Did Trump have as much faith in fellow real-estate moguls as he now has in Putin and Kim and Mohammed bin Salman?
DATE: Circa 2013.
IN ATTENDANCE: Donald Trump; Michael Cohen; Donald Trump, Jr.; Eric Trump; Allen Weisselberg, C.F.O. of the Trump Organization.
Donald Trump: All right, we’re here to decide if we should buy the Garfield Arms apartment building, on Lexington Avenue, from Stan Lewis for ninety-six million dollars, assuming that the financing from the Herzegovina Savings and Loan is still there after the investigation. Stan is a terrific guy, by the way—one of the original members of Mar-a-Lago and the author of that letter of appreciation about how my club is a lot better than any other club. “Out of the league of any other club” were his exact words. A really great guy. Donald, Jr., what do you have?
Donald Trump, Jr.: Well, I spoke to the commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings, and he confirmed the existence of the inspection report that our spy in the D.O.B. warned us might be coming. The inspectors think that the building will fall down before the end of the year.
Donald Trump: Stan denies that vehemently.
Donald Trump, Jr.: The commissioner says that the department is preparing a condemnation order.
Donald Trump: Stan strongly denies that. He was very strong in his denial. Very, very strong. He denied it to me personally, on the phone, and he denied it to me last week, when he presented me with that plaque naming me the Carpet Manufacturer Association’s South Florida Man of the Year. Michael?
Michael Cohen: I called the commissioner of the Buildings Department and told him that if he condemned the Garfield Arms we would get him fired, we would crush him like a bug, we would litigate him into abject poverty, we would burn his crops, and we would kill his firstborn son.
Donald Trump: What did he say to that?
Michael Cohen: I think when I said that, he’d already hung up the phone. I was afraid to call back and find out.
Donald Trump: Eric. You have your hand up. What is it?
Eric Trump: I have to go potty.
Donald Trump: Go. Don’t come back. Somebody lock the door. Allen, what have you got?
Allen Weisselberg: Well, it turns out that the owners’ financial statement is a crock. Putting a soup kitchen in the lobby didn’t drive out nearly as many rent-controlled tenants as they thought it would, and it brought on a lawsuit that’s bound to cost millions before it’s over. Their income projections for next year are strictly fantasyland. Our accountants say that, even if the building doesn’t fall down, it will be in the red for at least the next forty years. They say that investing in the Garfield Arms makes the Kushners getting suckered into buying that white elephant on Fifth Avenue—the one Henry Geldzahler said looks like the box the Seagram Building came in—seem like getting in on the Amazon I.P.O.
Donald Trump: Stan denies that very strongly. He denied it once before, and then he denied it again when I phoned to thank him for the letter he wrote to the Palm Beach paper saying that I was the best businessman ever, and possibly the Messiah.
Donald Trump, Jr.: That was a great letter, Dad.
Eric Trump (shouting through the door): I framed that letter, Dad.
Donald Trump: O.K., that does it. We buy. That’s why I’m so much better at this than anyone else—I hear from the experts I’ve surrounded myself with, and then I make an executive decision.
All, in chorus: You’re the greatest! You’re the greatest!
Eric Trump (still shouting through the door): You’re the bestest ever in the whole wide world.
(Exeunt, brushing by Eric)