executive recalled Mr. Trump saying. “But if you get this done, you’ll all be my guests at Mar-a-Lago,” his private club in Palm Beach, Fla.
The sales team managed to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bonds. Mr. Trump was pleased with the results when a Deutsche Bank executive called, according to a person who heard the conversation.
“Don’t forget what you promised our guys,” the executive reminded him.
Mr. Trump said he did not remember and that he doubted the salesmen actually expected to be taken to Mar-a-Lago.
“That’s all they’ve talked about the past week,” the executive replied.
Mr. Trump ultimately flew about 15 salesmen to Florida on his Boeing 727. They spent a weekend golfing with Mr. Trump, two participants said.
A year later, in 2004, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts defaulted on the bonds. Deutsche Bank’s clients suffered steep losses. This arm of the investment-banking division stopped doing business with Mr. Trump.
.. Mr. Trump told Deutsche Bank his net worth was about $3 billion, but when bank employees reviewed his finances, they concluded he was worth about $788 million, according to documents produced during a lawsuit Mr. Trump brought against the former New York Times journalist Timothy O’Brien. And a senior investment-banking executive said in an interview that he and others cautioned that Mr. Trump should be avoided because he had worked with people in the construction industry connected to organized crime.
Nonetheless, Deutsche Bank agreed in 2005 to lend Mr. Trump more than $500 million for the project. He personally guaranteed $40 million of it, meaning the bank could come after his personal assets if he defaulted.
By 2008, the riverside skyscraper, one of the tallest in America, was mostly built. But with the economy sagging, Mr. Trump struggled to sell hundreds of condominium units. The bulk of the loan was due that November.
Then the financial crisis hit, and Mr. Trump’s lawyers sensed an opportunity.
A provision in the loan let Mr. Trump partially off the hook in the event of a “force majeure,” essentially an act of God, like a natural disaster. The former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan had called the financial crisis a tsunami. And what was a tsunami if not a natural disaster?
.. One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Steven Schlesinger, told him the provision could be used against Deutsche Bank.
“It’s brilliant!” Mr. Schlesinger recalled Mr. Trump responding.
Days before the loan was due, Mr. Trump sued Deutsche Bank, citing the force majeure language and seeking $3 billion in damages. Deutsche Bank countersued and demanded payment of the $40 million that Mr. Trump had personally guaranteed.
With the suits in court, senior investment-banking executives severed ties with Mr. Trump.
.. Ms. Vrablic’s superiors encouraged her to make loans that rival banks dismissed as too large or complex. They saw it as a way to elbow into the hypercompetitive New York market.
.. One of Ms. Vrablic’s clients was Jared Kushner, who married Ivanka Trump in 2009. Mr. Kushner regarded Ms. Vrablic as the best banker he had ever worked with, according to a person familiar with his thinking.
Shortly after the Chicago lawsuit was settled, Mr. Kushner was told that Mr. Trump was looking for a loan and introduced him to Ms. Vrablic, according to people familiar with the relationship.
.. Mr. Trump flew Ms. Vrablic to Miami to show her a property he wanted to buy: the Doral Golf Resort and Spa. He needed more than $100 million for the 72-hole property.
Deutsche Bank dispatched a team to Trump Tower to inspect Mr. Trump’s personal and corporate financial records. The bankers determined he was overvaluing some of his real estate assets by as much as 70 percent, according to two former executives.
.. By then, though, Mr. Trump had become a reality-TV star, and he was swimming in cash from “The Apprentice.” Deutsche Bank officials also were impressed that Mr. Trump did not have much debt, according to people who reviewed his finances. Aside from his history of defaults, he was an attractive borrower.
Mr. Trump also expressed interest in another loan from the private-banking division: $48 million for the same Chicago property that had provoked the two-year court fight.
Mr. Trump told the bank he would use that loan to repay what he still owed the investment-banking division, the two former executives said. Even by Wall Street standards, borrowing money from one part of a bank to pay off a loan from another was an extraordinary act of financial chutzpah.
.. Investment-banking executives, including Anshu Jain, who would soon become Deutsche Bank’s co-chief executive, pushed back. Lending to Mr. Trump again would be foolish, they argued, and signal to clients that they could default and even sue the bank.
Executives in the private bank countered that the proposed loans had Mr. Trump’s personal guarantee and therefore were low risk. And the Chicago loan, they noted, would lead to the repayment of tens of millions of dollars that Mr. Trump still owed the investment-banking division.
A top executive with responsibility for the private bank discussed the loans with Mr. Ackermann, the chief executive, who supported them, according to two officials. A powerful committee in Frankfurt, which evaluated loans based on risks to the bank’s reputation, signed off.
“There is no objection from the bank to proceed with this client,” wrote Stuart Clarke, the chief operating officer for the Americas, in a Dec. 5, 2011, email, according to a recipient.
Deutsche Bank wired the money to Mr. Trump. The loans carried relatively low interest rates, executives said, but the business promised to be profitable: As part of the deal, Mr. Trump would hold millions of dollars in a personal account, generating fees for the bank.
