CAIRO - 4 August 2019: Around the world, we often see Egyptian figures holding the name of Egypt high with utter appreciation and honor, excelling in their fields, and carrying their great ancient culture with them abroad.
(ROSS JOHNSTON/NEWSLINE SCOTLAND PRESS AGENCY)
Egypt Today was able to interview one of these prominent figures, namely George A. Sorial, who since 2007 has served as the Trump Organization's top compliance official and adviser to President Donald Trump prior to his election in 2016.
What are the reasons for you to leave Trump after you have been working since 2007?
After working for the Trump Organization for almost 13 years, it was simply time to do something else. I also could not promote my book and remain as EVP and Chief Compliance Counsel. I also wanted to get involved with President Trump's 2020 election efforts so I need more time to focus on these matters, which I could not do with a full-time position. I have set up my own consulting company, Sorial Consulting (www.sorialconsulting.com)
and will handle a wide variety of other matters. I will always remain close to the President and his family - they were very good to me and I believe that President Trump is doing great things for the United States.
After you leave the Trump Foundation what advice do you give to who will come after you, is it expected to be Gil Martin?
Jill Martin is incredible - she will do a great job. I think she needs to follow the simple rule of being honest and diligent, a little bit of patience always helps as well! I have no doubt she is up to the challenge and will manage whatever the Democrats throw at her.
Your book "The Real Deal: My Battles in Fighting Battles and Winning Wars with Trump" .. How did his idea begin? And for those who have not read the book, what are the main themes that it addresses?
I was tired of seeing the daily attacks by the biased main stream media, who do not know the President. I remember well the day I was sitting in the Oval Office and he was berating all those so-called biographers and experts who spent little more than 30 minutes with him and then claimed to know him intimately. I chimed in, half in jest, that maybe I should write a book on him, and he said, "Yeah, I think that's a great idea; you can be my biographer!" And so, The Real Deal was born.
It is simply a compilation of stories about my experiences, and that of many others, with DJT and the Organization. He is an unconventional, diligent, creative, focused and passionate person who brings that same level of intensity to the White House. He has only one goal - to make the United States a global powerhouse, which I appreciate.
The book has many details of how Trump's opponents are trying hard to destroy his organization with new ways and tactics, including cutting telephone lines
Making fake hotel reservations and canceling them, in addition to threats to employees because of their work in the organization, and there is a chapter about lawyer Michael Cohen.
Through your work at the Trump Foundation since 2007, given your proximity to Trump? How do you evaluate his personality?
I worked very closely with him every day - in one word, he is driven and focused on success. He was very down to earth and easy to work with. He was full of "old world" charm and always made people around him feel good. He brings a businessperson's unique approach to problem-solving to the government, which really needs that type of thinking.
How do you see him as President of the United States of America? What are the most important advantages and disadvantages in his administration?
As a private citizen, I can honestly say that he has done a tremendous job with the economy, the judiciary, the military and is making huge progress on global trade. The United States is once again a top global superpower and it will only get better. I see no disadvantages with anything he has done and feel that is it’s about time we have a President that puts America first - period.
Terrorism, rocketing illegal immigration, economic conflict with China and others: these are the existential issues that leave America in a perilous position in a very dangerous world. Globalism is under attack on every continent as a consequence, and it's about time that the United States had a president that put the nation first. This is what these times demand and this man has our back.
He's fighting our corner against China, NATO, Europe, our southern neighbors and their porous borders. How long can we continue to be the world's banker and its peacekeeper? It is time that we concentrated on our own issues, not because we should not play a leading role in the world but because we need to look after our own first and help others next. Some of the global decisions that tie us into trade deals, agreements and protocols were approved decades ago and, in some cases, in the aftermath of the Second World War-time has moved on and we need to focus on our own issues. I want a guy who gives me a strong economy, record-low unemployment, and fights for America in the world, not sophisticated vocabulary.
To what extent do you see Trump's success as president if he is again nominated for the US presidency?
He will get re-elected in 2020 based upon his record. When Damian - Co-author of the real deal book- and I were in The White House having dinner with him-yes, just the three of us-he told us that he was ready for the battle ahead as he seeks re-election.
