Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is no stranger to high-profile feuds, but his long-running battle with New York City Mayor Ed Koch was epic even by Trumpian standards. Trump’s rise to fame and fortune overlapped almost perfectly with Koch’s three terms as mayor from 1978 to 1990, and Koch, who died in 2013, tangled with Trump over building plans, tax breaks, and even Trump’s demand for the city to evict street peddlers on Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower.
The feud reached its high (or low) point in 1987. Trump held the rights to a large chunk of land on the Upper West Side where he was hoping to build “Television City,” a huge development that included new studios for NBC and a 150-story skyscraper that would have been the tallest building in the world. But he also wanted tax breaks and zoning concessions from the city, and Koch wasn’t having any of it.
Koch rejected the tax break in May and then released a nasty series of letters the two men had sent each other about the decision. Koch said Trump’s project was too risky to justify giving away so much tax revenue, while Trump called Koch’s refusal “ludicrous and disgraceful.”
After the letters were released, Trump said the “moron” mayor should quit his job. “The city under Ed Koch is a disaster,” he told the New York Times. “If Donald Trump is squealing like a stuck pig, I must have done something right,” Koch fired back.
Days later, Trump was saying that Koch’s New York was “a cesspool of corruption and of incompetence,” while Koch was calling the developer “greedy, greedy, greedy” and “piggy, piggy, piggy“—before unironically declaring that he had “no intention of allowing this important matter to degenerate into a barnyard kind of contest.”
The fight then flared up again in August when Trump was interviewed for story by PBS’ MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. “Ed Koch could do everybody a huge favor if he got out of office and if they started all over again, because what Ed Koch has is nothing,” Trump said. “I would say he’s got no talent and only moderate intelligence,” he added later in the piece.
The insults even continued after Koch suffered a stroke (his doctors called it “trivial”) that same month. Koch called Trump a “flop” at a September press conference, and Trump responded by asking, “How can our idiot mayor go to Nicaragua when he can’t even run New York City properly?” after Koch announced he’d visit the Central American country as part of a peace delegation.
Eventually the name-calling died down, and the two men even shared a tense handshake in October 1987, but there was no love lost between them. In 1988, as Koch geared up to run for a fourth term, Trump threatened to dump $2 million into an anti-Koch ad blitz. That money never materialized, but, according to Newsday, Trump did donate a small amount to Koch’s primary opponent, David Dinkins—who defeated Koch and replaced him at City Hall.
Read the rest of “The Trump Files”:
- Trump Files #1: The Time Andrew Dice Clay Thanked Donald for the Hookers
- Trump Files #2: When Donald Tried to Stop Charlie Sheen’s Marriage to Brooke Mueller
- Trump Files #3: The Brief Life of the “Trump Chateau for the Indigent”
- Trump Files #4: Donald Thinks Asbestos Fears Are a Mob Conspiracy
- Trump Files #5: Donald’s Nuclear Negotiating Fantasy
- Trump Files #6: Donald Wants a Powerball for Spies
- Trump Files #7: Donald Gets An Allowance
- Trump Files #8: The Time He Went Bananas on a Water Cooler
- Trump Files #9: The Great Geico Boycott
- Trump Files #10: Donald Trump, Tax-Hike Crusader
- Trump Files #11: Watch Donald Trump Say He Would Have Done Better as a Black Man
- Trump Files #12: Donald Can’t Multiply 17 and 6
- Trump Files #13: Watch Donald Sing the “Green Acres” Theme Song in Overalls
- Trump Files #14: The Time Donald Trump Pulled Over His Limo to Stop a Beating
- Trump Files #15: When Donald Wanted to Help the Clintons Buy Their House
- Trump Files #16: He Once Forced a Small Business to Pay Him Royalties for Using the Word “Trump”
- Trump Files #17: He Dumped Wine on an “Unattractive Reporter”
- Trump Files #18: Behold the Hideous Statue He Wanted to Erect In Manhattan
- Trump Files #19: When Donald Was “Principal for a Day” and Confronted by a Fifth-Grader
- Trump Files #20: In 2012, Trump Begged GOP Presidential Candidates to Be Civil
- Trump Files #21: When Donald Couldn’t Tell the Difference Between Gorbachev and an Impersonator
- Trump Files #22: His Football Team Treated Its Cheerleaders “Like Hookers”
- Trump Files #23: Donald Tried to Shut Down a Bike Race Named “Rump”
- Trump Files #24: When Donald Called Out Pat Buchanan for Bigotry
- Trump Files #25: Donald’s Most Ridiculous Appearance on Howard Stern’s Show
- Trump Files #26: How Donald Tricked New York Into Giving Him His First Huge Deal
- Trump Files #27: Donald Told Congress the Reagan Tax Cuts Were Terrible
- Trump Files #28: When Donald Destroyed Historic Art to Build Trump Tower
- Trump Files #29: Donald Wanted to Build an Insane Castle on Madison Avenue
- Trump Files #30: Donald’s Near-Death Experience (That He Invented)
- Trump Files #31: When Donald Struck Oil on the Upper West Side
- Trump Files #32: When Donald Demanded Other People Pay for His Overpriced Quarterback
- Trump Files #33: The Time Donald Sued Someone Who Made Fun of Him for $500 Million
- Trump Files #34: Donald Tried to Make His Ghostwriter Pay for His Book Party
- Trump Files #35: Watch Donald Shave a Man’s Head on Television
- Trump Files #36: How Donald Helped Make It Harder to Get Football Tickets
- Trump Files #37: Donald Was Curious About His Baby Daughter’s Breasts
- Trump Files #38: When Democrats Courted Donald
- Trump Files #39: Watch the Trump Vodka Ad Designed for a Russian Audience
- Trump Files #40: Donald’s Cologne Smelled of Jamba Juice and Strip Clubs
- Trump Files #41: Donald Sued Other People Named Trump for Using Their Own Name
- Trump Files #42: Donald Thinks Asbestos Would Have Saved the Twin Towers
- Trump Files #43: Why Donald Threw a Fit Over His “Trump Tree” in Central Park
- Trump Files #44: Watch Trump Endorse Slim Shady for President
- Trump Files #45: The Easiest 13 Cents He Ever Made
- Trump Files #46: The Time Donald Burned a Widow’s Mortgage
- Trump Files #47: Donald’s Recurring Sex Dreams