In an op-ed published Wednesday in the New York Daily News, a longtime Trump Organization executive told an anecdote that she alleged occurred while the president was overseeing the design of Trump Tower in the early 1980s: Donald Trump, she wrote, had demanded an architect remove Braille from the elevator buttons.
“No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower,” he shouted at the architect, who had just protested that to remove it would be illegal, according to the executive. “Just do it.”
Barbara Res, who was formerly the vice president in charge of construction, told the story because she said it illustrated how Trump was always making demands he knew would not be carried out as a kind of power play. “[D]id he think the architect would remove the Braille from the panels?” she wrote. “Never.”
Res wrote the op-ed after Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, has provoked delight but anxiety among Trump’s critics due to its portrayal of the Trump presidency as one of chaos, in which staffers aware of the president’s deficiencies work to mitigate the harm he does. Similarly, a recent New York Times op-ed sent the president into a frenzy when an anonymous senior administration official promised he and other senior officials were working “from within” to thwart “his worst inclinations.”
To Res, the allegations in the book and the sentiments in the op-ed weren’t surprising. “To an extent, Trump has always relied on people not to follow his most ridiculous orders,” she wrote. “Ordering an underling to do something that was impossible gave Trump the opportunity to castigate a subordinate and also blame him for anything that ‘went wrong’ in connection with the unperformed order later. A Trump-style win-win.”
She herself had repeated some of his lies, she said, though she defended herself by arguing lies related to real estate are much more harmless than those originating from the office of the president of the United States:
I wrote in the Trump Tower offering plan that the marble in the bathrooms was luxurious when I knew it was really made with pieces of marble and crushed marble along with glue called an aggregate.
[But the staffers] are not saying something silly like Princess Diana is buying an apartment in Trump Tower; they are misleading and deceiving the American public on matters of great importance…. And they are not directed at carpenters and painters or fan magazines. Now they’re about alienating allies, cozying up to dictators and employing dangerous nonsensical economic tactics.