Life on the Front Lines // A visit with Eric Trump in Trump Tower

Eric Trump (born January 6, 1984), the second son of former President Donald Trump, has been in the news recently for what to me is a rather incongruous reason. Eric, who along with his older brother Donald Trump Jr. took over the reins of his father’s companies while he was president, was scheduled to give a speech on May 13 at a ReAwaken America Tour at one of his father’s hotels, the Trump National Doral in Miami. However, a few days before the event, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow took Eric Trump to task because some of the other speakers were known for espousing anti-Semitic sentiments, including far-right commentator Scott McKay—who has claimed that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by Jews and were involved in the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy—as well as Charlie Ward, a Holocaust denier who has praised Hitler and peddled false claims about Jewish people being behind the outbreak of viruses.

On her Monday night program, Maddow expressed dismay that Eric Trump would associate with such people. “I can’t really believe they’re going ahead with it,” she said. Although McKay and Ward were dropped from the list of speakers, Eric Trump tweeted the next day that he would sue her or any other reporter who implied that he was an anti-Semite. “If she or anyone else even remotely suggests that I am anti-Semitic, I will not hesitate to take legal action against them personally,” he wrote. I immediately reached out to Eric and asked if he would be interested in speaking to me about that episode and address the insinuation that he was insensitive to anti-Semitism.

On May 30, Eric graciously welcomed me into his office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower. I was accompanied by Ushi Teitelbaum and Dalia Maidi from Ami, as well as by Ami’s photographer Dov Lanchevsky. Kimberly Beza from the Trump Organization, who helped coordinate the interview, was also present.

During the interview, which occurred just as the recent federal indictment over his father’s handling of classified government documents and obstruction of justice was looming, Eric Trump discussed what it was like living in the political arena with remarkable candor, describing the pressure his family has been under from the continuous allegations being made against his father as well as Trump-run business. At times, he seemed to be fighting back tears.


I knew I had to interview you after you felt the need to defend against the insinuation that you’re an anti-Semite, as I understand how hurtful such baseless accusations can be.

By now, we’ve been labeled just about everything. My brother-in-law Jared, along with my sister Ivanka, are a very big part of our lives. We are very close. When Laura and I got married in 2014, we asked Jared to be the one who officiated at the wedding. Of course, Jared is an Orthodox Jew, so it must be very anti-Semitic to ask an Orthodox Jew to officiate… It was very funny because we got married under a canopy of flowers that looked like a chuppah. I hope I said that right; I don’t get the “ch” sound right. People reported that we got married according to the Jewish faith. We didn’t, but we left it out there because we thought it was great. In fact, I’m going to their daughter’s bat mitzvah next week. I’ve been to more brisses and Sabbath dinners…


After your father announced that he was running for president in June of 2015, I met with your father’s then real estate attorney, Jason Greenblatt, a Sabbath observer, here in Trump Tower. Jason told me wonderful things about your father, including how he urged him to go home early on Fridays even when he was in the middle of negotiating mega deals.

First of all, I must tell you that Jason is like a second father to me. I worked with him every day for 15 years. He’s a great man and someone who cares about people. I think he’d tell you that if you were to tour the floors here as well as those of the Trump Organization, you would meet many Orthodox Jews. I am very pro-Semitic, not the opposite.


Putting a deal in potential jeopardy because of your Jewish attorney’s Sabbath observance speaks volumes.

I’ll never forget when we were buying real estate in the Dominican Republic. Jason and I had been working on this deal for three months around the clock. The other side was coming in to sign everything but they kept getting delayed. It was a Friday afternoon, right before the Sabbath, and Jason lived in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He said, “I have to leave,” but then he kept bumping it back because of the delays. Finally, he hopped into his car and left. He got to the George Washington Bridge—this was in the middle of the winter—and he parked his car, put on a jacket and gloves, and walked across the bridge to Fort Lee. For obvious reasons, I didn’t learn about this until Saturday night. Jason is a really great guy and my father cares about him dearly, as you know. My father brought him into the White House to do amazing things and he did, especially in the Middle East, as did Jared.


Whenever someone is accused of being anti-something, the only response is to say, “Look at my credentials.”

I was invited to speak at that conference. There were 100 people speaking there, and I was asked to deliver the keynote speech. Much of the conference was about religious freedom. They said that there was one speaker who was anti-something, but they attach that label to every person in the world. They label me all sorts of things too. Then there was a backlash—how dare Eric Trump speak at the same conference as this person!—as though I’m going to do background checks on 150 people I don’t know. I was only there to talk about my father’s accomplishments, not only in terms of the American economy, jobs and everything else, but there was also a lot that pertains to Israel and to religious freedom, which is really under attack in this country.


I don’t think it has ever been so difficult to be religious in the United States as it is today.

