The Real Deal New York

Here’s how Clinton could hit Trump on his real estate record

Inside the DNC’s recently leaked, 200+ page rundown of dirt on Trump

June 16, 2016 05:17PM
By Will Parker

From left: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the White House (Illustration by Lexi Pilgrim)

After a report emerged last week that the Democratic National Committee’s security had been breached by Russian government hackers, a document surfaced yesterday that many are saying is the Democratic Party’s official opposition research on presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Through more than 200 pages, the oppo book mostly consists of news clips and interviews with Trump over the last three decades. It begins with a list of “Top Narratives,” which include things like “Trump is a liar,” “Trump is only loyal to himself,” and “Misogynist in Chief” before getting into the weeds of the research, which are tagged with headlines that could serve as talking points for Hillary Clinton and other Democratic operatives to use in discussing Trump’s record.

Although the themes run a gamut from Trump’s alleged sexual indiscretions to his apparent disbelief in the existence of heaven, there’s a lot of real estate in there too, spanning topics from bankruptcy to the employment of immigrant workers.

Here’s a look at how Clinton could pull from Trump’s real estate record to attack him during the general election.

Talking Point: Trump loves “bad markets and ‘amazing’ housing market collapses”

Trump’s love of “bad markets” leads the opposition doc’s “Philosophy on leadership, business and management” section. The research cites three CNN appearances between in 2004 and 2009 in which Trump bragged about his (stated) ability to flourish while the economy flounders. “I’ve always made a lot of money in bad markets. I love bad markets,” he told Wolf Blitzer in 2004. “It’s an amazing situation” he told Larry King in October of 2007, when King asked him “what’s going on?” in the country’s real estate market, as the subprime mortgage crisis entered full swing. Earlier that year, Trump told the Globe & Mail that the real estate collapse would be “very minor.”

Talking Point: “Trump bragged he had dealt with Gaddafi and ‘screwed’ him in a land deal”

Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan chief of state,

Muammar Gaddafi

Apparently the DNC sees Trump’s brief history of real estate transactions with now-slain Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi as something they might want to throw at him in the coming months. In a 2011 interview with Fox News, Trump revealed that he had “dealt” with Gaddafi, a clear example of of his foreign policy prowess. “I rented him a piece of land,” Trump told Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy, “He paid me more for one night than the land was worth but [sic] the whole year, for two years, and then I didn’t let him use the land,” Trump bragged. “I don’t want to use the word screw but I screwed him.” It’s probably safe to say that screw was the word he wanted to use.

Talking Point: “Trump paid $13 million for a Lowes Island Golf Course, chopped down 400 trees and installed a historically-inaccurate plaque commemorating a nonexistent civil war battle”

Trump National Golf Course, Virginia

Trump National Golf Course, Virginia

Not only does Trump make bad investment decisions, he does goofy things with the investments, the document claims. The lead item from the “Golf Courses” section of the research recalls Trump’s Northern Virginia fixer-upper where the Donald installed a plaque commemorating soldiers who died in the American Civil War along the Potomac River, which runs aside the Lowes Island course. “The casualties were so great the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’” The problem is the story is totally made up, as a civil war historian explained to the New York Times last year. In response to the historical challenge Trump quipped, “How would they know that? …Were they there?”

Talking Point: “Trump wanted the government to bulldoze a woman’s ugly house so the property could be developed”

Trump Plaza Hotel, Atlantic City

Trump Plaza Hotel, Atlantic City

As many Republican primary candidates attempted to do, including now Trump surrogate and purported McDonald’s delivery boy Chris Christie, it looks like the Democrats plan to go after Trump’s history of using eminent domain. The primary case involves an elderly woman by the name of Vera Coking, whose house Trump wanted to demolish in order to build a parking lot for his Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City in the early 1990s. It’s worth noting that Trump lost that battle, when a court tossed the case 1998. Trump Plaza Hotel is now closed (though Trump friend Carl Icahn bought the house at auction in 2014 and subsequently demolished it). The opposition research also mentions Trump plans to shut-down five business in Bridgeport, Connecticut so he could build a $350 million mixed-use development anchored by an amusement park. Those plans never panned out, either.

Talking Point: “Trump’s poor decision making skills have sent his companies into bankruptcy four times, and he has barely avoided it himself”

The document’s bankruptcy section references more than a dozen stories on Trump’s struggles with debt over the years. Although the research points out that Trump has only ever used bankruptcy for business entities, it emphasizes that Trump “narrowly avoided personal bankruptcy” too. The research cites a Washington Post article from 1992 that states that lenders could have bankrupted Trump but were afraid of entering a never-ending legal battle with him in court. It also points to Trump’s use of the words “a great deal” to describe his use of bankruptcy laws in the past, and quotes Trump at a Nevada rally in 2015 when he explained to a crowd the virtues of acquiring troubled companies and chaptering them.

Talking Point: “A NYC union sued Trump for cheating them by hiring undocumented Polish immigrants”

Polish demolition worker

A demolition worker interviewed in “Trump: What’s The Deal?” (1991)

The Clinton camp might look to take aim at Trump’s most prized development, Trump Tower, by dredging up a lawsuit from the 1980s related to the denial of benefits to workers who helped build the Fifth Avenue skyscraper. About 200 undocumented Polish laborers had been working the site to demolish the Bonwit Teller building, and according to testimony they worked under harsh conditions with low or no pay. Some workers testified that they were threatened with deportation by Trump associates when they approached the company over unpaid wages. Trump eventually settled with plaintiff Harry Diduck, then a member of the House Wreckers Union.

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