There are many reservations from different countries in the use of Trump for his account in twitter, where used to respond to political opponents or media or even explain the international point of view, what is your personal assessment of the use of Twitter in response to opponents?
I think his twitter use is one of the reasons he was elected, it allows him to communicate directly with the people, without filters. He may say some unconventional things but people love that and relate to his everyday message. Twitter is one of the things that make him unique.
George Sorial, Managing Director for International Development of the Trump Organisation, on the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Through your close-up business with Trump, How he thinks and how he makes his decisions?
He's intense, he's demanding, but it's all driven by his passion to deliver an end product that people love. And yes, I've been in his firing line once or twice in my career! But his approach is quite simple, really. Early on in my Trump Organization career, after a long, hard day on a construction project, the two of us were walking alone across the site, and he reflected upon a question that he was often asked: "How did you achieve your success?"
He gave a simple response, but it was one that I still think about often. "I look around, I see what people want and I give it to them."
That's the Donald J. Trump mantra: give the people what they want.
Too many politicians think that they know best, that they don't need to listen to the people and acknowledge that things aren't how they should be. President Trump does listen and is prepared to talk about-and tackle-some fairly contentious issues and change his position if need be to make sure the best outcome is achieved. Yes, he's a brawler and is not interested in wrapping the answers in sophisticated language that appeals to the legislators. He's focused on giving you the results you want.
I remember once when a major development project we were involved in got kicked out by politicians, I was shocked. Yes, there was a significant meltdown from head office but then, when the storm had settled, DJT (as we all know him) calmly phoned me and told me to pick myself up, dust myself down, and fight back. Those words of comfort and support were significant and we went on to overturn the decision and get the project built. Never give up, fight on, take each small step at a time and get the job done.
And that's how he gets the job done, that's how he has defied all the odds in business and that's how he became the President of the United States.
The book will talk about Michael Cohen, Former lawyer of President Trump, accused of violating the campaign finance and tax evasion law and paying two women for their silence after they threatened during the US presidential campaign to reveal Trump's sexual relationship with them.what is your assessment of this issue? What mistakes did Cohen make in your opinion?
Michael Cohen was my friend, and, in fact, we were pretty close. We socialized together; I knew his family and he knew mine. However, to suggest that he was The Trump Organization's top lawyer and dealmaker is surreal because he was actually neither.
We started at The Trump Organization around the same time and initially worked together on projects close to Donald J.Trump's heart, including at Trump World Tower on First Avenue, where I lived and Michael owned investment properties.
But that's where the similarities ended. Michael came to Mr. Trump's attention because he invested in the brand. He was funny, a showman and a bit of a blunt force - and that caught Mr. Trump's eye. Michael made a role for himself untangling difficult negotiations, smashing through and causing a stink to break the deadlock. He was not a fine negotiator, nor a good lawyer. Just ask those who worked alongside him. In fact, I remember Mr. Trump once telling him: "Michael, you're no diplomat."
Much of his legal work - the little he did do - was of poor quality and had to be redrafted. And Michael would probably admit that himself. He didn't even run his own department and never managed a single project in the decade he worked for The Trump Organization.
To suggest he was some kind of mystical Svengali, or fixer, is so far wide of the mark it is laughable. But he was loyal and if there's one area that is President Trump's Achilles heel, it's his loyalty to the people he employs. Despite his TV persona, he did not fire people at will, quite the contrary; people stay with the organization for decades.
So, for Michael to stand up in front of Congress and claim authority over major decision making in the business is ridiculous. He was hired muscle, a bluff-speaking New Yorker who could shock people into action. He was not the negotiator, deal-maker nor right-hand man he portrayed himself as.
Sure, he chased licensing deals and some outlandish opportunities but that's a long way removed from getting them close to fruition. Trump Moscow was more fantasy than anything tangible; another Cohen proposal that no-one in the office took seriously. It was destined to end in failure and disappointment like so many others that Michael worked on.
