The New York Times did a thorough expose of how Trump got to be wealthy – basically through inheritance and tax fraud. The details — sourced from over 100,000 pages of material — are fascinating but the conclusion is… meh. I mean, didn’t we already know this pretty much? Even Trump thinks it is old news, and his only beef is that the Times discusses it using present-day dollar figures (as well as old ones)
The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of “time value of money” in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me. Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 3, 2018
I guess it IS news. We never really knew it; we just suspected it.
The Times followed up with an editorial today:
“I built what I built myself.”
This boast has long been at the core of the mythology of Donald Trump, Self-Made Billionaire. As the oft-told story goes, young Mr. Trump accepted a modest $1 million loan from his father, Fred, a moderately successful real estate developer from Queens, and — through smarts, hard work and sheer force of will — parlayed that loan into a multibillion-dollar global empire.
It’s a classic American tale of ambition and self-determination. Not Horatio Alger, exactly, but appealing, and impressive, nonetheless.
Except that, like so much of what Mr. Trump has been selling the American public in recent years, this origin story was a sham — a version of reality so elaborately embellished that it qualifies as fan fiction more than biography. Also, as we’ve come to expect from Mr. Trump, the creation of this myth involved a big dose of ethically sketchy, possibly even illegal activity.
As an in-depth investigation by The Times has revealed, Mr. Trump is only self-made if you don’t count the massive financial rewards he received from his father’s business beginning as a toddler. (By age 3, little Donald was reportedly pulling in an annual income of what today would be $200,000 a year.) These benefits included not only the usual perks of hailing from a rich, well-connected family — the connections, the access to credit, the built-in safety net. For the Trumps, it also involved direct cash gifts and tens of millions in “loans” that never charged interest or had to be repaid. Fred Trump even purchased several properties and business ventures, putting ownership either fully or partly in the names of his children, who reaped the profits.
As Donald Trump emerged as the favorite son, Fred made special deals and arrangements to increase Donald’s fortunes in particular. The Times found that, before Donald had turned 30, he had received close to $9 million from his father. Over the longer haul, he received upward of what, in today’s dollars, would be $413 million.
Along the way, it seems that certain liberties were taken with tax laws. The Times found that concocting elaborate schemes to avoid paying taxes on their father’s estate, including greatly understating the value of the family business, became an important pastime for Fred’s children, with Donald taking an active role in the effort. According to tax experts, the activities in question show a pattern of deception, a deliberate muddying of the financial waters. Asked for comment on The Times’s findings, a lawyer for the president provided a written statement denying any wrongdoing and asserting that, in fact, Mr. Trump had little to do with the dizzying transactions involving his family’s wealth.
Everyone can understand the impulse to polish one’s background in order to make a good impression. For Mr. Trump, whose entire life has been about branding and selling a certain type of gaudy glamour, this image-polishing has been all the more vital to his success. And he has pursued it with a shameless, at times giddy, abandon.
Veterans of New York news media still laugh to recall how Mr. Trump would call them up, pretending to be a publicist named John Barron, or sometimes John Miller, in order to regale them with tales of Mr. Trump’s glamorous personal life — how many models he was dating, which actresses were pursuing him, which celebrities he was hanging out with. As gross and tacky and bizarre as this all seemed, it was aimed squarely at fostering the image of Donald Trump as a master of the universe who, as the cliché goes, women wanted and men wanted to be.
In his 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal,” Mr. Trump famously offered his take on the origins of his success: “I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”
But increasingly, Mr. Trump’s willingness to bend the truth — and the rules — in the service of his myth looks less like innocent exaggeration than malicious deception, with a dollop of corruption tossed in for good measure. It’s not the golden, glittering success story he has been peddling. It’s shaping up to be something far darker.
Maybe it is because I was a New Yorker in the 1980s and 1990s. We knew who Trump was, and who he wasn’t.
The only reason this expose MIGHT be important is if there are criminal and civil issues that are still alive. And it looks like there might be:
New York state tax officials are investigating allegations detailed in an exhaustive New York Times investigation into Donald Trump and his family’s business dealings.
The Times reported on Tuesday that Trump and his family committed “instances of outright fraud” in order to transfer millions of dollars from the real estate empire of the president’s father, Fred Trump, to his children without paying the appropriate taxes.
“The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation,” a spokesman from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said in an email to CNBC.
Representatives from the White House and the Trump Organization did not return requests for comment.
In a statement to the Times, Trump lawyer Charles Harder denied any allegations of fraud and tax evasion, saying “the facts upon which The Times bases its allegations are extremely inaccurate.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in her response to the Times, backed up Trump’s claims about his wealth, repeating the story that he took a $1 million loan from his father and paid it back. Trump said numerous times as a presidential candidate that he had received the “very small” $1 million loan from his father. But the newspaper’s investigation found that Trump had actually been lent at least $60.7 million.
The article claims the Trump family committed “instances of outright fraud,” with the president himself receiving today’s equivalent of $413 million from the real estate holdings of his father, the Times reported while citing 100,000 documents and interviews with former family associates.
Another aspect to this is that Trump is actually losing money as his presidency goes on.