Religious liberty and expression were probably more under attack under Obama than at any time in the history of this country, and that includes all religions. My father was always disgusted and appalled by it, and frankly, a big part of his running for president was motivated by that. But he never wore it on his sleeve; he just wanted to do great things.

A large part of what I speak about is my father’s “war” on what they were trying to do to observers of every faith in this country. There was a war on religion in just about every forum during the Obama administration. Look at what they were trying to do to pastors who spoke out about political affiliation, or in terms of stripping religious organizations of 501(c)(3) non-profit status. It was an attempt to bully people. Typically, the people who were attacked and ostracized the most were the ones who weren’t on their team. That always upset my father, and those marginalized people were a big part of his Cabinet.


Every time I look at Donald Trump he’s under attack, as are you and the Trump Organization. Do you feel as if you are living on the frontlines of a war?

Yes. For the longest time, Saturday Night Live would parody me as a guy walking around with a fidget spinner, which is kind of ironic because I went to one of the best schools in the world and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I’m a relatively smart person, I hope to think. Despite that, they’ll parody you every single day. They’ll go after you, they’ll go after your family. It’s not that they really think you’re stupid; it’s that they think you’re effective, so they’re trying to take you out of the game. That’s their game. How do I make your life so miserable that you don’t want to be part of the game anymore? Do I throw a bunch of civil lawsuits against you, which are all nonsense and cost so much money? They’re hoping you’ll say, “You know what? This politics thing just isn’t worth it. Let me get out so they’ll stop bothering me.”


You must have very thick skin.

You’d better, because if you’re going to allow it to affect you, you’re finished.


Do you ever have moments when you feel that you do want to get out of the game?

Truthfully, I think we like the punishment. If you didn’t somehow enjoy the fight in a twisted way, you couldn’t be in it. Make no mistake, it’s a game of chess, a really dirty, disgusting and nasty game of chess, and our country shouldn’t be run like this, but that’s what they try to do.

They thought they could hit Donald Trump so hard that they would break him, so that after his four years he would say, “You know what? I want to go back to Mar-a-Lago, I want to play golf, I want to hang out with my friends, I want to fly around in my beautiful private plane. I don’t need this nonsense.” So they decided to make up these scandals that he colluded with Putin, that he had secret servers, and that he was doing X, Y and Z. And when that didn’t work, they tried to impeach him again. And when that didn’t work, they started going after the Supreme Court justices. When that didn’t work, they started going after his kids. When that didn’t work, they started going after his younger children, Tiffany and Barron. When none of that stuck, they called the attorney general of New York and district attorneys in every radically leftist place—where women are being thrown in front of subway cars and little girls are being shot in the middle of Times Square—and said, “Go after Donald Trump and his company.” Hundreds of subpoenas and millions of documents later they have nothing. They can’t find anything. So what did they do? They said, “Let’s go after his CFO.” The CFO didn’t pay personal taxes on a corporate car, so let’s tell him, “Make up anything on Donald Trump and we’ll let you go.” He didn’t have anything to make up.

They try to destroy lives. They try to hurt you so badly that you’ll bow out of the fight. The problem is that this tactic would work with every other Republican. No disrespect; I’m not trying to talk bad about anyone, but DeSantis couldn’t last for 30 seconds in my father’s shoes. First, because he wouldn’t have the backbone to fight these people, which he proved when he said that “these are issues that don’t matter”—meaning the weaponization of district attorneys and attorney generals—and “I’m going to focus on the real issues.” But believe me, they would do the exact same things to him the second he took that number-one seat. He also doesn’t have the financial resources with which to defend himself against them.


The legal fees must be staggering.

The good thing about Donald Trump is that he had a couple of billion dollars behind his name so he could write checks for a couple of hundred million in legal fees, and it’s a rounding error to him. Any other political candidate would break. They break these people like cheap pencils. That’s why you always hear political candidates promising to go to Washington, DC, and change the system, but after they’re there for about two weeks people wonder why they suddenly got weak knees. That’s exactly why you need a Donald Trump. I think the toughest times call for the toughest individuals, and he’s a remarkably tough man. He has a heart of gold, he’s the best father in the world, but he’s also strict and has high expectations. These are the exact characteristics America needs.


Can you put some meat on the statement “best father in the world”?

He’s an incredibly loving person, which most people watching him on TV probably never see. He’s funny and smart, and he fills you with tremendous confidence. He also lets you sink or swim—which I think is very important—and gives you the opportunity and mentors you in a very good way. He doesn’t micromanage. And he was always a very solid guy. Every day before school I would go into his room and he would say—even from the age of five, “Eric, no drinking, no drugs, no smoking and no tattoos.” I’m five years old and thinking, What’s drinking? Does he mean apple juice? What are drugs? What is smoking? What are tattoos? These weren’t things I understood at that age, but he did that every day.

