MetroFocus: October 21, 2020

He was NY’s first Black, as well as blind governor. He dedicated most of his adult life to public service as a strong advocate for quality public education, greater opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses and enhanced access to services for the disabled. But his time in office was a time of multiple crises and struggles- some brought on by his inner circle while some were self-inflicted. Tonight, David Paterson shares his memoirs as well as the trials and tribulations of being “Black, Blind, & In Charge: A Story of Visionary Leadership and Overcoming Adversity.”

Author James Zirin’s book “Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits” offers a comprehensive analysis of the president’s legal history, exploring his temperament, character, methods, and morality.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

WHEN MOST POLITICIANS ACCEPT A VICE OR LIEUTENANT POSITION IN GOVERNMENT, IT'S USUALLY WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THEY'LL BE SERVING IN A SUPPORTIVE ROLE TO THE EXECUTIVE IN CHIEF.

HOWEVER, THERE ARE THOSE OCCASIONS WHEN SECOND IN COMMAND SUDDENLY BECOMES FIRST.

FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR DAVID PATTERSON KNOWS ALL TOO WELL ABOUT THAT.

ON MARCH 10th OF 2008 THE THEN LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR RECEIVED A PHONE CALL THAT WOULD CHANGE HIS LIFE.

AND BEFORE HE KNEW IT HE HAD GONE FROM MANHATTAN STATE SENATOR TO LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR TO GOVERNOR IN JUST OVER TWO YEARS.

HE WAS ALSO THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN AND THE FIRST BLIND PERSON TO EVER HOLD THE POSITION OF GOVERNOR IN THE EMPIRE STATE.

IT'S A DIZZYING CHANGE FOR ANYBODY, AND GOVERNOR PATTERSON RECOUNTS THOSE EXPERIENCES AND MORE IN HIS NEW MEMOIR, 'BLACK, BLIND, AND IN CHARGE.'

AND I'D LIKE TO WELCOME HIM TO 'METROFOCUS.'

GOVERNOR PATTERSON, IT IS A GREAT PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU ON THE SHOW.

THANK YOU, JENNA, IT'S GREAT TO BE ON THE SHOW.

SO FIRST, LET'S GO BACK TO THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU GOT THAT FIRST PHONE CALL ABOUT THE SCANDAL THAT GOVERNOR SPITZER HAD FOUND HIMSELF IN.

WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION?

I'D SAY MILD SHOCK.

OBVIOUSLY THE GOVERNOR'S SECRETARY AND THE GOVERNOR AND MANY PEOPLE KNEW THAT THIS PROBLEM EXISTED THREE DAYS BEFORE AND THEY DECIDE TO TELL ME ABOUT AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES BEFORE THE GOVERNOR'S GOING TO RESIGN AT 2:15 THAT AFTERNOON.

SO I WAS SITTING IN MY OFFICE WHEN HE CALLED ME, AND HE WAS WHISPERING BECAUSE HE WAS IN THE GOVERNOR'S BATHROOM BECAUSE THE GOVERNOR FORBADE ANYONE TO SPEAK TO ME ABOUT IT, HE SAID HE WOULD DO IT HIMSELF.

BUT THE SECRETARY'S NOW REALIZING IT'S SO CLOSE TO THE TIME I'M GOING TO BECOME GOVERNOR, WHEN HE REMINDED THE GOVERNOR OF THAT HE SAID OH, JUST GIVE HIM SOMETHING TO READ.

HE SAID GOVERNOR, HE DOESN'T READ, HE MEMORIZES, AND I DON'T THINK HE HAS TIME TO MEMORIZE WHATEVER THIS STATEMENT IS.

AND REMEMBER, IN AN HOUR HE'LL BE THE GOVERNOR AND THE FIRST THING HE'S GOING TO ASK ALL OF US IS WHY DID YOU PUT ME IN THAT POSITION?

SO YOU KNOW, I WAS A LITTLE SHOCKED AND I TOLD MY SECRETARY THAT I WAS GOING TO LEAVE THE BUILDING SO I WOULDN'T BE PART OF ANY MEDIA HUNT OVER ME.

AND I OPENED THE DOOR TO LEAVE MY OFFICE AND ABOUT 15 CAMERAS WENT OFF IN MY FACE.

AND I CLOSED THE DOOR AND I PUT MY BACK TO THE DOOR AND I SAID TO MY SECRETARY, I THINK MY LIFE JUST CHANGED.

AS SERIOUS AS THAT MOMENT REALLY WAS, SO MANY OF THE STORIES IN THIS BOOK ALMOST READ LIKE THEY COULD BE IN A -- I HATE TO SAY IT BUT ALMOST A SATIRICAL STORY ABOUT POLITICS.

AND I SAY THAT BECAUSE ONCE YOU GOT THAT PHONE CALL YOU TOOK IT UPON YOURSELF TO ACTUALLY LET SOME OTHER KEY PLAYERS IN ALBANY KNOW AND ACTUALLY THROUGHOUT NEW YORK POLITICS.

