ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. — On the same day Donald Trump touched down at his namesake winery outside Charlottesville to remind people of his dealmaking chops, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser called his controversial remarks about “rapists” and other criminals crossing the Mexican border into the United States “idiotic.”
Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, appeared with his son Eric to celebrate the grand opening of the Albemarle Estate, a hotel on the property of the 1,300-acre Trump Winery, about 120 miles southwest of Washington.
He told the story of getting a $6.5 million bargain on the winery, which he called the largest on the East Coast. “A lot of people wanted it, and I wanted it, but I didn’t want to pay for it,” he told a crowd of wine enthusiasts.
Trump said he told the story to prove his negotiating mettle.
“That’s what our country should be doing with our deals. We should be making great trade deals with China, with Mexico,” he said.
Back in the District, Bowser (D) said Trump’s project in downtown Washington, where he is converting the Old Post Office Pavilion into a luxury hotel, is important for the city.
“It is going to be a big part of the revitalization of that part of Pennsylvania Avenue. Once we have the FBI building settled, we know that that will be a huge development,” Bowser said Tuesday morning on WTOP’s “Ask the Mayor.”
Weighing in on the immigration controversy, Bowser said she hopes that Trump walks back his comments. “They don’t make sense,” she said. “They don’t even stand to reason.”
The Trump project in the District has attracted small protests since his remarks about immigrants, including calls for him to withdraw from the deal. Two restaurateurs who had leases in the new building have pulled out.
Bowser suggested that she had no ability to thwart the project, saying that the prior administration “negotiated an MOU [memorandum of understanding] with them to say that the feds would actually issue all of the permits that relate to the Trump Hotel.” It is “kind of in the hands of the federal government,” she added, naming the General Services Administration and the National Park Service.
She also said that she hopes Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, “will remain the face of that hotel for that corporation.”
“I’ve had the experience over the last year of really working with Ivanka Trump on what the vision is for that hotel, which is on our grand street, Pennsylvania Avenue,” Bowser said. She said she hasn’t talked to Ivanka Trump since her father’s remarks.
Trump shrugged off news that a second chef – Geoffrey Zakarian – planned to pull out of a deal to open a restaurant; José Andrés was first to announce he was backing out.
“They each left massive deposits, okay, which I like very much. They each are personally guaranteeing the rent, and they did that just to be cool and politically correct,” Trump told reporters, adding: “We’re already dealing with other people – some of the great chefs of the world.”
In response to reports that some of the laborers on the project crossed into the United States illegally, Trump said that workers at his properties are vetted.
“I think we do better paperwork than almost anybody. . . . Can one out of thousands and thousands of people — or two or three — slip through the crack? I guess it’s possible, but we do very, very good surveillance.”
Not far from the historical homes of Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, Albemarle Estate sits atop a hill on sprawling, manicured grounds dotted with hay bales.
Trump arrived by helicopter Tuesday morning and was driven a short distance to the courtyard of the opulent bed-and-breakfast, replete with statues, gold fixtures and brocade chairs.
Trump’s trademark hyperbole was also on display. He said that he plans to file his personal financial disclosure form Wednesday or Thursday and that “it’s going to be a very amazing number.”
Trump said he wasn’t supposed to be talking about the threat from a Twitter account purporting to belong to Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, but he professed “great respect and love” for the Mexican people. He’ll win the Latino vote, he said, because he can bring jobs back. “Jeb Bush won’t bring anything back except heartache,” he said.
“Univision – I’m suing them for $500 million. I have a very good lawsuit. I have a binding contract, no termination rights, no nothing. Stupidly, they tried to terminate, they’re doing an IPO. . . . I wouldn’t buy their stock if you paid me,” he said.
In response to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s critique of his “tone,” Trump launched a tirade on political correctness and the desire to be “mild, foolish, so nice, so kind.”
“And we’re being beaten by killers all over the world — all over the world killers are beating us,” he said.