Then I went off to a great boarding school and I would call him at the office, and he would always answer regardless of who was there. I remember calling him one time while he was meeting with Mayor Giuliani. My father said, “Eric, say hi to the mayor.” “Mayor Giuliani, how are you, sir? It’s so wonderful to speak to you. We’re big fans.” He could be with the Clintons, he could be with the most important business team, he could be in the middle of negotiations with the debt holders of a bond or Atlantic City during 1991, but if I called him he picked up. That’s very different from a lot of parents, who will often put the world before their children. If I told that story to most people, I don’t think they’d recognize that as being Donald Trump. Most people don’t see him that way.


The other thing people find surprising is the fact that he doesn’t micromanage. We all got to see this when he allowed so many things to happen during his administration without needing to be directly involved at every stage. Let’s take the Abraham Accords as an example. Jared and his team operated with your father’s support, encouragement and advice, but he allowed them to do it without breathing down their necks and trying to claim all the credit. I know this because I had the opportunity to interview Jared and David Friedman about the Abraham Accords.

He has always taken the best people and slotted them into their respective roles—the roles they are passionate about—and let them work. One of the first buildings I ever built was Trump International in Las Vegas, which was the tallest building on the Strip: 64 stories, 1,282 rooms. I built every inch of that building. I was a young kid who didn’t really know what I was doing. Did he watch over me? Yes. I would call him to say, “We have a problem. We have this decision to make.” Then he would say, “Okay. What’s the decision?” It was very much sink or swim combined with hard work.

Throughout his career, he has always entrusted things to the people who care about them. Do you care enough about a problem to truly deal with it? Does it affect you emotionally? If you have a problem and it doesn’t go to your heart, then you don’t care. I remember seeing people with much greater pedigrees asking, “Why did this person get that job? It should have been mine.” The person who might not be as qualified and might not have that pedigree but has the passion will win every single time.


Many people believe that what your father accomplished in the Middle East was worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. I’d like to get your perspective on that.

I remember those first flights from the UAE to Israel! I wasn’t in the administration, but when you’re part of the family, you end up in places where these conversations are being held. I can’t tell you how much flak my father was getting from a lot of people on both sides of the aisle when he wanted to move the embassy to Jerusalem. No other president had the guts or the chutzpah, whatever you want to call it, to do that. He did it and he didn’t care. Every president had talked about it, but Donald Trump was the only one who actually did it. I remember people telling him, “If you move that embassy, you’re going to start a war in the Middle East.” But he said, “It’s the right thing to do. I’m doing it for Israel.” The same thing happened when he recognized the Golan Heights as part of the State of Israel. My father is the most pro-Israel president in the history of this country. By the way, I just came back from Israel two weeks ago after spending a week there. I visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat, Netanya, Haifa and a couple of other places. It was an amazing trip.


I think that the Israelis recognize your father’s friendship.

Undoubtedly. Aside from the Abraham Accords, just consider all of the other pro-Israel moves he made that a lot of people might not have thought of as pro-Israel. For instance, look at the threat that Iran poses to Israel. There’s no question that Iran is Israel’s number one enemy. Iran poses a threat to a lot of other countries in the world, but probably more so to Israel than to anyone else. My father imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, which devastated their economy. Then look at the fact that he stopped every gallon of energy being exported out of Iran. That brought them to their knees. Without that money, they couldn’t invest in their army and military equipment and it made them significantly weaker, which ultimately protects Israel. My father would never allow anything to happen to Israel, and it’s a big part of why he imposed those sanctions. No one else would have done that. Obama didn’t do that. In fact, Obama did the exact opposite. The Iran nuclear deal was an absolute disaster, and Biden was willing to sign it again. That weakness is hugely detrimental to our country.


When I was sitting here about seven years ago with Jason, he was telling me about his dream to bring peace to the Middle East. All I could do was look at him with pity. Here was someone who was doing real estate transactions, but your father picked him and made him his point man. Is thinking out of the box your father’s strength? He did something that no one else thought was possible. If I’m not mistaken, the biggest number of peace treaties in the Middle East was signed during your father’s administration.

My father has never cared about resumes or accolades. He wants people who have true passion. We’ve had drivers who ended up taking over and managing billion-dollar buildings because they had heart, soul, love, work ethic and drive. They always had their hands up. My father knew how much Jason loves the Middle East; well, really Israel. He knew how much David loves Israel. He knew how much Jared loves Israel. This isn’t fake “I show up for one event a year”; this was deeply rooted in their souls, in the fabric of who they are.

How many ambassadors to Israel have we had over the years who haven’t done a single thing? In fact, they probably only set us back. They took the position because they wanted to go to lavish cocktail parties in Jerusalem and have the title, but they didn’t actually care about the mission at hand. Jason, Jared and David—those guys worked. It was unconventional. These weren’t government employees; they never received a check from the United States governments. They were people who came out of the real estate world. In fact, some of them still haven’t received a check from the government. They turned down the check because they didn’t want the money. They just wanted to do what needed to be done.