AND THE FIRST PERSON WHO CALLED YOU BACK, THAT WAS AN AWKWARD PHONE CALL.

MY FATHER, BASEL PATTERSON WHO HAD BEEN THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN VICE CHAIR OF THE DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE AND SECRETARY TO GOVERNOR KERRY AND HAD ALWAYS INCREDIBLE WISDOM IN SITUATIONS LIKE THAT TOLD ME YOU'D BETTER TELL THE OTHER LEADERS OF THE STATE THE GOVERNOR HASN'T EVEN SPOKEN TO YOU AND IN AN HOUR THEY'RE ALL GOING TO ASK YOU WHY YOU DIDN'T TELL THEM WHAT WAS GOING ON.

SENATOR CLINTON WAS STILL IN A HOT PRIMARY AGAINST SENATOR OBAMA, WHO WOULD EVENTUALLY BECOME THE PRESIDENT.

AND SHE'S THE FIRST ONE TO CALL BACK, WHICH KIND OF SHOCKED ME.

SHE SAID IS EVERYTHING ALL RIGHT?

I GOT AN OMINOUS FEELING WHEN I GOT THIS MESSAGE FROM YOU.

AND I SAID, SENATOR, LISTEN, IN ABOUT A HALF HOUR I'M GOING TO BE SWORN IN AS GOVERNOR.

AND SHE SAID, OH, MY GOD, WHAT'S HAPPENED?

I SAID NO, SENATOR, THE GOVERNOR IS FINE BUT HE'S GOING TO RESIGN IN ABOUT HALF AN HOUR.

AND SHE SAID, WELL, WHY IS HE GOING TO RESIGN, DAVID?

AND I JUST LOOKED UP AT THE CEILING AND THOUGHT, HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN ANOTHER SEX SCANDAL TO HILLARY CLINTON?

AGAIN, IT'S JUST -- IT'S STORY AFTER STORY LIKE THIS.

I THINK MOST PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND THE SURPRISE OF, LET'S SAY, HAVING AN UNEXPECTED PROJECT FALL INTO YOUR LAP BUT CERTAINLY NOT THE GOVERNORSHIP OF NEW YORK.

AND I WAS WONDERING DID YOU GET A MOMENT TO EVEN TRY TO PROCESS ALL OF THIS ONCE YOU GOT THOSE PHONE CALLS?

YOU KNOW WHAT WAS SO INTERESTING, JENNA, IS WHEN I BECAME THE MINORITY LEADER MY STAFF WENT FROM 7 TO 150 IN A MATTER OF DAYS AND WITHIN TWO WEEKS I REALIZED THAT I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO MANAGE 150 PEOPLE.

AND I WENT TO A FRIEND OF MINE WHO RAN ONE OF THOSE STRATEGIC PLANNING COMPANIES AND THEY HAD A SESSION WITH ME TO ADVISE ME ON HOW YOU MANAGE A STAFF THAT'S, YOU KNOW, NOT JUST 10 OR 15 PEOPLE.

I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING WHEN I WAS GOVERNOR, BUT I FORGOT ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I WAS MINORITY LEADER BECAUSE IT WAS JUST CRISIS AFTER CRISIS.

WE HAD TO PASS THE STATE BUDGET.

13 DAYS AFTER I TAKE OFFICE.

AND WE DID.

WE HAD TO SETTLE THE ISSUE OF CONGESTION PRICING BY APRIL 9th, AND WE DID THAT.

AND IT WAS JUST ONE THING AFTER THE OTHER.

AND I REALLY WISH I HAD STOPPED, REGROUPED, REPOSITIONED THE STAFF AND BROUGHT IN PEOPLE WHO I THINK WOULD HAVE BETTER FIT WHAT THE GOALS WERE THAT I WANTED TO ACCOMPLISH.

AND WE'RE GOING TO GET INTO SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT YOU WERE AT LEAST ATTEMPTING TO WORK WITH.

BUT AGAIN, I JUST WANT TO GO BACK TO THE POINT THAT THIS BOOK ALMOST -- IT GIVES THE READER LIKE ME WHIPLASH.

I CAN'T IMAGINE WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO ACTUALLY LIVE THROUGH ALL THESE LIKE ISSUE AFTER ISSUE AFTER CRISIS AFTER CRISIS.

BUT I DO WANT TO DRAW ON YOUR 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AS A STATE SENATOR AND, AS YOU SAID, ALSO THE MINORITY LEADER IN ALBANY AND SAY THAT THAT GAVE YOU A UNIQUE UNDERSTANDING OF HOW ALBANY WORKS OR SOME MIGHT SAY DOESN'T WORK.

SO I'M WONDERING WAS THERE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR THAT STOOD OUT TO YOU ONCE YOU BECAME GOVERNOR THAT MADE YOU GO, WAIT, WHAT?

