A new biography released Tuesday of Republican nominee Donald Trump sketches a portrait of a man of many talents and failings. He's the supremely confident entrepreneur who defied naysayers and built skyscrapers that now make up the Manhattan skyline. He's the self-aggrandizing salesman who over-promised success for his Atlantic City casinos and for the ill-fated United States Football League. And through it all, he's resisted every call for him to change. In the book's 347 well-reported pages, it becomes evident that Trump the 70-year-old presidential candidate is not that different from Trump the adolescent sent to military school.
Anyone who waited for Trump to pivot to be more "presidential" for the general election, the Washington Post's Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher write in a prophetic final line of their prologue, misunderstood the man. "He was the front-runner," for the nomination they say, "and for his next act, some people told him he should be presidential, and yet he knew he would be what he'd always been." Here are some of the best nuggets from the new book that shows when it comes to Trump, past is prologue.
Trump gave his teacher a black eye in second grade:
"As a second-grader, as Trump has described it, he punched his music teacher, giving him a 'black eye' because 'I didn't think he knew anything about music, and I almost got expelled.'"
While lying in a bed in hospice before his death in 2015, the teacher—Charles Walker—heard reports of a possible Trump presidential bid. According to the book, he had not forgotten the young Donald: "'When that kid was ten,' Walker told family members, 'even then he was a little shit.'"
The artificial tan is nothing new:
At military school, Trump "sometimes, would screw an ultraviolet lightbulb into the overhead socket and announce to his roommate that it was time to tan."
Trump was litigious as a neighborhood kid:
"When a neighbor's ball accidentally bounced into the Trump's spacious backyard, young Donald growled, 'I'm going to tell my dad; I'm going to call the police.'"
Trump often proudly touts himself as a good counterpuncher. That began early:
An argument with a high school classmate escalated until the fellow student threw a shoe at Trump and hit him with a broomstick. Trump responded by trying to push the student out a second-floor window until two other classmates intervened.
Trump's boasts go way back to college:
"Trump bragged of being a top student among his 333 Wharton classmates, even claiming to have been first in the class [in 1976 to The New York Times]. But Trump is not included on the honor roll printed in the Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper."
He has always seen conspiracy when things didn't go his way:
At the military academy, Trump "grew angry when a study partner scored higher on a chemistry test, even questioning whether he had cheated."
Trump doesn't like to be scripted:
"Trump made clear from the start [of The Apprentice] that he intended to just wing it. He didn't like the idea of memorizing lines. He would read the outline for the episode ahead of time, but once the camera was rolling he would improvise his part."
His deal-making extends to his marriages:
"The consummate negotiator, [Trump] has his wives sign confidentiality agreements."
The "low energy" political attack is nothing new:
One of Trump's favorite insults was calling someone a "Type C personality," a forbearer of the "low energy" moniker he attached to Jeb Bush.
He's been talking about immigrants for a long time, too:
Trump spent the first two years of college at Fordham University before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania. Brian Fitzgibbon, a fellow student from Donald's neighborhood in Queens, commuted with him to school and said Trump sometimes complained "that there were too many Italian and Irish students at Fordham."
Trump's grandfather Friedrich Trump emigrated from Germany illegally:
"But Friedrich's departure ran afoul of German law. A three-year stint of military service was mandatory, and to emigrate, boys of conscription age had to get permission. The young barber didn't do so, resulting in a questionable status that would undermine any future prospect of return: Friedrich Trump was an illegal emigrant."
Trump told the Post's reporters that Pope Francis is a hypocrite:
In May, the Post's reporters asked Trump about Pope Francis's comments months earlier that "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not a Christian." Echoing a previous tweet from his social media director, Trump told the Post that "I immediately thought of the Vatican, with the massive walls, and I said, 'Well, wait a minute, he's got the bigger walls, he's got walls like you couldn't even dream of.'"
Melania may not be excited about four years in the White House:
Trump told the Post's reporters this story from the campaign trail: "And my wife gets in [the car], and I get in, and she looks at me, and we're in this car with windows that are this thick, with steel walls...And she says to me, 'Are you sure this is what you want for the rest of your life?'" Trump said he was sure.
Trump doesn't have many close friends:
The Post asked Trump about his friendships, and he said "I have people that I haven't spoken to in years, but I think they're friends." He only gave the reporters three names but he put them all off the record. He continued: "I mean, I think I have a lot of friends, but they're not friends like perhaps other people have friends, where they're together all the time and they go out to dinner all the time."