Here's what they said about Trump's start and the role of Trump's father, Fred:
Want to know where Trump inherited his entrepreneurial bent? Gwenda Blair traces it to his grandfather, who ran a series of restaurants in the Klondike that featured some of the best food in town, as well as private areas where “sporting ladies” could “entertain” miners....
Wayne Barrett: Fred was the consummate state capitalist, just like his son. Everything he did was subsidized either by the Federal Housing Administration or the state Mitchell-Lama housing program. And so political connections were all that mattered to him. I mean, that was the key to success, and Donald inherited that, and he inherited the connections for himself.
Hurt: They were Democratic, weren’t they, largely?
Barrett: Right. Out of the Madison Club in Brooklyn. I went to see Joe Sharkey, who—
Hurt: That wasn’t his real name, was it?
Barrett: Yeah. Joe Sharkey.
Barrett: He was the county leader of Brooklyn in the ’50s, and so I asked him, “When did you first see Fred at the FHA?” And he said, “I went down to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural, and after the inaugural I went over to the FHA, and Fred was already there.”
Barrett: So Fred was on top of every loose dollar or possible subsidy, and he was devouring it.
But, you know, this debate that MarcoRubio stirred, about whether or not Fred bequeathed $200 million to Donald, I think this is the whole point. I don’t believe it’s true, but I think it misses the point, and I think it’s a point that almost all of our books make, is that all of the original deals—Fred had to come in and sign the bank documents. None of them could have been done without Fred’s signature.
O’Brien: The Grand Hyatt [a New York hotel Donald Trump bought and refurbished in the 1970s] was co-signed.
Barrett: Yeah. I tell the tale about how Fred has to come to the closing in Atlantic City, and he’s against Donald going into Atlantic City. But he goes to the closing, they sit up there and sign all the documents with all the mob guys, you know, to buy all the leaseholds. And Fred and Donald leave and they go down to the limo, and somebody upstairs realizes that Fred missed one document. And they call out the window for Fred to come back, because they’re not going to do a deal with Donald.
I mean, I had his tax returns at that time. We got them—probably Tim got them—from the [New Jersey] Division of Gaming Enforcement, and Donald was worth nothing. He was worth nothing. Even the $35 million credit line that they started with for Trump Tower was signed by Fred.
O’Brien: So this whole notion that he’s said a lot—that, “Oh, I got a million dollars from my father”—that’s just pure hokum. His father’s political connections and his financial connections launched him, kept him supported. His father bought $3.5 million worth of chips at Trump Castle [the Atlantic City hotel and casino] when the bonds were coming due, to keep him afloat so he could make a bond payment. He inherited, probably conservatively, over $150 million from Fred, so that’s more than $1 million, just for the record....