MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: October 21, 2020

Tonight, David Paterson shares his memoirs as well as the trials and tribulations of being "Black, Blind, & In Charge: A Story of Visionary Leadership and Overcoming Adversity." Also, Author James Zirin’s book “Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits” offers a comprehensive analysis of the president’s legal history, exploring his temperament, character, and morality.

AIRED: October 21, 2020 | 0:28:04
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANAGAN.

"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,

AND BY JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER,

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD,

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY,

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON,

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.

>>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO

"METROFOCUS."

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

WHEN MOST POLITICIANS ACCEPT A

VICE OR LIEUTENANT POSITION IN

GOVERNMENT, IT'S USUALLY WITH

THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THEY'LL

BE SERVING IN A SUPPORTIVE ROLE

TO THE EXECUTIVE IN CHIEF.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE THOSE

OCCASIONS WHEN SECOND IN COMMAND

SUDDENLY BECOMES FIRST.

FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR DAVID

PATTERSON KNOWS ALL TOO WELL

ABOUT THAT.

ON MARCH 10th OF 2008 THE THEN

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR RECEIVED A

PHONE CALL THAT WOULD CHANGE HIS

LIFE.

AND BEFORE HE KNEW IT HE HAD

GONE FROM MANHATTAN STATE

SENATOR TO LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

TO GOVERNOR IN JUST OVER TWO

YEARS.

HE WAS ALSO THE FIRST

AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND THE FIRST

BLIND PERSON TO EVER HOLD THE

POSITION OF GOVERNOR IN THE

EMPIRE STATE.

IT'S A DIZZYING CHANGE FOR

ANYBODY, AND GOVERNOR PATTERSON

RECOUNTS THOSE EXPERIENCES AND

MORE IN HIS NEW MEMOIR, "BLACK,

BLIND, AND IN CHARGE."

AND I'D LIKE TO WELCOME HIM TO

"METROFOCUS."

GOVERNOR PATTERSON, IT IS A

GREAT PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU ON

THE SHOW.

>> THANK YOU, JENNA, IT'S GREAT

TO BE ON THE SHOW.

>> SO FIRST, LET'S GO BACK TO

THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU GOT THAT

FIRST PHONE CALL ABOUT THE

SCANDAL THAT GOVERNOR SPITZER

HAD FOUND HIMSELF IN.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION?

>> I'D SAY MILD SHOCK.

OBVIOUSLY THE GOVERNOR'S

SECRETARY AND THE GOVERNOR AND

MANY PEOPLE KNEW THAT THIS

PROBLEM EXISTED THREE DAYS

BEFORE AND THEY DECIDE TO TELL

ME ABOUT AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES

BEFORE THE GOVERNOR'S GOING TO

RESIGN AT 2:15 THAT AFTERNOON.

SO I WAS SITTING IN MY OFFICE

WHEN HE CALLED ME, AND HE WAS

WHISPERING BECAUSE HE WAS IN THE

GOVERNOR'S BATHROOM BECAUSE THE

GOVERNOR FORBADE ANYONE TO SPEAK

TO ME ABOUT IT, HE SAID HE WOULD

DO IT HIMSELF.

BUT THE SECRETARY'S NOW

REALIZING IT'S SO CLOSE TO THE

TIME I'M GOING TO BECOME

GOVERNOR, WHEN HE REMINDED THE

GOVERNOR OF THAT HE SAID OH,

JUST GIVE HIM SOMETHING TO READ.

HE SAID GOVERNOR, HE DOESN'T

READ, HE MEMORIZES, AND I DON'T

THINK HE HAS TIME TO MEMORIZE

WHATEVER THIS STATEMENT IS.

AND REMEMBER, IN AN HOUR HE'LL

BE THE GOVERNOR AND THE FIRST

THING HE'S GOING TO ASK ALL OF

US IS WHY DID YOU PUT ME IN THAT

POSITION?

SO YOU KNOW, I WAS A LITTLE

SHOCKED AND I TOLD MY SECRETARY

THAT I WAS GOING TO LEAVE THE

BUILDING SO I WOULDN'T BE PART

OF ANY MEDIA HUNT OVER ME.

AND I OPENED THE DOOR TO LEAVE

MY OFFICE AND ABOUT 15 CAMERAS

WENT OFF IN MY FACE.

AND I CLOSED THE DOOR AND I PUT

MY BACK TO THE DOOR AND I SAID

TO MY SECRETARY, I THINK MY LIFE

JUST CHANGED.

>> AS SERIOUS AS THAT MOMENT

REALLY WAS, SO MANY OF THE

STORIES IN THIS BOOK ALMOST READ

LIKE THEY COULD BE IN A -- I

HATE TO SAY IT BUT ALMOST A

SATIRICAL STORY ABOUT POLITICS.

AND I SAY THAT BECAUSE ONCE YOU

GOT THAT PHONE CALL YOU TOOK IT

UPON YOURSELF TO ACTUALLY LET

SOME OTHER KEY PLAYERS IN ALBANY

KNOW AND ACTUALLY THROUGHOUT NEW

YORK POLITICS.

AND THE FIRST PERSON WHO CALLED

YOU BACK, THAT WAS AN AWKWARD

PHONE CALL.