OH, ABSOLUTELY.

WITHIN THREE DAYS OF THE TIME I BECAME GOVERNOR THE BUDGET DIRECTOR COMES IN TO TELL ME THAT GOVERNOR SPITZER HAD A BUDGET THAT WE WERE ABOUT TO PASS THAT HAD A 5.3% INCREASE IN SPENDING WHILE ALL OF THE ECONOMIC CONDITIONS, THE HOUSING MARKET WAS FALLING, THE STOCK MARKET WAS NOT FALLING YET BUT IT CERTAINLY WAS TURBULENT AND OF COURSE EVENTUALLY LATER THAT YEAR WE HAD THE BEGINNING OF THE FISCAL CRISIS IN 2008.

APPARENTLY GOVERNOR SPITZER'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LEGISLATURE WAS SO POOR THAT HE BASICALLY HAD TO GIVE THEM A BUDGET THAT THEY COULD PASS BECAUSE THEY HAD HAD ABOUT ENOUGH OF HIM AT THAT POINT.

IN FACT, WHEN HE TRIED TO GET THE TWO LEADERS OF THE LEGISLATURE TO BLOCK AN IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDING AGAINST HIM THEY TOLD HIM YOU CAN HAVE A WEEK.

AND THEY BASICALLY TOLD HIM YOU DON'T HAVE A VOTE IN THE HOUSE.

SO I WAS REALLY SURPRISED TO HEAR THIS BECAUSE THIS WAS NOT KNOWN, THIS WAS JUST SOMETHING THAT THE GOVERNOR WAS DOING.

THE LEADERS WEREN'T GOING TO PUBLICIZE IT BECAUSE THEY WERE GOING TO BENEFIT FROM THE SPENDING THAT COULD OCCUR.

SO I WAS IMMEDIATELY PUT IN A SITUATION WHERE I WAS REVERSING WHAT THE GOVERNOR HAD PROMISED THE LEADERS AND THE LEGISLATORS, BUT THE REASON I WAS DOING IT IS THAT WE HAD A BUDGET DEFICIT WHICH STARTED OUT AT 5 BILLION WHICH I ESTIMATED THE DAY I CAME INTO OFFICE AT 10 BILLION, WOUND UP BEING $21.3 BILLION, AND WE HAD TO CLOSE THAT GAP OR THE STATE WOULD GO INTO DEFAULT.

SO YEAH, THERE WERE SOME SURPRISES.

WOW.

SO OF COURSE THERE IS NO GENUINE STORY, I WOULD SAY, ABOUT ALBANY UNLESS IT INVOLVES A GOOD FEUD OR TWO.

AND SO WITH THAT I DO WANT TO CIRCLE BACK TO THE POINT YOU WERE MAKING A MOMENT AGO ABOUT PEOPLE WHO YOU AT LEAST WERE TRYING TO WORK WITH.

YOU HAD A REALLY CONTENTIOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR GRAVICH.NT GOVERNOR, RICHARD -

WELL, IT WASN'T AS MUCH THAT IT WAS CONTENTIOUS AS WE CLOSED THE BUDGET, THE DEFICIT OF $21.3 BILLION IN 2009 AND 8, THEN WE CLOSED ANOTHER DEFICIT OF 10.2 BILLION IN 2009.

NOW WE'RE COMING TO THE LAST $10.2 BILLION BUDGET IN 2010 AND WE ESTIMATE THERE'S GOING TO BE 8 TO 10 BILLION DOLLARS MORE OF DEFICIT THAT THE NEW GOVERNOR WHO WE WERE HOPING WOULD BE ANDREW CUOMO COULD FINISH THAT OFF IN 2011 AND THEN HE WOULD BE ABLE TO MANAGE WITHOUT ANY MORE OF A FISCAL CRISIS.

AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED.

BUT MEANWHILE, MR. RAVICH GOES AND OFFERS THIS IDEA WHICH HE CALLED THE RAVITCH PLAN OF $6 BILLION, WHICH IS HOW WE GOT IN TROUBLE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

GOVERNOR PATAKI CAME IN WITH THE STATE IN DEBT AT $24 BILLION AND HE DROVE IT UP OVER $50 BILLION BY BORROWING.

SO NOW RAVITCH WANTS TO PUT ANOTHER $6 BILLION ON TOP OF THAT AND THEN PAY IT BACK OVER A PERIOD OF TIME WHEN WE DON'T EVEN KNOW IF THE FINANCIAL CRISIS IS GOING TO END ANYTIME SOON.

AND HE GOT ANGRY AND WROTE ALL THESE ARTICLES AFTER HE GOT OUT OF OFFICE SAYING WE DIDN'T LISTEN TO HIM.

WE DID LISTEN TO HIM BUT WE DIDN'T AGREE WITH HIM.

