Todd Brassner died on Saturday, a victim of the 50th-floor fire at Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan.
Brassner, 67, was an art dealer and collector, with a particular interest in Pop art, and a long association with Andy Warhol (Warhol painted Brassner’s portrait, seen here, in 1975).
Since the 2016 election, Brassner had been attempting to sell his apartment in the building that served as the headquarters of the Trump Organization, and effectively, of the Trump presidential campaign. He called called life in the building “untenable” but was unable to attract a buyer.
Brassner was found unconscious and unresponsive in his apartment and was transported to Mount Sinai Saint Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Four firefighters were also injured in the blaze. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
Todd Brassner’s apartment, like others in Trump Tower, lacked emergency sprinklers. A 1999 New York law mandated sprinklers in high-rise residential buildings, however Donald Trump, along with other developers, lobbied to prevent the law from being applied retroactively. Trump Tower was built in 1983.
As of today, Trump has not addressed the sprinklers (or lack thereof) in his tower, or the death of Todd Brassner, or the injured firefighters. His tweet on Saturday was succinct yet self-congratulatory:
According to the New York Daily News, one of the only times Trump is said to have spoken of Brassner, it was to refer to him as a “crazy Jew.”
Slurs and prejudice aside, Donald Trump’s disregard for decency is probably his most telling character trait. He could have made the safety of his Tower residents a priority—that would have been the moral course—but he wasn’t required to. So he didn’t.
Amoral expediency has been his lifelong guiding star. If he could find any way to avoid paying vendors and creditors, they would go unpaid. If he could use bankruptcy as a business tool, he’d go bankrupt. He did it again and again.
These tactics are unsavory on their face, but since they’re not technically illegal, in Trump’s world they’re fair game. His defenders argue that he’s a master of the game, a businessman who makes use of the tools at his disposal. But to them I ask: What about right and wrong?
That question is imperative, not least because so many of Trump’s defenders and supporters count themselves among the religiously faithful. Their parsing of the Stormy Daniels story, and the seemingly unlimited other examples of Trump’s infidelity and immorality, have already demonstrated a shocking level of flexibility where core principles are concerned. You have to wonder how far that goes.
Because the only conclusion I can draw is, Donald Trump doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong. It’s not that such considerations don’t concern him, they’re simply not on his radar. His one and only driving force is What’s In It For Me? Every thought, word, and action is designed to serve him and his agenda. Anything that runs counter to that is to be subdued, circumvented, or crushed—by whatever means necessary.
Is that good business sense? Debatable. I am certain though that it’s symptomatic of sociopathy. That’s a lamentable character trait for the so-called faithful to admire. It’s even worse for the leader of the free world.
Todd Brassner’s death just might demonstrate the danger inherent in power without ethics. Given Trump’s nature and trajectory, Todd Brassner’s death might not be the last.