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New York, NY - Trump’s Orthodox Jewish Lawyer Describes His Boss As Very Presidential

Published on: May 5, 2016 12:00 PM
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VIN News Associate Editor Sandy Eller in interview with Jason Greenblatt at the Trump Tower in New York City on May 3, 2016.VIN News Associate Editor Sandy Eller in interview with Jason Greenblatt at the Trump Tower in New York City on May 3, 2016.

New York, NY - His candidacy has sparked passion and emotion like no other in recent memory, with supporters flocking to the polls in droves while die hard Republicans post messages on social media with the hashtag #Never Trump, but with his last two challengers bowing out after crushing defeats in the latest primary, Donald Trump has found himself the last Republican standing in the 2016 presidential election.

While some may find themselves scratching their heads and wondering how exactly the billionaire businessman emerged victorious from a crowded field of presidential hopefuls, Donald Trump’s in house lawyer said that he never doubted for a minute that his boss could clinch the nomination.

In a Trump Tower interview with VIN News held on the same day as the pivotal Indiana primary, Jason Greenblatt described Donald Trump as a remarkably talented individual who refuses to give up when he truly believes in something.

“He is extremely driven,” Greenblatt told VIN News.  “He strives not only for himself but for others as well and the culture here at the company is to go through that brick wall, not to take no for an answer.”

Greenblatt, a father of six who lives in Teaneck, said that Trump would bring the same approach he uses in his business to the White House if elected in November.

“As president he will set a tone,” said Greenblatt.  “Corruption doesn’t happen. Waste doesn’t happen. Everything needs to be treated like it is your own money because it is.  It is the citizens’ money and when the taxes get paid I would love to know that there is someone in charge who is watching the cash register who understands that every dollar needs to be accounted for.”

While there who were surprised by a Trump run for president, Greenblatt wasn’t one of them. He acknowledged that this particular race was particularly interesting, with two of the candidates sharing similar backgrounds with many members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

“It is one of the great things about this country,” remarked Greenblatt, who graduated from Yeshiva University and earned a degree in law from New York University.  “When you look at Rubio and at Cruz, their parents were like my parents and my in-laws. It is a beautiful country to live in.”

Greenblatt acknowledged that Trump’s statements may sometimes be controversial but noted that Trump’s direct approach has resonated with voters and has captured the interest of many who typically would have little interest in the presidential race.

FILE - American businessman Donald Trump in his office in Trump Tower, Fifth Avenue, New York. APFILE - American businessman Donald Trump in his office in Trump Tower, Fifth Avenue, New York. AP

“I recognize that there are people that don’t agree with some of his views but at the end of the day he’s getting people to talk about things that people have thought about but have never really wanted to voice,” said Greenblatt. “Whether people agree with it or not, he started a conversation, and not just with people who are politically involved; he started a conversation with people like me who were never politically involved. My ten year old, he was nine then, he was watching the debates. People who never watched the debates were watching.”

Having spent 19 years working for the Trump organization, Greenblatt has had many opportunities to see his boss in action and categorized Trump as a creative out of the box thinker. Trump’s willingness to explore new options and do things in a different way have given him the ability to succeed where others haven’t according to Greenblatt, who noted that Trump would bring that same approach to his Middle East policy.

“The Israelis have come to the table multiple times and made multiple concessions and the Palestinians haven’t really gone there yet,” observed Greenblatt. “There has to be a different way to get them to the table and I think he is going to formulate a way to do it.  The one thing I have seen over the course of 19 years is that people want to sit at a table with Donald and negotiate so if anybody can do it I think he is the candidate who can.”

As the father of 17 year old triplets who will likely be considering a year in Israel after their high school graduation in June 2017, Greenblatt said that he would feel comfortable sending his children to Israel with Trump at the helm of the United States-Israel relationship.

“I hope that with somebody like Donald in office, people will come to the table and realize that everybody should want their kids to succeed,” said Greenblatt.  “How many generations of Palestinians have been lost because they didn’t want to come to the table? It is a real shame and I think that there is a sizable portion of the population that would love to find a way to get through this. I think the leadership is not the best for the Palestinian people, but if those are the people at the table then those are the people we are going to have to deal with.  I think somebody like Donald has a talent to try to pull people together.”

