"Well," spokeswoman Donald Trump said, "You've been under tremendous pressure lately."
"Why do you say that?" He asked.
It was April 6, 1990, and Paula Zahn of CBS actually had many reasons to believe that Trump might be worried. It had been less than two months since the hyper-public, tabloid revelation revealed revelation that his shame had destroyed his marriage to the mother of his first three children. He and his executives had to contend with the flawed, hectic opening of the newest, shrill, expensive and most heavily indebted of its three casinos in Atlantic City. And reporters covering money instead of celebrity had started investigating the unstable situation of Trump's general financial condition.
"In your professional life as well as in your personal life," Zahn offered.
She asked how he was doing. 1
Almost three decades have passed. Even under Trump's perma-dangerous presidency, this is a point that pulses with risk. Democrats in the Congress, who have been re-strengthened, are conducting numerous investigations, and the talk of impeachment is impossible to avoid. The biggest report on this turbulent battlefield, however, is the report by Special Adviser Robert Mueller, who is prepared to report to Attorney General William Barr – the culmination of nearly two years of work and the issue of immeasurable speculation. While Trump often rates himself and his administration "A-Plus," many others wonder if he can maintain his rosy self-esteem as soon as the details of Mueller's findings become known.
Every tide of President's tweets – and the two-day summoner against comedy and cable news broadcasts last weekend – was a particularly strong example of new announcements Trump is freed from the burden. George Conway, husband of close Trump consultant Kellyanne Conway, drew the clinical definition of narcissistic personality disorder to argue the case that Trump is not only unfit for office, but catastrophically worse. And psychiatrists speak with terrible predictions about the potential of a confused person with extraordinary powers to create global chaos and destruction.
"He has very poor coping mechanisms when criticized or when he feels humiliated," Bandy Lee, a forensic psychologist from Yale and the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump whose second issue This month, he said to me: "In those places he usually goes into attack mode and threatens others or tries to take revenge on others. The Müller report is of a scale that is unlikely to be the one we have seen before. "
worst-case scenario? "Watch innocent eyes on humiliation," Lee said. Meaning? "Destroying the world. It quickly becomes the avenue, the perceived solution … for individuals with their personality structure. "
Make medical predictions what you want, but the historical records tell a different story. Tooth and Toe is an instructive (and reassuring?) Reminder of Trump's frailty. Of course, the 2015 and # 39; 16 Trump campaign was of importance from kill-kill to kill-shot and just went on to the White House – and this was not the first time he had proven his ability, Mitigating misfortune and skilfully handling what had happened seemed like an inevitable cominguppance. Whether Trump was not only financially solvent, but also intact, was an open question for the entire first half of the 1990s. So many times he could be kidnapped, stopped and made a relative footnote. His place in the history of this country was limited to the status of a Gauche totem of a regrettable epoch of greed. Of course this is not how the story has evolved. Trump is a lot of things. A Developer A Promoter A Master Media Manipulator. An adult, rich child. The President of the United States. Above all, he is a survivor.
"The Ultimate Survivor," former Trump casino manager Jack O & # 39; Donnell recently told me.
But it's not just important that Trump survived, but also how he did it. Armed with extraordinary audacity constitutional sangfroid, a gut for turmoil, an ingenuity to transform apparent casualties into weird sorts of winnings, and the astounding safety net his wealthy, insidious father has left behind, he has innumerable dangers passed by. And he did so by tying himself tightly to his bankers and lenders in New York and to the gaming industry's regulators in New Jersey-who let him live until they did not let him die without mortally wounding himself. He effectively inhabited the hosts to become bigger and bigger in the 80s, until he became virtually invincible in the 1990s – not just "too big to fail," as the late Wayne Barrett once told Susan Susan and me, but "too big to go to jail."
Perhaps his flight from the past is why he seems strangely calm as most of the country leans forward, waiting for the news of Müller's bombshells. Over the weekend, as outsiders in Trump's Twitter Barrage became increasingly frightened, the people who spoke to Trump over the phone said to the reporters, "He seemed to be in a good mood." The amount of tweets, they suspected, was one Product of too much time on his hands in the White House.
His bravery and his blubber can not mask, his critics say, the real danger to which he is exposed they are too high, the arena too big, the political currents too strong, so that Trump can expect the same results. But if he fails, taking into account the weight of the evidence Müller found, one thing is certain: it will be the first time.
Those who believe in power of Trump's survivability to protect himself from this unprecedented threat draws an analogy between the Republican Party-its members of Congress, and especially the Senate-and the Institutions that have made it possible in the past.
