Michael D'Antonio is the author of "Truth About Trump".
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I'm Michael D'Antonio, author of Truth About Trump (http://www.amazon.com/Truth-About-Trump-Michael-DAntonio/dp/1250105285), and I've exclusively interviewed Donald Trump, his family, and his colleagues, charting his successes and failures, scandals and triumphs, and relentless pursuits of money and fame that have made Trump who he is today. I'm here today to answer your questions about my experiences interviewing Donald Trump, my book, and anything else you want to know!
My proof is here: https://twitter.com/StMartinsPress/status/740850557913567232
Thank you so much for your time and great questions, I'm signing off!
What would you most like to tell us that no one has asked about yet?
No one has asked whether I was threatened by Trump. I was. He said he could sue me if I did something he didn't like. Then his lawyer called me, and my publisher, to threaten to sue both of us. This was before the book was even published
I was very careful to have good sources for the book and I recorded audio of every meetings, so I feel confident about what I published. And no one in the Trump camp has called to comlplain
Do you buy your parmesan cheese pre-shredded or in blocks? Would you like to see America grate again?
I'm Italian American so I guy the good stuff. I think all Americans should grate
Would you trust him with the launch codes to the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal?
I have to say that I would not. Although I doubt he would do anything unexpected. The launch of our weapons requires more check-offs that merely a presidential order. Still, he's a bit too erratic as a personality for me to feel comfortable with him having the codes
How was it meeting and interviewing all of his family members? Any big surprises there?
His kids are smart, and well spoken. I was pretty shocked, though, when Donald Jr. told me that the family believes that people are like "ace horses" and that breeding is what matters. he said he was the product of the breeding of a high quality mother and a high quality father so he was genetically destined to succeed at a high level. Very weird stuff to say on the record
His wife Ivana was interesting. She started to tell me she thought that Donald could be explained as a guy who was never loved and sought to make up for it by seeking attention from the world. Then she stopped and said, "You know, I don't really understand him at all."
She's known him for forty years and still doesn't get him
What is the truth about Trump in one sentence?
The Truth About Trump is that he is a damaged man, with an enormous ego, who wants the prize of the presidency because it's the biggest thing he could possible go for.
Based on your previous history, what do you think of the man potentially becoming president? If he were to become president, how much of what he is currently espousing do you think would he actually try to put into effect?
this is a great question. I began my work as a writer covering politics and worked in Washington for many years. It seemed to me that a lot of people who were extreme in campaigns became less so in office. They took their jobs seriously and backed off the fierce rhetoric. Donald wants to succeed at everything he does and I think he could get good advisors and MAY listen to them
What's the secret to his charisma?
I think that Donald expressed himself in such a big and dramatic way that we cannot help but watch. It's infectious, in the way that the way people on the big screen can be infectious., Big emotions make us feel big emotions and get excited
In your opinion, how much of the Trump persona that the average person sees is authentically him and how much of it is an act?
It's weird...much of what we see on the campaign trial is authentic. He is very opinionated and believes very strongly that he is one of the most intelligent and talented person in the world. Seriously, in the world. So all the bluster is real.
Do you think Trump has a sense of morality?
Good question. He understand right and wrong on a basic level, but he doesn't have a lot of empathy for other people. He judges every situation on the basis of how it affects him.he also will take things to extremes...to places where others won't go...in order to get what he wants.
Related to this is an exchange I had with him about his criticism of a famous elderly actress. Kim Novak. He tweeted horrible stuff about her. I asked him about it and his reply was "I don't think I got into a lot of trouble for that." He didn't understand that he hurt her and that was what I was asking about
He sounds almost human.
He is a human...a very unusual, and I think damaged one..but he's human
The big issue is that he's trying to work out his psychological problems in the political arena. Thus we're all drawn into his process.
Do you think Trump was always serious about being president or do you think it was initially for publicity and now he's just running with it?
He actually first thought about running fo president in 1987. He went to NH and gave a campaign speech and listened as people said he should run. In 1999 he ran for the Reform Party (Ross Perot's old organization) nomination but dropped out before the convention. In both those cases he was also promoting books and making money giving speeches. But I think he liked the idea of running and was planning for this day
His candidacy was serious from the start...but he always leaves himself an "out" if things go badly. In this case he always said he would drop out if he was treated unfairly. Then he started to win primaries and dropping out became a non-option
How is Donald Trump outside of the limelight? Is he the same on and off camera?
He's the same as the guy you see on camera...but a little quieter at times. Whats interesting is that in the few moments when he started to drop the facade, and speak from the heart, I liked him. However when he noticed that he's speaking in this way he stops himself. He almost doesn't want to be known in this way.
What's up with his hair?
