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Transcript of Donald Trump's phone call to a news channel on September 11, 2001.
He couldn't believe that the planes demolished the WTC Towers without explosives.
Donald Trump is on the line, and we know him as the man behind lots of real estate in Manhattan and of course, Don, I understand you were actually a witness to what happened this morning?
Trump: Well I have a window that looks directly at the World Trade Center. And I saw this huge explosion. I was with a group of people. And I really couldn't even believe it. And even I think worse than that, for years, I've looked right directly at the building. I see the Empire State Building in the foreground and the World Trade Center the background, and now I'm looking at absolutely nothing. It's just gone. And it's just hard to believe.
Donald, Alan Moore is here. You are building is the Trump Tower, is one of the great tourist attractions in the world. It's well known universally. Are you taking any precautions there in light of what happened at the World Trade Center?
Trump: Well, Alan we've always had, as you know very, very strong security but there's very little you can do about planes crashing into a building. I mean you look at Larry Silverstein is a terrific owner in New York and a very good friend of mine, who I just called. I was very worried about him because I assume maybe he was in the building. He took possession of the building one week ago. As you know, he just bought the World Trade Center. And he was in his office that he was getting ready to move into the World Trade Center over the next two weeks. So, and I just spoke to him. There's nothing you can do when people are going to be bombing planes at your building. Well, I guess maybe the world is going to be changing and maybe you can have F16s flying all over the city, etc., but it's a pretty tough situation.
Donald, you have one of the landmark buildings down in the financial district, 40 Wall Street. Did you have any damage, or what's happened down there?
Trump: Well, it was an amazing phone call. I mean 40 Wall Street actually was the second tallest building in downtown Manhattan and it was actually before the World Trade Center, was the tallest. And then when they built the World Trade Center it became known as the second tallest. And now, it's the tallest, and I just spoke to my people and they said it's the most unbelievable site. It's probably seven or eight blocks away from the World Trade Center and yet Wall Street is littered with two feet of stone and brick and mortar and steel. And there are thousands of people walking over the debris over the Brooklyn Bridge where they're sending them out over the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn. And then I guess they're going to have to figure out how to get home from there, but they have between a foot and two feet of debris right in front of a building, that's probably you would say Allan, six or seven blocks away.
Donald, this is Roland Smith.
Trump: Hi Roland.
How are you doing in this kind of day? You know, at some point we're going to put all this behind us, and you as a visionary particularly in in New York real estate. What do you think that we ought to do as a city, as a people when all of this gets... when the mourning stops, when the dead are honored and then we found out what caused it and maybe corrected it? What does the city need to do?
Trump: Well, I guess the big thing that that you really will have to do is never forget. You just can't forget that something like this happened. I was so disappointed when they closed the stock exchange. But of course at some point you had no choice. You know when they initially announced it was closing because you wanted to say, the hell with it, you're going forward, nothing's going to change. But the fact is something has changed very dramatically. And I think one of the very sad things is going to be when you look at the skyline of New York, which has become so emblazoned in your own memory, and you look at the skyline of New York and you see these buildings, these two buildings whether you love them or don't love them they were a great part of the skyline. And then when you look at the skyline after 2001, and you get to see a skyline without these, you can see what happened. People won't believe it. You know when you show your children, or your grandchildren in years to come what New York looked like in the year 2000. And then what New York looked like just a year later, they're going to say what happened? It's so hard to believe.
Donald, in the year 2000, Donald, you considered running for President. If you had done that, and if you had been successful, what do you think you'd be doing right now?
Trump: Well, I'd be taking a very, very tough line, Alan. I mean you know most people feel they know at least approximately the group of people that did this and where they are. But uhh boy, would you have to take a hard line on this. This just can't be tolerated and it's got to be very, very strict. This is, as you and I were discussing before Alan, this was probably worse than Pearl Harbor. Many more people are dead. And you know, they have no idea but I have somebody that was down there that witnessed at least 10 people jumping out of the building from 70 and 80 stories up in the air. And you probably have 25 or 30,000, is the number I've heard, but I would think would be much more than that. I think the most of the damage would be caused not by even in the building in terms of the people dead but by the people on the streets from falling debris.
