The Donald Trump Conversation: Politics’ “Dark Heart” Is Having The Best Time Anyone’s Ever Had


(Editor’s Note: In response to Michael Wolff’s recent best selling book “Fire and Fury”, Donald Trump said he had never met Wolff. That was — as is typical of Trump — a lie. During the campaign Trump was interviewed by Wolff in Trump’s Los Angeles home. The result of that interview was a Hollywood Reporter cover story, which, in retrospect, is an interesting prelude to Wolff’s book. – Mark L. Taylor)

By Michael Wolff
The Hollywood Reporter (6/1/16)

The long day is ending for Donald Trump with a pint of vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream. We’re settling in for a late-night chat at his Beverly Hills house, a 5,395-square-foot Colonial mansion directly across from the Beverly Hills Hotel. He’s here for the final presidential primary, a California coronation of sorts, after rallies in Orange County (where violence broke out and seven people were arrested). He is, as he has been for much of our conversation — and perhaps much of the last year — marveling at his own campaign. “You looked outside before, you see what’s going on,” he boasts about the police surrounding his house, and the Secret Service detail cramming his garage and snaking around the pool at the center of the front drive. And he’s just returned from a big donor fundraiser in Brentwood for the Republican Party at the home of Tom Barrack, the investor and former Miramax co-owner. “There had to be over a thousand policeman. They had a neighborhood roped off, four or five blocks away from this beautiful house. Machine guns all over the place.”

One thing to understand about Trump is that, rather unexpectedly, he’s neither angry nor combative. He may be the most threatening and frightening and menacing presidential candidate in modern life, and yet, in person he’s almost soothing. His extreme self-satisfaction rubs off. He’s a New Yorker who actually might be more at home in California (in fact, he says he usually comes to his home here — two buildings on Rodeo Drive — only once a year). Life is sunny. Trump is an optimist — at least about himself. He’s in easy and relaxed form campaigning here in these final days before the June 7 California primary, even with Hillary Clinton’s biggest backers and a city that is about half Latino surrounding him.

If there’s any pattern to his conversation, it’s that he’s vague on all subjects outside himself, his campaign and the media. Everything else is mere distraction. 

Earlier in the day, I’d met with Trump at a taping of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! at the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, where he was the single guest for the evening (musicians The Weeknd and Belly canceled upon learning of his appearance). “Have you ever seen anything like this?” he asked. He meant this, the Trump phenomenon. Circumventing any chance that I might dampen the sentiment, he quickly answered his own question: “No one ever has.”

His son-in-law, New York Observer owner Jared Kushner, married to his daughter Ivanka and also a real estate scion — but clearly a more modest and tempered fellow, a wisp next to his beefsteak father-in-law — offered that they may have reached 100 percent name recognition. In other words, Trump could be the most famous man in the world right now. “I may be,” says Trump, almost philosophically, and referencing the many people who have told him they’ve never seen anything like this. “Bill O’Reilly said in his lifetime this is the greatest phenomenon he’s ever seen.”

That notion is what’s at the center of this improbable campaign, its own brilliant success. It’s its main subject — the one you can’t argue with. You can argue about issues, but you can’t argue with success. Hence, to Trump, you’re really foolish to argue with the Trump campaign. “I’ve spent $50 million of my own money to go through the primaries. Other people spent $230 million and they came in last. You know what I’m saying?” And this provides him the reason to talk endlessly and repetitively about the phenomenon of the campaign. That phenomenon is, of course, Trump himself, about whom Trump spends a lot of time talking in the third person.

You can try, but it’s hard to resist this admiration for himself. The certainty of it, the enthusiasm for it and the lack of not just doubt, but of any negativity. It’s all upbeat and positive. The dark, scary, virulent heart of American politics is having the best time anyone has ever had. …

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