January 20th, 2019


Donald Trump: The King of the 'No Comment'

Callum Borchers

By Callum Borchers

Published March 2, 2016

Donald Trump grants interviews all the time. You see him frequently on TV - or, at least, hear him calling in by phone - to answer questions about his latest controversial remark, slam his opponents or remind his supporters that he will "make America great again."

But there's one area where he often clams up. You seldom see an on-the-record response from the Republican presidential front-runner - or even a spokesperson - in news reports and fact-checking articles that examine his record in business and public life or his campaign operations. When topics of real substance and strategy come up, Trump often goes silent.

For a candidate so keen on suing media companies for libel, he shows remarkably little interest in telling his side of the story before a report is actually published. It's highly unusual, but like so much else in his convention-defying campaign, what seems reckless is probably carefully thought-out. His calculus, it seems, is that he stands to gain more by waiting to bash a "hit piece" after the fact than he does by sharing his perspective in the first place.

Below, I've compiled a brief accounting of notable stories on important topics in which Trump's campaign offered no comment. There are many, many more, of course, but these offer some insight into the wide range of subjects that Trump would rather avoid, including failed ventures, taxes, his true wealth, foreign workers and his own birth certificate -- at least until he slams the media for reporting on them at an ensuing campaign rally.

"Trump Mortgage failed. Here's what that says about the GOP front-runner." (Washington Post, Feb. 29)

Key passage: Within 18 months, as the experts' worst fears began to pan out and home prices began to dip, Trump Mortgage closed, leaving some bills unpaid and a spotty sales record that fell short of Trump's lofty predictions. Trump distanced himself from the firm's demise, saying at the time that he had not been involved in the company's management and that its executives had performed poorly.

Trump's non-response: Trump and officials from his campaign and business organization declined to comment.

"Clinton and Trump should've reported some gifts to their charities as personal income, tax experts say" (Huffington Post, Feb. 29)

Key passage: Donations that are part of a quid pro quo, in which Trump or Clinton did something in return for the gift, are considered payment for services rendered and part of their income, according to the IRS rules. Such donations to a foundation must be reported as part of the candidates' taxable income.

` Trump's non-response: A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign declined to comment.

"Veterans' wait after Trump fundraiser shows hurdles for campaign" (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 11)

Key passage: GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump's spontaneous approach is running roughshod over political convention, and an impromptu fundraiser event he held for veterans last month illustrates the logistical hurdles such a campaign faces. A Trump website set up a day before the rally to receive donations said as of Thursday nearly $1.7 million was raised online, which Mr. Trump said reached $6 million in total with other donations, but the campaign didn't disclose how much was raised that night.

Trump's non-response: The campaign declined to comment in response to detailed questions.

"Trump is playing catch-up in the data-driven ground game, but does it even matter?" (Fast Company, Jan. 28)

Key passage: The Trump campaign has been secretive about the extent of its get-out-the-vote operation in those two key states, but insiders believe that it's far from the high-tech enterprises of the Cruz, Bush, and Rubio campaigns and that they're playing catch-up.

Trump's non-response: True to form, the Trump campaign declined to comment or provide information on its high-tech campaigning apparatus to Fast Company.

"Donald Trump's 'Saturday Night Live' protests grow" (Time, Oct. 27)

Key passage: Outside of government and official organizations, a grassroots movement also took hold to oust Trump from the hosting spot. A petition telling "Saturday Night Live" to "dump Donald Trump" had received 141,795 signatures as of this writing, and one on had received 227,763. A social media campaign, #RacismIsntFunny, began trending as people took to Twitter to speak out against Trump hosting the show.

Trump's non-response: NBC and the Trump campaign both declined to comment.

"Donald Trump has mastered the art of the tax break" (National Review, Aug. 19)

Key passage: Donald Trump received a $163.775 million tax break on Trump Tower, his upscale midtown Manhattan building. The 68-story structure is home to several eponymous eating establishments, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, and Nike's flagship store - as well as a Gucci shop Trump boasted last month was "worth more money than Romney."

Trump's non-response: By deadline, the Trump campaign had not responded to National Review's emailed questions about the tax abatement. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to comment by phone.

"Donald Trump's companies have sought visas to import at least 1,100 workers" (Reuters, Aug. 6)

Key passage: Donald Trump is staking his run for U.S. president in part on a vow to protect American jobs. But this month, one of his companies, the elite Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Florida, applied to import 70 foreign workers to serve as cooks, wait staff and cleaners. A Reuters analysis of U.S. government data reveals that this is business as usual in the New York property magnate's empire. Trump owns companies that have sought to import at least 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas since 2000, according to U.S. Department of Labor data reviewed by Reuters.

Trump's non-response: Trump's presidential campaign and a lawyer for the businessman declined to comment. The Mar-a-Lago Club could not be reached for comment.

"Here's our tally of Donald Trump's wealth" (Bloomberg, July 28)

Key passage: The latest math on Donald Trump: $2.9 billion. An analysis by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, based in part on a 92-page personal financial disclosure form made public last week, revealed a portfolio dominated by skyscrapers and golf courses. The celebrity presidential candidate says he's worth more than $10 billion.

Trump's non-response: Hope Hicks, a Trump spokeswoman, declined to comment.

"Donald Trump wrongly says the number of illegal immigrants is 30 million or higher" (PolitiFact, July 28)

Key passage: Trump said the number of illegal immigrants in the United States is "30 million, it could be 34 million." The Department of Homeland Security says the number of illegal immigrants was about 11.4 million as of January 2012. Other independent groups that research illegal immigration put the number between 11 and 12 million. We found no compelling evidence that the number could as high as Trump said.

Trump's non-response: So how did Trump come up with his inflated figure? We aren't certain, since a campaign spokeswoman declined to comment.

"Donald Trump refuses to release birth certificate and passport records" (Guardian, June 26)

Key passage: Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has refused to release his long-form birth certificate and passport records, despite demanding the same from Barack Obama during the 2012 election. The Guardian contacted the Trump campaign to request the birth certificate and passport records of "The Apprentice" host, but a spokeswoman refused to share the documents.

Trump's non-response: Yet when Trump's representatives were contacted and asked to release the same documents, the campaign refused to send them, despite the Guardian providing both a fax number and a full postal address. The campaign declined to comment further.


02/29/16: Why this new media narrative could actually, for once, hurt Donald Trump
02/26/16: Why haven't Trump's tax returns, Clinton's speech gotten the Romney treatment?
02/08/16: In media coverage of Chelsea Clinton, the kid gloves are still on

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