>> MY FATHER, BASEL PATTERSON

WHO HAD BEEN THE FIRST

AFRICAN-AMERICAN VICE CHAIR OF

THE DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE AND

SECRETARY TO GOVERNOR KERRY AND

HAD ALWAYS INCREDIBLE WISDOM IN

SITUATIONS LIKE THAT TOLD ME

YOU'D BETTER TELL THE OTHER

LEADERS OF THE STATE THE

GOVERNOR HASN'T EVEN SPOKEN TO

YOU AND IN AN HOUR THEY'RE ALL

GOING TO ASK YOU WHY YOU DIDN'T

TELL THEM WHAT WAS GOING ON.

SENATOR CLINTON WAS STILL IN A

HOT PRIMARY AGAINST SENATOR

OBAMA, WHO WOULD EVENTUALLY

BECOME THE PRESIDENT.

AND SHE'S THE FIRST ONE TO CALL

BACK, WHICH KIND OF SHOCKED ME.

SHE SAID IS EVERYTHING ALL

RIGHT?

I GOT AN OMINOUS FEELING WHEN I

GOT THIS MESSAGE FROM YOU.

AND I SAID, SENATOR, LISTEN, IN

ABOUT A HALF HOUR I'M GOING TO

BE SWORN IN AS GOVERNOR.

AND SHE SAID, OH, MY GOD, WHAT'S

HAPPENED?

I SAID NO, SENATOR, THE GOVERNOR

IS FINE BUT HE'S GOING TO RESIGN

IN ABOUT HALF AN HOUR.

AND SHE SAID, WELL, WHY IS HE

GOING TO RESIGN, DAVID?

AND I JUST LOOKED UP AT THE

CEILING AND THOUGHT, HOW DO YOU

EXPLAIN ANOTHER SEX SCANDAL TO

HILLARY CLINTON?

>> AGAIN, IT'S JUST -- IT'S

STORY AFTER STORY LIKE THIS.

I THINK MOST PEOPLE CAN

UNDERSTAND THE SURPRISE OF,

LET'S SAY, HAVING AN UNEXPECTED

PROJECT FALL INTO YOUR LAP BUT

CERTAINLY NOT THE GOVERNORSHIP

OF NEW YORK.

AND I WAS WONDERING DID YOU GET

A MOMENT TO EVEN TRY TO PROCESS

ALL OF THIS ONCE YOU GOT THOSE

PHONE CALLS?

>> YOU KNOW WHAT WAS SO

INTERESTING, JENNA, IS WHEN I

BECAME THE MINORITY LEADER MY

STAFF WENT FROM 7 TO 150 IN A

MATTER OF DAYS AND WITHIN TWO

WEEKS I REALIZED THAT I DIDN'T

KNOW HOW TO MANAGE 150 PEOPLE.

AND I WENT TO A FRIEND OF MINE

WHO RAN ONE OF THOSE STRATEGIC

PLANNING COMPANIES AND THEY HAD

A SESSION WITH ME TO ADVISE ME

ON HOW YOU MANAGE A STAFF

THAT'S, YOU KNOW, NOT JUST 10 OR

15 PEOPLE.

I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING

WHEN I WAS GOVERNOR, BUT I

FORGOT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED WHEN

I WAS MINORITY LEADER BECAUSE IT

WAS JUST CRISIS AFTER CRISIS.

WE HAD TO PASS THE STATE BUDGET.

13 DAYS AFTER I TAKE OFFICE.

AND WE DID.

WE HAD TO SETTLE THE ISSUE OF

CONGESTION PRICING BY APRIL 9th,

AND WE DID THAT.

AND IT WAS JUST ONE THING AFTER

THE OTHER.

AND I REALLY WISH I HAD STOPPED,

REGROUPED, REPOSITIONED THE

STAFF AND BROUGHT IN PEOPLE WHO

I THINK WOULD HAVE BETTER FIT

WHAT THE GOALS WERE THAT I

WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH.

>> AND WE'RE GOING TO GET INTO

SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT YOU WERE

AT LEAST ATTEMPTING TO WORK

WITH.

BUT AGAIN, I JUST WANT TO GO

BACK TO THE POINT THAT THIS BOOK

ALMOST -- IT GIVES THE READER

LIKE ME WHIPLASH.

I CAN'T IMAGINE WHAT IT WAS LIKE

TO ACTUALLY LIVE THROUGH ALL

THESE LIKE ISSUE AFTER ISSUE

AFTER CRISIS AFTER CRISIS.

BUT I DO WANT TO DRAW ON YOUR 20

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AS A STATE

SENATOR AND, AS YOU SAID, ALSO

THE MINORITY LEADER IN ALBANY

AND SAY THAT THAT GAVE YOU A

UNIQUE UNDERSTANDING OF HOW

ALBANY WORKS OR SOME MIGHT SAY

DOESN'T WORK.

SO I'M WONDERING WAS THERE

ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT

STOOD OUT TO YOU ONCE YOU BECAME

GOVERNOR THAT MADE YOU GO, WAIT,

WHAT?

>> OH, ABSOLUTELY.

