A 1991 documentary on Donald Trump which he suppressed from broadcast by legal threats is now available online. Entitled “Trump: What’s The Deal?,” the documentary paints an extremely unflattering picture of Trump as a businessman and a man in general by highlighting questionable if not illegal business practices and making all but explicit claims that Trump committed adultery while married to Ivana Trump with his later wife Marla Maples.
While Trump’s extramarital activities are hardly of public concern, some of the allegations in the film do warrant further consideration in light of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
One of Donald Trump’s signature issues this year has been illegal immigration. Trump has focused his considerable ire on undocumented immigrants whom he has characterized in harsh terms. But the film alleges that one of Trump’s signature achievements was, in fact, built partly by undocumented immigrant workers.
The film claims that Trump’s celebrated property on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, known as Trump Tower, used undocumented Polish immigrant labor in the demolition process. The immigrants reportedly worked grueling 12-hour shifts with no overtime pay in asbestos-laden dust.
The workers later sued Trump for short-changing a union welfare fund by $4 million, with one of the plaintiffs telling The New York Times, “We were frightened illegal immigrants and did not know enough about our rights.”
The pattern of using undocumented immigrant labor has apparently continued, with The Washington Post reporting in July that workers at a current Trump construction site in Washington DC are immigrants who crossed the US-Mexico border illegally. One Trump worker told The Post, “The majority of us are Hispanics, many who came illegally.”
Another major charge in the film is that Donald Trump’s business deals often involve buying influence with politicians who subsequently do him favors such as granting him enormous tax breaks on real estate development projects. In particular, the documentary focuses on New York City to show that political connections and campaign fundraising played a role in government officials conceding lopsided and irresponsible tax abatement deals for Trump.
Trump himself confirmed this allegation explicitly on national television. During the 2015 Republican presidential primary debate in August, Trump not only admitted but insisted he bought influence saying on stage, “If I ask them, if I need them, you know, most of the people on this stage I’ve given to, just so you understand, a lot of money.”
Trump is not only unashamed of this arguably illegal conduct, he has even used his habit of bribing officials as an argument for why he is a superior candidate compared to his Republican rivals. Because he, unlike his opponents, is too rich to be bought by people like himself.
The documentary is undeniably aimed at hurting Donald Trump’s reputation and carries a sardonic tone throughout. But the evidence seems to back up at least a few of the charges.