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Tartan Day: Former Aberdeen Lord Provost recalls fateful meeting in New York with Donald Trump

John Reynolds met with Donald Trump in 2007 at Trump Tower.
John Reynolds met with Donald Trump in 2007 at Trump Tower.

It was November 2007 that would change the course of history for the north-east.

Former Aberdeen Lord Provost John Reynolds took it upon himself to spend nearly £2,000 on a trip to New York to meet Donald Trump in a bid to safeguard his controversial golf development.

Little did he know that Mr Trump would go on to serve as the United President of the States from 2017 to 2021.

Mr Reynolds had previously met Mr Trump at three different separate Tartan Day parades in the Big Apple from 2003-2006.

When Mr Reynolds first heard about plans for the Trump International Golf Resort in Balmedie he was fully behind it and the benefit it would bring to the region.

He was enjoying lunch at the Marcliffe Hotel in Aberdeen with friends when he found out the plans had been refused.

Meeting at Trump Tower

A week later he was on a plane jetting out to the states.

He said: “It was disappointing and I wanted to support him.

“I thought it was great from a tourism point of view.

“I spent more than £1,000 on flights and £800 for two nights at the Waldorf.”

The meeting took place on the 26th floor of Trump Tower.

He said: “We had a 20-minute appointment. The first 15 minutes was just catching up from the last time we met.

“What he and his lawyer wanted to know was is there was anyway we could change the decision.

“I pointed him in the right direction as far as Aberdeenshire Council was concerned and who to talk to to get the decision changed.

“There was a knock at the door and his receptionist came in and told him his next appointment was waiting.

“It was Ian Paisley, the former first minister of Northern Ireland.

“He told me Mr Paisley wanted his golf course but he was sticking with Aberdeen.

“At least it was a good visit.”

Mr Trump eventually succeeded in opening  Trump International Scotland in 2012 to generally positive reviews about its quality and beauty.

Different side of Trump during election campaign

Mr Reynolds is well aware Mr Trump is a figure who divides opinion wherever he goes – but when in his company he always found him polite.

But it was during the presidential election campaign that Mr Reynolds noticed a different Mr Trump to the one he knew.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the North Carolina Republican Convention in Greenville, North Carolina on Saturday, June 5, 2021.

He said: “I had always talked to him one-to-one and was never one to watch American television so hadn’t seen him on the Apprentice which he was doing so didn’t see how he reacted.

“What came as the biggest surprise was watching during the presidential debate and he came across as very aggressive.

“That was the shock I got. It wasn’t the same guy I knew.

“I saw him as a different guy altogether.

“He tends to open his mouth and let his tummy rumble at times.

“From a presidential point of view in many respects he did a lot of good for the country.

“He’s a strong character there’s no doubt about that.

“If you are asking me would I prefer Biden or Trump as personalities and individuals I’d probably say Trump.

He tends to open his mouth and let his tummy rumble at times.”

“I’m not right-wing or left-wing, I’m in the middle.

“I felt that Trump was a very strong personality and seemed to have all  the armed forces behind him and was highly regarded by the police force.

“I saw the big change from chatting at a reception to what he was on the television.”

“He was a real chatty person.

“Very pro the United Kingdom and pro-Scotland.”

Donald Trump on a previous visit to the Menie Estate.

Golf course been ‘good attraction’

Mr Reynolds has no regrets when it comes to the backing he gave the controversial golf course plans.

He said: “It has been a good attraction whatever you think of the way it’s been done or its history.

“It’s a difficult one to address as they do things differently in the United States to the way we do.

“But the positive that’s come out of it is that it’s a good attraction.

“I’m not a golfer myself but it’s bringing in the money.

“I was involved with tourism for many years and always had an interest in how we can attract people to the north-east and it’s certainly done that.”


Read our five-part investigation

Trump at Menie: The untold tales of intrigue, threats of violence and destroyed friendships

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