TERRY GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. Donald Trump is running for president without ever having held elected office, but he offers as qualifications his record as a great businessman and dealmaker. This week, he tweeted that he will make the American economy sing again. Here’s an example of what Trump promised last June when he announced that he was entering the race for the Republican nomination for president.
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DONALD TRUMP: Rebuild the country’s infrastructure. Nobody can do that like me. Believe me. It will be done on time, on budget, way below cost, way below what anyone ever thought.
TERRY GROSS: My guest, Robert O’Harrow, a reporter with The Washington Post’s investigative unit, has examined Trump’s business practices and the promises he made when Trump acquired Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal before the Taj was completed. The Taj was Atlantic City’s largest casino hotel complex when it opened in 1990. Trump already owned two other Atlantic City casinos, Trump Plaza and Trump Castle. These three casinos could have enabled him to dominate gambling on the East Coast. But the year after the Taj opened, it filed for bankruptcy. O’Harrow says this was the first and most significant of the four bankruptcies Trump’s companies have experienced. Robert O’Harrow, welcome to FRESH AIR. Let’s start with why you wanted to examine Donald Trump’s business deals. Why did you choose the Taj Mahal as the focus of your longest piece?
ROBERT O’HARROW: We decided to look at bankruptcies in general after the issue came up over and over again in the debates. In each case, Donald Trump assured voters and viewers that he personally had never gone bankrupt, and so we thought we ought to examine the details and find out what sort of culpability might have he had, what forces were working against him. And in doing that, it became clear to us that the Taj stood as perhaps his most – the most significant bankruptcy that he was involved with. It was his first, and it had some elements to it that were seen strikingly germane to the current election. MORE