President Trump in the early 1980s asked an architect to remove Braille from planned residential elevators in Trump Tower in New York, saying blind people would not live there, according to a former longtime executive with the Trump Organization.
Barbara Res, a former vice president in charge of construction, made the allegation in an op-ed published Wednesday by the New York Daily News and in a subsequent interview with The Washington Post, in which she said the incident happened in 1980 or 1981 as Trump Tower was being designed.
According to Res’s account, an architect came to Trump’s office to show him designs for the interiors of residential elevator cabs in Trump Tower, which also hosts businesses. He noticed dots next to the buttons and asked what they were, she said.
“Braille,” the architect replied, according to Res.
Trump then told the architect to “get rid of it,” and the architect resisted, saying doing so would be against the law, she said.
“Get rid of the (expletive) Braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower. Just do it,” Trump told the architect, according to Res’s account.
The use of Braille in elevators is now a requirement of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The White House on Wednesday referred questions about the alleged episode to the Trump Organization, which did not immediately respond.
Res would not disclose the identity of the architect to The Post.
Her anecdote was included in an op-ed that argued Trump frequently ordered underlings to do things that were impossible “to castigate a subordinate and also blame him for anything that ‘went wrong’ in connection with the unperformed order later.”
She wrote that she was not surprised by revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book “Fear” and the recent anonymous op-ed in the New York Times attributed to a senior administration official. Both works describe a president whose orders are not always carried out by those around him.
Res, who was a Trump Organization executive from 1978 to 1996, said she learned not to always follow Trump’s orders.
“Some of them you follow,” she told The Post. “Some of them you don’t follow, and you just prepare to take what comes, if anything comes. And the others you fight.”
She said it was possible to convince Trump not to do what he was ordering her to do, but he would resent it and punish her later.
“When you win with him, you always pay some way,” she said.
“He was always saying to fire somebody, or to write this letter to the contractor and tell him this,” Res said, but she said she regarded these seeming orders as just Trump “blowing off steam,” and she wouldn’t follow them.