BUT WHEN WE DIDN'T AGREE WITH HIM HE FOR SOME REASON TOLD ANOTHER STAFF MEMBER HE DIDN'T WORK FOR ME, HE WORKED WITH ME.

SO HE DIDN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND HIS ROLE IN THE BEGINNING -- IN THE FIRST PLACE.

OKAY.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, PUTTING A PIN IN THAT STORY, WHAT I ALSO THOUGHT WAS REALLY INTERESTING WAS THAT IN THE PROCESS OF YOU DEALING WITH OR WORKING WITH LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR RAVITCH AT THE TIME YOU GOT SOME WARNINGS OR AT LEAST SOME ADVICE FROM A PARTICULAR NEW YORK CITY DEVELOPER WHO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY HAS GOTTEN TO KNOW VERY, VERY WELL.

A MAN NAMED DONALD TRUMP WAS THE ONLY PERSON WHO OBJECTED TO MY APPOINTING MR. RAVITCH.

I WASN'T LOOKING FOR A POLITICAL FIGURE.

AND I KNEW THERE WOULD BE A PRETTY STRONG COURT CASE TO TRY TO BLOCK ME FROM APPOINTING A LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.

SO WHEN YOU GET A LETTER FROM DONALD TRUMP, JENNA, REMEMBER THIS AND ALL OF THE VIEWERS SHOULD LISTEN.

WHEN YOU GET A LETTER FROM NOW PRESIDENT TRUMP, YOU DON'T GET IT IN YOUR MAILBOX.

HE READS IT ON TV.

THAT'S HOW YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THE LETTER.

OH.

HE SAID GOVERNOR, YOU'VE BEEN IN OFFICE FOR A YEAR AND A HALF, YOU'VE BEEN DOING SUCH A GREAT JOB, WHY WOULD YOU HIRE THIS GUY?

HE'S NOT QUALIFIED, HE WAS TERRIBLE WHEN HE WORKED WITH THE MTA AND THIS WHOLE LITANY JUST LIKE THE ONES HE SAYS NOW WHEN HE DOESN'T LIKE PEOPLE.

BUT I HAD TO ASK THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR TO COME IN AND EXPLAIN THIS TO ME.

AND I SAID, IT'S NOT CHANGING ANYTHING I'M GOING TO DO BUT I JUST WANT TO KNOW.

AND HE INFORMED ME THAT WHEN THE HOTEL AT 42nd STREET AND LEXINGTON AVENUE, THE HYATT, WAS BEING BUILT THAT IT ADJOINED ONE OF THE TRUMP BUILDINGS AND DONALD TRUMP CALLED RAVITCH AND ASKED THAT THE MTA BUILD A SIDE ENTRANCE FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES.

RAVITCH COMPLIED AND SAID HE WOULD SEND HIM ALL THE INFORMATION AND SEND HIM THE BILL FOR THE CONSTRUCTION.

AND TRUMP SAID I DO SO MUCH FOR THE CITY, YOU ALL SHOULD DO THIS FOR ME FOR FREE.

WELL, THIS WOULD ACTUALLY BE A CRIME TO DO THIS.

AND OBVIOUSLY RAVITCH WASN'T GOING TO DO IT.

BUT 31 YEARS LATER WHEN RAVITCH BECOMES LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MR.

TRUMP HASN'T FORGOTTEN IT AND HE TELLS -- YOU KNOW, HE TELLS ME THIS.

I IGNORE HIM.

BUT SIX MONTHS LATER RAVITCH IS COMING OUT OF A BUILDING AND THE MEDIA ASKS HIM WHAT DOES HE THINK ABOUT MY BUDGET?

HE SAYS THE BUDGET'S PRETTY GOOD BUT I DON'T THINK THE LEGISLATURE WILL PASS IT.

SO NOW YOU HAVE HEADLINE, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR CONTRADICTS GOVERNOR AND IT'S ALL CONTROVERSIAL.

I'M SITTING IN MY OFFICE SHAKING MY HEAD.

AND I GET A CALL AND THEY SAID DONALD TRUMP'S ON THE LINE.

I NEVER MADE THE CONNECTION, JENNA.

OH, MY GOODNESS.

HE SAYS DAVID, THIS GUY'S A SOMETHING HOLE AND HE'S AN IDIOT, HE'S DISLOYAL AND UNTRUSTWORTHY, I WARNLD YOU ABOUT HIM, YOU SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO ME.

AND I SAID DONALD, TODAY I'M HAVING A ROUGH DAY, I DON'T HAVE THE STRENGTH TO ARGUE WITH YOU, BUT THANKS SO MUCH FOR CALLING.

WE GOT OFF THE PHONE AND ABOUT 15 MINUTES LATER I HAD TWO DOORS THAT OPEN UP INTO MY OFFICE AS GOVERNOR.

