How Trump Learned to be a Predator

Susan Walsh/AP
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What on earth is Trump talking about demanding Obama apologize to him for ‘colluding’ with Russia?

You really don’t have to go any further than this email from a New York real estate player, who’s crossed paths with Trump, and wrote in more than a year ago to explain the predatory attack strategies Donald learned from his dad Fred way back in the day.

We now know Trump’s modus operandi intuitively. But it helps to understand where it came from, the logic of it and how it’s succeeded for Trump again and again over decades.

There is a personality type with a New York developer, one Donald learned from Fred when he carried his dad’s briefcase to acquisition meetings out in the boroughs and it goes like this:

Donald contracts for a service or good, or the acquisition of a piece of land for $1 million.

He then does not pay you

You ask Donald for your million dollars

Donald yells at you, basely, abusively, wholly out of character to the rich gentleman you broke bread with and made the deal with. He tells you that no, YOU owe him $200,000. Gives you no reason but screams how can you be such a son of a bitch to rip him off, how he’s going to sue you, expose you as a cheat, etc.

You’re off your pins, defensive. How could this be the guy who was so nice when he picked up the check at Per Se?

So, you compromise, because human nature avoids conflict, right? This is what he’s gaming you for because once you compromised, you’ve lost. You’ve inferred his premise that you have some complicity in the matter otherwise why would you compromise? You are on the defensive and will never get it back.

You offer $750,000 as a settlement, angry but want it over and done with. He then sues you. Why, because you’ve already committed yourself to the loss. You volunteered to surrender your position and what will stop you from keeping going?

I’ve seen many a New Yorker settle things like this with Trump people for 5-10 cents on the dollar and then happy, even eager to keep doing business with them. Why? Because he got in their heads with this aggressively counterintuitive behavior.

The only real addition to the story is that this is a lot easier to pull off with other real estate developers than it is to powerful players in Washington, especially after they’ve seen the swindle a few times. Trump’s inability to get the same results as he’s used to with this approach is basically the story of his presidency so far.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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