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Trump on Eminent Domain for Private Corporations: ‘I Think It’s a Wonderful Thing’

Responding to a question about the landmark Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court decision, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that he supports allowing private businesses to take property through eminent domain if it promotes economic development.

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Barry Donegan
Barry Donegan is a writer, musician, and pro-liberty political activist living in Nashville, TN. Donegan served as Director-at-Large of the Davidson County Republican Party from 2009-2011 and was the Middle Tennessee Regional Coordinator over 30 counties for Ron Paul's 2012 Presidential Campaign. Follow him at facebook.com/barry.donegan and twitter.com/barrydonegan

On Tuesday’s episode of Fox News’ Special Report, billionaire real estate tycoon and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump explicitly detailed his support of the use of eminent domain to transfer property owned by a citizen to a private corporation, saying, “Nobody knows this better than I do.

In the clip, which can be seen in the above-embedded video player, Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Donald Trump to explain his support for the controversial landmark Supreme Court decision Kelo v. City of New London which interpreted the takings clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment as allowing the government to forcibly transfer a private citizen’s property to a private corporation if it is believed that the corporation’s intended use of it would result in economic development.

Well, I think eminent domain is wonderful, if you’re building a highway, and you need to build, as an example, a highway, and you’re going to be blocked by a hold-out, or, in some cases, it’s a hold-out, just so you understand, nobody knows this better than I do, because I built a lot of buildings in Manhattan, and you’ll have 12 sites and you’ll get 11 and you’ll have the one hold-out and you end up building around them and everything else, okay? So, I know it better than anybody. But when you’re building a road, when you’re building a highway, when you’re building something, you can’t have a hold out. You know? You have to make our country work. So eminent domain for that is good,” said Trump, commenting on the use of eminent domain for public works projects.

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He continued, this time explaining his support for the use of eminent domain to transfer property between a private citizen who does not want to sell and a corporation, “I think eminent domain for massive projects, for instance, you’re going to create thousands of jobs, and you have somebody that’s in the way, and you pay that person far more — don’t forget, eminent domain, they get a lot of money, and you need a house in a certain location, because you’re going to build this massive development that’s going to employ thousands of people, or you’re going to build a factory, that without this little house, you can’t build the factory. I think eminent domain is fine.

Trump then claimed that the fiscally conservative group Club for Growth, which opposes eminent domain for private corporations, is running a television ad, seen below, attacking him on his position on the issue because he would not give them $1 million, which he referred to as “pretty much” extortion. “They’re not very smart people,” said Trump of the Club for Growth.

If you have a road or highway, you gotta do it. If you have a factory where you have thousands of jobs, and you need eminent domain, it’s called economic development,” said Trump. “The little guy [who does not want to give up the property] sometimes gets a lot of money. I mean sometimes they’ll get four or five times what their property is worth, and now you’re employing thousands of people and you’re able to build a factory, you’re able to build an Apple computer center where thousands of people will work. Now, you can do that or you can say, ‘Let the man have his house.’

[RELATED: Donald Trump Unveils Tax Plan: Here Are the Details]

Trump then told an anecdote about a time in the past when he had to cancel a hotel construction project because a court ruled against his intention to transfer a New Jersey woman’s home into his possession through eminent domain.

Responding to a statement by U.S. Senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in which he said that the result of the Kelo v. City of New London decision would be that “working families and poor people will see their property turned over to corporate interests and wealthy developers“, Trump replied, “It’s not right. It’s not right. Look, the way they talk, people would say, ‘oh, it’s turned over.’ It’s turned over for four, five, six, ten times sometimes what it’s worth. People pay them a fortune. But sometimes you have people that want to hold out just for the — most of the time, I will say, I’ve done a lot of outparcels, I call them outparcels. Most of the time, they just want money, okay? It’s very rarely that they say ‘I love my house. I love my house. It’s the greatest thing there.’ Because these people can go buy a house now that’s five times bigger, in a better location, so eminent domain, when it comes to jobs, roads, the public good, I think it’s a wonderful thing, I’ll be honest with you, and remember, you’re not taking property, you know, the way you asked the question, the way other people — you’re paying a fortune for that property. Those people can move two blocks away into a much nicer house.

The billionaire real estate mogul wrapped up the topic by suggesting that conservatives do not understand the issue. “I think it’s a great subject. It’s a very interesting subject. I fully understand the conservative approach. But I don’t think it was explained to most conservatives,” said Trump.

For more election coverage, click here.

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