Greenblatt ,who was named recently by Trump as one of two advisors on Israel, was quick to point out that at this point in the campaign Trump’s policies on issues like the Middle East and health care have yet to be hashed out. 

“We’re not up to specifics yet,” said Greenblatt. “He has a race to win first.”

Asked what Trump’s position on tax credits for private school parents, Greenblatt said that he doesn’t know that Trump has studied the matter yet but that he could envision that when the issue was raised he might be able to offer some hope to tuition-strapped parents.

 Business mogul Donald Trump arrives at a press event where he announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City.  AP Business mogul Donald Trump arrives at a press event where he announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City.  AP

“I do think that at the right time if I sat with him and with people who are much more knowledgeable than me and explained to him how the system works he is the kind of person who would say, ‘that doesn’t seem fair,’ and ‘let’s see how we can try to resolve it.’”

His tendency to make statements that can ruffle feathers may have earned Trump criticism during the campaign but that same direct approach is part of Trump’s appeal, according to Greenblatt.

“He doesn’t mince words,” said Greenblatt.  “He doesn’t want to worry that people think he is using words he shouldn’t be using, but you’ll understand where his mind is and what he’s trying to say without any kind of cloudiness, without thinking to myself ‘is that what he’s saying?’ and that resonates with me as a citizen. Even if I don’t like that message I want to know what that person is saying.”

Statements like describing Jeb Bush as “low energy” during the campaign may have created some negative buzz for Trump, but Greenblatt said he didn’t find the term divisive.

“I focused on Jeb during the debates and I saw that he may be a talented guy and he may be smart, but Donald is right,” argued Greenblatt.  “He is low energy. Donald has this way of pointing out what should be obvious but maybe isn’t in very simple terms so people really understand it.”

Can that approach work for a president? In Greenblatt’s opinion, the answer is yes and Greenblatt said he expects Trump to be both respectful and a unifier once the race for president has concluded.

“I think he will be measured when he needs to be measured and I think he will be tough when he needs to be tough,” said Greenblatt who categorized the presidential race as intense, with Trump being targeted by the opposition from the very first moment.

“He’s been in a knock down brawl since the day he announced his candidacy,” said Greenblatt. “You have all the pundits who said he wasn’t going to go anywhere, that he wasn’t serious. I’d love to sit with each of them today across the table and say, ‘what do you think now?’”

FILE - American business magnate Donald Trump (2-R), his sons Eric Trump (L) and Donald Trump Jr (2-L) and daughter Ivanka Trump (R) pose for photographers during the ground breaking ceremony of the Trump International Hotel project at the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, USA, 23 July 2014. EPAFILE - American business magnate Donald Trump (2-R), his sons Eric Trump (L) and Donald Trump Jr (2-L) and daughter Ivanka Trump (R) pose for photographers during the ground breaking ceremony of the Trump International Hotel project at the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, USA, 23 July 2014. EPA

While many have labeled Trump brash and arrogant, Greenblatt said that the Trump he has worked with daily for almost two decades is approachable, open to other opinions, respectful and a pleasure to interact with.

“Is he a very important person? Sure.  Is he a celebrity? Sure. But I would never use the word ‘arrogant’ to describe him, never.”

Taking certain media outlets to task, Greenblatt said their coverage of Trump is often completely lacking in objectivity.

“This has been a real education for me when I read things in the mainstream newspapers about Donald, deals that I have worked on, instances where I have had conversations with reporters and they report improperly or they report in a slanted matter,” said Greenblatt. “It’s disgusting.  It’s really thoroughly disappointing.”

Greenblatt noted that the true measure of an individual is their children and he said that the Trump children, with whom he works closely, are all bright, hard working and genuinely nice.

“I would say that they are the smartest people I have worked with and are very much like their father,” said Greenblatt.  “I could have a list of 20 issues on a deal and not only do I get there very quickly because they just get it, they understand the points, but they solve problems so creatively.”

Trump’s children Don, Eric and Ivanka, and several senior staffers could easily take handle day to day operations if the Trump organization if Trump wins the November election.

“His kids are very involved in all aspects of the company so between them and some of the key executives it will be fine,” said Greenblatt.  “We will miss him. We will miss his leadership and his direction but I think his kids will step into the role seamlessly and it will be fine.”

Working daily for a group of people who can often be unconventional in their business approach makes Greenblatt’s job an adventure, sometimes a daily basis.

