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Sunday, June 23, 2024

How New York City Turned Against Donald Trump

2 April: Donald Trump has always been a New York icon. His name was everywhere in the city: on the newspapers, on the buildings, on the attitude. He was a symbol of New York’s ambition, glamour, and flair. But now, as he prepares to return to his hometown, he faces a cold welcome from the city that spurned him.

New York voters have rejected him twice in presidential elections. New York protesters have denounced him in the streets. And now, New York jurors have indicted him on criminal charges. The city that he loved has delivered a harsh verdict: Indictment No. 71543-23.

“He wanted to be in Manhattan. He loved Manhattan. He had a connection to Manhattan,” says Barbara Res, a former vice president at the Trump Organization who worked with him for years. “I don’t know that he has accepted it and I don’t know that he believes it, but New York turned on him.”

Trump’s relationship with New York was a long and complicated one. He was born and raised in Queens, where his father built a real estate empire in the outer boroughs. But Trump had bigger dreams: he wanted to conquer Manhattan. He made his mark with his renovation of the Commodore Hotel into the Grand Hyatt, and then pursued more projects, publicity, and power in the city. He hobnobbed with politicians and celebrities, frequented Studio 54 and other nightclubs, and courted near-constant media attention.

But his love for New York was not reciprocated. He became a polarizing figure in the city, often clashing with local officials, critics, and rivals over his business deals, lawsuits, and controversies. He also alienated many New Yorkers with his political views and actions, especially his role in promoting the false “birther” conspiracy theory against former President Barack Obama.

Trump’s rise to the presidency only widened the gap between him and his hometown. He lost New York by a wide margin in both 2016 and 2020, despite winning the electoral college. He faced massive protests and resistance from New Yorkers who opposed his policies and rhetoric. And he moved his official residence from Trump Tower to Florida in 2019, citing unfair treatment by local authorities.

Now, Trump faces another challenge from New York: a criminal indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has been investigating his business practices for years. The indictment accuses Trump’s company and its chief financial officer of tax fraud, alleging that they paid employees with off-the-books perks to avoid taxes. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the case a “witch hunt” by his political enemies.

But the indictment is a serious blow to Trump’s image and legacy in New York. It tarnishes his reputation as a successful businessman and exposes him to potential legal consequences. It also signals that New York is not willing to let him off the hook for his actions.

Trump may have left New York, but New York has not left him alone. The city that gave him fame has also given him infamy. The city that shaped him has also shamed him. The city that he adored has also abhorred him.

Donald Trump was once a New York sensation. He epitomized the city’s spirit of ambition, glamour, and flair. He was a fixture of the city’s media, social, and political scene. He saw himself as the king of New York.

“Trump grew up with a lot of resentment toward others who he thought had more fame, wealth, or popularity,” says David Greenberg, a Rutgers University professor and author of “Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency.” “Making it in Manhattan — building Trump Tower and becoming a part of the Manhattan elite in the 1980s — meant a lot to him.”

But he never really won the hearts of New Yorkers. He left behind a trail of unpaid bills, disgruntled workers, and skeptical citizens who saw through his self-aggrandizement. He was a unique character, but not a beloved one.

So, for years, Trump’s life in New York went on as the city moved on without him. He had multiple marriages and divorces. He built more skyscrapers. He filed for bankruptcy several times. He gained and lost fame.

He was never an ordinary New Yorker, riding the subway or eating a hot dog from a street cart, but for many he was a harmless, if oversized, presence.

That changed with his years of spreading false and racist claims about Barack Obama’s birthplace, and by the time he announced his presidential campaign at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, many in his hometown had no patience for his hateful rhetoric. He became a laughingstock on “Saturday Night Live” at Rockefeller Center and a target of boos at a Waldorf-Astoria gala. In many parts of the city, disdain for Trump turned into loathing.

Even among Republicans, many saw him as fake as a knockoff handbag on Canal Street. He won the state’s Republican primary, but lost Manhattan by a landslide.

Trump’s presidency only widened the gap between him and his hometown. He lost New York by a huge margin in both 2016 and 2020, despite winning the electoral college. He faced massive protests and resistance from New Yorkers who opposed his policies and words. And he moved his official residence from Trump Tower to Florida in 2019, claiming unfair treatment by local authorities.

Now, Trump faces another challenge from New York: a criminal indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has been investigating his business dealings for years. The indictment accuses Trump’s company and its chief financial officer of tax fraud, alleging that they paid employees with undeclared perks to avoid taxes. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and called the case a “witch hunt” by his political foes.

But the indictment is a serious blow to Trump’s image and legacy in New York. It damages his reputation as a successful businessman and exposes him to possible legal consequences. It also signals that New York is not willing to let him get away with his actions.

Trump may have left New York, but New York has not left him alone. The city that gave him fame has also given him infamy. The city that shaped him has also shamed him. The city that he adored has also abhorred him.

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