It's a very elaborate combover that involves taking hair from the side and from the back, and using it to cover up the baldness in the center
He once told me I was a "good looking guy." I said, come on Donald. I'm short, chubby, and bald!
No, seriously, he answered. Bald looks good on you!
The Pesident can easily escalate situations that could result in a nuclear war.
Russian jets flying over "my" ships, shoot them down if they come within a 100 miles.
Good point. I think that short of launching nuclear missiles Trump could cause a lot of problems getting us into conflicts. He might be very confrontational with China, over the islands they are building there. Cool heads are required and his is a hot one
How many times have you met Trump in person?
Donald and I met five times. The first was for a basic howdy-do. He pretended that he didn't want to help me with the book AS IF HE CAN RESIST PUBLICITY! But in the end he agreed to a series on interviews
What's the secret to stopping him?
I think the key to stopping him is gentle mockery. It would be a bad idea to get down in the gutter with him. Nicknames and wild accusations wouldn't work. But if a candidates points out his deficiencies, and keeps reminding voters of his failures including Trump U and the bankruptcies, he will feel provoked and do self destructive things
Do you expect to be attacked by Trump for doing this? What do you think he would say about you today?
I'm sure he would say that I'm a loser, I'm very dishonest, and scum...just like all the reporters he excoriates at his campaign rallies. The thing is, he doesn't mean it. This is a technique he uses to create a fake enemy so he can get attention. He also wants to discredit the press so that when he gives a speech he can say, "Believe me, folks. Don't believe the lying press."
It's an old trick...but it sometimes works
That's why people put bumper stickers on their cars saying Don't Trust The Lamestream media
That was truly funny. Seems like a guy with an ego that big would lose his mind at the roasting Obama gave him.
In some ways you want to say, `Poor Donald.' I think he hates being the butt of so many jokes and the object of ridicule. No one wants to be embarrassed. The problem is that he spends so much time ridiculing other people, and trying to divide us along racial and ethnic and religious lines, that it's hard to feel sorry for him. It's like the kid who is a bully. You kn ow he's acting the way he does because someone treated him badly at some point. But you have to stop him from bullying others first
I don't live in the US but no amount of domestic US context could give him context. Has America gotten so fed up of politicians, that it has become nihilistic?
This is a global problem. Everyone everywhere is worried about the race-to-the-bottom in wages and rising disparities in wealth and income. People are fearful and that makes strong men interesting to them
So called "Birthers" accused President Obama of being born in Kenya, simply because his father was born in Kenya. Donald Trump's Mother was born in Scotland. Why do you believe the "Alternative" media which pushed the birther agenda, have not touch on this topic?
It may be because his mother was white...sorry, but I think the birther thing is partly racist ... and because she became a US citizen.
I can see that. But don't you believe, to a certain extent, that's what all politicians are after? Not with the same motives: some will certainly have a more altruistic perspective, but they all actually believe what they do changes something for the better. They are all convinced they are the one and only (wo)man for the job.
Yes! Everyone who runs for office thinks he/she is The Best. I know that Obama and others have actually said, "You have to be nuts to run for president." However there can be a concurrent desire to serve the public, or the country, and accomplish something positive too. This is why people have ideologies and agendas. It's so we can know how they will lead the nation. Trump's agenda is all over the map, so it's hard to see that he really has a solid one
Isn't a lot of Trump's claims based on his "brand"? He gets paid to slap his name on steaks and business classes without actually having much to do with these products.
You can have Trump water with your breakfast, a Trump steak for lunch, and Trump vodka at dinner and sleep on a Trump mattress. In the morning you can put on a Trump suit, shirt, and tie and go to work!
yes, he's all about branding and you can never know how much of a company...resort, or product he owns.
To what extent do you think Trump's political stances are based in his wealthy upbringing?
I find it hard to believe that he truly cares about the well being of the low-income population if he has always been a member of the wealthiest 1%.
I think his stances are based mainly on his sense of what will please his "base." He did grow up wealthy...very wealthy...but he ctually esents the majority of the 1% because they never accepted him into society in Manhattan. That's why he attacks bankers like Jamie Dimon. He feels resentful toward them.
Why do you think he decided to run for president?
I think he was very angry with Obama...he hates his policies and considers him a failed president. He consider himself truly superior as a human being. When Obama dissed him at the White House Correspondents dinner in 2011, Trump was very offended. I think he decided to run them (Check out the video of that dinner. It's amazing.)
How much is he worth?
Donald says he's worth as much as $10 billion, but when Forbes magazine does it's in depdent assessment he always comes out much lower. One writer who specializes in business even suggested in 2005 that he was worth less than $1 billion. I would guess it's between $5 billion and $10 billion but it's all privately held and thus, not verifiable
Is he just a character actor? Is this all an avant garde performance?
