Trump: Mr. Gadhafi, Tear Down That Tent

Libya leader packs up his tent; won't stay in New York suburb.

ByABC News
September 23, 2009, 8:24 AM

Sept. 23, 2009— -- It wasn't the public outcry, but rather pressure from billionaire Donald Trump that forced Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to pack up his tent and apparently abandon a plan to spend the night in a ritzy New York suburb.

After a rambling, conspiracy-theory-filled speech delivered at the U.N. Wednesday morning, Gadhafi planned to spend the night in Bedford, N.Y., where his agents Tuesday pitched a giant Bedouin tent on a property owned by Trump.

As local officials steamed at hosting an accused sponsor of terror, the Secret Service prepared to escort Gadhafi to the tony town outside New York City.

Just as the town was preparing to deal with the dictator next door, Donald Trump, who said he unknowingly rented a piece of his 113-acre Seven Springs estate to the Libyan, stepped in and asked the leader to take down his tent and find housing elsewhere.

"We have requested that the tenant occupying the property in Bedford, N.Y. remove the tent that was erected. They have complied with this request. Additionally, Mr. Gadhafi will not be going to the property," said Trump Organization spokeswoman Rhona Graff.

The tent was taken down just after Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano said the Secret Service told him Gadhafi would be going to Trump's estate.

Spano's office later told the Associated Press that the Secret Service informed him that Gadhafi would not be camping out in Bedford after all, but said that information "subject to change."

"The town's attorney, building inspector and police chief have visited the site and verified that the tent has been dismantled," read a statement posted on the town's Web site.

"Supervisor [Lee] Roberts thanked Donald Trump for his key role in bringing this situation to a close," the statement read.

Following news Tuesday that Gadafhi would be staying in Bedford, town officials ordered the tent be dismantled, claiming it violated building codes.

Democratic U.S. Reps. John Hall and Nita Lowey appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- who lives in Westchester County -- to do "everything in your power" to prevent Gadhafi from moving into his tent.

The so-called "mad dog of the Middle East" stayed in Manhattan Tuesday night close to the United Nations, where he addressed the General Assembly today. Gadhafi, who followed President Obama to the podium, was introduced by his countryman as the "king of kings" and gave a marathon speech criticizing the U.N. and saying the Security Council should be renamed the "terror council."

His reception in the United States has been as chilly as a desert night and his aides have wandered around the metro region trying to find a place to pitch their leader's tent.

After being rejected by New York City's Central Park and by the town of Englewood, N.J., the Libyans posed as Dutch diplomats to rent a Manhattan town house that had a large roof that could have accommodated a tent.

When that deal fell through, the Libyans apparently used intermediaries to rent Trump's 113-acre estate called the Seven Springs in the posh Westchester County suburb of Bedford, home to such tyrants of taste as Martha Stewart.

As workers began pitching the tent, local officials were pitching a fit. By Tuesday evening, as media helicopters filmed the progress of the tent's construction, the Bedford town lawyer issued a stop work order because there was no permit for the tent.

Bedford town attorney Joel Sachs said a stop work order was issued on the tent just after 5 p.m. Tuesday because it is illegal to build a temporary residence without a permit. He called the tent an "illegal structure."

"If no activity has been undertaken, so far as either removing the tent or other equipment, or removing any individuals who may be residing in the tent, then we would then proceed to take one of two types of enforcement actions," Sachs told The Associated Press.

He said the town might "seek an injunction to have the tent taken down, and individuals residing in the tent removed from the property."