THEY BOTH FLEW OPEN SIMULTANEOUSLY AND ABOUT SIX STAFF MEMBERS COME IN AND SAY WHY DID YOU TELL DONALD TRUMP AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS THAT YOU WISH YOU DIDN'T TAKE RAVITCH IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I SAID I NEVER SAID THAT.

SO OF COURSE I CALLED DONALD BACK AND I SAID DONALD, YOU AND I BOTH KNOW I DIDN'T SAY THAT.

AND HE SAYS TO ME, BUT IT'S THE TRUTH.

IT'S THE TRUTH.

YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART YOU WISH YOU DIDN'T TAKE THAT GUY.

LOOK ME IN THE EYE AND TELL ME THAT YOU REALLY WANTED TO TAKE THAT GUY NOW KNOWING WHO HE IS.

AND I SAID DONALD, I CAN'T LOOK YOU IN THE EYE.

WE'RE ON THE TELEPHONE.

AND SECOND, I'M GOING TO EXTEND YOU THE COURTESY YOU THAT NEVER EXTENDED TO ME.

I'M ISSUING A PRESS STATEMENT TELLING THE TRUTH, WHICH IS THAT I NEVER SAID THAT.

AND HE SAYS, OH, COME ON, DAVID, YOU DON'T WANT TO TAKE ME ON ON AN ISSUE LIKE THIS.

YOU'RE LOOKING GREAT OUT HERE.

PEOPLE HATE THIS GUY.

IT WAS VINTAGE TRUMP THAT WE'VE WATCHED AS PRESIDENT FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS, BUT I GOT A GLIMPSE OF IT 12 YEARS BEFORE.

WELL, UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE GOING TO LEAVE IT THERE.

ALL I CAN SAY, GOVERNOR PATTERSON, IS YOUR BOOK IS FILLED WITH STORIES LIKE THIS THAT SEEM LIKE THEY WOULD BE PRO FORMA ON THE SURFACE BUT JUST WOW.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO SAY BUT WOW.

SO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, THANK YOU FOR THIS BOOK.

I THINK IT MAKES A LOT OF POLITICAL FIGURES FEEL MORE HUMAN.

JENNA, I TRIED TO WRITE IT THAT WAY.

PEOPLE WRITE 500 PAGES ABOUT HOW GREAT THEY WERE.

I TRIED TO ADDRESS MY OWN MISTAKES AND AT TIMES UNFORTUNATELY THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS.

WELL, AGAIN, THANK YOU FOR THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT IS REALLY GREAT.

SO THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

AND THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

ABSOLUTELY.

> IS DONALD TRUMP THE MOST LITIGIOUS PRESIDENT IN U.S.

HISTORY?

WELL, A NEW BOOK SUGGESTS THAT NOT ONLY IS THE ANSWER A RESOUNDING YES BUT THAT OVER HIS LIFETIME DONALD TRUMP HAS LEARNED TO WEAPONIZE THE LEGAL SYSTEM TO HIS ADVANTAGE AND HAS EVEN CARRIED THE PRACTICE INTO THE OVAL OFFICE.

PLAINTIFF IN CHIEF, A PORTRAIT OF DONALD TRUMP AND 3500 LAWSUITS, OFFERS A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS OF THE PRESIDENT'S LEGAL CHALLENGES OVER THE YEARS BEGINNING WITH A RACIAL DISCRIMINATION SUIT EARLY IN HIS NEW YORK REAL ESTATE CAREER.

IT'S WRITTEN BY JIM ZIRON A FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK AND SELF-DESCRIBED REPUBLICAN WHO MAKES THE CASE THAT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DONALD TRUMP YOU CAN LEARN FROM THE WAY HE'S USED, SOME WOULD SAY ABUSED THE LEGAL SYSTEM FOR WELL OVER TLEEL DECADES.

SO HERE TO DISCUSS THE PLAINTIFF IN CHIEF AND THE PRESIDENT'S TEMPERAMENT AND PRESIDENTIAL PHILOSOPHY IS ATTORNEY, AUTHOR AND TALK SHOW HOST JIM ZIRON.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE.

NICE TO BE HERE, JACK.

NICE TO BE HERE WITH YOU.

LET'S START WITH THE BIG PICTURE.

YOU SAY IN THIS LITIGATION IS THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING DONALD TRUMP.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

WELL, WE INHERITED THE ADVERSARY SYSTEM FROM THE ENGLISH.

AND IT WAS THOUGHT THAT THE ADVERSARY SYSTEM IS THE BEST WAY TO ARRIVE AT THE TRUTH BECAUSE THE COMPETING SIDES WOULD TELL -- PUT FORWARD THEIR BEST ARGUMENTS AND TELL THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY.

TRUMP SAW THE LEGAL SYSTEM IN A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAY.

HE SAW IT AS A WEAPON TO DESTROY THE ADVERSARY.

NOT NECESSARILY TO GET AT THE TRUTH.