Seriously though, is this wall thing serious? What ridiculous promise could he actually follow through with?
You make a good point. I think Trump set out in life to make himself into a character. He wanted to be known as The People's Billionaire. He thought this would be valuable in terms of promotion and understood that the public can relate to a cartoon better than to a complex man. Somewhere along the way the character took over. I think it now controls him and there is no difference between this fictional, constructed personality and the man himself. He's our first "meta" candidate
I ask you this with earnest.
Should Trump win the election, based on what you've been able to glean from him, what's the worst that can happen?
I think the worst that could happen is that he would send troops to fight in new wars. He might try his "bomb the hell out of them" strategy with Isis and provoke a wave of terror attacks here
This is all pretty scary to me. But then again, he would say I'm a wimp and a loser
Please forgive me if you have already answered this question, but do you think that Donald Trump is actually racist himself or is he just using race as a tool for his voting base? I get the feeling that he is more of a Trumpist meaning that he thinks anyone who isn't him is a piece of trash.
You are right he is a "Trumpist" first and always. I can't say he his a racist in her innermost heart. But he has always been willing to use race to his advantage. This goes all the way back to the 1970s. Every so often, he said something racist, as if he was reminding whites of where he actually stood
We have to ask this -- What does it men when a candidate is continually defending himself against complaints that he is a bigot?
It says, to my mid, that he's got some sort of problem with diversity and equality
As a non-American I ought to ask it.
Is he really that bad?
What can really and realistically happen if he's elected, in your opinion?
Really good question. He is not a kind or decent person and he doesn't seem interested in learning about anything that is complex and difficult to grasp. The pursuit of the truth, about anything, doesn't seem to interest him
that said, we have a robust political system that can put checks on a president. Congress holds power. the courts hold power. He can't get away with too much. That gives me hope
The unfortunate thing is a Trump presidency would waste years when we could do better
I'm sorry, but can you actually have a Trump steak for dinner? The brand has been defunct for years. The "Trump steaks" he gave out in Florida were openly from another provider and just became Trump steaks because he declared them so. It's like having a priest bless a bottle of aquafina and suddenly it's holy water. There's not actually a trump steaks company anymore, right?
you are right I should have written in the past tense.
Trump products come and go the steaks have gone, I think!
What are you most anxious about happening, if trump becomes president?
Realistically speaking, I worry about a lost four to eight years. Greater gridlock in Congress. Wasted time. problems getting worse
Do you like Donald Trump as a person? Be honest
I liked him to hang out with. He was pretty funny. If he drank, I'd have a beer with him. He was also able to accept being teased. I complained that he kept chocolates on the table and never offered me one. He told me to take them all. And the next time we met he brought out water and juice for us. I thought that was petty nice of him
How often would he drop his facade and speak from the heart?
I think it happened twice. Once when he was talking about his school days and once when he mentioned a boy with cancer who came to see him on a Make A Wish visit. Otherwise, he stuck to the script
Thank you for your point of view. You seem like a really integer journalist with great care for the people/things you write about. I'm happy qualities like that are rewarded, because you sure as hell don't win the Pulitzer Prize for nothing! Keep on spreading objective and well-researched news and insights. It's great to see this while popular media seems to become more and more subjective, at least where I'm from.
Thanks. You are right about the way the press has been evolving. It's very hard these days to trust anything you see, read, or hear. I cannot claim to be totally objective. That's impossible. I do try to be fair, and thorough though
In the case of Trump, I started working on the story before he declared to president. I thought he was mainly an extreme person who represented something about our culture...narcissism and publicity seeking. Now we have a person who can be scary, and perhaps even dangerous. Hard to walk the line to being fair and also trying to report the scary stuff
Can you tell us more about the make-a-wish visit? I can't quite imagine what a day with Trump would be like.
The boy dressed up in a little suit and tie and brought a briefcase to Trump Tower. He then asked Trump to "fire" him in the boardroom of The Apprentice. (It's in Trump Tower.) Tump couldn't do it. He wrote the boy a check instead and told him to go have some fun
Why was only he "banished"?
He says that it was because he was a kid who talked back too much to his parents and teachers. He has a VERY strict father and I'm sure he was a tough kid to parent. But the thing is, I never found any evidence that he was "that" bad. He engaged in normal rebellious behavior, but nothing extreme
I wonder if he father wasn't trying to create a more disciplined young man becuase he had already selected Donald as his main heir. He wanted a super strong kid. Just a thought
What is the most interesting story Trump told you in your meetings?
