Donald Trump, who in the 1990s tried to force an elderly widow out of her Atlantic City home as part of a plan to expand his casino, now says he is glad she resisted, because it helped him avoid a bad investment. By successfully fighting condemnation of her home, Trump told Breitbart News last week, Vera Coking "saved me a fortune."
That experience has not dimmed the Republican presidential contender's enthusiasm for using eminent domain to advance the goals of wealthy developers like him, which he called "a wonderful thing" in an interview with Fox News. Trump, who is frequently described as a "populist" candidate, thinks it's the prerogative of the rich and powerful to push around the little people who get in their way, provided they have a plan, no matter how ill-conceived, that promises "economic development."
The Fifth Amendment allows the government to take property "for public use" as long as it provides "just compensation." But Trump, currently the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, reads "public use," which traditionally referred to facilities like roads and bridges, to mean "public benefit," which opens the door to pretty much any business project.
"If you were going to rip down a house and build another house, no way," the billionaire reality TV star told Breitbart News. "But if you're going to build a factory that's going to have 5,000 jobs, that's entirely different."