“It’s why I love my job,” said Greenblatt.  “It’s demanding and it’s stressful; I don’t want to pretend for a minute that it’s not, but it’s exciting and that’s why I love coming to work.”

The Trumps have always been very respectful of Greenblatt’s religious needs and he has often shared the story of how he had been working on an important deal which, despite his best efforts which included sleeping in the office for several nights, he was not able to complete before he had to leave for a three day yom tov.  Trump told Greenblatt not to worry about the deal, but to go home and enjoy his holiday.

Having worked in the Trump organization for so many years, Greenblatt said that Trump was well aware of what an observant Jewish lifestyle was all about when his daughter Ivanka married Jared Kushner,  also an Orthodox Jew.

“He had a good understanding of my having to disappear on Shabbos and yom tov and leaving early on Friday,” said Greenblatt.  “He also knew about dealing with kosher because when I have to eat with him, if it is at an event or somewhere else, he knows I am going to be making some noise when I am unwrapping my food.  I think I framed for him what being Orthodox meant.”

Keeping a sense of balance between his high profile job and his family life is a high priority for Greenblatt.

“My job has always been exciting but I can easily go home and detach from it, even though it does swim in my mind a little bit, but just the conversation at the table with my kids takes precedence over everything,” said Greenblatt.

Should Trump become president, Greenblatt does not see himself relocating to Washington, despite being described by Trump as one of his two advisors on Israel.

“I think the role would be heavy at times and quieter at others,” said Greenblatt.  “We are very entrenched in the Teaneck community and Washington is not so far; you just hop on an Amtrak.  If I am fortunate to be asked to be an even greater role, it is very exciting to be able to do that but I would hate to have to uproot my family and would have to find the right balance.”

Greenblatt has high hopes for a Trump presidency and believes firmly that the majority of Americans will share that vision when they go to cast their votes on November 8th.

“I don’t think there has ever been a candidate like Donald and I think that people are just ready for it,” said Greenblatt.


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Read Comments (14)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 05, 2016 at 12:09 PM Anonymous Says:

And this is exactly what the establishment is afraid of ....someone who will be careful with the taxpayers $$$$ !!!!!!

2

 May 05, 2016 at 12:11 PM elyeh Says:

Notice the "Aitz Chaim" on the wall in Trumps office.

So Trump is familiar with frumeh yidden more than just a visit to a Rebbeh for a political endorsement like some others.

3

 May 05, 2016 at 12:20 PM kenyaninwhitehouse Says:

Kudos to Sandy for this very interesting interview. Sandy you have the best frum news site around.

4

 May 05, 2016 at 02:03 PM Pops Says:

Greenblatt for next attorney general.

5

 May 05, 2016 at 04:03 PM Trump for President! Says:

Trump has more connection to Yiddishkeit, than all of the other original sixteen Republican candidates, and all of the other original five Democratic candidates combined!

6

 May 05, 2016 at 04:12 PM Unimpressed Says:

Trump has injected a degree of sheer crudeness, vulgarity and thugary heretofore unseen in a presidential campaign - and which should have viewed with the utmost revulsion by anyone with any semblance of civil values, and certainly, religious values. Presumably, this lawyer has become immune to such irreverent and reprehensible conduct. I would have respect for this lawyer if he had quit his job with Trump to protest his vulgar behavior. Ah - but those big bucks - trumps moral values any day.

7

 May 05, 2016 at 04:58 PM radrad Says:

#6-Unimpressed

I am unimpressed with your stupid comment. I'm sure Mr Greenblat is a fine person. I'm sure that in your office there is someone crude as well (if you have a job)

Go Kiss up to Hillary the Machshefa and her cheating husband or Bernie the moron

8

 May 05, 2016 at 06:55 PM Heeb Says:

Reply to #6  
Unimpressed Says:

Trump has injected a degree of sheer crudeness, vulgarity and thugary heretofore unseen in a presidential campaign - and which should have viewed with the utmost revulsion by anyone with any semblance of civil values, and certainly, religious values. Presumably, this lawyer has become immune to such irreverent and reprehensible conduct. I would have respect for this lawyer if he had quit his job with Trump to protest his vulgar behavior. Ah - but those big bucks - trumps moral values any day.

