Mar 1, 1990
Playboy sat down with a young Donald Trump in 1990 where he teased a future in politics
Do you think George Bush is soft?
I like George Bush very much and support him and always will. But I disagree with him when he talks of a kinder, gentler America. I think if this country gets any kinder or gentler, it’s literally going to cease to exist. I think if we had people from the business community—the Carl Icahns, the Ross Perots—negotiating some of our foreign policy, we’d have respect around the world.
What would President Trump’s position on crime be?
I see the values of this country in the way crime is tolerated, where people are virtually afraid to say “I want the death penalty.” Well, I want it. Where has this country gone when you’re not supposed to put in a grave the son of a bitch who robbed, beat, murdered and threw a ninety-year-old woman off the building? Where has this country gone?
What would be some of President Trump’s longer-term views of the future?
I think of the future, but I refuse to paint it. Anything can happen. But I often think of nuclear war.
I’ve always thought about the issue of nuclear war; it’s a very important element in my thought process. It’s the ultimate, the ultimate catastrophe, the biggest problem this world has, and nobody’s focusing on the nuts and bolts of it. It’s a little like sickness. People don’t believe they’re going to get sick until they do. Nobody wants to talk about it. I believe the greatest of all stupidities is people’s believing it will never happen, because everybody knows how destructive it will be, so nobody uses weapons. What bullshit.
Does any of that fuzzy thinking exist around the Trump office?
On a much lower level, I would never hire anybody who thinks that way, because he has absolutely no common sense. He’s living in a world of make-believe. It’s like thinking the Titantic can’t sink. Too many countries have nuclear weapons; nobody knows where they’re all pointed, what button it takes to launch them. The bomb Harry Truman dropped on Hiroshima was a toy next to today’s. We have thousands of weapons pointed at us and nobody even knows if they’re going to go in the right direction. They’ve never really been tested. These jerks in charge don’t know how to paint a wall, and we’re relying on them to shoot nuclear missiles to Moscow. What happens if they don’t go there? What happens if our computer systems aren’t working? Nobody knows if this equipment works, and I’ve seen numerous reports lately stating that the probability is they don’t work. It’s a total mess.
And how would President Trump handle it?
He would believe very strongly in extreme military strength. He wouldn’t trust anyone. He wouldn’t trust the Russians; he wouldn’t trust our allies; he’d have a huge military arsenal, perfect it, understand it. Part of the problem is that we’re defending some of the wealthiest countries in the world for nothing…. We’re being laughed at around the world, defending Japan—
Wait. If you believe that the public shares these views, and that you could do the job, why not consider running for President?
I’d do the job as well as or better than anyone else. It’s my hope that George Bush can do a great job.
You categorically don’t want to be President?
I don’t want to be President. I’m one hundred percent sure. I’d change my mind only if I saw this country continue to go down the tubes.
More locally, one of your least favorite political figures was Mayor Ed Koch of New York. You two had a great time going after each other: He called you “piggy, piggy, piggy” and you called him “a moron.” Why do you suppose he lost the election?
He lost his touch for the people. He became arrogant. He not only discarded his friends but was a fool for brutally criticizing them. The corruption was merely a symptom of what had happened to him: He had become extremely nasty, mean-spirited and very vicious, an extremely disloyal human being.
When his friends like Bess Myerson and others were in trouble, he seemed to automatically abandon them, almost before finding out what they’d done wrong. He could think only about his own ass—not the city’s. That was dumb: The only one who didn’t know his administration was crumbling around him was him. Power corrupts.
You probably have more power than Koch did as mayor. And you’re getting more of it all the time. How about power’s corrupting you?
I think power sometimes corrupts- “sometimes” has to be added.
Also on the local scene, there’s a report that you wanted to be an owner of a New York—area baseball team in a proposed new baseball league—despite your bad experience as owner of the New Jersey Generals in the short-lived United States Football League.
That’s not true anymore. It’s not a passion of mine. The sports business is a lousy business. If a player gets hurt or doesn’t perform, he wants to get his money anyway; if he performs better than expected, he wants to renegotiate his contract. I like boxing better.
A clean, forthright sport. As one of Mike Tyson’s promoters, what can you tell us about him?
I know Mike better than anybody and have strong opinions, pro and con. But it’s too early for me to say. I understand his obsessions, everything. And no, I don’t begrudge Don King if he’s able to get Mike Tyson to sign a contract to the benefit of Don King.
You got to know him during his marriage to Robin Givens, didn’t you?
Yeah; I loved it when Robin said she didn’t want any money and then sued him. He won the case against her. She was killed when she started in with the law, when she filed for divorce. Historically, this has been the case with champions. The champ can do no wrong.
How is your marriage?
Just fine. Ivana is a very kind and good woman. I also think she has the instincts and drive of a good manager. She’s focused and she’s a perfectionist.
And as a wife, not a manager?
I never comment on romance…. She’s a great mother, a good woman who does a good job.
How did you feel when José Torres wrote his book, excerpted in Playboy, about Tyson’s sex life—the charges that he beat up women and had wild sexual escapades?
It’s unfortunate for one of the great fighters in history to have all this crap hanging over his head. Or for politicians, for that matter. We’re living in an age when there are no boundaries left, which is unfortunate for our country. The problem is, we’re going to lose good talent because somebody likes looking at pretty women or pretty men.
Somebody’s sex life may mean absolutely nothing to the job at hand, but when the written word gels out, we lose somebody good and the country goes to hell. I know politicians who love women who don’t even want to be known for that—because they might lose the gay vote. OK? If this is the kind of extreme we’re heading toward, we’re really in trouble.
TO BE CONTINUED