WITHIN THREE DAYS OF THE TIME I

BECAME GOVERNOR THE BUDGET

DIRECTOR COMES IN TO TELL ME

THAT GOVERNOR SPITZER HAD A

BUDGET THAT WE WERE ABOUT TO

PASS THAT HAD A 5.3% INCREASE IN

SPENDING WHILE ALL OF THE

ECONOMIC CONDITIONS, THE HOUSING

MARKET WAS FALLING, THE STOCK

MARKET WAS NOT FALLING YET BUT

IT CERTAINLY WAS TURBULENT AND

OF COURSE EVENTUALLY LATER THAT

YEAR WE HAD THE BEGINNING OF THE

FISCAL CRISIS IN 2008.

APPARENTLY GOVERNOR SPITZER'S

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE

LEGISLATURE WAS SO POOR THAT HE

BASICALLY HAD TO GIVE THEM A

BUDGET THAT THEY COULD PASS

BECAUSE THEY HAD HAD ABOUT

ENOUGH OF HIM AT THAT POINT.

IN FACT, WHEN HE TRIED TO GET

THE TWO LEADERS OF THE

LEGISLATURE TO BLOCK AN

IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDING AGAINST

HIM THEY TOLD HIM YOU CAN HAVE A

WEEK.

AND THEY BASICALLY TOLD HIM YOU

DON'T HAVE A VOTE IN THE HOUSE.

SO I WAS REALLY SURPRISED TO

HEAR THIS BECAUSE THIS WAS NOT

KNOWN, THIS WAS JUST SOMETHING

THAT THE GOVERNOR WAS DOING.

THE LEADERS WEREN'T GOING TO

PUBLICIZE IT BECAUSE THEY WERE

GOING TO BENEFIT FROM THE

SPENDING THAT COULD OCCUR.

SO I WAS IMMEDIATELY PUT IN A

SITUATION WHERE I WAS REVERSING

WHAT THE GOVERNOR HAD PROMISED

THE LEADERS AND THE LEGISLATORS,

BUT THE REASON I WAS DOING IT IS

THAT WE HAD A BUDGET DEFICIT

WHICH STARTED OUT AT 5 BILLION

WHICH I ESTIMATED THE DAY I CAME

INTO OFFICE AT 10 BILLION, WOUND

UP BEING $21.3 BILLION, AND WE

HAD TO CLOSE THAT GAP OR THE

STATE WOULD GO INTO DEFAULT.

SO YEAH, THERE WERE SOME

SURPRISES.

>> WOW.

SO OF COURSE THERE IS NO GENUINE

STORY, I WOULD SAY, ABOUT ALBANY

UNLESS IT INVOLVES A GOOD FEUD

OR TWO.

AND SO WITH THAT I DO WANT TO

CIRCLE BACK TO THE POINT YOU

WERE MAKING A MOMENT AGO ABOUT

PEOPLE WHO YOU AT LEAST WERE

TRYING TO WORK WITH.

YOU HAD A REALLY CONTENTIOUS

RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR

GRAVICH.NT GOVERNOR, RICHARD -

>> WELL, IT WASN'T AS MUCH THAT

IT WAS CONTENTIOUS AS WE CLOSED

THE BUDGET, THE DEFICIT OF $21.3

BILLION IN 2009 AND 8, THEN WE

CLOSED ANOTHER DEFICIT OF 10.2

BILLION IN 2009.

NOW WE'RE COMING TO THE LAST

$10.2 BILLION BUDGET IN 2010 AND

WE ESTIMATE THERE'S GOING TO BE

8 TO 10 BILLION DOLLARS MORE OF

DEFICIT THAT THE NEW GOVERNOR

WHO WE WERE HOPING WOULD BE

ANDREW CUOMO COULD FINISH THAT

OFF IN 2011 AND THEN HE WOULD BE

ABLE TO MANAGE WITHOUT ANY MORE

OF A FISCAL CRISIS.

AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED.

BUT MEANWHILE, MR. RAVICH GOES

AND OFFERS THIS IDEA WHICH HE

CALLED THE RAVITCH PLAN OF $6

BILLION, WHICH IS HOW WE GOT IN

TROUBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

GOVERNOR PATAKI CAME IN WITH THE

STATE IN DEBT AT $24 BILLION AND

HE DROVE IT UP OVER $50 BILLION

BY BORROWING.

SO NOW RAVITCH WANTS TO PUT

ANOTHER $6 BILLION ON TOP OF

THAT AND THEN PAY IT BACK OVER A

PERIOD OF TIME WHEN WE DON'T

EVEN KNOW IF THE FINANCIAL

CRISIS IS GOING TO END ANYTIME

SOON.

AND HE GOT ANGRY AND WROTE ALL

THESE ARTICLES AFTER HE GOT OUT

OF OFFICE SAYING WE DIDN'T

LISTEN TO HIM.

WE DID LISTEN TO HIM BUT WE

DIDN'T AGREE WITH HIM.

BUT WHEN WE DIDN'T AGREE WITH

HIM HE FOR SOME REASON TOLD

ANOTHER STAFF MEMBER HE DIDN'T

WORK FOR ME, HE WORKED WITH ME.

