From the New York print issue: Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton has taken the country — and the New York real estate industry — on a rollercoaster ride of a lifetime in the last few weeks.
And few know what his presidency will really look like once he takes the oath of office next month.
But one thing is certain: The next four years will shape Donald Trump’s legacy more than any condo tower, hotel, golf course or casino he’s ever stamped his name on. Indeed, the bombastic real estate tycoon-turned-U.S. president-elect has vowed to “drain the swamp” in Washington, and the intrigue about how it will all play — for better and for worse —is palpable.
“I’ve spent my entire life in business, looking at the untapped potential in projects and in people all over the world,” Trump told supporters during a speech at the New York Hilton Midtown on the morning of his stunning win. “That is now what I want to do for our country.”
So far, the billionaire Republican has made some key gains — such as winning over larger chunks of the real estate industry since he was elected. But other areas — such as creating a successful transition team to get his new administration up and running — have proved more challenging for Trump. That’s not to mention winning over the millions of voters who were in the “never Trump” camp.
And there are clear signs that Trump’s inner circle is grappling with a clash of ideologies. That may not be surprising considering the combination of characters on his team, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who’s Orthodox Jewish; billionaire investor Peter Thiel, who’s gay; and conservative media executive Stephen Bannon, a leader in the alt-right movement who’s cultivated a devout following among white supremacists. Among those who have praised Bannon’s appointment as Trump’s chief strategist are the Ku Klux Klan, its former leader David Duke and a swath of Americans who advocate racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and a deep disdain for multiculturalism.
Another source of friction has come between Kushner, who has seen his political capital quickly inflate since Trump was elected, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie, of course, was one of Trump’s key surrogates on the campaign trail but also prosecuted Kushner’s father in 2004 for tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations.
Christie, who was ousted as head of the transition team, is just one of several who have gotten the boot as the “knife fight” in the president-elect’s camp has tipped in favor of family members and business allies. Former Michigan Representative Michael Rogers, who served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was also kicked to the curb, among others.
Trump’s campaign, however, has had the continued backing of several big names in New York real estate, including Vector Group CEO Howard Lorber, Midtown Equities founder Joseph Cayre, Richard LeFrak and veteran residential broker Louise Sunshine. And since he was elected many others in the industry, including some who expressed concerns about his behavior during the campaign, have had a change of heart and are now supporting him.
But the string of conflicts between Trump’s position as commander in chief and his business endeavors has started to boil over. One of the overarching concerns going forward is the advancement of crony capitalism.
For those who voted against Trump, however, resistance comes in all shapes and sizes — from anti-Trump protests around the country to three Upper West Side apartment buildings dumping the Trump name. Read on, and welcome to Trump Land.