Avi Berkowitz is a member of that group as well.

Avi is an amazing guy. Most of the people in the other administrations were just sitting there nursing their checks. These guys didn’t need the money. In fact, many of them lost a ton of money by going to work for the United States government, not to mention being attacked every single day while also being ostracized.


You were involved in the campaign during the primaries in 2015-16 but then left to take over the Trump Organization. Are you involved in it this time around?

I am. I never had a desire to really get into politics, but I cared deeply that my father was running. And I honestly think that my intuition was right, because right now you are seeing a country that’s falling apart under weak leadership. The whole world is falling apart. You see what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine, what’s happening with China and Taiwan, you see what’s happening in Iran. We’re losing a lot of allies in the Middle East, which contributes to making the Middle East more volatile than it has ever been before. You see an Israeli-American relationship that has definitely deteriorated from the way it was two or three years ago in major ways. There’s a danger that this American weakness has spread all over the world.

I’ve worked with my father for years. I know him better than anyone on this planet. He’s my best friend and he’s a remarkable man. He doesn’t take people’s nonsense. He’s willing to stand up to the bullies around the world, to put America first and to stand with real allies—all the things that former presidents, including a lot of Republicans, didn’t do. In fact, most of these former presidents went around apologizing for America’s greatness. How many times did we see that from the Obama administration in Israel, where they were lukewarm at best? In fact, I often think they were enemies of Israel. I knew my father would fight hard and do a great job.

In the first campaign, I cared about one thing: getting my father into office. No one believed in us. No one endorsed us. We had no friends. On election morning of 2016, The New York Times gave us a 1.9% chance of winning. I’ll never forget that. I remember reading the paper and thinking that it was going to be a pretty somber, sad and depressing day. I had spent every day of the previous seven or eight months on the campaign trail, seven days a week with up to seven events a day. What was I talking about? The fact that America was fading, the fact that our economy stunk, the fact that we were losing religious freedom in this nation; there was massive religious persecution. It was one of the greatest moments of my life when he won, because we were a big part of that fight. And again, we weren’t part of the political establishment.


Did you think your father had a knack for foreign policy issues before he took office?

Well, what I clearly knew was that Hillary Clinton didn’t have a knack for foreign policy, because every decision she ever made moved our country backwards just like Obama. My father is a guy who has always been incredibly sensible. It’s funny; they labeled him as the guy who shouldn’t be given the nuclear button because he was going to start wars. But he was the one president in our history who didn’t start a conflict. He didn’t need to. When you can take out terrorist cells or someone like Soleimani with a Reaper drone flying over his car, it sends a pretty good signal to the rest of the world that they shouldn’t play around. Those little images and instances of American strength are what kept peace in the world and kept Israel safe.

During the last conversation Obama had with my father had during the transition, Obama said, “Your biggest problem is going to be North Korea. You’re going to have a nuclear war.” Well, my father walked into North Korea and got a hug from a man America couldn’t even talk to, someone with whom America had zero communication. This shows the difference between having strength and not having strength.

And it’s not like he and Kim Jong Un started off well. They started off in a Twitter war when my father said, “I have a red button on my desk too. Mine is much bigger, more powerful and it actually works.” So it’s not as if they started out as friends, but strength got them to a place where they had mutual respect for one another and kept us out of a total catastrophe. We don’t have that kind of thinking anymore.

My father has always had a remarkable ability to befriend people, to get people to like him, to form relationships. Yes, I thought he would be great, although maybe not as great as he actually was. I think he surpassed my expectations. I think he’ll go down as one of the truly great foreign policy presidents.


Unfortunately, your father’s accomplishments were achieved at the cost of great personal sacrifice, not only for him but for his whole family.

At tremendous cost. (Chokes up.) I think it’s something the American people realized, because just about every day people would come up to me and say, “Thank you for everything your family has done. It’s unbelievable what these people are trying to do to you, how they persecute and go after you guys. It’s so unfair. We have a two-tiered system of justice in this nation and I’m very sorry.” But at the same time, we knew it was coming.

Before my father announced his candidacy in the room right above where we’re sitting right now, he called us all into his office and said, “I’m going to run for president. We’re going to get hit like we’ve never been hit before, and we’re going to quickly learn who our real friends are.” I was thinking to myself, What does he mean? We have plenty of friends, and we aren’t going to lose any of them. I was very naïve while he was incredibly insightful. The sham investigations, the Russia hoax…

I was the guy who got the call about Russia: “We hear that you have secret servers in the basement of Trump Tower that are connected directly to the Kremlin.” I replied, “First of all, no one puts servers in basements, because basements flood. Let’s start there. Second, we’re a largely cloud-based company, so the whole secret server thing doesn’t make a lot of sense. More importantly, we’ve never done anything wrong. We don’t have any contacts in Russia. We don’t know anyone in Russia. The thought that we have a little wire that goes from here to the Kremlin is insane.” These are sick, twisted people. I got the call because Hillary Clinton paid for the whole thing.

