Sorry, sharks, but you’re no longer Donald Trump’s weirdest phobia. In a deposition for an upcoming New York trial over allegations that he sicced his security team on protesters outside Trump Tower in 2015, Trump revealed that he is afraid of demonstrators throwing fruit at him. “It’s very dangerous stuff,” Trump said in reference to the foodstuffs, according to Insider. “You can get killed with those things.”
The topic came up in the context of statements Trump made that appeared to approve of violence at his rallies, like when he said at a 2016 Iowa campaign event, “If you see somebody with a tomato, knock the crap out of them.” Trump confirmed that he made the remark, telling attorney Benjamin Dictor, who represents the protesters suing Trump, that the situation was “very dangerous,” as he had been “threatened.” Per Insider:
“They were going to throw fruit,” Trump said of protesters at the rally, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We were threatened. We had a threat.”
The lawyer followed up: “How did you become aware that there was a threat that people were going to throw fruit?”
Trump answered, “We were told. I thought Secret Service was involved in that, actually. But we were told. And you get hit with fruit, it’s — no, it’s very violent stuff. We were on alert for that.”
After some debate about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, Trump steered the conversation back to the threat posed by edible plants in general. “It’s worse than tomato. It’s other things also,” Trump said. Dictor asked, “So you were trying to incentivize people to engage in violence?” Trump’s attorney objected, but he answered anyway.
“No, I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than — tomatoes are bad, by the way. But it’s very dangerous.”
Trump insisted that the threat was serious, though he said no tomatoes were actually thrown and he didn’t know if any rallygoers were even found to have produce in their possession. He went on to muse about the possibility that a flying fruit could seriously harm him or audience members, depending on the variety:
“Well, a tomato, a pineapple, a lot of other things they throw,” he said. “Yeah, if the security saw that, I would say you have to — and it’s not just me, it’s other people in the audience get badly hurt. Yeah, I think that they have to be aggressive in stopping that from happening.
“Because if that happens,” he continued, “you can be killed if that happens.”
Trump’s fruit fixation may be his oddest phobia yet. But wait, what about Trump’s famous fear of stairs? you may be thinking. Isn’t that stranger than fruit? Well, though Trump was photographed clasping British prime minister Theresa May’s hand while descending stairs at the White House in 2017, there’s scant evidence that he’s actually afraid of steps and ramps or that “bathmophobia” even exists. As The New Republic once explained, it just sounded real because Trump has a lot of other quirky fears and obsessions, including his well-known germophobia.
To return to sharks: Plenty of people are scared of them. But Trump’s paranoia went well beyond the normal range, according to his alleged former paramour Stormy Daniels.
“He is obsessed with sharks,” she said in 2018. “Terrified of sharks. He was like, ‘I donate to all these charities, and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.’ He was like riveted. He was like obsessed. It’s so strange, I know.”
Similarly, Trump has clearly given a lot of thought to the threat posed by foods. His legendary love of McDonald’s reportedly stems from his fear of being poisoned. And on the 2020 campaign trail he repeatedly insisted that protesters were lobbing cans of soup and Bumble Bee–brand tuna at law-enforcement officers. Two TikTok users memorably acted out Trump’s evidence-free claim.
So we have a lot to go on here. But the fact that there is no publicly released audio recording of Trump cataloguing the scariest types of fruit is truly tragic.
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