Donald Trump’s long history of making controversial statements is catnip for opposition researchers, because an attack ad can simply use the GOP presidential nominee’s voice.
In an ad released by a super PAC affiliated with Emily’s List, ordinary Americans are asked to read Trump’s statements. Many refuse, although they later show the cards with the quotes to the camera. This is an effective way of demonstrating how objectionable Trump’s statements may be to certain voters, but it also allows the ad makers to show one provocative quote — “laziness is a trait in blacks” — for which there is no actual recording; it is a secondhand quote attributed to Trump by a former employee.
As a reader service, we will explain where these quotes come from. Only one quote was actually made during the current campaign season; the rest come from Trump’s past, from as long as 27 years ago. Obviously, it is up to readers to decide whether these remarks are appropriate — or relevant to the pursuit of the presidency.
“Putting your wife to work is a very dangerous thing.”
Trump made this statement in 1994 during an interview with ABC News, after saying he had made a mistake by allowing his first wife, Ivana Trump, to take a management role at one of his casinos. Here’s the context in which he made this statement, which is slightly different from the way it is rendered in the ad (“your wife” vs. “a wife”).
“I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” Trump said. “If you’re in business for yourself, I really think it’s a bad idea to put your wife working for you. I think it’s a really bad idea. I think that was the single greatest cause of what happened to my marriage with Ivana.”
He said after he noticed a change in her demeanor while she was working for him, that changed his feelings toward her.
“Ivana would get angry at somebody over the telephone, all of a sudden, who was at the casino, and she’d start shouting. And I’d say, ‘I don’t want my wife shouting at somebody like that, I really don’t want that,’ ” Trump said.
“And a softness disappeared,” he continued. “There was a great softness to Ivana, and she still has that softness, but during this period of time, she became an executive, not a wife.”
Trump also expressed mixed feelings about allowing his then-wife, Marla Maples, to take a job. “I have days where I think it’s great,” he said. “And then I have days where, if I come home — and I don’t want to sound too much like a chauvinist — but when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof.”
“Laziness is a trait in blacks”
This is a secondhand quote, something that someone has alleged that Trump said. So it should be viewed with some skepticism.
Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino President John R. O’Donnell, in the 1991 book “Trumped,” claimed that Trump once said that “laziness is a trait in blacks.” Here is the full context for the statement, as described in the book. O’Donnell relates a conversation with Trump about a finance employee, who happens to be black and who O’Donnell believes has shortcomings.
Instantly, Donald was enthused. “Yeah, I never liked the guy. I don’t think he knows what the f––– he’s doing. My accountants up in New York are always complaining about him. He’s not responsive. And isn’t it funny, I’ve got black accountants at the Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. No one else.”
I couldn’t believe I was hearing this. But Donald went on, “Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something else. I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not something they can control. … Don’t you agree?”
So this is clearly a secondhand quote, made in a private conversation and written some years after the fact. Trump called O’Donnell a disgruntled employee, but he initially did not dispute the remarks. “The stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true,” he told Playboy in an interview published in May 1997.
Two years later, however, he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that O’Donnell’s account was fiction. “He made up this quote. I’ve heard the quote before, and it’s nonsense,” Trump said. “I’ve never said anything like it, ever.”
Still, Trump has made other remarks, in public, that could be considered racially insensitive. In 1989, he told Bryant Gumbel in an interview: “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. … If I was starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I really do believe they have the actual advantage today.”
Also in 1989, when five black and Latino teenagers were implicated in a brutal attack on a white woman jogging in Central Park, Trump took out full-page newspaper ads calling for the death penalty for “criminals of every age.” The suspects were convicted but later exonerated by DNA evidence — and Trump then called their wrongful-conviction settlement a “disgrace.”
“When Mexico sends its people, it is not sending their best. … They’re rapists.”
This is the one quote that comes from the 2016 campaign, made during Trump’s announcement on June 16, 2015, that he was running for president. Here’s what Trump said:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Trump received a lot of criticism for this remark, but never backed down. For instance, on July 6, 2015, he said:
“What can be simpler or more accurately stated? The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”
We gave him Four Pinocchios for these statements, as there is no data that supports that notion that crime is correlated with immigration, especially illegal immigration.
“A person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”
Trump appeared frequently on shock-jock Howard Stern’s radio show, about two dozen times, which has proven to provide rich material for the Clinton campaign and its supporters.
This particular quote, unearthed by BuzzFeed, was made in 2005 during a discussion that concerned the ranking of actresses on “Desperate Housewives.” Trump rated Nicolette Sheridan a “solid four,” but said that when she was younger she had once been an “eight.” But he said he couldn’t say she had ever been a “10” because of the size of her breasts. Here’s how he explained his reasoning, starting at about the 5:50 mark in the interview:
“I like the way she used to look. I don’t like the way she looks now. … She’s a solid four. She was an eight, she wasn’t a 10. She went from being very flat-chested. I view that a person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10. It has been extraordinary, you have to have the face of Vivian Leigh to be a 10 if you are flat-chested. She went from an eight to a solid four.”
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