“I have no recollection of having been asked to approve that private-banking loan,” Mr. Ackermann said in an interview. He added: “I would have approved it, if it came to me, if it was commercially sound.”
Ms. Vrablic’s relationship with the Trumps deepened.
Deutsche Bank lent money to Donald Trump Jr. for a South Carolina manufacturing venture that would soon go bankrupt. It provided a $15 million credit line to Mr. Kushner and his mother, according to financial documents reviewed by The Times. The bank previously had an informal ban on business with the Kushners because Jared’s father, Charles, was a felon.
In 2012, Jared Kushner recommended that the editor of The Mortgage Observer, one of the publications he owned, write a profile of Ms. Vrablic. The editor, Carl Gaines, knew Mr. Kushner was her client and objected, according to a person familiar with the exchange.
“Just go meet with her,” Mr. Kushner said. “You’ll figure something out.”
A gauzy profile of Ms. Vrablic was published in February 2013.
Shortly afterward, the private bank produced a promotional video featuring some of its marquee clients. The video was played at a retreat for Deutsche Bank’s senior leadership in Barcelona. In it, Ivanka Trump extolled the private bank’s work with her family and thanked their relationship manager, according to two people who saw the video.
.. In early 2014, Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, approached Ms. Vrablic about more potential loans.
The owner of the Buffalo Bills had died, and the N.F.L. franchise was up for sale. Mr. Trump was interested, and he needed to show the league he had the financial wherewithal to pull off a transaction that could top $1 billion.
Mr. Trump asked Ms. Vrablic if the bank would be willing to make a loan and handed over bare-bones financial statements that estimated his net worth at $8.7 billion.
.. Mr. Cohen testified to Congress last month that the documents exaggerated Mr. Trump’s wealth. Deutsche Bank executives had reached a similar conclusion. They nonetheless agreed to vouch for Mr. Trump’s bid, according to an executive involved.
Mr. Trump’s bid did not win, but another lending opportunity soon arose.
A federal agency had selected Mr. Trump to transform the Old Post Office Building in Washington into a luxury hotel. But his financial partner — the private equity firm Colony Capital, run by Thomas J. Barrack Jr. — pulled out. Mr. Trump needed nearly $200 million.
.. Because of his decades-long pattern of defaults and his increasingly polarizing political rhetoric — among other things, he had been spreading a lie about President Barack Obama being born overseas — Mr. Trump remained untouchable for most banks.
Ms. Vrablic was willing to help.
In a memo outlining the rationale for the Old Post Office loan, Ms. Vrablic said Mr. Trump was expected to add large sums to his brokerage account if he received the loan, according to an executive who read the document.
This time, there was less internal opposition. One reason: Mr. Jain — by then the bank’s co-chief executive — had a solid relationship with Ms. Vrablic. Mr. Jain accompanied her to meetings with high-profile clients, and he praised her work to colleagues, multiple executives said.
..On a foggy Wednesday in February 2013, Ms. Vrablic and Mr. Jain went to Trump Tower to meet with Mr. Trump, according to two executives with knowledge of the meeting. Ms. Vrablic’s rapport with the client was immediately clear: Mr. Trump’s assistant greeted her as an old friend, and she seemed relaxed with Mr. Trump and his daughter, one executive said.
.. They discussed Mr. Trump’s finances over lunch, and Mr. Jain said he was surprised by his low level of debt, the executives said. After lunch, Ms. Vrablic told her colleagues that Mr. Jain had sounded upbeat about Mr. Trump’s finances.
A $170 million loan to pay for the overhaul of the Old Post Office went through in 2015, and Mr. Trump added more money to his brokerage account. (In May 2016, he reported up to $46 million of stocks and bonds in the account.)
.. On Aug. 6, 2015, Mr. Trump participated in the first Republican presidential debate. He clashed with the Fox News moderator, Megyn Kelly. He flew back to New York early the next morning. That evening, he called in to a CNN talk show and said of Ms. Kelly that there was “blood coming out of her wherever.”
In the intervening hours, Mr. Trump had used a black Sharpie to sign documents for another loan from Deutsche Bank: $19 million for the Doral resort. That brought to more than $300 million the total lent under Ms. Vrablic.
.. On the campaign trail, rivals assailed Mr. Trump’s financial history. In response, he pointed to Deutsche Bank-funded successes like the Old Post Office project, now a gleaming hotel a few blocks from the White House.
.. In early 2016, Mr. Trump asked Ms. Vrablic for one final loan, for his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland.
.. Ms. Vrablic said yes, but a fight soon erupted.
Jacques Brand, who was in charge of Deutsche Bank’s American businesses, angrily objected, partly because of Mr. Trump’s divisive rhetoric.
Ms. Vrablic appealed the decision. Senior executives in Frankfurt, including Christian Sewing, who would become chief executive in 2018, were shocked that the private bank would consider lending Mr. Trump money during the campaign, bank officials said.
The bank’s reputational risk committee killed the transaction in March 2016.
