Donald Trump praises Saddam Hussein these days. “He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good,” Trump said on Tuesday. Last fall, Trump said that the world would be “100 percent” better if Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi were still in power.
But you know when Trump was really angry at Saddam? Back in the early 1990s, when Trump — deep in debt and piling on loans in the midst of a recession — blamed the Iraqi leader for his business woes.
In August 1990, Trump couldn’t break even on his Taj Mahal casino hotel and the Trump Shuttle airline — but it wasn’t his fault. “Nobody projected that oil prices would go through the roof because of some madman in the Middle East,” Trump said, according to Newsday. “This just adds to and makes the recession worse.”
Trump owed his creditors $245 million for the Trump Shuttle, and he had missed a $1.1 million interest payment. The airline merged with another company in 1992.
But some analysts, like Barbara J. Wedelstaedt of the Duff & Phelps financial consulting firm, said the economy was already unstable before Iraq’s war. “Recession fears and concerns about bank credit quality were already being discussed, and Donald Trump and William Farley [owner of a private equity firm] created their own financial problems without the help of the crazy Iraqi,” she told PRNewswire at the time.
In 1991, citing the Persian Gulf War, Trump renegotiated a deal for a heavyweight boxing championship between Evander Holyfield and George Foreman, the Associated Press reported. The war would make it hard for gamblers from East Asia to visit, Trump said.
Trump had signed a contract promising $11 million to promoters for holding the event at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, but he wanted to reduce costs to between $5 million and $6 million. “It’s a fabrication on behalf of Donald Trump to use the war to renegotiate a deal. I think it’s repulsive,” Holyfield’s promoter said.
In the end, the fight was held at Trump’s casino, and Trump was able to negotiate a new contract. He lowered the site fee, but not the ticket prices. The fight grossed a record $75 million.