In an interview for a new book, Donald Trump insisted the idea to buy Greenland from Denmark was all his. Looking at a map, the president wondered, "Why don't we have that?" Trump told husband-and-wife journalists Peter Baker of the New York Times and Susan Glasser of the New Yorker. "I love maps. And I always said: 'Look at the size of this. It's massive. That should be part of the United States.'" But Baker writes at the Times that the idea actually originated elsewhere. "Interviews with a wide array of figures close to the former president" reveal that the idea—the subject of many a late-night-TV joke—came from Trump's longtime friend Ronald Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics company named for his mother.
Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, had given Trump the idea early in the presidency, offering to negotiate with the Danish government, according to Baker and Glasser's book, The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021. "A friend of mine, a really, really experienced businessman, thinks we can get Greenland," Trump reportedly told his national security adviser John Bolton, who believed an American presence in the Arctic would counter Chinese influence. Baker describes what resulted: "months of serious internal study and debate that flabbergasted cabinet secretaries and White House aides." There were reportedly secret talks with the Danish ambassador, with Trump suggesting a trade of Puerto Rico for Greenland.
The book also claims Trump made a remarkable offer to Jordan's King Abdullah II that Jordan could somehow have control of the West Bank, per the Washington Post. It also describes how Melania Trump went to her husband to tell him, "You're blowing this" in regard to his COVID response; details how chief of staff John Kelly came to see Trump as a "pathological liar" with an "inflated ego," per Baker; discusses threats of top officials to resign in response to the separation of parents and children at the southern border; and recounts Trump's criticisms of women's appearances, including Nikki Haley's "complexion problem," which he reportedly said ruled her out as a running mate. The book is out Tuesday from Doubleday. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)