PERHAPS EVEN TO GET AT A LIE.

BUT THE LEGAL SYSTEM COULD BE A VERY POTENT WEAPON IN HIS BUSINESS ARSENAL LATER IN HIS PUBLIC ARSENAL.

SO YOU'VE WRITTEN BEFORE ON COURTS, COURT SYSTEMS.

BUT WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS STORY AND MADE YOU DECIDE THIS IS A BOOK I WANT TO DO NOW?

I STARTED WITH AN ABIDING INTEREST IN ROY COHN.

THE SUBJECTIVE A MOVIE THAT'S OUT IN WHICH I'M ONE OF THE TALKING HEADS CALLED 'WHERE'S MY ROY COHN?'

AND COHN MET TRUMP IN 1973.

I KNEW OF COHN FROM MY DAYS IN THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE.

TRUMP MET COHN IN A BAR.

HE'D BEEN SUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND THE NIXON ADMINISTRATION FOR VIOLATION OF THE FAIR HOUSING ACT BECAUSE HE DISCRIMINATED IN HOUSING.

THE CASE AGAINST HIM WAS OVERWHELMING.

HE WENT TO A NUMBER OF REPUTABLE LAWYERS WHO SAID YOUR BEST COURSE IS TO SETTLE THE CASE WITH THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND AGREE NOT TO DISCRIMINATE ANYMORE.

COHN SAID YOU'VE BEEN MISADVISED, NOTHING DOING.

FIGHT, ATTACK, COUNTERATTACK, AND WE'LL BEAT THEM INTO THE GROUND.

TRUMP LIKED THAT ADVICE.

AND SO HE RETAINED COHN AS HIS LAWYER.

AND THE FIRST THING THEY DID WAS THEY COUNTERCLAIMED AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT FOR $100 MILLION.

THE SECOND THING THEY DID WAS THEY LAUNCHED AN ATTACK AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT ATTORNEYS.

AND THEY SAID THAT THE GOVERNOR ATTORNEYS WERE ENGAGING IN STORM TROOPER-LIKE TACTICS, GESTAPO-LIKE TACTICS IN THE WAY THEY APPROACHED WITNESSES AND EMPLOYEES OF THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION.

THE JUDGE VERY QUICKLY DISMISSED THIS COUNTERCLAIM FOR $100 MILLION AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT AND HELD A HEARING AND FOUND THAT THE LAWYERS WERE GUILTY OF NO MISCONDUCT WHATSOEVER.

THAT'S ALL THAT HAPPENED IN THE CASE.

AND AT THE END OF THE DAY TRUMP SETTLED THE CASE WITH THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT, AGREED NOT TO DISCRIMINATE ANYMORE, AND GOT THE SAME RESULT HE WOULD HAVE GOTTEN AS HAD BEEN SUGGESTED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

SO THIS GOT YOU INTERESTED IN IT.

NOW, WE TALK ABOUT -- AND IT'S A -- IT LOOKS LIKE A MILEAGE METER IN A CAR WHERE THE NUMBERS ARE ROLLING OVER.

AN ODOMETER.

ODOMETER.

YOU WENT TO PRINCETON, I WENT TO YALE.

IT CAME TO YOU QUICKLY.

IT DIDN'T COME TO ME.

MAYBE AT YALE THEY ADJUSTED THE ODOMETER.

BUT SOME 3,500 LAWSUITS.

NOW, PEOPLE MIGHT LOOK AT THAT AND SAY OKAY, IS THAT SORT OF APOCRYPHAL OR ARE WE REALLY TALKING ABOUT THAT MANY LAWSUITS?

WHAT'S THE ANSWER TO THAT?

OF COURSE I DIDN'T COUNT THEM MYSELF.

BUT 'USA TODAY' USED THE 3,500 FIGURE AND IT WAS CORROBORATED BY THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, WHICH USED A 4,000 FIGURE.

IT'S PARTLY THOUGHT THAT TRUMP HAD MORE LAWSUITS THAN THE TOP THREE REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS IN THE UNITED STATES COMBINED.

SO I THOUGHT 3,500 WAS PROBABLY A SAFER FIGURE THAN 4,000.

I WENT WITH 3,500.

I WAS MORE INTERESTED IN THE TYPES OF LITIGATION.

TALK ABOUT THAT.

WHAT SORT OF TYPE?

BECAUSE AGAIN, THE BOOK, IT'S A COMPELLING READ.

YOU DON'T TRY TO CATALOG EACH AND EVERY CASE, OBVIOUSLY.

BUT YOU DO TALK ABOUT DIFFERENT CATEGORIES.

SO WHAT SORT OF CATEGORIES DID YOU FIND THAT WERE MOST INTERESTING TO YOU?

WELL, OF COURSE, TRUMP BROUGHT SLIGHTLY MORE SUITS THAN CASES WHERE HE WAS ON THE RECEIVING END ALTHOUGH HE WAS ON THE RECEIVING END OF A LOT OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF SUITS.