He told me that at the military school, which he attended from age 13 to 18, the instructive actually punched out the cadets. It sounded like a very brutal environment.
I felt bad to the Donald who was a boy and was suddenly sent away to the place. His two brothers and two sisters stayed home with the parents. Donald was sort of banished
What do you think of his foreign policy? Do you think he would increase or decrease America's standing in the world?
I think that he wouldn't change much of anything. When he talks about the difficulties in our military much of that has to do with the fatigue...in men, women, and materiel...built up over more than a decade of fighting. Our forces are depleted, but they will be restored no matter who is elected.
another thought on foreign policy. This is hard to judge, since he hasn't said much other than that he wants to make US allies pay more for defense. It is possible he could get this to happen, but the truth is the US benefits from being in the countries we we operate bases. The alliances benefit us too
Do you see any advantages to having Trump for president over Hillary or Bernie? (Or any of the failed candidates for that matter).
The main advantage is that he would be independent from outside influences. He clearly doesn't listen to people who try to tell him what to do and that can be a good thing. I think Bernie is similar. Hillary is more closely tied to establishment groups. This isn't always bad. But it does make her less independent
What do you think about Trump University?
That was a case where Donald couldn't resist the money being offered to license his name. The "school" took in about $40 million. The problem is he didn't control the quality. It quickly became a ripoff scheme that took advantage of people who couldn't afford it. High pressure tactics were used to get them to buy $35,000 packages, Some even took out new credit cards to do it. As Donald would say, Sad
Is trump a fascist?
He's authoritarian...and a demagogue. Fascist is so hard to define. In my mind it means anti-democratic and I don't think he is that. He would not try to cancel elections and rule as a dictator
How big are his hands in person?
I didn't notice that they were especially small! I know what people are getting at when they talk about his hands...but fo a guy whose 6 foot three or so, they seemed proportional!
What about that casino? How did he fail to take money from suckers on that one?
Strange isn't it that he was in a business where the "house" always wins, and somehow he lost. The big probem there was that he got overextended with construction. He ran up huge debt he couldn't service. Also, Trump is a good deal maker but a so-so operators of businesses. He gets bored with managing complex service industries and doesn't do well
How does Donald Trump smell?
Well...he doesn't seem to have a smell. In fact, I would say that he's one of the cleanest creatures I have ever been near. His office is quite pristine, perhaps because he has a touch of germophobia and is wary to dirt
Why do you think that he's so sensitive about it?
Donald is sensitive about EVERYTHING. He talks tough and acts like he's really resilient but just about everything gets under his skin
How does it feel to be the head coach of the Michigan State Spartans? What do you think of Harbaugh's antics?
I also get confused with the basketball coach Mike D'Antoni. That's is brutal...especially in NY
Do they even serve taco bowls at the Trump Tower Grill?
I think they do! The one time I ate there I had the steak It was pety good
What do you think about the definition of "trumpery", and how it may be related to Trump himself?
(For reference, here is the definition: Attractive articles of little value or use; showy but worthless.)
Oh boy. I don't think I ever looked it up!
Showy is spot-on with him. Worthless is only sometimes true. Some of his real estate projects do have substantial value, so it's not always true that something with the Trump name is of little value
How much of an impact will Trumps money be on his presidency? Assuming he's elected, I imagine he will be one of the wealthiest presidents in the last few cycles. Could he use any of his wealth to fund projects of his?
I doubt he would use his money to fund projects. First, although He has many assets, we don't know how much cash he has. Second, he's never beee that charitable. I think this may be why he doesn't want to release his taxes
What's the last great book you read?
thomas pikettys Capital in the 21st Century It's brilliant
I read a lot of history and politics to prepare for the Trump project
On a personal level, what is your favorite movie of all time?
This may surprise you. I was very moved by the 1970s (I think) film called Ordinary People. The plot revolved around the death or a child in a boating accident, which left his brother devastated. I experienced something simialr in my life, and the film helped me understand how everyone around me responded to that tragedy
I haven't read your book, but I'm genuinely curious about your opinion. Do you think Trump could have the power over people in the other two branches of government to turn this republic into a dictatorship? I know it's supposed to be a balanced system, but do you think it's a possibility? Why or why not? I'm sorry if it's a dumb question. It's just something in the back of my mind for a while and you seem to be the person to ask.
This is not a dumb question. Chuck Klosterman has a great new book out that addresses the fact that every system ever developed falls apart at some point The Roman Empire. The British empire. Nothing last for ever. America 's government is well-built with its checks and balances but it is not a perfect set-up. I don't think Trump would be the one to wreck it...but we should always support the institutions that keep a check on power...that includes the free press! Donald doesn't much like press freedom, which shows you where his sentiments lie