A guy goes in, tells the FBI they have inside information, has the Washington Post and New York Times call them and the whole thing starts rolling. I never thought there could be this kind of corruption in government. My grandmother, who came from Communist Czechoslovakia where she had a very bad time, always said, “How many steaks can you eat?” I remember that every single day and it’s true. We’ve paid a big price as a family. There’s no question about it.


So did the Trump Organization.

Well, we set aside billions of dollars’ worth of deals. I knew that the second I stood up on that stage I would instantly ostracize half of the country. I haven’t changed one bit, but it doesn’t matter. I’m a good human being. I have a great family, great kids. I’m religious, I believe in always doing the right things. I care deeply about charity; I’ve raised more than any person my age in history. I sat on the board of the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and raised more money than you can imagine and was attacked for it. I had a 9% expense ratio and they came after me like I’m a villain. I raised $40 million and built the largest ICU in the world dedicated to children with stage 4 cancers. The sickest kids in the world are sitting in my ICU right now, but despite all that they’ll villainize me. Hillary Clinton had a sham foundation and was getting so much heat that it was decided to take shots at us instead. But that’s fine because it’s part of the system.

Unlike the Bidens, we got out of business long before my father was elected, meaning that we had no new ventures or international deals—and we had hundreds of them planned. Just to give you an example, do you know how many deals we could have done in Israel? But we didn’t so there wouldn’t be any perception of impropriety. It’s the exact opposite of the Bidens, who got into business the second their father became vice president. He was gallivanting around the world doing illegal deals.

Nevertheless, our company has done extremely well financially. We have the best company we’ve ever had right now. The question is, was the cost of [forfeiting] those extra deals worth my father being able to promote religious liberty around the world and create stability for this nation?


So you view it as a personal and family sacrifice for the greater good?

Yes. It is a sacrifice. There’s no question that it’s a hard road for a family to get into politics. Fortunately, we were already pretty hardened from having come from the world of real estate. We were always a very public family and we were used to the limelight. If anyone was ready for this journey, I think it was us. I’m not sure if there are many other families who could have taken all of the arrows, bullets and stab wounds that we took.


And continue to take.

Yes. I am telling you right now that my father is going to win in 2024. There is no doubt about it. So much of his life has been about bouncing back.

Everyone knows that he wrote The Art of the Deal, but some people forget his second book, The Art of the Comeback. Between 1990 and ’91, the interest rates jumped to 18%. Everyone was leveraged to the hilt. Imagine you’re a young guy taking on massive amounts of risk building the most glamorous projects in the world and the market just nosedives. What does my father do? He fights and fights. Then he won the presidency of the United States against all the odds, doing battle against the greatest political dynasty in the history of the world, the Clinton family. You want to talk about the art of the comeback? I am telling you that this going to reemerge. He’s going to win in 2024.


You didn’t join the first administration. Would you like to join the second one?

I would like to help in a meaningful way without getting saddled down by the bureaucracy of DC. I’m a guy who likes to effectuate change and do things better. That’s what we do. We buy a building, we renovate it, we make it better, we operate it better, we bring it to a higher standard. That’s our whole business model. There are so many things this can be applied to in government. For me, it’s more about doing everything I can to take as much as possible off my father’s plate so his undivided focus can be on saving this country.


I would imagine that that’s why you took over the Trump Organization during the first administration.

Yes. If he didn’t have me—and I’m not saying this to brag—there is no way he could have stepped aside from nearly 12,000 employees, plus buildings all over New York and the world.


So everything fell on your shoulders.

No question. That gave him the ability to do what he did. I’m remarkably proud of my contribution. Would I like to step into government and help? If he ever needed my help, I’d go in there in two seconds. But honestly, being able to take on pretty much everything that was traditional Donald Trump…


What do you think you bring to the campaign trail? You’re obviously very articulate, passionate and personable.

I realized very quickly that all politicians are full of it. I remember getting to the Iowa caucuses and I didn’t know what a caucus or a delegate was; none of us did. We didn’t understand the system or the process. We thought that you go out, you win a state and you win the election, but that’s not how it works. After you win the state, you have to wine and dine every single delegate, and if you do a good job they’ll vote for you at the national convention. That wasn’t our thing. Our thing was building hotels, as well as residential and commercial buildings.

On the way to the Iowa caucuses I asked a young staffer in the car to explain exactly what was involved. He said, “Sir, you’re going to have five minutes to speak, during which you have to convince a whole room full of people why you’re better than Jeb, Ted and everyone else.” “Who’s going to be speaking on their behalf?” I wanted to know. “Well, Jeb, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee are all going to be there.” Now, these guys actually knew something about politics. Most of them had been in politics their entire adult lives. Cruz had even been the head of his debate team at Yale. I could talk about the art of building a skyscraper, but I didn’t know a single thing about immigration.

