Tony Schwartz was the ghostwriter for Donald Trump's 1987 book The Art of the Deal, and now he's speaking out critically about the Republican presidential candidate in a tell-all interview with The New Yorker. The former writer currently owns a consulting firm and says he feels deeply remorseful for any of the assistance he provided Trump in garnering more success.
"I put lipstick on a pig," Schwartz told The New Yorker, as he spoke about his experience shadowing Trump as research for the book. "I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is."
"I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization," continued Schwartz.
Schwartz earned half of the book's $500,000 advance and half of the royalties, which are several million dollars. This year, he is pledging all of his Art of the Deal royalties to very specific charities: the National Immigration Law Center, Human Rights Watch, the Center for the Victims of Torture, the National Immigration Forum and the Tahirih Justice Center. While he doesn't feel he's absolving himself, he says he likes that he's using the money to "donate to the people whose rights Trump seeks to abridge."
Here's a look at Schwartz's insights about Trump he developed during the eighteen months he spent shadowing him:
1. Trump loves publicity.
He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn't care what you wrote. Trump only takes two positions. Either you're a scummy loser, liar, whatever, or you're the greatest. I became the greatest. He wanted to be seen as a tough guy, and he loved being on the cover [of a critical New York magazine piece Schwartz wrote in 1985]."
2. Trump has trouble paying attention.
"He has no attention span," said Schwartz. He added, "It's impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes."
"If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it's impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time." In Schwartz' opinion, Trump's lack of attention span leads to Trump having "a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance."
3. Trump is likely not a big reader.
"I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life." Schwartz said he did not see a book in Trump's office or apartment in the 18 months he spent observing him.
4. Trump is comfortable with lying.
"Lying is second nature to him. More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true."
5. Trump isn't going to change.
"There is no private Trump," said Schwartz, directing the comment at people who might think the Republican nominee is just being hyperbolic. Schwartz shared excerpts from the journal he kept while writing the book in 1986:
"All he is is 'stomp, stomp, stomp'—recognition from outside, bigger, more, a whole series of things that go nowhere in particular," wrote Schwartz, later adding, "the book will be far more successful if Trump is a sympathetic character—even weirdly sympathetic—than if he is just hateful or, worse yet, a one-dimensional blowhard."
"Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money," another entry reads.
6. Trump is thin-skinned.
Schwartz said when the "thin veneer of Trump's vanity is challenged" he overreacts.
Schwartz also described what happened when The New Yorker editor called Trump for a comment about Schwartz criticizing him in the upcoming article. Trump called Schwartz and reportedly said, "I hear you're not voting for me. I just talked to The New Yorker—which, by the way, is a failing magazine that no one reads—and I heard you were critical of me." Trump said Schwartz should be grateful that he was so generous with him and said he should have "remained silent." He added, "I just want to tell you that I think you're very disloyal."
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