U seriously have to be one of the dumbest posters that ever posted anywhere! By the way that's a compliment not an insult because you have surpassed everybody and anybody at any point in time

9

 May 05, 2016 at 06:58 PM Unimpressed Says:

Reply to #7  
radrad Says:

#6-Unimpressed

I am unimpressed with your stupid comment. I'm sure Mr Greenblat is a fine person. I'm sure that in your office there is someone crude as well (if you have a job)

Go Kiss up to Hillary the Machshefa and her cheating husband or Bernie the moron

I have nothing against the lawyer. I have something against his boss. Perhaps you too welcome crudeness and vulgarity. In fact whoever could be most vulgar should be president. Obama for all his faults at least conducts himself with restraint and dignity.

10

 May 05, 2016 at 07:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Unimpressed Says:

Trump has injected a degree of sheer crudeness, vulgarity and thugary heretofore unseen in a presidential campaign - and which should have viewed with the utmost revulsion by anyone with any semblance of civil values, and certainly, religious values. Presumably, this lawyer has become immune to such irreverent and reprehensible conduct. I would have respect for this lawyer if he had quit his job with Trump to protest his vulgar behavior. Ah - but those big bucks - trumps moral values any day.

While you are entitled to you comments, what revolting & reprehensible is the blanket condemnation of an obviously Shomer Torah Mitzvah Yid!
Mr. Greenblatt spoke very candidly & openly regarding his employment relationship with Mr. Trump. He was not pandering to Mr. Trump, merely stating fact. Perhaps by Mr. Greenblatt being in the position he is was part or the H"KB plan & it seems that he has in some small way infused MR. Trump with the morals & practices of a frum person. I think perhaps you need some lessons in how to live as a Yira Shemayim. Cheating, stealing, tax fraud, rudeness, sexual abuse of children, welfare fraud are all taking place in our community & instead of being condemned are tacitly being condoned. Wake up! Yasher Koach Mr. Greenblatt for being a productive member of the Orthodox community. I'm not so sure that "unimpressed" can claim the same.

11

 May 05, 2016 at 08:36 PM Hakohen Says:

To #6-"Unimpressed"- I am not impressed with your boorish posting, which showed a complete lack of respect for Mr. Greenblatt. Here is a case of a boss (Trump), who respects Yiddishkeit, and yet, you have the chutzpah to state that Greenblatt should resign in protest over Trump's alleged "vulgarity", which took place on the campaign trail, and not in the office. Evidently, your family never taught you any manners or derech eretz while you were being raised. This year, on Yom Kippur, when you recite "Al Chet", you should pound your chest twice as hard, for your intemperate, reprehensible, and plain stupid remarks!

12

 May 06, 2016 at 05:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
radrad Says:

#6-Unimpressed

I am unimpressed with your stupid comment. I'm sure Mr Greenblat is a fine person. I'm sure that in your office there is someone crude as well (if you have a job)

Go Kiss up to Hillary the Machshefa and her cheating husband or Bernie the moron

I AM impressed by #6 who says it as it is, I don't know if the lawyer should resign it certainly shouldn't go out and praise a deranged menuvel, mocking a disabled reporter and a war hero for being captured should be enough for any righteous person to understand that he is not fit for the office of the presidency, on top of the fact that he doesn't have any principles and says whatever is needed to make the day.

13

 May 06, 2016 at 06:45 PM Haimov Says:

Would you trust a lawyer?!

14

 May 07, 2016 at 11:43 PM Yiddisha Trump Supporter Says:

It is despicable remarks such as yours, which have no basis in fact, which really burn me up. You refer to Trump as mocking a disabled reporter. Tell me, if you see someone in your Shul who is developmentally disabled, do you make him feel welcome, either at services, or at a Kiddish, or do you stay away from him, or look at him with disgust, because he is "different"? If you look down on such people, who are in our community, then you have no right being critical of Trump. Regarding McCain being a "war hero", he had the chutzpah to be very nasty, publicly, to former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, when Hagel was trying to be confirmed by the Senate, for the position of Secretary of Defense. Chuck Hagel was a combat infantryman on the ground in Vietnam, with his brother. While McCain was bombing people from the air, Hagel was fighting the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese, on the ground in the jungle. McCain was not nice to Hagel, because Hagel did not support the so-called surge in Iraq in 2007. The surge, along with the war in Iraq, was a waste of American lives and resources. Nothing was gained there; Hagel was right, and McCain was wrong, bigtime!

15

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