So I got there, and I’ll never forget how fake I thought the soundbites were that came out of some of the politicians’ mouths. I’m not calling anyone out; they’re nice guys. But when I went out there I spoke as a son, not as a paid government employee. I spoke as a guy who ran a company, as a kid who deeply loved his father and had actually worked alongside that person every day for years. I could speak to work ethic, I could speak to love and passion, I could speak to the fact that Donald Trump was the last person in the world who needed to run for president. Trust me, his life was substantially better before running for office.


Certainly from a financial perspective.

In every way. His life was more private, it was less stressful, he didn’t have the animals and the communists coming after him. He was getting shelled but he wasn’t taking arrows, and he was living a glamorous life. He was beloved by everyone. He had no bad publicity. He was being paid hundreds of millions of dollars to do shows like The Apprentice. He would go downstairs for ten minutes and do a little war room with some entertaining celebrities. From that, he went to being set up and slandered and framed. Then the Supreme Court justices he selected—which was another great accomplishment for religious freedom—were also slandered with total lies.

His life was definitely better before. His plane was more comfortable, he could travel with a significantly lower profile, he didn’t need machine guns in every single car he traveled in. But this is what they do to you. They’ll take Barron, who was nine years old at the time, and the things they said about him… They went after Tiffany, who was in her late teens, the things they would put out there… If they ever did that to the Obamas, forget it; they’d be shut down. The way they treated those kids was truly…


You’re very kind, because you aren’t talking about what they’ve done to Eric Trump.

(Laughs.) Listen, I’m a 40-year-old man. I chose to stand on that stage and accompany my father the entire way. I believe you need tough people during tough times. History has shown this over and over again. Churchill was a tough guy during very tough times. So were Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Sometimes you need figures like that when the world is at its worst. America was going through some pretty dark times, and what my father did during those four years… Economic achievements, employment achievements, peace agreements. We didn’t have a single serviceman die in Afghanistan during the last 18 months of his presidency. Think about that. Then he gets out of office, and all of a sudden we start losing people left and right. Donald Trump gets hit for being brash. But we’re New Yorkers. We’re quick to the point, no nonsense.


You used to be New Yorkers, but you left us for Florida.

They sort of ran us out, just as they’re running everyone else out because of bad policies. It’s a shame because there’s no place we love more than New York. It is truly sad and depressing, but it’s something that simply requires basic leadership to reverse. It wouldn’t take a whole lot to get it turned around in two seconds.


You can leave New York, but New York will never leave the Trumps.

We needed to have that mindset and aggressiveness, that kind of un-PC approach of speaking your mind and being tough and firm.


Do you think the New York influence contributed to the whole Trump persona?

I think a lot of people were sick and tired of candidates getting up on stage and spouting soundbites that you could tell they’d rehearsed 100 times because they didn’t come off as authentic. Then my father gets up there and throws arrow after arrow. Frankly, the things he said that made people uncomfortable were all the things everyone else was thinking but politicians are never willing to say. I really believe that the country needed a father, and fathers sometimes have to be tough.


And they have to say it like it is.

Tyson was arguably the greatest boxer who ever lived. He had this unbelievable uppercut that everyone remembers so well. But the very thing that made Tyson a great fighter is what made him a great fighter. No one was fighting for the United States of America. We were being used and abused by everyone around the world. We were losing our friends, losing our economy, and being taken advantage of by everyone. We needed a fighter.


Both of us are New Yorkers, so I think I understand the New York mindset. You mentioned that your grandmother was from Czechoslovakia. Both of my parents hailed from there as well.

I spent a lot of time in that country growing up. I was there at the end of communism, right when the wall was falling. They were very interesting times.


I’m interested in hearing about the influence that part of the world has had on you.

My grandmother is still alive. She’s 97 years old and she’s an unbelievable woman. She’s seen everything. She saw the war, obviously. She saw the worst of the Germans and the Russians. She would tell me stories about things that happened to friends of hers, things that were truly unthinkable.


Where in Czechoslovakia is she from?



My parents were from Kosice, which is now in Slovakia.

I spent a lot of time there as well.


It was all one country at the time.

Of course. We were little kids who were growing up on the 60th floor of a building in Manhattan. You looked down and saw the little cars. It was a fantasy world, growing up in an ivory tower. Then my mother would put us on a TWA flight to Czechoslovakia, in the smoking section with two guys next to you smoking Marlboro Reds while your little lungs were dying. We would effectively go from the luxuries of New York and being very spoiled to communism. We had no TVs and it was no nonsense. We had to take a couple of sticks into the backyard and entertain ourselves.


The journey from here to there must have been quite amazing.

I owe my mother and grandparents a tremendous amount of gratitude for enabling me to see the dichotomy. Zlin was a city that made shoes for all of Europe. It was a manufacturing way of life that was forced upon people who didn’t want to live that way. They were under constant tension and lived under duress.