.. That same month, as The Times was preparing an article about Mr. Trump’s excommunication from Wall Street, he cited his warm relationship with Deutsche Bank.
.. “They are totally happy with me,” he said to The Times. “Why don’t you call the head of Deutsche Bank? Her name is Rosemary Vrablic. She is the boss.”
.. After Mr. Trump won the election, Deutsche Bank’s board of directors rushed to understand how the bank had become the biggest lender to the president-elect.
A report prepared by the board’s integrity committee concluded that executives in the private-banking division were so determined to win business from big-name clients that they had ignored Mr. Trump’s reputation for demagogy and defaults, according to a person who read the report.
The review also found that Deutsche Bank had produced a number of “exposure reports” that flagged the growing business with Mr. Trump, but that they had not been adequately reviewed by senior executives.
.. On Deutsche Bank’s trading floor, managers began warning employees not to use the word “Trump” in communications with people outside the bank. Salesmen who violated the edict were scolded by compliance officers who said the bank feared stoking public interest in its ties to the new president.
One reason: If Mr. Trump were to default on his loans, Deutsche Bank would have to choose between seizing his assets or cutting him a lucrative break — a situation the bank would rather resolve in private.
.. Two years after Mr. Trump was sworn in, Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. The chamber’s financial services and intelligence committees opened investigations into Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump. Those inquiries, as well as the New York attorney general’s investigation, come at a perilous time for Deutsche Bank, which is negotiating to merge with another large German lender.
Next month, Deutsche Bank is likely to start handing over extensive internal documents and communications about Mr. Trump to the congressional committees, according to people briefed on the process.
Ms. Vrablic, who is intensely private and rarely discusses her personal life with colleagues, declined to comment. People familiar with her thinking said she expected to be called to testify publicly on Capitol Hill.
According to “Kushner, Inc.,” Gary Cohn, former director of the National Economic Council, has told people that Ivanka Trump thinks she could someday be president. “Her father’s reign in Washington, D.C., is, she believes, the beginning of a great American dynasty,”
.. Kushner, whose pre-White House experience included owning a boutique newspaper and helming a catastrophically ill-timed real estate deal, has arrogated to himself substantial parts of American foreign policy. According to Ward, shortly after Rex Tillerson was confirmed as secretary of state, Kushner told him “to leave Mexico to him because he’d have Nafta wrapped up by October.”
.. As political actors, the couple are living exemplars of the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological phenomenon which leads incompetent people to overestimate their ability because they can’t grasp how much they don’t know.
Partly, the Jared and Ivanka story is about the “reality distortion field” — a term one of Ward’s sources uses about Kushner — created by great family wealth. She quotes a member of Trump’s legal team saying that the two “have no idea how normal people perceive, understand, intuit.” Privilege, in them, has been raised to the level of near sociopathy.
.. Ward, the author of two previous books about the worlds of high finance and real estate, has known Kushner slightly for a long time; she told me that when he bought The New York Observer newspaper in 2006, he tried to hire her. She knocks down the idea that either he or his wife is a stabilizing force or moral compass in the Trump administration. Multiple White House sources told her they think it was Kushner who ordered the closing of White House visitor logs in April 2017, because he “didn’t want his frenetic networking exposed.” Ward reports that Cohn was stunned by their blasé reaction to Trump’s defense of the white-nationalist marchers in Charlottesville, Va.: “He was upset that they were not sufficiently upset.”
Still, even if you assume that the couple are amoral climbers, their behavior still doesn’t quite make sense. Ward writes that Ivanka’s chief concern is her personal brand, but that brand has been trashed. The book cites an October 2017 survey measuring consumer approval of more than 1,600 brands. Ivanka’s fashion line was in the bottom 10. A leading real estate developer tells Ward that Kushner, now caught up in multiple state and federal investigations, has become radioactive: “No one will want to do business with him.” (Kushner resigned as C.E.O. of Kushner Companies in 2017, but has kept most of his stake in the business.)
To truly make sense of their motivations, Ward told me, you have to understand the gravitational pull of their fathers. Husband and wife are both “really extraordinarily orientated and identified through their respective fathers in a way that most fully formed adults are not,” she said.
“You’ll notice that the U.S. position toward Qatar changes when the Qataris bail out 666 Fifth Avenue,” said Ward, adding, “We look like a banana republic.” Maybe that’s why Jared and Ivanka appear so blithely confident. As public servants, they’re obviously way out of their depth. But as self-dealing scions of a gaudy autocracy? They’re naturals.
Ivanka plays dumb about Russia a lot to the media, telling ABC News that she knew “almost nothing” about the negotiations to open a massive Trump Tower in Russia that continued, as we now know, long into the general election campaign. But as Dan Friedman of Mother Jones has detailed, the evidence suggests otherwise. It was Ivanka who emailed Cohen in 2015 with a lead she thought could produce a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to secure the deal. She also reportedly suggested an architect for the Moscow tower. The building plans included a spa named after Ivanka and a notation that “all interior design elements of the spa or fitness facilities” were to be approved by her.
Trump received 10 personal updates from Michael Cohen and encouraged a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin.