Buchanan Interviews Donald Trump on CNN’s Crossfire 1987

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CNN Crossfire Transcript – December 23, 1987

Note: The following is an uncorrected transcript.

Announcer
Tonight, from Washington, Crossfire, the ego that built Manhattan. On the left Tom Braden, on the right Pat Buchanan. In the Crossfire in New York, Donald Trump.

Pat Buchanan
Good evening and welcome to Crossfire. He is 41 years old, something near a billionaire in the famous builder of New York, Trump Park and Trump Towers. He’s friends say he is vainglorious, hard-working, brilliant and brash.

Pat Buchanan
Hiss enemies describing him as abrasive, arrogant and overrated. The Mayor of New York, Ed Koch your frequent guest. Right here on the Crossfire calls him piggy. He in turn calls the mayor a moron and a bully. He is here to talk about himself, his accomplishments in his new book “The Art of The Deal”. So Mr. Braden, let’s get on with Donald Trump in the Crossfire.

Tom Braden
All right, Mr. TRUMP at age 41 you’re a billionaire. What are going to do next?

Donald Trump
Well, I do not know. I’m just having a great time doing what I’m doing. I feel that I’m producing a lot of jobs for a lot of people we’re doing a nice job in New York City and elsewhere. I’m very happy about it Tom.

Tom Braden
Well, I was interested in something you once said and I quote “There is no one my age who has accomplished more” that made me think of a Beethoven and Mozart, Napoleon or Alexander. Would you rate yourself with those guys?

Donald Trump
Well, I don’t know if I’m really mad. I’m talking about in current days. I think we’ve done OK. And we’ve really employed a lot of people a lot of people. Thousands of people in this country and I’m very happy about it. So, overall I think we’ve done pretty well and I’m happy. I don’t want to put myself in comparison to Beethoven, I will tell you that.

Pat Buchanan
Donald Trump your book “The Art of The Deal.” It’s got as you mentioned, off-camera, some good reviews. New York Times it’s also getting badly trash in a couple of publications. Now want to read your quote from Jonathan Yardley and Washington Post our favored paper down here and see if you will respond to it. The man is talking about you, “The man’s lack of taste is as vast as his lack of shame.

Pat Buchanan
He’s buildings each and everyone are monuments both to himself and parvenu ostentation. The pink marble atrium looks like nothing so much as the lavatory in a pricey horror house”. It goes all downhill from there. Are bothered by those kinds of reviews?

Donald Trump
While the guys probably a loser. I’ve never heard of him to be perfectly honest with you. We get tremendous reviews generally for the book, but you are always going to have some personal attacks. That’s not a review of the book that’s really a personal attack. Trump Tower is the most successful building in New York. It’s been an unbelievable success as you folks know.

Pat Buchanan
Right.

Donald Trump
People come from all over the world to see it and it has gotten tremendous architectural reviews. This is a man who obviously — and again I never heard of him and didn’t read his review. I’m hearing it for the first time, but he’s not attacking a book he’s attacking on a personal basis, and I find that I have that quite a bit.

Donald Trump
I have a lot of good friends a lot of good enemies and the enemies be damned in the friends and with you 100 percent.

Pat Buchanan
Why are you so hostile to Mayor Koch?

Donald Trump
Well, I’m hostile to Mayor Koch. I guess you could I’m hostile to the job he’s done but to be perfectly honest, things have not been going to particularly well in New York City. The man is — I guess trying his best and I hope is trying his best — I even suggested as a New Year’s resolution that I would be so critical or —

Pat Buchanan
Well, it’s not New Years yet. So let’s hold on there. And let me get in this because the mayor is credited. I guess a lot of folks know we had the Lindsay years and the Beame years and New York was in bankruptcy. And Mayor Koch of course he had some good times with Mayor Koch is credited with a lot of people would bring it back with governing a city that’s ungovernable with he’s got all kinds of —

Donald Trump
The city is not ungovernable Pat. It’s not ungovernable at all. Any city is governable. When it’s ungovernable you better give up and just sort of say forget it, nothing can happen. New York City is the greatest city in the world. It’s not at all ungovernable and I think it’s pretty sad when somebody has even suggested it might be.
New York City ungovernable Pat greatest city

Tom Braden
Mr. Trump I want to ask you about a billion dollars because it’s hard for all of us to imagine billion dollars. But you can, so let’s take a couple of America’s billionaire really rich man Andrew Carnegie made a steel and he spent his money giving and making public libraries all over the country, all the small towns in America. John D. Rockefeller made a fortune in oil and then he spent it largely on medical research, doctor curing diseases. I wonder what you want to do with your money?

Donald Trump
Excuse me this earphone is off.

Pat Buchanan
Why don’t we take a break now? And then while they get Donald Trump and fix the earphone for him, if we can back there in production both, we’ll be right back. [Commercial Break]

Pat Buchanan
Tom Braden and I we’re talking with Donald Trump in New York the author of “The Art of The Deal”, which is the best seller. He just lost his earpiece and we’ll be back in a second.

Tom Braden
Welcome to Crossfire. While we’re talking with Donald Trump who at 41 has made a billion dollars and is the author of a current best seller “The Art of The Deal.” Mr. Trump when your earpiece fell off, I was asking you about Andrew Carnegie he made a lot of money fairly on. And made a lot of money and he put it in the public library to all across America.

Tom Braden
John D. Rockefeller made a lot of money drilling for oil and he put into medical research curing diseases. I wanted to know what you intend to do with your billion dollars?

Donald Trump
Well, I intend to give a lot of my money away and I already have. I believe strongly in charities and doing things. We held a Vietnam parade in New York City. We fought very hard to make sure was going to be a great parade. And frankly, it cost over $1 million as far as a contribution from me. So I’m very happy about that. I’m happy about that. I’m happy about the money I’ve given to charity and that’s pretty much the way it is.

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Tom Braden
Well, I take it that you give about 4 million a year to charity. But I’m talking about, we’re talking about billions and more if you’re continue what you’re doing is suppose you’ll make more. Do you think its public spirited for you to live in three mansions? One of them. I think as 180 rooms and I have a 16 columns of marble carved by Italian workmen and not have something going, which sort of compensate?

Donald Trump
Well, the mansion you’re talking about is one of the greatest mansions in the United States. They’re probably would have been doomed if we can save it. And I did save it, it’s a Mar-a-Lago and Palm Beach. And to be perfectly honest, I think we probably created a great thing for the country. It’s a mansion that had to be saved. It’s really a national trust.

Donald Trump
Other people are working there a lot of people working there that would not be. I mean you could look at the of the in any particular act, but to be perfectly honest, I think that I’ve done relative to my age is much is anybody toward charities and I continue to do and I will continue to do a lot more. I feel very strongly and very strongly committed to that.

Pat Buchanan
Let me ask you Donald Trump about that. Mar-a-Lago a place in Palm Beach is a magnificent place. I used to drive by it. And as you say you employ a tremendous number of people. People when you’re building something or when you are maintaining something you give to something to charity. And yet you’re criticized by folks for lacking a social conscience. This is stuff bother you?

Donald Trump
Well, I think that is always going to happen. It’s like you mentioned before about somebody in the Washington Post giving some kind of a knocker knock on Donald Trump. That’s always going to happen no matter what you do, no matter if you gave — I’ve took everything right now and gave it immediately. Somebody’s got to find a reason or I had some sinister reason for doing it. So you’re always going to have that and it’s an unfortunate situation Pat.

Pat Buchanan
But you’ve got, you know, clearly some sense of just maybe not dissatisfaction but lack of fulfillment in being Donald Trump, the builder of Trump Tower when you talk about moving into another realm. Whether some presidential or politics. Is there not enough satisfaction coming on and just putting up buildings? Even the ones that you think of are dramatic?

Donald Trump
Well, I get great satisfaction either run this. What I want to continue to do. I want to continue to do exactly what I’m doing other people mentioned possibly presidential bid in all of this other nonsense. I’m not looking to do that.
satisfaction great satisfaction presidential bid nonsense

Donald Trump
I don’t like what I see. I don’t like seeing Japan and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait ripping off this country we have a great country were paying for the defense of Japan by going out to Japan borrowing money from Japan, paying high interest rates and then defending them.