HE HAD SUITS WITH ALL OF HIS PARTNERS.

HE WOULD SUE THEM UNDER RICO.

HE WOULD SUE THEM FOR A BILLION DOLLARS.

HE WOULD TRY TO GET MONEY FROM THEM.

THESE ARE HIS PARTNERS.

THESE ARE HIS PARTNERS.

YOU HAD THE PRITZKERS.

YOU HAD CANSECO WHO WAS HIS PARTNER ON THE GM BUILDING IN NEW YORK.

YOU HAD HIS CHINESE PARTNERS ON THE WEST YARDS.

ONE OF HIS HONG KONG PARTNERS SAID YOU'VE GOT TO UNDERSTAND DONALD TRUMP, HE LIKES LITIGATION FOR LUNCH.

ALL THESE CASES WERE DISMISSED UNFAVORABLY TO TRUMP.

THOSE ARE THE SUITS WITH PARTNERS.

HE WAS SUED BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR MONEY QULARNGD IN ATLANTIC CITY.

HE WAS SUED BY TAXING AUTHORITIES.

HE WAS SUED BY THE COUNTY OF PALM BEACH FOR AN 80-FOOT-HIGH FLAGPOLE IN FRONT OF THE HIS ESTATE AT MAR-A-LAGO.

THERE WERE SILLY SUITS.

THERE WERE SPITE SUITS.

HE SUED A CRITIC FOR THE 'CHICAGO TRIBUNE' WHO SAID ONE OF HIS PROJECTS WOULD BE AN EYESORE ON THE SKYLINE.

THAT CASE WAS DISMISSED.

THE ONE THAT I ALWAYS ENJOY RECOUNTING IS THAT TRUMP APPARENTLY GOT WIND OF THE FACT THAT IN BALDWIN LONG ISLAND THERE WERE TWO PEOPLE, A FATHER AND A DAUGHTER, WHO OWNED A TRAVEL AGENCY CALLED TRUMP TRAVEL AND TOURS.

NOW, IT WAS CALLED TRUMP TRAVEL AND TOURS BECAUSE THEY BOOKED BRIDGE TOURS FOR PEOPLE AND ALSO BECAUSE TRUMP'S LIKE ACE HARDWARE, IT SIGNIFIED EXCELLENCE.

TRUMP HAD NEVER BEEN IN THE TRAVEL BUSINESS.

HE'D NEVER BEEN IN BUSINESS IN BALDWIN, LONG ISLAND.

HE'D NEVER BEEN IN BUSINESS ON LONG ISLAND.

BUT HE GOT WIND OF THIS AND HE SUED THEM FOR USING THE TRUMP NAME.

AND THEY EXHAUSTED THEIR LIFE SAVINGS DEFENDING THE SUIT.

THE DAUGHTER SAID, YOU KNOW, WHY WOULD I WANT TO USE THE NAME TRUMP ANYWAY, HE'S A MISOGYNIST AND A RACIST?

AND I DON'T KNOW THAT IT HELPS OUR BUSINESS.

BUT THEY STUCK TO THEIR GUNS.

AT THE END OF THE DAY THERE WAS A SETTLEMENT WHERE THEY AGREED TO REDUCE THE SIZE OF THE SIGN TRUMP TRAVEL.

AND THAT WAS THE DISPOSITION.

I WOULD SUSPECT THAT EITHER PRESIDENT TRUMP HIMSELF OR HIS ALLIES AND SUPPORTERS WOULD TAKE A LOOK AT THE BOOK AND SAY, YOU KNOW WHAT, THIS IS JUST ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION OF HIM UTILIZING THE LAWS IN A WAY THAT MAYBE WAS MORE CREATIVE THAN OTHER PEOPLE, HE SAW AN AREA WHERE HE COULD GAIN AN ADVANTAGE BY USING THE LAWS.

WE'VE HEARD THE PRESIDENT HIMSELF WHEN HE WAS ASKED ABOUT HIS -- THE VARIETY OF BANKRUPTCIES INVOLVING HIS COMPANIES AND HE SAID I USED THE LAWS THAT EXISTED THERE.

I DIDN'T MAKE THIS UP, THE LAWS WERE THERE.

SO I SUSPECT HIS SUPPORTERS WOULD LOOK AT THIS AND SAY LOOK, THIS IS JUST A MATTER OF HIM MAYBE MORE SO THAN ANYBODY ELSE BUT USING THE LAWS TO HIS PERSONAL ADVANTAGE.

WHAT WOULD YOUR ANSWER BE TO THAT?

OF COURSE HE LOST MOST OF THE CASES.

SO THE LAW WAS NOT ON HIS SIDE AND HE WAS NOT CLAIMING THE BENEFIT OF THE LAW.

