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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Edward Helmore

Trump made Nazi ‘ovens’ joke in Jewish executives’ presence, ex-employee says

Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 22 June.
Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A former employee of Donald Trump’s pre-presidency organization has publicly claimed that he once made jokes about Nazi “ovens” while Jewish executives were in the same room.

Barbara Res – a lead engineer on the construction of Trump Tower and author of a memoir, Tower of Lies, about her almost two decades working for the former president – told MSNBC on Sunday that her erstwhile boss would make “ridiculous remarks”.

“We had just hired a residential manager, a German guy,” Res said. “And Donald [Trump] was bragging among – to us executives, there were four of us – about how great the guy was and he was a real gentleman, and he was so neat and clean. And he looked at a couple of our executives who happen to be Jewish, and he said, ‘Watch out for this guy – he sort of remembers the ovens,’ you know, and then smiled.

“Everybody was shocked,” she continued. “I couldn’t believe he said that. But he was making a joke about the Nazi ovens and killing people, and that’s the way he was.”

The Nazis in Germany systematically murdered more than 6 million Jews during the Holocaust and the second world war, and burned the bodies of many in ovens at concentration camps.

Res’s story on Sunday came as both parties are attempting to court the Jewish vote in November’s election, which is expected to be a rematch between Trump and Joe Biden. That vote may be in play over the Biden White House’s handling of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Trump has argued that Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats hate both Israel and Judaism, saying that he and his Republican party are better placed to help end the Gaza war.

Res, who has been critical of Trump’s treatment of women in the past, said the former president’s “embrace of religion” is “absolute nonsense”. She didn’t elaborate, but at the center of the criminal prosecution which recently led to Trump’s conviction on 34 felonies was hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actor who alleged an adulterous affair with Trump early into his marriage with Melania Trump.

Res offered advice to Biden ahead of his televised debate with Trump, scheduled for Thursday.

“I wish [Biden] would goad him and make him go nuts, because when he goes nuts, he’s really crazy,” Res said.

Res’s MSNBC appearance came after Trump held a weekend campaign rally in Philadelphia. She recalled the Nazi joke Trump once told in part because of his choosing to repeat at the rally a hypothetical situation involving an electric boat that sinks under the weight of its batteries and electrocutes the passengers, who are then circled by a shark.

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