How did that inform your adulthood?

I think it showed us that not everything in the world is Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, living 60 stories above Tiffany’s. It was one of the greatest things that ever happened to us. My grandfather was an electrician and my grandmother worked in the shoe factory. The only way my mother was able to escape communism was that she happened to be a great athlete. The only people who were allowed out of the country were the athletes. Had my mother not been a phenomenal skier, there is no question that I wouldn’t be here right now. But seeing that world as a little kid was life altering.


Your mother must have shared the experiences of her youth with you.

She was a phenomenal mother but she would often hand us off to our grandparents, saying, “You’re going to see this, and you’re also going to see that.” My parents always believed in work. My father is a workaholic. There’s no harder worker in the world than he is. My mother was the same way. Starting from a young age, she would tell us, “You want that bike? Congratulations. You’re going to go work for it.” I did electrical work from the age of 11, as well as plumbing work and concrete. I was cutting rebar with acetylene torches all summer. I was running backhoes and tractors. In fact, I just moved into a house about a year ago, and I did half its electrical work because I’d done it every summer growing up. My parents essentially told us, “If you want to join this company—and you don’t have to—that will only happen if you’re immensely capable. If you aren’t capable, you’ll have nothing to do with it.”

Contractors are the building blocks of real estate, so you have to understand HVAC and electrical work—and we were doing it for minimum wage. And whenever we were at a construction site it’s not like we were sitting around a water cooler; we were breaking down walls with sledgehammers.


So in many ways, you’re a graduate of the school of hard knocks.

And guess what? It did several good things for us. First of all, it taught us a trade, which is incredibly valuable. Second, we had to get to the site before 7:00 in the morning and work all day, so by the time we finished we were exhausted, and the last thing we wanted to do was use the little free time we had to go out and get in trouble. I can’t tell you how many of my friends went down a bad road—drugs, alcohol, rehab—probably the majority of them. We never fell into that because we were too tired; we just wanted to go to bed. The third thing it did was teach us the value of a dollar. We learned that nothing in life is free, and we also didn’t want to take that hard-earned money and waste it on booze or drugs. People always ask how we turned out so straight without messing around or getting caught up in these things. The answer is that our parents didn’t give us a free second. We were productive. We didn’t have a limitless credit card, and we certainly weren’t driving Ferraris when we were 16 years old. I saw plenty of kids who turned into adults who are never happy with anything they get because nothing is special, as they’ve never had to earn it.


So it wasn’t as gilded a life as some people think.

It was a very gilded life in terms of living in a beautiful home. We were always well-fed and received the best education. We were very spoiled in that regard. But there were no handouts in our family. I’m in this organization not only because I’m a family member. That’s part of it, but if I wasn’t good at what I do, I wouldn’t be here.


And as we discussed, a great deal of sacrifice was part of the package.

We’re being beaten up because we’re winning. There’s a political class in this country that can’t stand the fact that we didn’t know anything about politics when we started out. And yet, we came in and beat them at a system they had studied for decades. Their only existence was going to every rubber chicken dinner in every place they needed to win and doing people favors for their own political careers.

Then you have a guy named Donald Trump who is larger than life, who has personality, who’s a billionaire but appeals much more to blue-collar America than to the political elite. He went into steel towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania and spoke to these people’s hearts, telling them that they were getting the raw end of the deal. “You’re called the flyover states for a reason,” he’d say, “because they don’t care about you. Don’t listen to their promises. I don’t care what I have to sacrifice; I’m going to fix this nation.” My father put a couple of hundred million dollars of his own money into the first campaign. That was pretty much all we had, as we had very little outside support. He won by putting his money where his mouth was. Name another political candidate who has ever put two cents into his own campaign.


Will a second Trump administration be a repeat of the first, or should we expect something different?

I want to answer this so badly but I don’t know if I should. (Pauses for a few moments, thinking.)


Well, if you want to think about it…

The first time my father was elected he was going into a system he didn’t understand. But now he’s going into round two knowing who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, and what they’re going to try to do to him. I think the second administration will be the first administration on steroids.

There’s tremendous corruption in Washington, and he’s going to have to fire a lot of people. What the FBI, DOJ and a lot of other people did is horrible. The Durham Report proved it. Aside from that, I think we’re entering one of the most dangerous periods we’ve ever lived in. This whole Russia-Ukraine thing is spiraling out of control and it isn’t going anywhere positive. There’s also the Taiwan-China situation and the Iranian situation. We’re at risk of losing the US dollar, which would be absolutely destructive to this nation. There is less trust in government than ever. There’s less trust in the media than ever. The opioid crisis is destroying our streets and families, killing people left and right. It seems like every week I hear about another person in his teens or 20s who died of a Fentanyl overdose. It’s poisoning our nation.