Donald Trump
So, where borrowing money from Japan in order to defend Japan. I think that is ridiculous. It is preposterous. It should be done. We got to be spending money for the farmers and spending money for AIDS.

Pat Buchanan
Spending money with farmers.

Tom Braden
Well, let me get back to you Mr. Trump for just a moment. You’re sister said something and I thought was significant about you. She said “Success bring success which brings more success. And the more he gets the more he want.’ How would you define success?

Donald Trump
Well, think success can be defined in a number ways you have economic or financial success —

Tom Braden
You’ve got that.

Donald Trump
You have a model success and a social success and I feel I’ve got that too an equal extent. I go very strong into charities and helping people out. Now, people don’t want to write about that and you folks perhaps Tom would want to talk about it because it is not the appropriate thing to have me on a program for.

Donald Trump
But the fact is, I give a lot of money to charity. I believe very strongly in it, and I’d like to know how many other guys my age are giving anywhere near what I’m giving to the various charities.

Pat Buchanan
Let me talk about your view in Japan because you’ve banged up on Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Japan. Exactly, what do you think the president should do about the fact that the Japanese that spent one percent of GNP on defense?

Donald Trump
Well, I think it’s going to be impossible for this great country for our great country to compete against Japan and other countries, by the way. We’re becoming a totally second-rate economic power. If we’re spending eight percent of our money on defense and Japan is spending less than one percent of their money.

Donald Trump
For us to be borrowing money to defend the wealthiest nation in the world which is in fact Japan is just totally preposterous. It’s got to stop or we’re going to totally second-rate.

Pat Buchanan
Well, what do you do?

Donald Trump
What do you do? You make Japan pay, you make Japan reimburse us. You go and you negotiate with these people. We’re taken the Persian Gulf. We’re getting oil out of Persian Gulf which goes to Japan. This oil goes to Japan and fuels their factories. They come over beat the hell out of us with General Motors and Ford and Chrysler. They beat the hell out of us, on oil that we got them through the Persian Gulf.

Donald Trump
Why aren’t they paying for this oil? Why don’t they paying us a percentage for this oil? It doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t make sense at all, somebody’s got to go to Japan or let them come here dammit and let’s somebody negotiate and get off their share.

Donald Trump
We’re losing $150 billion a year. They’re making a like amount and more. And I think it’s ridiculous that with defending Japan for nothing. And by the way, I love the Japanese people I get along great with the Japanese people they’re huge purchases of our apartments and everything else. The fact is, they’re taking advantage of this country. They know it. We know it and nobody does anything about it.

Tom Braden
I notice that full-page ad that you took out about some newspapers, I guess with the New York Times for one in which you made the same point that you’ve made just now. Does that indicate that you want to go into politics or become a spokesman for your political ideas, your geophysical ideas?

Donald Trump
No, it doesn’t. What it indicates is that I’m tired of seeing the United States getting ripped off and I took ad out and hoping that somebody in political office could do something about it. I don’t know. I haven’t seen that happening yet but dammit it has got a happen and if it’s going to happen quickly, if it doesn’t happen quickly. It is going to be too late economically for this country.

Tom Braden
What going to happens in this country if the Japanese become more competitive which they appear to be?

Donald Trump
Competitive in what sense.

Pat Buchanan
Well, I think as you mentioned they run in General Motors and Ford and Chrysler. They’re laughing and on the track.

Donald Trump
Well, Pat when you say competitive. I don’t mean you say they’re competitive. I’d say they’re more than competitive but they have a tremendous advantage. Their people, they are great scientist and great brains there at, coming up with new ideas for VCRs and for television sets and all appliances [Inaudible]. Ours are trying to discover missiles and everything [Inaudible] in Japan.

Pat Buchanan
All right, let me ask you. Why do go after the Japanese when the Canadians spend about one percent of their GNP for the defense. They got about four destroyers. The U.S. fleet protects them. The American defense establishment protects them our trade with Canada is as large a large in Japan. Why do you single out the Japanese?

Donald Trump
You’re absolutely right and I don’t single out the Japanese. I always purpose it by saying Japan is a good example. The fact is, you have Saudi Arabia, you have Kuwait. Why are we letting Kuwait take oil at? We’re bringing their oil and the tankers in. We’re bringing the oil at. Why aren’t we —

Pat Buchanan
Because you and I — Donald look, you and I know Kuwait is a frightened in sense pathetic little —

Donald Trump
Do not put that.

Pat Buchanan
You know shake them. They’ve got a lot of money and a lot of Cadillacs. Look, if —

Donald Trump
They’re very wealthy people.

Pat Buchanan
I know they’re wealthy. Look Donald, if Shah in Iran takes a left turn toward Kuwait. Those guys are going to be at the airport and they’re all going to be over here in a minute.

Donald Trump
And that’s all the more reason. They should be reimbursing us for our services. We’re giving them services. We’re literally giving them freedom and why aren’t we getting a percentage of the oil that we bring in and take out? We bring the ships in to get the oil to take it out. I read the other day —

Pat Buchanan
They pay for it.

Donald Trump
Hey Pat, these four pathetic country that you just talk about just put 10 percent of British petroleum. Now you tell me about it — [Crosstalk]

Tom Braden
All right Mr. Trump.

Pat Buchanan
In terms of defense there are. [Crosstalk]

Donald Trump
Why should they defend themselves? We’ll do it nothing.

Tom Braden
I believe Kuwait a long. They’re worried enough about Iran. So we don’t have to take them on. I want to know one other thing about you. Why don’t you build a low-cost housing?

Donald Trump
It’s very difficult problem. It’s the biggest problem. One of the biggest problems this country is going to face. If you look at the homeless situation all over the country, it’s because of the fact that there is no housing. The federal government used to have programs a lot of programs they don’t have any programs right now. And it is a major problem.

Pat Buchanan
Well, we do have program Donald.

Donald Trump
Well, you know, how small the programs are. I mean, if you look at the 1960s and the early 70s, you have massive programs for low moderate and middle income housing. Today you have virtually no programs. You have some minor program to senior citizen housing. You had an approval the other day of potential program. And it’s just not enough.

Tom Braden
Why does Donald Trump steps in and say look, I want to show you how to build low-cost housing and a profit. And get the job done.

Donald Trump
Well, first of all you can’t Tom build a low-cost housing and a profit and I wish you could. You can build an efficiently economically as long as you have assistance and help from the government. And I wish we could get that help from the government because it’s desperately needed. When you look at the homeless, when you look at all the problems on the streets, a lot of that is directly related to a lack of housing.

Pat Buchanan
Who are your favorite authors?

Donald Trump
Well, I have a number favorite authors. I think Tom Wolfe is excellent.

Pat Buchanan
Did you read Vanity of the the Bonfires?

Donald Trump
I did not.

Tom Braden
What book are you reading now? [Crosstalk]

Donald Trump
I reading my own book again because I think it’s so fantastic Tom.

Pat Buchanan
What’s the best book you’ve read beside Art of the Deal?

Donald Trump
I really like Tom Wolfe last book. And I think he’s a great author. He’s done a beautiful job —

Pat Buchanan
Which book?

Donald Trump
His current book.

Pat Buchanan
Bonfire of the Vanities.

Donald Trump
Yes. And the man has done a very, very good job. And I really can’t hear with this earphone, by the way.

Tom Braden
Well, let me try this one.

Donald Trump
OK.

Tom Braden
You get around a lot. And you meet a lot of people. You were here you met Gorbachev. I like to know this is matter of interest. Of all the people you met in the last couple of years people. People on the television audience know by name only. Whose impress you most?

Donald Trump
Well, I met Gorbachev recently in Washington and I was impressed with him very much in terms of his style and handling, and whether it’s true faith or true or whatever. He’s done a hell of a job in terms of public relations and in getting people to believe he’s sincere. And I think he’s certainly put on a good front for the Soviet Union.

Pat Buchanan
You believe he’s sincere?

Donald Trump
Personally I don’t but I think he’s done an awfully good job of convincing a lot of people that he is.

Tom Braden
Are you going to build something opposite the Kremlin?

Donald Trump
They’ve asked me about what’s going to be a very difficult situation to do it. It’s very difficult getting involved in partnerships with the Russians because I think a lot of people in the government people can tell you.