SO HE DIDN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND HIS

ROLE IN THE BEGINNING -- IN THE

FIRST PLACE.

>> OKAY.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, PUTTING A PIN IN THAT

STORY, WHAT I ALSO THOUGHT WAS

REALLY INTERESTING WAS THAT IN

THE PROCESS OF YOU DEALING WITH

OR WORKING WITH LIEUTENANT

GOVERNOR RAVITCH AT THE TIME YOU

GOT SOME WARNINGS OR AT LEAST

SOME ADVICE FROM A PARTICULAR

NEW YORK CITY DEVELOPER WHO THE

REST OF THE COUNTRY HAS GOTTEN

TO KNOW VERY, VERY WELL.

>> A MAN NAMED DONALD TRUMP WAS

THE ONLY PERSON WHO OBJECTED TO

MY APPOINTING MR. RAVITCH.

I WASN'T LOOKING FOR A POLITICAL

FIGURE.

AND I KNEW THERE WOULD BE A

PRETTY STRONG COURT CASE TO TRY

TO BLOCK ME FROM APPOINTING A

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.

SO WHEN YOU GET A LETTER FROM

DONALD TRUMP, JENNA, REMEMBER

THIS AND ALL OF THE VIEWERS

SHOULD LISTEN.

WHEN YOU GET A LETTER FROM NOW

PRESIDENT TRUMP, YOU DON'T GET

IT IN YOUR MAILBOX.

HE READS IT ON TV.

THAT'S HOW YOU FIND OUT ABOUT

THE LETTER.

>> OH.

>> HE SAID GOVERNOR, YOU'VE BEEN

IN OFFICE FOR A YEAR AND A HALF,

YOU'VE BEEN DOING SUCH A GREAT

JOB, WHY WOULD YOU HIRE THIS

GUY?

HE'S NOT QUALIFIED, HE WAS

TERRIBLE WHEN HE WORKED WITH THE

MTA AND THIS WHOLE LITANY JUST

LIKE THE ONES HE SAYS NOW WHEN

HE DOESN'T LIKE PEOPLE.

BUT I HAD TO ASK THE LIEUTENANT

GOVERNOR TO COME IN AND EXPLAIN

THIS TO ME.

AND I SAID, IT'S NOT CHANGING

ANYTHING I'M GOING TO DO BUT I

JUST WANT TO KNOW.

AND HE INFORMED ME THAT WHEN THE

HOTEL AT 42nd STREET AND

LEXINGTON AVENUE, THE HYATT, WAS

BEING BUILT THAT IT ADJOINED ONE

OF THE TRUMP BUILDINGS AND

DONALD TRUMP CALLED RAVITCH AND

ASKED THAT THE MTA BUILD A SIDE

ENTRANCE FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES.

RAVITCH COMPLIED AND SAID HE

WOULD SEND HIM ALL THE

INFORMATION AND SEND HIM THE

BILL FOR THE CONSTRUCTION.

AND TRUMP SAID I DO SO MUCH FOR

THE CITY, YOU ALL SHOULD DO THIS

FOR ME FOR FREE.

WELL, THIS WOULD ACTUALLY BE A

CRIME TO DO THIS.

AND OBVIOUSLY RAVITCH WASN'T

GOING TO DO IT.

BUT 31 YEARS LATER WHEN RAVITCH

BECOMES LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MR.

TRUMP HASN'T FORGOTTEN IT AND HE

TELLS -- YOU KNOW, HE TELLS ME

THIS.

I IGNORE HIM.

BUT SIX MONTHS LATER RAVITCH IS

COMING OUT OF A BUILDING AND THE

MEDIA ASKS HIM WHAT DOES HE

THINK ABOUT MY BUDGET?

HE SAYS THE BUDGET'S PRETTY GOOD

BUT I DON'T THINK THE

LEGISLATURE WILL PASS IT.

SO NOW YOU HAVE HEADLINE,

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR CONTRADICTS

GOVERNOR AND IT'S ALL

CONTROVERSIAL.

I'M SITTING IN MY OFFICE SHAKING

MY HEAD.

AND I GET A CALL AND THEY SAID

DONALD TRUMP'S ON THE LINE.

I NEVER MADE THE CONNECTION,

JENNA.

>> OH, MY GOODNESS.

>> HE SAYS DAVID, THIS GUY'S A

SOMETHING HOLE AND HE'S AN

IDIOT, HE'S DISLOYAL AND

UNTRUSTWORTHY, I WARNLD YOU

ABOUT HIM, YOU SHOULD HAVE

LISTENED TO ME.

AND I SAID DONALD, TODAY I'M

HAVING A ROUGH DAY, I DON'T HAVE

THE STRENGTH TO ARGUE WITH YOU,

BUT THANKS SO MUCH FOR CALLING.

WE GOT OFF THE PHONE AND ABOUT

15 MINUTES LATER I HAD TWO DOORS

THAT OPEN UP INTO MY OFFICE AS

GOVERNOR.

THEY BOTH FLEW OPEN

SIMULTANEOUSLY AND ABOUT SIX

STAFF MEMBERS COME IN AND SAY

WHY DID YOU TELL DONALD TRUMP

AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS THAT

YOU WISH YOU DIDN'T TAKE RAVITCH

IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I SAID I NEVER SAID THAT.

