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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.
Introduction: In the aftermath of the ascension of Donald Trump to the Presidency, we are doing something unprecedented in the long history of For The Record. Earlier in 2016, award-winning journalist David Cay Johnston published a very well-written and researched, yet relatively short and compact biography of Donald Trump–The Making of Donald Trump (Melville House [HC]; copyright 2016 by David Cay Johnston; ISBN 978-1-61219-632-9.)
For some weeks, we have been–and will be–reading most of the book into the record, to provide people with a measure against which to evaluate not just “The Donald,” as his first wife Ivana called him, but our society, its institutions and its citizens. We can’t recommend strongly enough that listeners buy this book, read it and use whatever means available to spread the word about it. (We note that neither Mr. Emory nor any of the stations that air this program get money from this book, its publisher or author.)
This fourth installment of the series references the substance of an article that embodies the enormous and fundamental flaw in our political and civic process: a poll shortly before the election found that most of the prospective voters polled felt that Trump was more honest and trustworthy than Hillary Clinton. As our reading of Johnston’s excellent book unfolds, the grotesque, spectacularly fallacious character of this perception will become uncomfortably clear. “Donald Trump is currently tracking as the more honest of the two presidential candidates in a poll, although fact-checking of his statements during the campaign have shown he’s lied several times. The latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll reports that 46 percent of likely voters believe he is the more honest and trustworthy candidate, while 38 percent believed it was Hillary Clinton. This marks the biggest gap between the two candidates in five ABC News/Washington Post polls that asked the question, beginning in May.”
The bulk of the program focuses on Trump University, the focal point of several lawsuits, settled by Trump after the election. (The Making of Donald Trump,; pp. 117-128.)
Mr. Emory feels that, in a sense, the case of Trump University is a microcosm for what America will be under a Trump presidency. ” . . . . The testimony above all comes from a 2012 suit, but two other lawsuits claimed that the whole Trump University enterprise was a fraud–a scam in which the desperate and the gullible paid Trump about $40 million for what turned out to be high-pressure salesmanship. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump,; pp. 120–121.)
In a very real sense, Trump’s pitch in a promotional video embodies Trump as a professional, a person and a politician: ” . . . ‘At Trump University, we teach success . . . . That’s what it’s all about–success. It’s going to happen to you. We’re going to have professors and adjunct professors that are absolutely terrific–terrific people, terrific brains, successful. We are going to have the best of the best. These are all people that are handpicked by me.’ . . . . None of those statements were true. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump,; pp. 117—118.)
Representative of the operations of this “university” is Trump’s “faculty.” ” . . . . Trump did not even honor his commitment to handpick the faculty. In 2012, when Trump was sued for civil fraud in California, attorney Rachel Jensen read the names of one faculty member after another, displayed photographs of them, and offered video footage of faculty at Trump University ‘live events.’ Trump, who complained that this line of questioning was a waste of time, could not identify a single person. ‘Too many years ago . . . too many years ago . . . it’s ancient history,’ he said. Some of these events had taken place fewer than two years earlier. Again and again and again, Trump testified that he could not remember. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump,; p. 119.)
An investigation of Trump University in Texas had a revealing political footnote: ” . . . . To the seasoned fraud investigators who compiled the report, the case against Trump seemed ironclad. The investigators concluded with the suggestion that Trump . . . . be named personally in a civil action suit alleging deceptive trade practices. We know all this because John Owens, who retired in 2011 as chief deputy in the Texas attorney general’s consumer protection unit made the internal report public in 2016. The Texas attorney general’s office, Owens’s former employer, responded with a letter citing six laws Owens may have broken in releasing the report and suggesting his law license might be revoked. . . . Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general, took no public action. . . . Abbott has since been elected governor. He endorsed Trump in 2016. . . . In 2013, three years after [assistant Texas attorney general Rick] Berlin failed to persuade Abbott to adopt his recommendation to recover money for Texas consumers, Trump donated $35,000 to Abbott’s campaign for governor. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump,; pp. 122-123.)
The Abbott-Trump relationship mirrors the highly suspicious contribution Trump made to the reelection campaign of Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, who dropped the investigation into Trump University in exchange for the “favor.”
As reported during the campaign, Trump’s contribution was made from one of Trump’s charities, which are the focal point of Chapter 16 of Johnston’s book. (The Making of Donald Trump,; pp. 129-134.)
Enjoying the support of many veterans, according to polls, and, also according to polls, active duty military personnel, Trump attempted to use veterans as campaign props by donating to them in violation of regulations governing charitable donations. (The Making of Donald Trump,; pp. 135-136.)
The program concludes begins and ends with a reading of the poem Be Angry at the Sun by Robinson Jeffers.
“Be Angry at the Sun” by Robinson Jeffers
That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.
Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.
Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.
You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante’s feet, but even farther from his dirty
Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.