Meet a 92-Year-Old Woman Whose Life Was Ruined by Donald Trump
The documentary ‘You’ve Been Trumped, Too’ chronicles the damage the Trump empire’s inflicted on a quaint Scottish town—and one scrappy Scottish family’s efforts to fight back.
“I see Donald Trump lying in the road there,” grins Scottish farmer Michael Forbes, pointing to a ripe mound of horse shit occupying the pavement outside the 2016 Republican National Convention, in the new documentary sequel You’ve Been Trumped, Too. Pointedly rushed into release to be seen by American audiences before Nov. 8, the Election Day urgency is obvious, and even the laughs are edged with a bittersweet dread and panic.
It’s one of few wryly jovial moments in British journalist Anthony Baxter’s timely follow-up to 2012’s You’ve Been Trumped, which documented one Scottish town’s battle against the invading Trump business empire. But a few moments later in Baxter’s just-finished sequel, watching the businessman-turned-politician accept the GOP’s presidential nomination to resounding cheers in Cleveland, Forbes falls quiet.
Trump’s tinny voice rings out from a TV monitor, promising to “Make America Great Again” from the RNC stage. Forbes, a blue-collar Scotsman who’s spent the last five years being insulted and called “a pig” by the contentious Republican nominee, has face intimidation and been urged to sell his land to Trump’s real-estate empire, and has seen his access to clean water destroyed by Trump’s operations in a tiny coastal town across the Atlantic. He shakes his head in disbelief.
“I’ve never heard so much bullshit in all my life,” he says, defeat etched into his face.
Forbes is one of the residents of Balmedie, Scotland, who’s been waging a David vs. Goliath battle for years against Trump over a luxury golf course that opened in 2012 right down the road. The development of the new Trump International Golf Links ruined protected natural sand dunes, failing spectacularly to deliver on a plethora of lofty promises Trump had personally made to local citizens and politicians—namely, economic growth and thousands of new jobs.
More impressively, the debacle managed to turn most of Scotland against the GOP nominee, who was stripped of various honorary Scottish accolades over the course of his presidential campaign. A petition to have him banned from the U.K. racked up half a million signatures. Even Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to condemn Trump on the floor of Parliament over his anti-Muslim comments. In Aberdeen, Trump was greeted upon his arrival to the course’s grand opening with a display of Mexican flags flying defiantly over the homes of his pissed-off neighbors.
But it’s Forbes and his mother, Molly, who live on adjacent farms near the golf course, who have suffered most greatly from tangling with the presidential hopeful—and are ill-equipped to give him the kind of legal fight that would cost a fortune to wage. The problem stems from the damage made when Trump’s workers broke a crucial pipe that connected their homes to the only nearby water source.
The faucets began pouring sludge, their only drinkable water poisoned. Despite their pleas and increasing scrutiny from local media and officials, Trump and his people refused to repair the contaminated water line, forcing the 92-year-old Molly Forbes to collect water from a stream she carted back to her home in a wheelbarrow. For four years.
Even Andy Wightman, a member of the Scottish Parliament, confirms that it’s Trump who is legally accountable for fixing his neighbors’ access to water that lies on his land—and is violating Scottish law by refusing to do so.
Trump “seems to have no respect, not only for Molly Forbes and his neighbors, but he has no respect for the legal framework,” says Wightman, as Baxter intercuts images of Trump smirking for the cameras, a golf club in hand, ordering bagpipe players around to find the perfect photo op to promote his Scottish investment. “And he’s quite content to preside over a situation whereby he is in effect denying a neighboring landowner of their legitimate supply of fresh water.”
You’ve Been Trumped, Too is Baxter’s third documentary on the subject, and it folds in material gathered in his previous two films. Like You’ve Been Trumped and A Dangerous Game, the new film is a scathing chronicle of the destructive impact Trump has wrought upon those with far fewer resources who’ve stood in the way of his financial interests. But You’ve Been Trumped, Too has a more urgent objective: to point out the alarming parallels between how Trump treated the people of Balmedie and how the American people might suffer in kind should he be elected president of the United States.
“He promises the world. It never happens. Never trust Trump,” says the soft-spoken Mrs. Forbes, a former WWII dairywoman whose gentle ideals the film effectively juxtaposes against the cutthroat, controlling, money-hungry, and disingenuous actions of Trump’s camp. “I pity America if he’s president.”