I know of no occasion that Michael actually secured a real estate deal, closed on a licensing opportunity or concluded any other development. He just wasn't involved with the core of our business. He was a lone wolf constantly seeking the boss's approval and a proverbial pat on the back and forever fearing others would take his credit.
To be perfectly honest, his judgment just wasn't good enough to be let loose on a project in that way. There were always more trusted executives looking over his shoulder to keep him right. And everyone hated mopping up after him.
He was fun to be around and yes, if you were a friend who needed help in the middle of the night, Michael would drop everything. But that doesn't mean he was a consigliere within the company; he was just a cog in the wheel and not a very big one at that. In fact, Don, lvanka and Eric avoided him as much as they could
Everyone knew that he wanted a post in The White House; it was a running joke in the company. He would mention it to many people just about every day during the campaign and transition period, but when the boss handed over the keys and headed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Michael's raison d'etre had gone. He was obsessed with DJT and needed his attention; when that was taken from him, he was crushed.
It was clear that he no longer had a role, it was time for him to move onto pastures new, too. But, instead of walking away, Michael turned and bit the hands that fed him, postulating fictitious and exaggerated accusations that have hurt ordinary, good, honest people just trying to make a living in the company. He's thrown them to a pack of bloodthirsty wolves.
I don’t say any of this to hurt Michael - he's done that to himself - I'm here to fight the corner of all those innocent people who work for The Trump Org, ordinary people like you and me, and the business itself; and yes, to fight for The President.
President Trump has succeeded in real estate development, television and got elected to the most prestigious political post on the planet. He built an empire of dozens of commercial and residential properties that residents love and amassed awards and high ratings galore, alongside 11hotels, and 19 golf courses with thousands of members. Who else can boast that? Whatever you want to say about him very few people have achieved at the highest level in so many different industries. He's no cheat, conman, nor racist; quite the opposite. And Michael knows that.
As I watched Michael give evidence to Congress, I'm sure I saw a look of regret on his face. There's no doubt in my mind that he will regret this for the rest of his life. He's going to be remembered forever for turning on his friends and those who were most loyal to him.
Remember, Michael, you're going to jail because you lied to Congress, didn't pay your taxes and defrauded financial institutions in your personal life - there's no-one to blame for that but yourself, my friend.
There are accusations by Democrats of Trump of a conflict of interest between Trump's ownership of a huge trading empire and he is president of the United States at the same time.
The Democrats have yet to make any case and ignore the sacrifices that the company has made. We have halted all new deals going forward and have implemented a very vigorous compliance program.
No President in history has taken a bigger financial hit by occupying the Oval Office than Donald J. Trump.
The cost to him personally, and to his company in general, is astonishing and amounts to hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in lost opportunities both at home and abroad; all of which is down to self-imposed regulation, he doesn't even take a salary. But he does it willingly and happily, because he wants to be the man who gets America back on track. He knows he can make a difference and he knows he can get things done. That's why he gave up his seat in Trump Tower and that's why the people of America put him in the White House.
It was never about personal, financial gain, and the ridiculous allegations of his businesses benefitting from him being president are utter nonsense. The company voluntarily gives up any gain from foreign governments and the company remains in stasis-again voluntarily-while he sits in the White House. The Trump Org will not do any new foreign deals until he leaves office, even though the foreign expansion was the backbone of the firm's ten-year strategic plan.
You have Egyptian roots. We would like to give a brief account of your family's migration to the United States of America. Will you visit Egypt someday?
I love Egypt! My father left to pursue medical studies in England where he met my mother. I have been to Egypt more than 30 times and will always come back. Once Egypt gets into your heart it never leaves and I am VERY proud of my Egyptian roots.
Egypt is moving steadily towards the future. What is your advice to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to be Egypt a major country in the world?
President Al-Sisi is a strong leader and represents Egypt very well. He is doing a tremendous job and I know that President Trump has a lot of respect for him. Egypt needs to stay closely aligned with the USA and the west and eradicate fundamentalism, which seems to be an ongoing problem. I am sure that President Al-Sisi will continue to do well and I hope to meet him one day, which would be a great honor.
Additional reporting by Michael Fares