Donald Trump, the new president-elect of the United States, once said he punched a teacher in the face when he was in the second grade. So did he?
Here’s what he wrote in his 1987 book, “The Art of the Deal“:
Even in elementary school, I was a very assertive, aggressive kid. In the second grade I actually gave a teacher a black eye. I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled. I’m not proud of that, but it’s clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a forceful way. The difference now is that I like to use my brain instead of my fists.
I asked Trump spokespeople whether they had any comment on the passage from years ago, and what the president-elect would advise students today to do when they have a disagreement with a teacher. There was no response.
Given that Trump has repeatedly said things that weren’t true about a variety of topics, it seems fair to ask whether he really did punch a teacher.
According to the book “Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power,” by Washington Post reporters Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump attended the private Kew-Forest School in Forest Hills, N.Y., where he often got into trouble. He and his friends would disrupt class “with wisecracks and unruly behavior, such as throwing spitballs and playing racing chairs with desks.”
The book also says this:
“By his own account, Trump’s primary focus in elementary school was “creating mischief because, for some reason, I liked to stir things up and I liked to test people. … It wasn’t malicious so much as it was aggressive.” As a second grader, as Trump has described it, he punched his music teacher, giving him a “black eye” because “I didn’t think he knew anything about music, and I almost got expelled. I’m not proud of that, but it’s clear evidence that even early on I had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way.” Peter Brant, his best friend at Kew-Forest, is among several of Donald’s pals who recall neither the incident nor Trump’s ever mentioning it. When Trump was asked again about the incident decades later, he said, “When I say ‘punch’ when you’re that age, nobody punches very hard. But I was very rambunctious in school.”
The teacher, Charles Walker, who died in 2015, never told anyone in his family about a student’s striking him. Yet Walker’s contempt for Donald was clear. “He was a pain,” Walker once said. “There are certain kids that need attention all the time. He was one of those.”