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Will Trump The Politician Become A Dealmaker?


People who've closely observed Donald Trump as a businessman describe him as a skilled salesman who loves to make a big pitch. That paid off for Trump in 2016, but it hasn't always in his business career. His ability to adjust and compromise could give some insight into how he may govern, as NPR's Sarah McCammon reports.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Barbara Res worked for Trump for close to two decades, including on a multibillion-dollar development on the West Side of Manhattan. Res says Trump wanted to reroute a major traffic artery to make the development more appealing to prospective customers.

BARBARA RES: Now, everybody knew that that would never happen, but they sold it on the basis of brand. And so all these beautiful pictures that they had showed this wonderful project along side of the Hudson River with the West Side highway disappearing underneath it.

MCCAMMON: Res says Trump eventually accepted the fact that the highway wasn't going to be moved. He later was forced to give up control of the project because of financial troubles. Res, an attorney and engineer who supported Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, says she believes Trump always knew the highway would never be moved.

RES: Absolutely. Absolutely.

MCCAMMON: It was just a sales pitch?

RES: Yeah. And I think that he knew that he'd never build a wall and that was a sales pitch. And I think he knew he would never prosecute Hillary because there's not - she didn't do anything that's, you know, that she could be prosecuted for.

MCCAMMON: Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not respond to that claim, but, in an email, described Res as a disgruntled former employee. Trump surrogate, Omarosa Manigault, worked with him on "The Apprentice" and on Trump's reality dating show, "The Ultimate Merger." Manigault says Trump is willing to adjust his plans, a skill that will be essential in Washington.

OMAROSA MANIGAULT: We all know that when you come into a government entity like this that you will have to make some adjustments, that you will have to find some compromise. And so he has his top 10, top 20 things, and if he is able to get those top 20 things done in four years, you know, God bless him.

MCCAMMON: Writer Michael D'Antonio suggests that Trump has outlined his agenda in a way that will facilitate compromise down the road.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO: It's Donald's style to say things in a way that allows for reinterpretations, ad infinitum.

MCCAMMON: D'Antonio spent several hours interviewing Trump and his family for his 2015 book, "The Truth About Trump." He says Trump's America First slogan, for example, could mean pulling back from world affairs and emphasizing security at home, or it could mean a more aggressive foreign policy.

D'ANTONIO: It's very consistent with who he is to say something really general - I'm going to build a fantastic building, and it's going to be a terrific golf course - and then the details are for another day and can always be interpreted as fulfilling the initial promise. And there's a bit of genius in this.

MCCAMMON: Already Republicans have pushed back on some of Trump's big ideas, including congressional term limits and large tariffs on companies that move outside the U.S. Incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, says they may be willing to work with Trump.


CHUCK SCHUMER: Surprisingly, on certain issues, candidate Trump voiced very progressive and populist opinions. For instance, getting rid of the carried interest loophole, changing our trade laws dramatically, a large infrastructure bill.

MCCAMMON: So some of what emerges from a Trump administration could look quite different from what Trump promised going in, depending on what kind of deals he's willing to make. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
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