Trump’s brash, arrogant style of New York City real estate could be his downfall in Washington — 'He is entirely opportunistic, entirely inconsistent’

Presidents of the United States usually have some type of political experience on their resumés — whether they were members of Congress, governors or vice presidents. But President Donald Trump brought a very different resumé to the White House: a background in high-end real estate. And journalist Daniel Lippman, in a report for Politico, explains why the tactics Trump used in real estate could be his downfall in the federal government.


Trump, Lippman observes, “has always viewed life through the prism of his next real estate deal, betting he can just bulldoze opponents into giving him what he wants.” But his problem as president, Lippman quickly adds, is that “Washington doesn’t work that way.”

Trump’s in-your-face, unapologetically arrogant approach to real estate was outlined back in 1987, when his book, “The Art of the Deal,” was published. And more than 30 years later, according to Lippman, Trump is still taking that approach — and forgetting that “The Art of the Deal” doesn’t apply when it comes to running the federal government.

“Now, as he battles an impeachment inquiry that sprang from his alleged attempt to bully a foreign leader,” Lippman reports, “those who know Trump say it’s in large measure because he never made the switch from the brash, no-holds-barred New York businessman portrayed in ‘The Art of the Deal’ to the president of a country governed by laws and norms of behavior.”

A former White House official, quoted anonymously, told Politico that Trump’s aggressive New York City real estate style of deal-making was at work during his July 25, 2019 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The ex-official explained that Trump “does nothing without a quid pro quo. Nothing. Whatever deal has got to be to his advantage.”

Another anonymously quoted White House official had similar observations, telling Politico, “He treats a lot of conversations and a lot of negotiations, including with foreign leaders, along those lines: ‘what is it that you want? Here’s what we want. How can we find a way to reach some kind of deal or accommodation where we both get what we want but in particular, where I, representing the U.S., get what I want?”

Lippman points out that some foreign leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have actually read “The Art of the Deal” to gain some understanding of Trump’s negotiating style.

Looking back on Trump’s decades in New York City real estate, Lippman notes that Trump had a reputation for being erratic. And an NYC real estate businessperson who had dealings with Trump in the past has some words of advice for politicians when it comes to dealing with him: proceed at your own risk.

The real estate businessperson, also quoted anonymously, told Politico, “No good comes from being too close to him, because he’s so unpredictable and so opportunistic…. He is entirely opportunistic, entirely inconsistent. There’s no predictability except his own unpredictability.”

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