Donald Trump may have followed in his father’s footsteps, but the two haven’t always been on the same page. Spending habits, attitudes, and more led to a rocky relationship between the two for most of Donald Fred Trumps’ lives. Here’s a closer look at the president’s relationship with his father.
He’s had to defend his father’s choices several times
Like Trump, his father made some decisions in his life that reflected bad character. In 1927, he was arrested during a Ku Klux Klan rally. When the New York Times asked about it, Trump said that it shouldn’t be mentioned because there were never any charges filed against his father, and it was “totally false.”
Trump defended his father to the New York Times in 1973 as well, after accusations that his father was discriminating against black people by refusing to let them live in his low-income housing.
Trump borrowed millions from his father
While the infamous $1 million loan made headlines during Trump’s presidential campaign, it appears he borrowed much more than that. The Guardian reported that Trump’s father lent him $3.5 million in casino chips at one point in order to evade bankruptcy law. The Washington Post reported that Trump borrowed about $9 million from his own inheritance in order to make it through financial difficulties. It’s assumed that Trump also inherited millions from his father when he passed away in 1999.
Their relationship seemed to be strictly business
Trump wrote in his autobiography, “I was never intimidated by my father… I stood up to him, and he respected that.” Those words don’t necessarily equate to a close relationship, but Trump doesn’t appear to be too close to anyone. In an interview with The Guardian, friends of Trump and his father described the pair’s relationship as having a “very strange” dynamic. When interviewed, one woman recalled that they never seemed to listen to anything the other one said. “They talked right past each other.”
Trump’s infamous obituary quote says a lot
When his father died in 1999, Trump’s quote in his New York Times obituary was not what you’d expect. He directed his words toward his father’s lack of expanding real estate into Manhattan. “It was good for me,” he said. “You know, being the son of somebody, it could have been competition to me. This way, I got Manhattan all to myself!” For Trump, money makes the world go ‘round. A sense of compassion, even for his own father, never seemed to be there.
… but there was still competition in their attitudes
There may not have been competition in their business locations, but Trump and his father always wanted to one-up each other. Trump believed his own empire was greater than the one his father built. He made an announcement at his father’s funeral that he was about to develop a new building on Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan. Yes, you read that right. Fred Trump once said to his son, “One place you’ll never beat me is with the marriage stuff,” which was a dig at Trump’s first two unsuccessful marriages. The compassion might have been missing, but the competition was not.
They had very contrasting views about money
While Trump spends his money feverishly, his father was very frugal. Despite creating a multi-million-dollar empire, Fred Trump never even wanted a separate office. A 1940 interview reported that although Fred Trump did have an office, he still did most of his work at his kitchen table. He hated to borrow money, too, and kept things going throughout his career by always being as cheap as possible. Trump, on the other hand, has mansions, boats, planes, and every expensive item one could think of at his disposal.
Fred Trump wanted his oldest son, Freddy, to follow in his footsteps
Trump’s father wanted Trump’s older brother, Fred, Jr., to take over the family business. However, Trump’s brother struggled with alcoholism for most of his life and had no interest in continuing his father’s empire. Fred, Jr. died in 1981 from complications from alcoholism; he was only 43 years old. Instead, Trump, one of his father’s youngest children, capitalized on his brother’s flaw, and took over the business.
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