Donald, you're probably the best known builder, particularly of great buildings in the city. There's a great deal of question about whether or not the damage and the ultimate destruction of the buildings was caused by the airplanes, by architectural defect, or possibly by bombs or aftershocks. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Trump: Well, it wasn't an architectural defect. You know the World Trade Center was always known as a very, very strong building. Don't forget, that took a big bomb in the basement. Now the basement is the most vulnerable place, because it's your foundation. And it withstood that. And I got to see that area about three or four days after it took place because one of my structural engineers actually took me for a tour because he did the building, and I said I can't believe it. The building was standing solid. and half of the columns were blown out. And so this was an unbelievably powerful building. If you know anything about structure, it was one of the first buildings that was built from the outside. The steel... The reason the World Trade Center had such narrow windows is that in between all the windows you had the steel on the outside. You had the steel on the outside of the building. That's why, when I first looked... and you had big, heavy, I-beams. When I first look at it, I couldn't believe it, because there was a hole in the steel. And this is steel that was... you remember the width of the windows of the World Trade Center, folks, I think, you know, if you were ever up there they were quite narrow and in between was this heavy steel. I said how could a plane, even a plane even a 767 or a 747, or whatever it might have been, how could it possibly go through the steel? I happen to think that they had not only a plane, but they had bombs that exploded almost simultaneously, because I just can't imagine anything being able to go through that wall. Most buildings are built with the steel is on the inside around the elevator shaft. This one was built from the outside, which is the strongest structure you can have. And it was almost just like a can of soup.
You know, Donald, we were looking at pictures all morning long of that plane coming into building number two. And when you see that approach the far side, and then all of a sudden within a matter a milliseconds the explosion pops out the other side.
Trump: Right, I just think that it was a plane with more than just fuel. I think, obviously they were very big planes, they were going very rapidly, because I was also watching where the plane seemed to be not only going fast, it seemed to be coming down, into the building. So it was getting the speed from going downhill so to speak. It just seems to me to do that kind of destruction, is even more than a big plane. Because you're talking about taking out steel. The heaviest caliber steel that was used on a building, and these buildings were rock solid. And you know it's just an amazing, an amazing thing. This country is different today, and it's going to be different than it ever was for many years to come.
Very profound statement and very true. Donald, one last question for you. Given the magnitude of how much of American commerce took place within the Twin Towers. What do you... you're an expert on this. What do you think is going to be the fallout over the next many several weeks, months and even years, given what we have lost, in terms of those buildings going down and all of that was within it?
Trump: Well I, as an example Alan, and you might use them too, but I have an insurance company that was on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center. And they're gone. I don't know who's gone. I don't know anything other than their offices are no longer there. They're wiped out. The Morgan Stanley group, you know Morgan Stanley a big powerful firm. They had 50 stories in the building... gone. I mean you're talking about some firms that are just gone. Now, Morgan Stanley in that case, had a lot of its offices in midtown, and they had about half downtown. Morgan Stanley is a big powerful firm. They're gone. Many firms had all of their offices, as you know, in the World Trade Center. It was eight million square feet. Eight million square feet is the size of some cities. And we had eight million square feet and there were four million in each building. They were huge buildings, not only in height but each floor was 50,000 feet. They were monster floors. Each floor was almost a city itself. And they had 110 floors or so. So many firms that were easily recognizable for those of us in the financial world, for those of us that read the papers and see the financial pages, they're gonna be gone. I mean they're just not going to exist anymore, they've gone, and many of the people they've gone with them.
Donald Trump. Thank you so very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
Trump: Well thank you all and good luck.
Thank you, same to you.