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Donald Trump through the eyes of those who know him

"He is vain, yes, terribly vain."

Donald Trump through the eyes of those who know him
10 November 2016

You’ve read a lot of quotes from Donald Trump

Quotes about grabbing women “by the pussy”. Quotes in which he describes Mexicans as “rapists”. In which he likened homosexual men to “really long [golf] putters”. A skim through his twitter feed is bound to bring you one wide-eyed moment of disbelief. 

We’re bored of hearing from Trump (though sadly we’re about to hear a lot more from him).

But, when he doesn’t have a camera in his face or phone to tweet from, we want to know what he is really like. Off screen and off the record, can this man really be as terrifying and toxic as he has been in the public eye. 

Here’s what those who have worked with him, travelled with him and photographer him have to say about the (soon to be) most powerful man in the world. 

Harry Benson

The man who’s photographed Trump for 30 years

“I’ve been photographing Trump for over 30 years now and I’ve never heard him say no to anything. You can go the extra mile with him. He’s obliging, he’s got a sense of humour, though you would never tell him a joke…

“He is vain, yes, terribly vain. But then I’m there paying attention to him and pointing a camera at him. I know I’m going to have to get him to do something special when I go to the White House, get him to jump on the table or something.

“Election night was quite a night. My friends are shocked and crying. He spun the whole thing. It was unbelievable, all very disconcerting. I think he’s going to be well-behaved, though, for a while anyway.”

The Guardian

Tony Schwartz

The writer who ghost wrote Trump’s The Art of the Deal

“I put lipstick on a pig. I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.

“Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote. Trump only takes two positions. Either you’re a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you’re the greatest. I became the greatest. He wanted to be seen as a tough guy, and he loved being on the cover.”

The New Yorker

Randal Pinkett

Business consultant who won 2005’s season of The Apprentice

“Donald loves Donald.

“His identity is wrapped around being a winner. If you challenge him, or if he’s put into a losing position, now you begin to take Donald out of his comfort zone.”

The Guardian

“Donald surrounds himself with people who don’t challenge him. He weeds out people who want to challenge Donald or who want to be critical of Donald.

“I don’t think he’s learned anything.”

The Daily Beast

Barbara Res

Former vice president, senior vice president and executive vice president of the Trump Organisation

“There was one guy who worked for the city who Donald referred to as "the fat fuck," but I don't think you can print that. That's how we grew to know him — not by his name, but as "the fat fuck."

“Also, we had a guy who was a lawyer for us and he was overweight, and Donald made a comment to him like, "You really like your Snickers, huh?" or something like that. He even said things like that to me. At one point I had gained a lot of weight, I was still working for him as a consultant, and he made a comment about my weight.

“...Donald had a thing about lawyers. See, everybody else was a lawyer, practically, that worked for him except for me and the sales people, and I think he paid the lawyers a little more than he paid me, but I can't say that I think he discriminated against me because I was a woman. I don't think that was true at the time. He wasn't like that. He hired me because — he said this to me — he told me he thought I was a killer when he hired me from the Hyatt. And he said, "Men are better than women, but a good woman is better than ten good men." That's what he said, and I think he really believed.”

Rolling Stone

Michael D'Antonio

Journalist and writer of Trump biography Never Enough

“This is a person who is single-minded in his pursuit of what he wants. You get in Donald Trump's way and you're going to get run over, and I've had people observe to me the straight-backed posture that Donald always seems to affect when he's in public, and he's that way privately too. He's very forward, very aggressive, but actually very disciplined. For all of his wild talk, there's a point to it all.

“In fact, when people imagine that he's freelancing, I don't think he is. I think he goes into public settings, has a few points that he's going to make, and in fact, many of the things that he says are things that he's been saying since the 1970s.

“This whole idea of America doesn't win anymore, other people take advantage of us. In the '80s and '90s it was the Chinese and the Japanese who were taking advantage of us. Today, in Donald's message, it's the Mexicans, but the idea that someone's doing evil to the U.S. and we're somehow suckers is a message he's been disciplined about delivering over and over again for about 30 years.”


Piers Morgan

Journalist, TV personality, winner of 2007’s The Celebrity Apprentice

“I’ve known the man very well for nearly a decade since I competed in – and won – the first series of his Celebrity Apprentice USA show. To understand Trump the politician, it’s necessary to understand that, at his heart, he’s a shameless salesman, astute marketeer, self-publicist extraordinaire, and a big, bold, brash, ballsy, uncompromising braggart prepared to do whatever it takes to seal a deal.

“To Trump, the race for the White House is another deal to be closed.”

Daily Mail

Anonymous producer of The Apprentice

“I found him to be more of a guy’s guy than all that bullsh*t gold-plated opulence. He’s a P.T. Barnum. He’s the No. 1 self-promoter in the world. He used to make up facts and figures about the show, based on nothing, just coming out of his ass. If we were fifth in the ratings, we were the No. 1 show in the history of shows. He would cater his stories to his agenda. If he wanted people to think it was the No. 1 hit show, he would say it was whether it was true or not.

“I wouldn’t vote for the guy because I’m a Democrat. I don’t want him to be president, but I like him. He’s nice. I think he has a chance of getting nominated, but I don’t think he has a chance of winning. He’s too out-there with the Tea Party and the rabid conservatives. You can’t win with the rabid conservatives. He’s alienating a crazy amount of people. He says all this stuff about Mexicans, and then he says he’s going to get the Hispanic vote, that he’s going to build a wall on the border and that he’s going to make the Mexicans pay for the wall, and that they will ‘love’ paying for it. He says he’s going into Iraq and take all the oil. How’s that going to happen? He says these crazy things that have no basis in fact, and yet, a lot of people believe it. People love somebody who will say what’s on his mind. I hope he runs as a third-party candidate, because that would be a done deal for the Democrats.”