Home // 2019 // February

Watch Me Sound Off About Donald Trump on A&E

Last April I sat down with a TV crew to film an interview about the current resident of the White House, who was the subject of
Trump: The Saga of America‚Äôs Most Powerful Real Estate Baron, a biography by my father that was published back in 1985. Logically enough, the TV crew would have preferred to speak with my old man, but he’s only communicating via ouija board these days. So they settled for me, since I helped research the book and stay current as a political journalist.

Our interactions with Trump himself in the course of preparing that biography were limited–but interesting. They consisted of a combination of vague hand-waving about maybe cooperating, interspersed with threats from Trump himself, in his John Baron alter-ego, and from legendary hatchet man Roy Cohn. Really, there’s a certain historical cachet in having your family threatened by Cohn. Anyway, there was no doubt back then that Trump and company were nasty pieces of work. This was widely known among journalists of the day, and among the business and government types with whom Trump rubbed shoulders, and who differed from him less in substance than in style. He was more flamboyantly and openly an example of what anybody thriving in New York’s real estate and political environment was to some significant degree.

In fact, in the course of the interview I emphasized how Trump’s political style is very common for New York. It continues to this day in the festering corruption of the administrations of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Blatant corruption is so commonplace that state residents don’t even seem that bothered by conduct that would be seen as outrageous almost anyplace else. Trump differs from other New York pols primarily in being seemingly less self-aware about image than the likes of Cuomo and De Blasio, who know to present themselves as idealists while selling favors; The Donald, by contrast, rubs his cynicism in people’s faces.

We’ll see how much of what I had to say made the final cut.

The results of that interview, along with interviews with many other people, have been rolled into Biography: The Trump Dynasty, airing for three nights, beginning tonight, February 25, 2019, on A&E.