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The strange tale of how Trump made a "fortune" off Qaddafi

Donald Trump says he supported the "surgical" removal of Gaddafi, but never backed "strong intervention" in Libya.
Trump on Libya: "I was never for strong intervention" 04:49

When questioned about his past support for military intervention in Libya during late dictator Muammar Qaddafi's reign, Donald Trump, in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation," mentioned that he had "made a lot of money" with the Libyan leader.

"Don't forget. I'm the only one -- I made a lot of money with Qaddafi, if you remember," Trump told "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson in an interview that aired Sunday. "He came to the country and he had to make a deal with me because he needed a place to stay."

"He paid me a fortune, never got to stay there, and it became sort of a big joke," Trump added.

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Trump has made the claim before. Back in May of 2011, Trump seemed to brag to Fox News that he had "screwed" over Qaddafi after renting a piece of land to the former Libyan head of state.

"I think I probably have more experience of anybody -- whether I sell them real estate for tremendous amounts of money. I mean, I've dealt with everybody," Trump said in a phone interview with Fox News hosts. "And by the way, I can tell you something else: I dealt with Qaddafi."

"I rented him a piece of land," he explained. "He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for the whole year, or for two years, and then I didn't let him use the land."

The real story of the land deal, however, was a more complicated affair.

It happened in 2009, when Qaddafi was going to appear for the first time before the United Nations' General Assembly. The controversial leader had sought to pitch a "Bedouin"-style tent, which he brought with him while travelling outside of Libya.

Qaddafi had been turned away from venues in New York City's Central Park and in Englewood, New Jersey, where the Libyan embassy owns property. (The U.S. government stepped in and told Qaddafi's associates that they were not allowed to pitch a tent in the New Jersey suburb.)

Their last-ditch effort: renting Trump's 113-acre Seven Springs estate, located in New York's wealthy Bedford neighborhood to set up camp.

But when local Bedford officials got wind of the Libyan leader's attempts to build his shelter on the property, they issued an order to stop the work because Qaddafi's entourage had no permit for the tent, according to a Reuters news report. There were reports that Secret Service eventually escorted the Libyans off the property.

It is still not clear how much money Trump made from the brief, failed rental agreement. As for the credit for Qaddafi having gotten "screwed," that is also unclear.

According to a Fox News report from September of 2009, Bedford Town Supervisor Lee Roberts said Trump told her that he had "no idea" Qaddafi was the intended resident. Roberts reportedly told Fox News that "as far as he knew, his arrangement was with partners in the United Arab Emirates and he was unaware of a Qaddafi connection."

To Reuters, Trump issued a similar statement reiterating that claim, saying the Seven Springs property was leased on a short-term basis to Middle Eastern partners "who may or may not have a relationship to Mr. Qaddafi."

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