SO OF COURSE I CALLED DONALD

BACK AND I SAID DONALD, YOU AND

I BOTH KNOW I DIDN'T SAY THAT.

AND HE SAYS TO ME, BUT IT'S THE

TRUTH.

IT'S THE TRUTH.

YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART YOU WISH

YOU DIDN'T TAKE THAT GUY.

LOOK ME IN THE EYE AND TELL ME

THAT YOU REALLY WANTED TO TAKE

THAT GUY NOW KNOWING WHO HE IS.

AND I SAID DONALD, I CAN'T LOOK

YOU IN THE EYE.

WE'RE ON THE TELEPHONE.

AND SECOND, I'M GOING TO EXTEND

YOU THE COURTESY YOU THAT NEVER

EXTENDED TO ME.

I'M ISSUING A PRESS STATEMENT

TELLING THE TRUTH, WHICH IS THAT

I NEVER SAID THAT.

AND HE SAYS, OH, COME ON, DAVID,

YOU DON'T WANT TO TAKE ME ON ON

AN ISSUE LIKE THIS.

YOU'RE LOOKING GREAT OUT HERE.

PEOPLE HATE THIS GUY.

IT WAS VINTAGE TRUMP THAT WE'VE

WATCHED AS PRESIDENT FOR THE

LAST FOUR YEARS, BUT I GOT A

GLIMPSE OF IT 12 YEARS BEFORE.

>> WELL, UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE

GOING TO LEAVE IT THERE.

ALL I CAN SAY, GOVERNOR

PATTERSON, IS YOUR BOOK IS

FILLED WITH STORIES LIKE THIS

THAT SEEM LIKE THEY WOULD BE PRO

FORMA ON THE SURFACE BUT JUST

WOW.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO SAY

BUT WOW.

SO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING

US.

AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, THANK YOU

FOR THIS BOOK.

I THINK IT MAKES A LOT OF

POLITICAL FIGURES FEEL MORE

HUMAN.

>> JENNA, I TRIED TO WRITE IT

THAT WAY.

PEOPLE WRITE 500 PAGES ABOUT HOW

GREAT THEY WERE.

I TRIED TO ADDRESS MY OWN

MISTAKES AND AT TIMES

UNFORTUNATELY THE MISTAKES OF

OTHERS.

>> WELL, AGAIN, THANK YOU FOR

THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT IS REALLY

GREAT.

SO THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> AND THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>>> IS DONALD TRUMP THE MOST

LITIGIOUS PRESIDENT IN U.S.

HISTORY?

WELL, A NEW BOOK SUGGESTS THAT

NOT ONLY IS THE ANSWER A

RESOUNDING YES BUT THAT OVER HIS

LIFETIME DONALD TRUMP HAS

LEARNED TO WEAPONIZE THE LEGAL

SYSTEM TO HIS ADVANTAGE AND HAS

EVEN CARRIED THE PRACTICE INTO

THE OVAL OFFICE.

PLAINTIFF IN CHIEF, A PORTRAIT

OF DONALD TRUMP AND 3500

LAWSUITS, OFFERS A COMPREHENSIVE

ANALYSIS OF THE PRESIDENT'S

LEGAL CHALLENGES OVER THE YEARS

BEGINNING WITH A RACIAL

DISCRIMINATION SUIT EARLY IN HIS

NEW YORK REAL ESTATE CAREER.

IT'S WRITTEN BY JIM ZIRON A

FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY

FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW

YORK AND SELF-DESCRIBED

REPUBLICAN WHO MAKES THE CASE

THAT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

ABOUT DONALD TRUMP YOU CAN LEARN

FROM THE WAY HE'S USED, SOME

WOULD SAY ABUSED THE LEGAL

SYSTEM FOR WELL OVER TLEEL

DECADES.

SO HERE TO DISCUSS THE PLAINTIFF

IN CHIEF AND THE PRESIDENT'S

TEMPERAMENT AND PRESIDENTIAL

PHILOSOPHY IS ATTORNEY, AUTHOR

AND TALK SHOW HOST JIM ZIRON.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

>> NICE TO BE HERE, JACK.

NICE TO BE HERE WITH YOU.

>> LET'S START WITH THE BIG

PICTURE.

YOU SAY IN THIS LITIGATION IS

THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING DONALD

TRUMP.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

>> WELL, WE INHERITED THE

ADVERSARY SYSTEM FROM THE

ENGLISH.

AND IT WAS THOUGHT THAT THE

ADVERSARY SYSTEM IS THE BEST WAY

TO ARRIVE AT THE TRUTH BECAUSE

THE COMPETING SIDES WOULD

TELL -- PUT FORWARD THEIR BEST

ARGUMENTS AND TELL THEIR SIDE OF

THE STORY.

TRUMP SAW THE LEGAL SYSTEM IN A

DIFFERENT KIND OF WAY.

HE SAW IT AS A WEAPON TO DESTROY

THE ADVERSARY.

NOT NECESSARILY TO GET AT THE

TRUTH.

PERHAPS EVEN TO GET AT A LIE.