We have porous borders; we don’t know who’s coming into our country. Our allies don’t trust us anymore. We’re showing weakness to the world and people are laughing at our leadership. China is trying to negotiate peace deals between countries, which was always the role of the US because we were the voice of reason, but we’re no longer seen that way.

We have a military in decay, with China catching up and surpassing it in many aspects. The Chinese are trying to take over all of the global transportation routes, such as the Panama Canal and other important straits. They’re trying to hinder shipping and military activity. They’re trying to take over Taiwan so they can control the computer chip industry. How will you build fighter planes if you don’t have computer chips? They want to spy on people and try to manipulate systems. We are living in dangerous times, and unfortunately we’re spending all our time focused on whether there should be an extra bathroom in a building rather than on the fact that the Chinese would like to see us be an irrelevant country under their domain. And they’re succeeding.

The very thing that my father gets criticized for is exactly what this country needs. We need a tough person back in office because without that we don’t stand a chance.


I may be misreading you, but I think it will be very hard to keep you in the Trump Organization rather than “defect” to the administration.

If I didn’t care, I couldn’t have helped do what we’ve done. We were an army of none that became an army of half the country. My father started the greatest political movement in the history of this nation, and among groups of people you would never expect to support it. Look at the Orthodox Jewish community. We love them and they love us. I spoke at an amazing conference in Miami for the eCap Summit; those guys are the best. I was asked to be the keynote speaker. Before I spoke, one of the guys told me, “I’ll bet that 99.9% of this room voted for your father.” I repeated that. Then the organizer of the event stood up and said, “That is incorrect. One hundred percent of the people in this room voted for him.” It was very cute.


Your father signed a printout of our poll showing 87% support in the Orthodox community. He also sent us a wonderful letter in honor of our 500th issue, which incidentally came out on January 5…

There is no family that is more pro-Israel in the history of the world than we are. We will fight for Israel, and we will fight for this community.


Do you think that the motivation is emotional?

It is. Our country was founded upon religious liberty and we will fight for it. America wasn’t established by politicians. We fought the British because we were sick and tired of tyranny. The whole essence of who we are as Americans are people who are meant to be free: free in thought, free in speech, free in belief. And all of these things are presently caving in. They don’t want us to have free speech anymore. If you post an article and they disagree with it, you’re immediately censored. It’s wholly anti-American. If you believe in a different faith, they want to silence you. If you have a pastor or rabbi who wants to talk about something political, they want to strip your non-profit status. They penalize you because you want to express political thoughts. They won’t do that to anyone on their team, but they’ll do it to anyone who isn’t. They’ll weaponize the IRS; they’ve done that.


Do you still enjoy big wins in real estate, or has being on the international stage overshadowed that?

We care about winning everywhere but we’re a different company. I don’t care about acquisitions in the same way we used to, although we’ve built the greatest portfolio of real estate assets anywhere in the world. We have some of the best golf courses, the best hotels and the best commercial buildings.


And one of the greatest is the building we are sitting in right now.

What I care about is that we’re going into an awfully hard market with a looming commercial real estate collapse.


Do you think so?

I know so. Fortunately, we have virtually no debt relative to our assets. We have the strongest balance sheet, the most cash and the most solid assets we’ve ever had. We don’t need to be the next Marriot or acquire every little hotel in every tertiary market around the world. To me, that’s not fun. We want to focus on the most glamorous, high-end hotels and make them incredibly great.

My priority is still real estate; that’s what I focus on all day. But now I focus on the deals I truly care about. Speaking of which, there are a couple of really great things about to happen in Israel.


To be announced.

Yes. We’re working on something that I think will make you very proud.


Do you find it challenging doing business in Israel?

No, because we have a very strong fan base there. It makes it a bit easier when everyone in the country loves you. I went to dinner in Tel Aviv and the entire restaurant figured out who I was. Everyone came over to hug me. I didn’t eat dinner because I was hugging everyone.


All Israelis are New Yorkers to a certain extent. They say it the way it is.

Totally. It’s a very easy thing for me to deal with. It’s straight, it’s to the point, and if something makes sense it makes sense. I understand the attitude. They want success, we want success.


There’s no backstabbing. They’ll tell you openly what they think, even if it’s not complimentary.

They’re some of the toughest people in the world and they’re remarkable. I have a lot of great friends there.


I was wondering if your grandparents ever got to visit Trump Tower.

Yes. My grandmother lived here for a couple of years.


I can only imagine what it must have been like coming from a small city in Czechoslovakia.

Absolutely. It was a wild transformation from being a switchboard operator and working in a shoe factory. And from there, going to Mar-a-Lago and then the White House has also been some ride.


I think you’re a wonderful spokesperson for your father. He should put you on the campaign trail a lot more often. I have to send him a letter about that. And if you could possibly reciprocate and get me into the Oval Office…

You’ll be there on January 21, 2025. Guaranteed!