One day in May 2016, I came across a headline which said, in effect, that Donald Trump had “gotten rid” of me when I worked for him in construction. By then, nothing surprised me, but this was so egregious that even I was taken aback, although I knew the media outlet involved was known to be associated with spurious stories.
I was employed by Trump on three separate occasions, and each time, I terminated my employment with a voluntary resignation. Yet here was Trump advancing the line that he had fired me. I was reminded of this incident this week, when I read the dueling tweets by Trump and John Bolton as to whether he quit or was fired.
Throughout the 16-year period during which I was employed by Trump, I witnessed many occasions when Trump would try to claim to be the instigator in a conflict which resulted in someone leaving as an employee, consultant or service provider.
What comes to mind immediately is an incident where I had hired, against my recommendation and under Trump’s direction, a famous entertainment lawyer to work on a condemnation case we had in California. Trump insisted I hire this attorney, solely on the basis of a Vanity Fair article he had read about him claiming he had never lost a case.
Although I did a tremendous amount of due diligence before hiring anyone in Los Angeles, Trump was never quite comfortable because he knew nothing about L.A. or the people there.
So when he saw the story, Trump told me to hire this person who, Trump thought, was “the best.” This was the second lawyer Trump had me hire. The first one had been a politician with no condemnation experience. Another of Trump’s great ideas, it was a disastrous choice and Trump actually did fire him first (of course, it was I who did the actual firing).
So I hired the celebrity lawyer, and along with him came a firm and junior attorneys who took the laboring oar. The team was new to this kind of work, but it was effective. And the famous lawyer was, in his own way, quite brilliant.
The problem was that attorney introduced Trump to an important client of his to discuss a matter completely removed from our case, and this introduction led to meetings and an inevitable double-crossing of the lawyer and his client by Trump.
This is documented in one of Trump’s books, in which he says he fired the lawyer. But he did not. This lawyer quit, and even volunteered to surrender the fees he had earned because he was so disgusted by Trump’s actions.
When he quit, interestingly, Trump was not satisfied saying that he had fired the lawyer. He insisted on firing the entire firm, although they were millions of dollars deep in our case, and taking the other attorneys off would have been catastrophic.
I talked Trump out of this. As was often the case, Trump was the developer of the project but only a member of a group that actually owned it, so he was spending their money. It did not matter what it cost the others, Trump had to save face.
When I was building projects for Trump, disputes often arose. They are common in construction and sometimes result in litigation. No matter the disagreement, Trump insisted that a lawsuit be initiated right away against his potential opponent so he could be the plaintiff. Trump could not abide the notion that someone would accuse him of wrongdoing first, any more than he could contend with a public pronouncement that someone would leave Trump’s employ of his own volition.
So of course Trump said he fired Bolton, just like he tried to pass off the absurd notion that he fired me. I sued the media outlet that carried that lie and, in a confidential settlement, the article and any trace of it were removed from the internet, because it was nonsense. We’ll see what happens with Bolton.
Res, former vice president in charge of construction at the Trump Organization, is author of “All Alone on the 68th Floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction.”