It’s 1963 and Donald Trump is standing next to his father when a building manager shows Fred Trump an application for an apartment in the Queens borough of New York City. The potential tenant had been calling every day. She had impeccable credit. She was also black.
“I asked him, ‘What do you want me to do with this application?’ He said, ‘You know I don’t rent to n-----s. Put it in your desk drawer,’” Stanley Leibowitz, the former building manager, told the New York Daily News in a story published Friday. “Donald was alongside of him. He was maybe 16, 17 years old at the time. He was learning the business of his father. He was right at his side."
The allegation that the senior Trump had used the racial epithet — and had a standing policy of rejecting black tenants — comes as the Republican nominee is looking to widen his appeal to black voters. On Saturday Trump plans on visiting a black church in Detroit, where he will tape an interview with a pastor there as he tries to reverse his history of offending black Americans that have largely thrown their support behind his Democratic rival so far.
“It was the first time I heard that. I didn’t know what his policies were,” Leibowitz said. “I was quite surprised and upset.”
The Trump campaign denied to the Daily News the exchange ever happened, with campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks saying, “This claim, which is categorically false, is also totally unsubstantiated. Additionally, as you said, Mr. Trump would have been 16 years old at the time.”
Leibowitz said that he had approached the New York Times with the same information but that the allegation was not printed.
This is not the only indicator, however, that the Trump empire may have discriminated against minorities when renting apartments. In 1973, the Justice Department filed a civil rights case against their firm after an undercover investigation resulted in the rejection of a black apartment seeker followed nearly immediately by the acceptance of a white apartment seeker. That investigation later found that Trump employees had marked applications with secret codes to indicate race, such as a “C” for colored people or a “No. 9.”
Trump, for his part, denies that his organization has discriminated in accepting or rejecting applications.