Trump's billionaire buddy tried to get him to buy Greenland: book
Donald Trump on the phone in Air Force One (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump's claim that his widely-mocked effort to buy Greenland was his own inspiration was undermined by a report by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker.

"One of the odder moments of Donald J. Trump’s presidency came when he publicly floated the idea of buying Greenland. It caused a predictable furor, generated gales of late-night television jokes and soured relations with Denmark, which rejected the idea of selling the giant Arctic territory," Baker reported. "But it was no passing whim. While many assumed at the time that it was just Mr. Trump being Mr. Trump, expressing a far-fetched thought that came into his head, in fact the idea had been planted by one of his billionaire friends and became the subject of months of serious internal study and debate that flabbergasted cabinet secretaries and White House aides."

Baker's report was based on the forthcoming book The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021 which he published with his wife, New Yorker correspondent Susan Glasser.

"The notion came from Ronald S. Lauder, the New York cosmetics heir who had known Mr. Trump since college," the newspaper reported. "That led to a special team being assigned to evaluate the prospects, resulting in a memo that laid out various options, including a lease proposal akin to a New York real estate deal."

The idea of trying to purchase Greenland was met with skepticism inside the White House.

"The Greenland idea was just one of many that left aides trying to find ways of steering Mr. Trump away from paths they deemed bizarre or reckless. After an early Oval Office meeting where he expounded on his interest in Greenland, one mystified cabinet member was struck by the delusional nature of it. Other advisers tried to keep the idea from leaking out for fear that it would cause a diplomatic incident," the newspaper reported. "Greenland was one issue that absorbed the National Security Council staff for months. Mr. Trump later claimed the idea was his personal inspiration. 'I said, ‘Why don’t we have that?’' he recalled in an interview last year for the book."

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Read the full report.