Between November 1989 and February 1990, Donald Trump sits for multiple interviews with journalist Glenn Plaskin for a feature in Playboy Magazine. During one of these interviews, the conversation turns to Moscow, and Trump blasts Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for trying to bring democracy to the totalitarian USSR.
In the last five years, Gorbachev:
- ended book banning
- eliminated the secret police
- released political prisoners
- gave workers the right to strike
- opened elections to multiple political parties
- dramatically loosened state control of the media, and
- allowed citizens to own businesses for the first time in 60 years
According to Donald Trump, Gorbachev’s willingness to give up the Soviet Union’s control over society shows “extraordinary weakness.”
Trump points out the citizens’ new ability to protest working conditions as an example of Gorbachev’s perceived weakness. If Gorbachev was strong, Trump says, he would handle his people the way China handled Tiananmen Square in 1989. China declared martial law, killed thousands of civilians, and lied about the death count. That’s how he thinks the United States should handle protests, too.
The conversation doesn’t end there. Trump goes on to say that top officials he met in Moscow in 1987 are “much tougher and smarter than our representatives.”
Soviet officials (including the KGB) were so invested in meeting Trump that, at his request, his flight into the country was guided by two Russian fighter planes.
Other Interesting Topics
Dream Job: “The ultimate job for me would have been running MGM in the Thirties and Forties–pre-television. There was incredible glamour and style in those days that’s gone now. And that’s when you could control situations. In those days, when your great actor was an alcoholic, and nobody ever found out–that was having tremendous control over things, which would be impossible today… I believe I’ve added show business to the real-estate business, and that’s been a positive for my properties and in my life.”
Fake Democrat: Trump says if he runs for president then he’ll probably run as a Democrat even though he’s a Republican. During his first “official” presidential campaign in 2000, he runs as an independent and supports policies that he will later smear as “far-left socialism.”
Blame the Hostage: If he were president, Trump says, he wouldn’t save American hostages because “in almost all cases, the hostages were told by our government not to be there.” The only exception to this would be military hostages.
Kindness Kills: “I like George Bush very much and support him and always will. But I disagree with him when he talks of a kinder, gentler America. I think if this country gets any kinder or gentler, it’s literally going to cease to exist.”
Time to Nuke: “I’ve always thought about the issue of nuclear war… I believe the greatest of all stupidities is people’s believing it will never happen, because everybody knows how destructive it will be, so nobody uses weapons. What bullshit.”
The ‘C’ Word: Plaskin asks Trump if he thinks all of his power has corrupted him. Trump doesn’t say no. All he can say is “I think power sometimes corrupts.”
#MeToo: Trump says the problem with celebrities or politicians beating and/or sexually assaulting women is that it leaks and hurts the abuser. The question is specifically about allegations against Mike Tyson.
Never Happy: “Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die. You know, it is all a rather sad situation. We’re here and we live our sixty, seventy or eighty years and we’re gone. You win, you win, and in the end, it doesn’t mean a hell of a lot. But it is something to do–to keep you interested… I truly believe that someone successful is never really happy, because dissatisfaction is what drives him. I’ve never met a successful person who wasn’t neurotic.”
Photo: Randy O’Rourke for Playboy