Before Donald Trump joked that he would shoot people on Fifth Avenue, he empathized with an acquitted, self-professed killer who admitted to cutting off an old man’s head.
“Personally, I think Douglas Durst’s brother got screwed by Douglas—no wonder he’s angry,” Trump tweeted at 2:20 p.m. on Dec. 20, 2013. This, of course, came after the brother in question, Robert Durst, was acquitted of a 2001 murder in Texas in which he admitted cutting off his neighbor Morris Black’s head. Durst is awaiting trial for the 2000 slaying of friend Susan Berman in California.
Trump’s tweet came 14 months before an HBO docuseries put Durst’s violent past back in the spotlight.
In 2003, the same year of his acquittal, Durst allegedly showed up to his brother Douglas’s New York estate with two loaded handguns. He claimed he was contemplating suicide and not considering killing his brother. Durst later trespassed in front of townhouses owned by Douglas and other relatives in 2012 and 2013 and later insisted on a trial instead of spending a maximum 15 days in jail after his arrest.
“I felt like kissing my lawyers,” Durst said after being acquitted of the trespassing charges in 2014. He asserted once again that he didn’t have murder on the brain.
“I’m not spending my time running around 43rd Street wanting to shoot my brother,” Durst added.
Trump’s tweet was likely aimed at venting his frustration at Douglas Durst, who was a major real estate competitor with the current Republican frontrunner. Durst, for example, won a bid to take ownership of the Freedom Tower at the site of the World Trade Center. Trump called Durst a “disaster” at operating the new building, where Condé Nast eventually moved its offices.
Of course, since then, Robert Durst has been booked on another murder charge for which he will face trial in Los Angeles this summer. And then there’s the whole unsolved situation involving the disappearance, and potential murder of his first wife, popularized in the HBO series The Jinx.
It is unclear whether Trump still understands Robert Durst’s murderous anger or empathizes with his plight.
When reached for comment on his relationship with Trump, a spokesman for Douglas Durst said, “We will take a pass.”