"The banks were heavily invested in Trump and they could not let it go," former Trump associate Sam Nunberg said, "and the Republican Party can not let him down."
I believe he believes that the presidency is too big to fail, too powerful to suppress, "On Donnell added. "And I think that's something he learned in the 1990s, when the banks basically told him," You're too big to fail, we need to support you. "And they did, time and time back in Atlantic City.
In the coming weeks and months to determine how well these lessons will last.
"This is a man who has been living dangerously for decades, flirting with the boundaries of decency, legality, and courtesy," Trump biographer Tim O & Brien told me. "And he has now, after years and years, with which he has come, consequences that are far beyond what he has experienced so far. … The things that I believe could survive in the past will be of practical, personal benefit here if he keeps a stiff upper lip when he is able. "The more material applicability of the Machiavellian take-aways of his & # 39; 90s scratch? "I think they will do absolutely nothing good if the legal consequences are fully realized."
Others who know Trump well are not so sure.
"No matter what they do, he survives. No matter what they try, he survives, "said longtime Democratic New York strategist Hank Sheinkopf to me. "Can Trump survive that? He absolutely can. "
In the mid-1990s, he had at least more than three billion dollars in the minus. He had spent too much money for years to buy too much, mostly with borrowed money. The yacht, the airline of the Manhattan Plaza Hotel. "Trophies," he called her. And his casinos, the first two, now three with the tumbling start of the Trump Taj Mahal, can rule each other out. Even record money was not enough to cover all of Trump's debts. On the horizon was the first of his six corporate bankruptcies.
"Trump is on the way down – and probably out," wrote business journalist Allan Sloan in June Newsday .
People didn & # 39; It just stops at mere predictions. They were fun too.
"I imagine Donald Trump, one year later, advertising late-night TV for his abdominal muscle or ginsu knife. Or as a commentator on the Worldwide Wrestling Federation, "said Gail Collins, then columnist of the New York Daily News to David Von Drehle, the then reporter for the Miami Herald . Vanity Fair's editor Tina Brown compared Trump with Elvis in late life. "He'll probably end up in this sort of Graceland, you know, wearing a diaper," she told Steve Kroft of CBS News. Spy of Trump's punk satirical magazine and diehard Needler The August 1990 issue cast a winking eye at what they foretold as a sad, medium-heavy future for a bald, lanky Trump. Her crystal ball, however, was not all wrong. They expected a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and a crude version of reality TV – and a public offer that would allow Trump to use money from shareholders to make their own money ("Now you can own a piece of Trump!" ))
But in addition to the malicious pleasure of the Smart Set Trumps results were in practice.
After weeks of negotiations, an additional loan of $ 65 million was granted to him through the accumulation of some 70 banks that had lent him billions of dollars. It was the first in a yearlong series of rescue operations, expansions and respite breaks. They had lent him so much money, it was no longer just his problem – it was theirs. He almost dared to tear him down. "He has a good influence on the institutions," a finance professor from Harvard Business School told the Boston Globe at that time. "Its adjusted net worth is, in my estimation, minus several hundred million dollars, and it lives only because its bankers are too red to pull the plug of its life support system," wrote the chairman of a money management firm New York Post , "The important thing," said an official in the office of one of its lenders in The American Banker "is to bring Trump to his survival."
Over time, the banks have thrown back a pass of Trump's possessions (the yacht, the planes Plaza), but they did not take their casinos with them because they did not want them. "The last thing they want is to manage casinos," said an analyst at Moody's Investors of the Associated Press. And the last thing the gaming officials and city guides in New Jersey wanted was to have them close. The relationship was the same as the banks in New York. Desperate to support the dizzying gaming industry and keep looking for casinos to bring at least the appearance of vitality and prosperity to the struggling coastal city, they needed Trump just as Trump needed them. Understandably, a precondition to owning a casino in Atlantic City was financial stability, and the regulators could have withdrawn Trump several times, but of course not. Trump's casinos accounted for about a third of the market. "The whole economic development of the city," said Donnell, "was dependent on it, and so they just … they gave in."
Trump had managed to turn an apparent weakness into a significant advantage. Banks have paid him a $ 450,000 per month allowance.The Trump Tower Triplex was safe.