BUT THE LEGAL SYSTEM COULD BE A

VERY POTENT WEAPON IN HIS

BUSINESS ARSENAL LATER IN HIS

PUBLIC ARSENAL.

>> SO YOU'VE WRITTEN BEFORE ON

COURTS, COURT SYSTEMS.

BUT WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS STORY

AND MADE YOU DECIDE THIS IS A

BOOK I WANT TO DO NOW?

>> I STARTED WITH AN ABIDING

INTEREST IN ROY COHN.

THE SUBJECTIVE A MOVIE THAT'S

OUT IN WHICH I'M ONE OF THE

TALKING HEADS CALLED "WHERE'S MY

ROY COHN?"

AND COHN MET TRUMP IN 1973.

I KNEW OF COHN FROM MY DAYS IN

THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE.

TRUMP MET COHN IN A BAR.

HE'D BEEN SUED BY THE DEPARTMENT

OF JUSTICE AND THE NIXON

ADMINISTRATION FOR VIOLATION OF

THE FAIR HOUSING ACT BECAUSE HE

DISCRIMINATED IN HOUSING.

THE CASE AGAINST HIM WAS

OVERWHELMING.

HE WENT TO A NUMBER OF REPUTABLE

LAWYERS WHO SAID YOUR BEST

COURSE IS TO SETTLE THE CASE

WITH THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND

AGREE NOT TO DISCRIMINATE

ANYMORE.

COHN SAID YOU'VE BEEN

MISADVISED, NOTHING DOING.

FIGHT, ATTACK, COUNTERATTACK,

AND WE'LL BEAT THEM INTO THE

GROUND.

TRUMP LIKED THAT ADVICE.

AND SO HE RETAINED COHN AS HIS

LAWYER.

AND THE FIRST THING THEY DID WAS

THEY COUNTERCLAIMED AGAINST THE

GOVERNMENT FOR $100 MILLION.

THE SECOND THING THEY DID WAS

THEY LAUNCHED AN ATTACK AGAINST

THE GOVERNMENT ATTORNEYS.

AND THEY SAID THAT THE GOVERNOR

ATTORNEYS WERE ENGAGING IN STORM

TROOPER-LIKE TACTICS,

GESTAPO-LIKE TACTICS IN THE WAY

THEY APPROACHED WITNESSES AND

EMPLOYEES OF THE TRUMP

ORGANIZATION.

THE JUDGE VERY QUICKLY DISMISSED

THIS COUNTERCLAIM FOR $100

MILLION AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT

AND HELD A HEARING AND FOUND

THAT THE LAWYERS WERE GUILTY OF

NO MISCONDUCT WHATSOEVER.

THAT'S ALL THAT HAPPENED IN THE

CASE.

AND AT THE END OF THE DAY TRUMP

SETTLED THE CASE WITH THE

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, AGREED NOT

TO DISCRIMINATE ANYMORE, AND GOT

THE SAME RESULT HE WOULD HAVE

GOTTEN AS HAD BEEN SUGGESTED IN

THE FIRST PLACE.

>> SO THIS GOT YOU INTERESTED IN

IT.

NOW, WE TALK ABOUT -- AND IT'S

A -- IT LOOKS LIKE A MILEAGE

METER IN A CAR WHERE THE NUMBERS

ARE ROLLING OVER.

>> AN ODOMETER.

>> ODOMETER.

YOU WENT TO PRINCETON, I WENT TO

YALE.

IT CAME TO YOU QUICKLY.

IT DIDN'T COME TO ME.

>> MAYBE AT YALE THEY ADJUSTED

THE ODOMETER.

>> BUT SOME 3,500 LAWSUITS.

NOW, PEOPLE MIGHT LOOK AT THAT

AND SAY OKAY, IS THAT SORT OF

APOCRYPHAL OR ARE WE REALLY

TALKING ABOUT THAT MANY

LAWSUITS?

WHAT'S THE ANSWER TO THAT?

>> OF COURSE I DIDN'T COUNT THEM

MYSELF.

BUT "USA TODAY" USED THE 3,500

FIGURE AND IT WAS CORROBORATED

BY THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION,

WHICH USED A 4,000 FIGURE.

IT'S PARTLY THOUGHT THAT TRUMP

HAD MORE LAWSUITS THAN THE TOP

THREE REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS IN

THE UNITED STATES COMBINED.

SO I THOUGHT 3,500 WAS PROBABLY

A SAFER FIGURE THAN 4,000.

I WENT WITH 3,500.

I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN THE

TYPES OF LITIGATION.

>> TALK ABOUT THAT.

WHAT SORT OF TYPE?

BECAUSE AGAIN, THE BOOK, IT'S A

COMPELLING READ.

YOU DON'T TRY TO CATALOG EACH

AND EVERY CASE, OBVIOUSLY.

BUT YOU DO TALK ABOUT DIFFERENT

CATEGORIES.

SO WHAT SORT OF CATEGORIES DID

YOU FIND THAT WERE MOST

INTERESTING TO YOU?

>> WELL, OF COURSE, TRUMP

BROUGHT SLIGHTLY MORE SUITS THAN

CASES WHERE HE WAS ON THE

RECEIVING END ALTHOUGH HE WAS ON

THE RECEIVING END OF A LOT OF

DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUITS.