HE WAS REALLY RELYING ON THE AMERICAN SYSTEM OF JUSTICE WHERE EACH SIDE BEARS HIS OR HER OWN LEGAL FEES.

UNDER THE ENGLISH SYSTEM --

AS OPPOSED TO THE BRITISH SYSTEM WHERE LOSER PAYS.

LOSER PAYS.

SO SOMEONE WOULD -- LIKE THE COUPLE IN BALDWIN, LONG ISLAND WERE BANKRUPTED DEFENDING THIS CASE THAT DONALD TRUMP BROUGHT.

NOW, WHY DID HE BRING THE CASE?

DID HE BRING THE CASE BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE WERE COSTING HIM MONEY?

BECAUSE HE WAS LEGITIMATELY AGGRIEVED?

NO.

HE BROUGHT THE CASE OUT OF PIQUE AND SPITE.

AND THAT'S A MISUSE OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

THERE'S SO MUCH IN THIS BOOK THAT PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN THIS SHOULD READ AND THEY'LL FIND IT COMPELLING, WHETHER THEY AGREE OR NOT.

BUT LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

AND TAKING IT INTO TODAY.

AND WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY.

YOU TALK ABOUT HOW ROY COHN'S LASTING MESSAGE TO DONALD TRUMP IS YOU NEVER APOLOGIZE, YOU DON'T SURRENDER, YOU DON'T SETTLE, YOU ALWAYS ATTACK.

ARE YOU SEEING EVIDENCE OF THAT ADVICE FROM ROY COHN PLAYING OUT TODAY IN TERMS OF THE PRESIDENT AND HIS ALLIES IN THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY?

THE ANSWER OF COURSE IS YES.

THE OTHER CANON OF ROY COHN WAS NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS ALWAYS CLAIM VICTORY AND GO HOME.

SO WHEN TRUMP HAS A CONVERSATION WITH THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE IN WHICH HE'S CLEARLY EXTORTING HIM AND PRESSURING HIM TO INVESTIGATE JOE BIDEN AND THREATENING TO WITHHOLD AID AS A QUID PRO QUO NECKLACE DOES, AND THIS HAS BEEN CORROBORATED BY AT LEAST SIX PEOPLE IN A POSITION TO KNOW, ONE OF WHOM RECENTLY CHANGED HIS TESTIMONY, BUT TRUMP ENGAGES AND HAS HISTORICALLY ENGAGED IN ASYMMETRICAL WARFARE WHERE YOU DON'T REALLY MEET THE CHARGE THAT'S MADE AGAINST YOU BUT YOU ATTACK THE ACCUSER.

AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE'S DONE IN THE UKRAINE INVESTIGATION.

HE HAS ATTACKED THE WHISTLE-BLOWER BECAUSE HE DIDN'T HAVE FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE.

WHISTLE-BLOWERS SOMETIMES DON'T HAVE FIRSTHAND KNOWLEDGE.

AND THAT'S -- SECONDLY, THE WHISTLE-BLOWER WAS CORROBORATED.

AND THIRDLY, THERE'S NO ISSUE WHATSOEVER ABOUT WHAT THE WHISTLE-BLOWER SAID BUT STILL HE WANTS THE WHISTLE-BLOWER'S IDENTITY TO BE REVEALED.

HE WANTS TO TORTURE THE WHISTLE-BLOWER WHO COMMITTED TREASON.

HE'S OUT TO FIND SPIES.

ROY COHN WAS OUT TO FIND SPIES.

ROY COHN WAS ONE OF THE PROSECUTORS OF THE ROSENBERGS.

WHEN TRUMP SAYS THAT ADAM SCHIFF -- INTIMATES THAT ADAM SCHIFF SHOULD BE EXECUTED FOR TREASON, THIS IS RIGHT OUT OF THE ROY COHN PLAYBOOK.

AND WE SEE THIS RESONATING AGAIN AND AGAIN IN TRUMP'S BEHAVIOR.

I GUESS THIS IS REALLY THE LAST QUESTION I SHOULD ASK YOU.

WHICH IS GIVEN WHAT YOU SAY IN THE BOOK AND WHAT YOU'VE SAID, ARE YOU AT ALL WORRIED THAT YOU COULD BECOME LAWSUIT NUMBER 3,501?

I'M FREQUENTLY ASKED THAT QUESTION.

AND I HOPE I AM BECAUSE IT WILL DO WONDERS FOR THE SALE OF THE BOOK.

MICHAEL WOLFF'S BOOK 'FIRE AND FURY' PROBABLY WOULD HAVE SOLD ABOUT 3,000 COPIES.

IT SOLD A MILLION AFTER TRUMP THREATENED TO SUE HIM.

IT'LL BE INTERESTING.

JIM, IT'S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO TALK TO YOU.

THANKS FOR SPENDING SO MUCH TIME WITH US.

WE APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

YOU BE WELL.

A PLEASURE.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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