Secret police file: Trump sure of presidential win, in 1996

Secret police file: Trump sure of presidential win, in 1996
Nearly 30 years ago, Donald Trump was confident he would win the US presidential election -- as an independent in 1996, according to recently uncovered files from Czechoslovakia's Communist-era secret police.

Czechoslovakia was the home nation of Trump's first wife, Ivana, a model, athlete and businesswoman who became the mother of his three oldest children: Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric.

A year before the 1989 collapse of communism in many parts of Europe, details about Ivana Trump's 1988 visit back to her homeland were recorded in a classified police report.

The October 22, 1988 report claimed that Trump refused to run for president in 1988 -- despite alleged pressure to do so -- because he felt, at 42, he was too young. But the secret report said he intended to run in the 1996 US presidential race as an independent, when he would be 50.

"Even though it looks like a utopia, D. TRUMP is confident he will succeed," the police report said, based on information from an unspecified source who talked to Ivana Trump's father, Milos Zelnicek, about her visit.

It was unclear where the alleged "pressure" was coming from. The report is interesting because, in the United States, there was little public knowledge that Trump would consider a presidential run until a 1988 interview on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

"I would never want to rule it out totally," he said then. "I think I'd win," he added. "I wouldn't go in to lose." But Trump didn't create an exploratory committee until about a decade later, when he launched a bid for the Reform Party nomination ahead of the 2000 presidential election. He dropped that effort about four months later.

Trump's first wife was born Ivana Zelnickova in 1949 in the Czechoslovak city of Gottwaldov, the former city of Zlin that just had been renamed by the Communists, who took over the country in 1948. She married Trump, her second husband, in 1977.

As she kept traveling home across the Iron Curtain on a regular basis, Ivana became a tempting target for the powerful, deeply feared Czechoslovak secret police agency known as the StB.

"The State Security was constantly watching (Czechoslovak citizens living abroad)," said Libor Svoboda, a historian from the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague.

"They were coming here, so they used agents to follow them. They wanted to know who they were meeting, what they talked about. It was a sort of paranoia. They were afraid that these people could work for foreign intelligence agencies. They used the same approach toward their relatives as well."

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