HE HAD SUITS WITH ALL OF HIS

PARTNERS.

HE WOULD SUE THEM UNDER RICO.

HE WOULD SUE THEM FOR A BILLION

DOLLARS.

HE WOULD TRY TO GET MONEY FROM

THEM.

>> THESE ARE HIS PARTNERS.

>> THESE ARE HIS PARTNERS.

YOU HAD THE PRITZKERS.

YOU HAD CANSECO WHO WAS HIS

PARTNER ON THE GM BUILDING IN

NEW YORK.

YOU HAD HIS CHINESE PARTNERS ON

THE WEST YARDS.

ONE OF HIS HONG KONG PARTNERS

SAID YOU'VE GOT TO UNDERSTAND

DONALD TRUMP, HE LIKES

LITIGATION FOR LUNCH.

ALL THESE CASES WERE DISMISSED

UNFAVORABLY TO TRUMP.

THOSE ARE THE SUITS WITH

PARTNERS.

HE WAS SUED BY THE GOVERNMENT

FOR MONEY QULARNGD IN ATLANTIC

CITY.

HE WAS SUED BY TAXING

AUTHORITIES.

HE WAS SUED BY THE COUNTY OF

PALM BEACH FOR AN 80-FOOT-HIGH

FLAGPOLE IN FRONT OF THE HIS

ESTATE AT MAR-A-LAGO.

THERE WERE SILLY SUITS.

THERE WERE SPITE SUITS.

HE SUED A CRITIC FOR THE

"CHICAGO TRIBUNE" WHO SAID ONE

OF HIS PROJECTS WOULD BE AN

EYESORE ON THE SKYLINE.

THAT CASE WAS DISMISSED.

THE ONE THAT I ALWAYS ENJOY

RECOUNTING IS THAT TRUMP

APPARENTLY GOT WIND OF THE FACT

THAT IN BALDWIN LONG ISLAND

THERE WERE TWO PEOPLE, A FATHER

AND A DAUGHTER, WHO OWNED A

TRAVEL AGENCY CALLED TRUMP

TRAVEL AND TOURS.

NOW, IT WAS CALLED TRUMP TRAVEL

AND TOURS BECAUSE THEY BOOKED

BRIDGE TOURS FOR PEOPLE AND ALSO

BECAUSE TRUMP'S LIKE ACE

HARDWARE, IT SIGNIFIED

EXCELLENCE.

TRUMP HAD NEVER BEEN IN THE

TRAVEL BUSINESS.

HE'D NEVER BEEN IN BUSINESS IN

BALDWIN, LONG ISLAND.

HE'D NEVER BEEN IN BUSINESS ON

LONG ISLAND.

BUT HE GOT WIND OF THIS AND HE

SUED THEM FOR USING THE TRUMP

NAME.

AND THEY EXHAUSTED THEIR LIFE

SAVINGS DEFENDING THE SUIT.

THE DAUGHTER SAID, YOU KNOW, WHY

WOULD I WANT TO USE THE NAME

TRUMP ANYWAY, HE'S A MISOGYNIST

AND A RACIST?

AND I DON'T KNOW THAT IT HELPS

OUR BUSINESS.

BUT THEY STUCK TO THEIR GUNS.

AT THE END OF THE DAY THERE WAS

A SETTLEMENT WHERE THEY AGREED

TO REDUCE THE SIZE OF THE SIGN

TRUMP TRAVEL.

AND THAT WAS THE DISPOSITION.

>> I WOULD SUSPECT THAT EITHER

PRESIDENT TRUMP HIMSELF OR HIS

ALLIES AND SUPPORTERS WOULD TAKE

A LOOK AT THE BOOK AND SAY, YOU

KNOW WHAT, THIS IS JUST ANOTHER

ILLUSTRATION OF HIM UTILIZING

THE LAWS IN A WAY THAT MAYBE WAS

MORE CREATIVE THAN OTHER PEOPLE,

HE SAW AN AREA WHERE HE COULD

GAIN AN ADVANTAGE BY USING THE

LAWS.

WE'VE HEARD THE PRESIDENT

HIMSELF WHEN HE WAS ASKED ABOUT

HIS -- THE VARIETY OF

BANKRUPTCIES INVOLVING HIS

COMPANIES AND HE SAID I USED THE

LAWS THAT EXISTED THERE.

I DIDN'T MAKE THIS UP, THE LAWS

WERE THERE.

SO I SUSPECT HIS SUPPORTERS

WOULD LOOK AT THIS AND SAY LOOK,

THIS IS JUST A MATTER OF HIM

MAYBE MORE SO THAN ANYBODY ELSE

BUT USING THE LAWS TO HIS

PERSONAL ADVANTAGE.

WHAT WOULD YOUR ANSWER BE TO

THAT?

>> OF COURSE HE LOST MOST OF THE

CASES.

SO THE LAW WAS NOT ON HIS SIDE

AND HE WAS NOT CLAIMING THE

BENEFIT OF THE LAW.

HE WAS REALLY RELYING ON THE

AMERICAN SYSTEM OF JUSTICE WHERE

EACH SIDE BEARS HIS OR HER OWN

LEGAL FEES.