The film makes its most salient point by comparing her four-year water nightmare with the Flint water crisis, a much larger but eerily similar health and public-safety catastrophe that Trump similarly ignored as long as he could. Stateside, Baxter and his camera crew stop in on Flint as they follow Trump on his campaign trail, attempting to ask the politician what’s being done about the Forbes’ water line.
He doesn’t get very far past Trump’s handlers, but weaves in footage from interviews granted for his second film, in which Trump himself sat for a seated interview and Donald Trump, Jr. agreed to discuss the Forbes’ water situation—before calling local police, who arrested Baxter and his producer on site as the cameras rolled.
Donald Jr., the second most prominent public face of the Trump International Golf Links at Aberdeenshire, inherits a particularly unflattering spotlight in Baxter’s film, which makes good use of the notorious image of the Trump scion proudly holding up a severed elephant tail, hunting knife in hand. Interviewing Donald Jr. as he sits at the wheel of a golf cart, Baxter elicits the type of nonsensically evasive blustering synonymous with the Trump school of obfuscation.
Addressing his controversial penchant for big-game hunting, the younger Donald bizarrely praises hunters as lovers of animals (“Hunters are conservationists at heart as well”) and argues that his hunting trips are actually charitable humanitarian endeavors. “We always donate shoes and boots and everything like that because these are parts of the world where, as sad as it sounds, owning one shoe is a luxury. Two is almost unheard of.”
You’ve Been Trumped, Too reins in its focus by reiterating how Trump’s foray into the presidential race begs greater examination of his dealings in Scotland, accompanying Michael Forbes and his wife as they take their first trip to America to attend the RNC. There, the impassioned but patient Forbes shares his story with various Trump supporters and delegates, seeking to inform them of the actions of their chosen nominee and to understand why it is anybody would vote for Trump.
He tells them of the broken pipe, the contaminated drinking water, and the Trump camp’s refusal to fix what they’ve done to him and his mother. He tells them how Trump tried to force him to sell his land, how he bullied him in the press—like he’s attacked women, minorities, immigrants, the disabled, the media, Samuel L. Jackson’s golf game, his political rivals, and his haters—by calling him a “pig” and his farm a pigsty that the people of Scotland should be “embarrassed” of.
Even Alex Salmond, a former Scottish First Minister who once supported Trump’s dealings in Scotland, admits Trump only delivered a fraction of what he promised. Of the 6,000 new jobs Trump promised to create for the region with his golf course, he employs what locals guesstimate to be a few dozen staffers, “and fewer than 100 are on the payroll,” says Baxter.
“He doesn’t regard these as lies, he regards these as claims which he wants you to believe in,” says Wightman. “But they’re not true.”
Baxter, who was filming as recently as September, speedily includes the stories of other locals who crossed Trump and opposed the golf course development plans only to find the police force slowly being used to protect his interests and intimidate those who criticized his operations. One of Trump International’s officers plainly tells Baxter that the organization deals with their enemies “very harshly—and we will continue to be strong to anybody that stands in our way.”
In a statement to the BBC regarding You’ve Been Trumped, Too, a spokeswoman—likely Sarah Malone, the Katrina Pierson of Trump’s Scottish operations, who receives some rare scrutiny of her own in the doc—denounced Baxter and the film, which she said the Trump Organization has not seen.
“We have not seen the so-called film and have no interest in it. Anthony Baxter is not a credible journalist or filmmaker,” read the statement. “He has no interest in the facts or the people of North East Scotland. He has propagated lies and nonsense about the company for years in an attempt to make a name for himself off the back of Trump. We operate a highly acclaimed, five-star golf resort and enjoy a great relationship with the local community and all of our neighbours with the exception of a few who have fought the project since its inception.”
Seeing the quiet lives of these modest Scottish farmers upended in the name of one billionaire’s financial ambitions should be enough to give many voters pause in the coming final weeks as Baxter opens his film in New York on Oct. 28, with a hopeful eye on widening his distribution. But take it from Michael Forbes, who’s since become a folk hero for standing up to Trump and hopes Americans will learn from his story—even as a troubling epilogue notes that the Forbes’ and their fellow resistors may yet be forced to give up their homes if Trump attempts to expand his property holdings around that golf course.
“When he first came to Scotland it was a bit like America here—half was for Trump, the other half wasn’t,” Forbes says, his warnings falling on deaf ears at the RNC. “But now you’ll find that nothing’s happened with what he said so 90 percent of Scotland hates him. I can see the same thing happening here.”