Trump's UPenn Admissions Officer Interviewer Was Best Friends With Fred Trump Jr: Report

The University of Pennsylvania admissions office worker who interviewed Donald Trump at the school in 1966 says UPenn's Wharton School was easy to get into, and the talk was set up by one of his best friends: Fred Trump Jr.

James Nolan, 81, said Trump's older brother, Fred Trump Jr., was a longtime best friend of his and also the one who set his brother Donald up for an interview for acceptance at the Philadelphia school in 1966. Speaking with The Washington Post, Nolan rebuked the now-president's repeated claim he attended "the hardest school to get into, the best school in the world."

Nolan paints the young Donald Trump as an average, forgettable Fordham University transfer student whose family helped him get into a school that wasn't even that hard to be accepted into. More than half of applicants were accepted in the 1960s, compared with only 7.4 percent today.

Nolan detailed stories of growing in Queens alongside Fred Trump Jr., who died in 1981 from complications stemming from alcoholism, and told The Washington Post in an article published Monday that plans for the two to be roommates at Penn in the 1950s fell through after Nolan was accepted, but Fred Jr. was not. The two remained close, however, and ten years later in 1966, Trump called on his old friend who would later become director of undergraduate admissions at UPenn to personally interview his younger brother.

"[Fred] called me and said, 'You remember my brother Donald?' Which I didn't," Nolan, 81, said in an interview with The Washington Post. "He said, 'He's at Fordham and he would like to transfer to Wharton. Will you interview him?' I was happy to do that."

trump color american flag wrong stripes
President Donald Trump colored the American flag incorrectly despite elementary school students performing the task correctly.

Nolan said he was the only admissions official to speak with Donald Trump and that his father showed up at his side to "ingratiate himself" with school administrators. The loans and inheritance Donald Trump received from Fred Trump Sr. are compounded by his medical deferment to avoid the Vietnam War as evidence that the now-president was handed much of his good fortune.

Wealthy families frequently make donations to schools in order to expedite their acceptance into studies, but no such donations have ever been tied to the Trump family. Donald Trump has for decades pointed to his acceptance into the Wharton School of Finance, as it was known then, as proof of his superior intellect and education.

But Nolan said "it was not very difficult" for Trump to get in during the 1960s. Transfer students such as Trump would have had an even higher acceptance rate given their immediate educational past. "I certainly was not struck by any sense that I'm sitting before a genius. Certainly not a super genius."

The Post interview with Nolan is his first time going on the record. But Gwenda Blair's 2000 biography, "The Trumps," sourced a "friendly" admissions officer.

Trump would go onto graduate in May 1968 and within years was claiming to news outlets he graduated first in his class, despite Trump not even being listed among the graduating class' top honorees at commencement. Penn administrative officials say they are prohibited from releasing Donald Trump's grades unless he personally signs off on the request.

Trump, who accused former President Barack Obama of having falsified his college records and transcripts and called for a public release, has never applied that same challenge to himself. Several classmates of Trump quoted over the years have described the young Donald as a mediocre student.

"Donald agreed to attend Wharton for his father's sake," biography author Jerome Tuccille wrote of Trump. "He showed up for classes and did what was required of him but he was clearly bored and spent a lot of time on outside business activities."

Trump also frequently touts having the University of Pennsylvania undergraduate degree despite having little respect for the diploma.

"Perhaps the most important thing I learned at Wharton was not to be overly impressed by academic credentials," Trump wrote in his 1987 book The Art of the Deal. "In my opinion, that degree doesn't prove very much, but a lot of people I do business with take it very seriously, and it's considered very prestigious. So all things considered, I'm glad I went to Wharton."

Trump's UPenn Admissions Officer Interviewer Was Best Friends With Fred Trump Jr: Report | Education