How to Discuss Donald Trump at a Law Interview
Wondering what topical issues you might be asked in your next interview? Unsure how to display an impressive amount of commercial awareness? Our ‘How to Discuss’ series delves into the latest news stories and reveals the best way to broach them if asked in an interview.
Donald J Trump has been in office for over a year now, and yet his presidency is still making headlines. Law firms value commercial awareness, and having knowledge on the political and legal world, and how they intertwine, is vital should you wish to succeed in an interview.
Who is Donald Trump?
Whether your opinions on Trump are negative, positive or indifferent, it is important to have a grasp on his life before his current fame. Here’s the very basics to add some context and demonstrate an understanding beyond what you may read in the headlines:
- His full name is Donald John Trump, he was born in New York City and he is (currently) 71 years old;
- His father, Fred, was a very successful real estate developer (think buying and selling of land, development of apartments etc.);
- He has a Bachelor of Science in Economics.
Trump’s Real Estate Career and Business Success
He began his career within his father’s company, whose main focus was rental housing in New York.
In the late 1970s, he became a renowned figure in the Manhattan development scene for the purchase and renovation of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. However, this was financed by a $70 million construction loan partly from his father.
Perhaps this is a point to raise whilst challenging Trump’s real estate success, as it does appear as though he had a helping hand and may not be as “self-made” as he professes.
From this point onward, Trump continued to build and purchase numerous properties, most notably Trump Tower and casinos in the Atlantic City area. This is undeniable evidence of strong negotiation skills, and an ability to spot cheap building opportunities which will yield a profit. This type of ‘wheeling and dealing’ behaviour allowed Trump to amass a fortune, which as of 2018 stands at 3.1 billion US Dollars.
Due to this financial success, Trump launched the TV show The Apprentice (which had the same format as the UK version), in which aspiring entrepreneurs effectively compete for his approval and investment. This solidified his position as not only a successful businessman, but also a reality star.
On November 8 2016, Trump was elected President of the United States.
Controversial Moments Pre-Election
An analysis by USA Today published in June 2016 found that over the previous three decades, Trump and his businesses have been involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. federal courts and state court. His apparent financial success has not come easily, and has been subject to numerous challenges.
In 1990, he was nearly $1 billion in personal debt, but reached an agreement with bankers to avoid having to declare personal bankruptcy.
In 2009, Trump resigned from his position as chairman of Trump Entertainment resorts and, days later, the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
Is Trump a Racist, Xenophobe, Both or Neither?
In 1973, Trump and his father were named in a lawsuit alleging that they had violated law by turning away potential African American tenants.
In 2011, during an interview on Good Morning America, Trump questioned whether President Barack Obama was actually born in the United States.
Seven days after taking the oath of office, Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee arrivals for 120 days, and banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim majority countries for 90 days.
On January 11 2018, during a meeting on immigration reform, trump refers to African nations as “sh*thole countries”.
This appears to support the idea that over a course of more than 40 years, Trump has held a derogatory attitude towards ethnic minorities and certain countries outside of the US, and his opinions have not changed since his election.
Enjoying our How to Discuss article? There’s more here…
Is Donald Trump Fit for Office?
Trump is the first US President in history who has never held elected office, a top government post or a military rank.
In 2016, the New York Times reported that Trump declared a questionable $916 million loss in 1995, which appears to have allowed him to legally skip paying federal income taxes for years.
Later in that year, footage emerged of the future President talking in an offensive nature about women, and included numerous well-publicised, vulgar remarks. He later denied this incident, prompting 11 women to come forward to the press and claim that they were either sexually assaulted or harassed by Trump. He denies this also.
In September 19 2017, in a speech at the United Nations, he referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “rocket man”.
From the day he was elected, Trump has dealt with three mass shootings within the United States, the most recent being the Parkland Shooting on February 14th 2018 in which 17 people died.
On March 28 2018, the President of the United States tweeted “THE SECOND AMMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED.”
The Second Amendment is that which protects the rights of the people to keep and bear arms. This tweet was made despite the “March for Our Lives” on the 24th March in which over 1.2 million protesters across the United States participated in with the aim of ensuring tighter gun control.
The Legal Implications of Trump’s Presidency
As President, Trump has executive powers. He can make ‘executive orders’, which are legally-binding directives which cannot be overturned. However, they are subject to judicial review and therefore can be tested in the courts.
An example of this was the heavily criticised travel bans introduced by Trump. Interestingly, they appear to be in conflict with international commitments the US has; most notably, the Geneva Refugee Convention, which requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds.
Some US Supreme Court Justices in fact cited international consensus as informing their interpretation of US Law and principles when refusing to enforce the bans. This demonstrates the limits and scope of Trump’s power.
In addition to this, it appears as though Trump is insistent that any deal his administration makes is on America’s terms. This is shown with his numerous verbal attacks on treaties and his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Trump does not feel any responsibility to honour agreements made by previous presidents. Legally, he is within his rights to do so, and although notice must be given, a Brexit-style exit from numerous international treaties may occur. This could have implications globally, as it cast doubts on America’s commitment to working collaboratively with other nations with Trump in charge.
Therefore, an understanding on Donald Trump is vital in an interview. His position as leader of the United States means he has influence over numerous trade agreements, of which many UK Firms centre their business around.
>> Find out more about the impact of Brexit on law firms with our blog post: Impact of Brexit on Law Firms.
How to Apply All of This in an Interview
Donald Trump is a controversial character, that is undeniable.
His real estate career is a perfect opportunity to discuss your employment law and conveyancing knowledge.
His questionable tax returns and companies’ bankruptcy history are a great avenue for you to explore and mention your understanding of UK Business law our Companies Act.
His constant tweeting, off the cuff remarks and strained relationship with North Korea are the perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate an awareness of the political scene.
No matter what your opinion, mentioning Trump is a sure fire way to start a conversation (and possible debate) at your interview!
>> Ace that interview with help from TLP!
Published: 10/04/18 Author: Lauren Howard