"The Man is a Sherman Tank in a Brioni Suit" New York Post Gossip columnist and Trump buddy Cindy Adams told USA Today . 19659004] "Hey, I had a cold from 1990 to '91," he said in 1994 in 19459005 New York . "I was in business and beaten in my personal life … But you learn that you are either the hardest, meanest piece of shit in the world, or you just crawl into a corner, put your finger in your mouth and say, "I want to go home." "Trump did not do it. I do not want to go home
However, he was not entirely clear until 1995 and 96 when his need for money finally relieved his desire for absolute control and he publicized his casinos. He sat in his office and looked at O'Brien, the then reporter for the Wall Street Journal (19459006). He was "back," he said. People bought stocks in Trump and lost money in droves. Trump hotels and casino resorts were a good investment for just one person – Trump. "It was to get other people out of debt," a former member of the Trump organization told me. In addition to selling his stake in his founding company Grand Hyatt and tens of millions of well-endowed family foundation loans, this was what saved Trump – along with a partnership with Hong Kong investors who held his own property on the Upper West Side, which always cost him money, to a country that started making money. The construction work for what would have been Trump City, now called Trump Place (and it would not be), began in 1997. And two years later, Trump got the magician David Blaine "buried alive" in front of some buildings. for a week in a Plexiglas coffin. It was, said Blaine, a famous illusionist Harry Houdini always wanted. For Trump, the ad made a fit for the art of escape.
Trumpologists and cultural critics often cite the showman P.T. Barnum was Trump's outstanding predecessor, but another less well-known inspiration was Houdini, author of an upcoming Houdini biography, told me. "He always found, especially when it seemed like it was over, he found a new chapter and a new way to get his success going," said Joe Posnanski. "He created this handcuff act, and the handcuff act becomes huge, and then this kind of course expires. And then he comes with the milk can, and the milk can somehow run. And he comes with the Chinese water torture cell, and that has its course. And he begins to hang upside down and flee from straitjackets. "
Posnanski makes you think of Trump."
"With Trump you just think," OK, that's it, it's totally, you know? "He said." He's bankrupt, people laugh at him 'He is that, he is that – but it's never over for him. "
" Trump, "said Sheinkopf, the Democratic strategist," incessantly pulls Houdini's file. "
Recall All the" Gaffs, " who are said to have torpedoed his awkward, unorthodox presidential election campaign in 2016 – of course, with the "Access Hollywood" band, which was unveiled in early October and boasted about sexual assault.
] Those who predict Trump will eventually become disagree that he has previously benefited from well-placed security nets, a time different, insisting that his high-wire act be performed at unprecedented heights.
"Significantly higher," said O & Brien. "He was on a financial tightrope and a family tightrope walk, but never on a legal tightrope walk like this one. Not even close. This is fundamentally new due to the legal consequences, and these legal consequences do not end with the submission of the Müller report. He still has problems that are still very serious in the southern district of New York. in some ways, they can be more serious than the Mueller investigation of the possible consequences and extent to which they dig into their world. "
Bandy Lee is worried. Yale's forensic psychiatrist has examined thousands of people with the mental disorders she's experiencing with Trump. Their behavior, untreated, had predictable and unpleasant results. She foresaw a similar ridicule for Trump, but with a wildcard that she has not experienced in any of her patients: the mighty power of the Commander-in-Chief.
"Under stress we see the limits of ability, and we can see that the President has reached his limits rather quickly because he is unable to sit in the investigations of the advancing special representative. You can see that there is an increase in activity and crises, if you will, distractions to distract both himself and the public from the bad news he continues to receive, "Lee said.
He has very poor coping mechanisms when criticized or when he feels humiliated, "she went on," and at these points he usually goes into attack mode and he threatens others or tries to take revenge. "
Our Conversation Lasted Before Trump revived his argument with the late John McCain, I had to think about Lee's warning when I heard the President on Wednesday before a group of workers who expected some good news about the economy, none Smears hit a war hero. Perhaps, just like the days of George Conway's naming, these are really the signs of a mind in turmoil.
And yet – and this is just the reality of the record – Trump trumped recklessly and even courageously past crises in the 90s that nearly all the others would have met. And then, perhaps convinced of his invincibility, he wandered through a series of accepted social and political checkpoints en route to the Oval Office and his high-back chair behind the Resolute desk.
"Pressure," said Trump's expanded interview in Playboy in 1990, "does not disturb my sleep. … I like throwing balls in the air – and I dream like a baby.
The same year, on June 14, he turned 44. The next day, he missed about $ 45 million in debt payments for his casino called Trump Castle. "He's absolutely on the cutting edge," said James Grant, the publisher of Grant's Interest Rate Observer opposite Newsday . The next day, Trump had a party. There were reported to be over a thousand employees in Atlantic City on the boardwalk. "We love you, Donald!" They screamed. He received a chocolate cupcake, a 12-page birthday card, and a portrait of himself.
"Nobody wants to write the positive things," Trump told the cheering crowd. "Over the years, I have surprised many people. The biggest surprise is yet to come.