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While Donald Trump had no problem demanding that Barack Obama reveal details about his passport and time at college on Wednesday, the billionaire business mogul proved rather less forthcoming when it came to a request for information about himself.Trump announced on Wednesday that he would donate $5m to a charity of Obama’s choosing, if the president handed over his “college records and applications, and passport application and records”.
But when the Guardian contacted Trump’s office to ask for Trump’s college and passport records, it was accused of “trying to be funny” and the request was deemed to be “stupid”.
“I tell you what, he’ll provide them to you when you provide yours to him,” said Michael Cohen, executive vice president at the Trump organisation and special counsel to Trump, in what began as a friendly encounter.
I readily agreed to the deal, and offered to provide my college records and passport-application records to the Trump office for inspection. That seemed to prompt a change of heart.
“But what’s your point? Mr Trump’s not the president of the United States and he’s not running for the presidency,” Cohen said. “And pretty much all you need to do is go to one of the thousand different books that Mr Trump has been featured in or has written and so on, and you could learn more about him than you know about pretty much anybody on the planet.”
Trump has authored and co-authored at least 18 books, including: Trump: The Art of the Deal; Trump: How to Get Rich; and Trump: Surviving at the Top. Unfortunately, none of Trump’s oeuvre graces the bookshelves at the Guardian’s New York office – an oversight which is in the process of being rectified.
Cohen went on to accuse the Guardian of not taking the story seriously. (Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.)
“I think what you’re doing is you’re, whether you’re trying to be funny, intentionally or not, actually it’s a stupid request on your behalf,” he said. “It’s trying to poke fun at the fact that the president of the United States is the least transparent president that we’ve ever had. He may be the least transparent politician we’ve ever come across.
“And I tell you what, why don’t you do this, since you want to be so clever. Why don’t you turn around and say if Mr Trump releases all of his records to you, you will donate $5m to the charity of his choice?”
I pointed out that I did not have $5m to hand. “I’m afraid that you shouldn’t be asking the same request then,” Cohen said.
Your reporter protested that if Trump was demanding that others producer their records, it was only fair that he produced his own. Cohen said: “Do you not think Mr Trump has been scrutinised his entire life?”
Surely, I countered, Obama, as president of the United States, had also been subject to considerable scrutiny?
“No, actually Mr Trump does not [think that],” Cohen said. “I tell you what, since you want our records, do it under the terms Mr Trump has. Make a donation to Mr Trump’s favourite charity.”
I agreed to a donation, but said that it would probably not amount to $5m.
“OK then, $500,000,” Cohen said.
Not being able to put my hands on even so modest a sum as this, I attempted to steer the conversation back to the original suggestion – that Trump would turn over his records in exchange for mine, for free. Cohen promised that he would “take it up with Mr Trump”.
“And by the way, while we’re at it, I’d like to have all your authorisations under HIPAA, for all your medical records as well,” Cohen said.
Happy to oblige, I asked for an address. But Cohen hung up.
So, sadly, we are probably not going to get Donald Trump’s college records and passport-application details. Unless someone has a spare $5m lying around…
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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