It is a matter of historical record that illegal Polish immigrants were relied upon heavily in the construction of Trump Tower. It’s an issue that came up in the Republican debates, and Trump’s defense throughout the entire campaign has been that he did not know the workers were in the country illegally – that they were hired by a subcontractor and he had no knowledge of their immigration status.
That controversy seems like it might as well have happened in the 1990s, given all the insane things Trump has said and done since then, but Time Magazine went digging through records and court testimony from the relevant time period – and guys, you’re never going to believe this, but Trump was lying.
For 36 years, Trump has denied knowingly using undocumented workers to demolish the building that would be replaced with Trump Tower in 1980. After Senator Marco Rubio raised the issue of undocumented Polish workers during a Republican primary debate this year, Trump described himself as removed from the problem. “I hire a contractor. The contractor then hires the subcontractor,” he said. “They have people. I don’t know. I don’t remember, that was so many years ago, 35 years ago.”
But thousands of pages of documents from the case, including reams of testimony and sworn depositions reviewed by TIME, tell a different story. Kept for more than a decade in 13 boxes in a federal judiciary storage unit in Missouri, the documents contain testimony that Trump sought out the Polish workers when he saw them on another job, instigated the creation of the company that paid them and negotiated the hours they would work. The papers contain testimony that Trump repeatedly toured the site where the men were working, directly addressed them about pay problems and even promised to pay them himself, which he eventually did.
The specifics unearthed by Time are particularly damning, including testimony from numerous people that Trump frankly admitted to the fact that he had illegals working on his property. One example
For help, Trump turned to Daniel Sullivan, a 6-ft. 5-in., 285-lb. labor consultant, FBI informant and future officer of the Teamsters Union. “Donald told me he had difficulties …,” Sullivan later testified in the case. “That he had some illegal Polish employees on the job.”
Sullivan had been helping Trump negotiate a casino deal in New Jersey at the time, and he testified that he was shocked by Trump’s admission. “I think you are nuts,” Sullivan testified that he told Trump. “You are here negotiating a lease in Atlantic City for a casino license and you are telling me you have got illegal employees on the job.”
Here’s the worst part about this whole affair. When disputes arose between Trump and his Polish employees about their working conditions and their back pay (which was severely in arrears), Trump tried to solve the problem by looking into having them deported:
The documents show that after things got ugly over unpaid wages, Trump sought Sullivan’s advice on the workers and their immigration status. At one point, a lawyer for the Poles testified, Trump threatened, through his own lawyer, to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service and have the workers deported. And when the Labor Department launched a probe of the Polish laborers, Trump again called Sullivan for help, asking him to meet the federal investigator at Trump’s office, according to the documents.
This is the worst sort of exploitative and subhuman behavior. If this is true, I hope many worse things than losing this election happen to Donald Trump.
Here’s the Trump campaign’s response:
When contacted Aug. 23 by TIME for comment on the documents, Trump replied with an emailed statement. “The laws were totally different thirty five years ago,” he wrote in the message. “The building, Trump Tower, turned out to be one of the most successful and iconic buildings ever built. Do you have nothing better to write about than a story that is 35 years old and filled with half truths and false information?”
Um. I’m quite sure they were different back then but there still was such a thing as illegal immigration and it was still illegal for Trump to have employed illegal immigrants. As to the success of Trump Tower? Well, I’m sure many great edifices have been constructed using (at least in part) labor from illegal immigrants, but that doesn’t mean that the companies that employed them didn’t violate the law.
This story, though, illustrates at least part of the problem the media has in terms of covering Trump’s campaign. Trump lies so frequently, and about so many things, that by the time you have done the leg work to prove that he was lying, the public’s attention has been diverted by the hundreds of ridiculous comments/lies that he’s made since then. On the merits, Trump should be down by about 20 points right now, but he’s such a successful flim flammer that it’s hard for the media to keep up with the public’s attention span.