UNDER THE ENGLISH SYSTEM --

>> AS OPPOSED TO THE BRITISH

SYSTEM WHERE LOSER PAYS.

>> LOSER PAYS.

SO SOMEONE WOULD -- LIKE THE

COUPLE IN BALDWIN, LONG ISLAND

WERE BANKRUPTED DEFENDING THIS

CASE THAT DONALD TRUMP BROUGHT.

NOW, WHY DID HE BRING THE CASE?

DID HE BRING THE CASE BECAUSE

THESE PEOPLE WERE COSTING HIM

MONEY?

BECAUSE HE WAS LEGITIMATELY

AGGRIEVED?

NO.

HE BROUGHT THE CASE OUT OF PIQUE

AND SPITE.

AND THAT'S A MISUSE OF THE LEGAL

SYSTEM.

>> LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

THERE'S SO MUCH IN THIS BOOK

THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED

IN THIS SHOULD READ AND THEY'LL

FIND IT COMPELLING, WHETHER THEY

AGREE OR NOT.

BUT LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

AND TAKING IT INTO TODAY.

AND WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE

IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY.

YOU TALK ABOUT HOW ROY COHN'S

LASTING MESSAGE TO DONALD TRUMP

IS YOU NEVER APOLOGIZE, YOU

DON'T SURRENDER, YOU DON'T

SETTLE, YOU ALWAYS ATTACK.

ARE YOU SEEING EVIDENCE OF THAT

ADVICE FROM ROY COHN PLAYING OUT

TODAY IN TERMS OF THE PRESIDENT

AND HIS ALLIES IN THE

IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY?

>> THE ANSWER OF COURSE IS YES.

THE OTHER CANON OF ROY COHN WAS

NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS ALWAYS

CLAIM VICTORY AND GO HOME.

SO WHEN TRUMP HAS A CONVERSATION

WITH THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE IN

WHICH HE'S CLEARLY EXTORTING HIM

AND PRESSURING HIM TO

INVESTIGATE JOE BIDEN AND

THREATENING TO WITHHOLD AID AS A

QUID PRO QUO NECKLACE DOES, AND

THIS HAS BEEN CORROBORATED BY AT

LEAST SIX PEOPLE IN A POSITION

TO KNOW, ONE OF WHOM RECENTLY

CHANGED HIS TESTIMONY, BUT TRUMP

ENGAGES AND HAS HISTORICALLY

ENGAGED IN ASYMMETRICAL WARFARE

WHERE YOU DON'T REALLY MEET THE

CHARGE THAT'S MADE AGAINST YOU

BUT YOU ATTACK THE ACCUSER.

AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE'S

DONE IN THE UKRAINE

INVESTIGATION.

HE HAS ATTACKED THE

WHISTLE-BLOWER BECAUSE HE DIDN'T

HAVE FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE.

WHISTLE-BLOWERS SOMETIMES DON'T

HAVE FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE.

AND THAT'S -- SECONDLY, THE

WHISTLE-BLOWER WAS CORROBORATED.

AND THIRDLY, THERE'S NO ISSUE

WHATSOEVER ABOUT WHAT THE

WHISTLE-BLOWER SAID BUT STILL HE

WANTS THE WHISTLE-BLOWER'S

IDENTITY TO BE REVEALED.

HE WANTS TO TORTURE THE

WHISTLE-BLOWER WHO COMMITTED

TREASON.

HE'S OUT TO FIND SPIES.

ROY COHN WAS OUT TO FIND SPIES.

ROY COHN WAS ONE OF THE

PROSECUTORS OF THE ROSENBERGS.

WHEN TRUMP SAYS THAT ADAM

SCHIFF -- INTIMATES THAT ADAM

SCHIFF SHOULD BE EXECUTED FOR

TREASON, THIS IS RIGHT OUT OF

THE ROY COHN PLAYBOOK.

AND WE SEE THIS RESONATING AGAIN

AND AGAIN IN TRUMP'S BEHAVIOR.

>> I GUESS THIS IS REALLY THE

LAST QUESTION I SHOULD ASK YOU.

WHICH IS GIVEN WHAT YOU SAY IN

THE BOOK AND WHAT YOU'VE SAID,

ARE YOU AT ALL WORRIED THAT YOU

COULD BECOME LAWSUIT NUMBER

3,501?

>> I'M FREQUENTLY ASKED THAT

QUESTION.

AND I HOPE I AM BECAUSE IT WILL

DO WONDERS FOR THE SALE OF THE

BOOK.

MICHAEL WOLFF'S BOOK "FIRE AND

FURY" PROBABLY WOULD HAVE SOLD

ABOUT 3,000 COPIES.

IT SOLD A MILLION AFTER TRUMP

THREATENED TO SUE HIM.

>> IT'LL BE INTERESTING.

JIM, IT'S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO

TALK TO YOU.

THANKS FOR SPENDING SO MUCH TIME

WITH US.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

>> YOU BE WELL.

>> A PLEASURE.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND

DENISE SCHWARTZ,

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,

AND BY

JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER,

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD,

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON,

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.