Trump under fire for installing Trump Tower clock without New York City permission

Donald Trump’s alleged criminal activity now spans four criminal indictments totaling nearly 100 felony charges. But another comparatively minor dispute between him and officials in New York City has just been reignited.

While Mr Trump remains tied up in the courts over actions he took both as president and as a private businessman, a small issue related to his company’s management of Trump Tower in Manahattan has quietly refused to go away.

At dispute is a clock: a tall, ornate, multi-faced structure which bears Mr Trump’s name and tells the time for passersby, currently situated on a sidewalk near the front entrance of Trump Tower. The New York Times, which has taken a unique role as both cataloguer of the dispute and, apparently, a central player in driving it forward, reports that it was installed “more than a dozen years ago”.

According to the Times, it was done so without a permit — an important miscalculation which the paper noted is far from a unique phenomenon in the city. That wasn’t an issue until 2015, when the Times inquired about the clock with the city and began a years-long battle between the Trump Organization and city planning officials who have fretted about the structure’s location and proximity to the building’s entrance.

That back-and-forth between Mr Trump’s company and the city apparently continued all the way through January 2017, when Mr Trump was sworn into office as president and the Manhattan skyscraper became a security lockdown zone, prohibiting most construction. As a result, the issue was not brought up during his presidency.

Mr Trump would leave office in spectacular fashion in January 2021, the first US president to turn over the keys to the White House after a mob of his own supporters had attacked the US Capitol, days earlier, with the express intent of preventing that at his behest. He would take up residence at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, largely concentrating the Secret Service’s protective presence there and at his New Jersey Bedminster club.

A clock outside Trump Tower in New York City, seen during a protest in support of the former president in June 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)
A clock outside Trump Tower in New York City, seen during a protest in support of the former president in June 2023 (AFP via Getty Images)

Enter the Times once again. The newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for city communications concerning the clock last year, jolting the issue back to life. City officials would go on to send a letter to the Trump team resuming discussions about the clock just last month.

The clock isn’t likely to be uprooted over the dispute, and the fees for such a structure are relatively minor. A spokeswoman for the former president, meanwhile, has pledged to work with city officials to complete that permitting process which began way back in 2015.

“The clock has been a hallmark of Trump Tower for nearly 20 years,” Kimberly Benza told the Times. “We will certainly work in conjunction of the city, to the extent that they are missing any paperwork.”