Pat Buchanan
I mean you mentioned that this nonsense I think was the term you use about the presidential thing. But you end up to New Hampshire. I believe in your quoted saying I got the big crowd there were scalping tickets to see Donald Trump and they don’t do that for other politicians, which is true. Do you have an interest in political office at the national level? I think you’ve said you don’t at the local level.

Donald Trump
Well, I tell you Pat, they treated me beautifully in New Hampshire. And I did go up and over the crowd was enormous and I think the response was enormous. And I was very happy with it. The fact is —

Pat Buchanan
Did you say you speech to the Japanese?

Donald Trump
I gave my speech in the Japanese and other nations as you say and other nations. And again, it is not exclusively the Japanese. This country is being ripped off by its so-called allies and badly and for billions and billions and billions the big quinella money. So, I did go up and we made that we made a lot of progress in terms of New Hampshire, but I have no particular interest in doing anything political.

Tom Braden
When you say that, you know, you’re going to on building buildings at least as far as we know now. That’s what you indeed to do for the next few years. But tell me, when you went up to New Hampshire did look at any Democratic candidate. Do you look at Republican candidates? Do you have a favorite?

Donald Trump
I don’t want to say who my favorite is. I have a couple of people that I know pretty well and I think they are pretty capable, but I think would be to early really right now to talk about favorites. I don’t think that anybody at this moment certainly on the Democratic side in terms of their races says kindle the imagination of the public certainly.

Pat Buchanan
What you think about and Ivan Boesky?

Donald Trump
Not much. I don’t think much of him at all. I don’t know him very well. I really don’t know him at all but I certainly can’t think very much of a man like Ivan Boesky.

Tom Braden
You met Cardinal O’Connor.

Donald Trump
Yes.

Tom Braden
And I understand that you later used his name as a reference when you applied for a Nevada gambling license. Does Cardinal O’Connor impress you as a follow that that you can really respect?

Donald Trump
He’s a tremendous man. I know him well. He’s a great credit to the church into the country and everybody associated with him. He’s really a tremendous man, yes.

Tom Braden
Tell me Mr. Trump the $80,000 Cadillac, is that a good idea?

Donald Trump
The one that Cadillac is making with the Trump name?

Tom Braden
Yes.

Donald Trump
Commonly known as the Trump Golden Series.

Tom Braden
Yes, $80,000 Cadillac.

Donald Trump
I don’t know.

Tom Braden
It strikes me as monstrosity.

Donald Trump
Well, it’s a magnificent car. I don’t know whether or not it’s good or bad. I mean, it depend Tom on your point of view. If you listen to some people nobody should be able to drive a car at all.

Tom Braden
All right.

Pat Buchanan
What would you like on your epitaph?

Donald Trump
On mine?

Pat Buchanan
Yes.

Donald Trump
That I did a good job, worked hard, and I really helped a lot of people. And I think that’s perhaps what it’s going to end up being.

Tom Braden
All right, Donald Trump. Thank you for being our guest.

Donald Trump
Thank you Tom. Thank you Pat.

Pat Buchanan
Thank you too Donald Trump.

Tom Braden
And now we’re back in just a minute.

Pat Buchanan
The author of Donald Trump an engaging candid articulate, personable and likable guy. Not like to see that $80,000 Cadillac, just got a small. It’s been badly depreciate.

Tom Braden
Yes, that’s right. That’s right Pat. Well, he is Pat, a very personable and engaging guy. And I think he’s a hustler. He typified our age. The way you make money now is not through building things as Andrew Carnegie or Henry Ford did. You make it by hustling it. If you are personable you can make a lot of it.

Pat Buchanan
And let me tell you something about Andrew. And they said about John D. Rockefeller. He threw around dimes like sewer caps and Carnegie give some of those guys drove some of the working people. The immigrant people in this country almost to their death with slave labor all those great Robert Barringer your praise Tom. This guy gives money to our Cardinal O’Connor and Sister Teresa. He’s a great Sister Teresa.

Tom Braden
All right, from the left I’m Tom Braden. Good night for Crossfire.

Pat Buchanan
From your right, Pat Buchanan. Join us tomorrow night for addition of Crossfire.

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