Three years ago this month, Donald Trump participated in a campaign forum in New Hampshire. A voter asked the leading Republican presidential candidate if anyone had ever told him, "No." His answer is relevant anew.
"Oh many times," Trump said at the time, adding, "My whole life, really, has been a 'no.' It has not been easy for me. I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came to Manhattan and I had to pay him back. I had to pay him back with interest. But I came into Manhattan and I started buying properties and I did great."
Even at the time, it was a bizarre story. Anyone who receives $1 million head start cannot credibly claim that his path "has not been easy." What we did not know at the time, however, was the degree to which Trump's story about himself was a lie. The New York Times' stunning report on the president's financial history lays the truth bare.
President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.But The Times's investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.
Trump wants to be seen as a self-made success who excelled thanks to a great business acumen. The truth is largely the opposite. Trump, thanks entirely to his father, was a millionaire when he was an eight-year-old. After college, he continued to receive millions of dollars annually, not because of successful entrepreneurial ventures, but because his father kept handing him money.
By the time he was in his 40s and 50s, Trump, who told voters he confronted people telling him "no" his whole life, and who insisted "it has not been easy" for him, was still receiving more than $5 million a year from his dad.
In the broader context, we're talking about two very different kinds of fraud.
The first has to do with the law. Trump didn't just receive the equivalent of "at least $413 million from his father's real estate empire," he did so through legally dubious schemes intended to conceal hundreds of financial streams. At the heart of the story is the prospect of criminal fraud, criminal tax evasion, and money laundering, which the American president exploited to fuel his rise to power.
The second fraud was the public lie: the sales pitch that you and I were asked to believe. Trump, embarrassed by his total dependence on his father, went to great lengths to present himself as some kind of financial genius and an expert in the "art of the deal." In reality, he excelled at cashing his father's checks, living off of legally dubious handouts.
Donald Trump has never been who he's pretended to be. It was all a con.
We've all heard the "born on third base" joke, but this is something altogether more amazing. Trump had his father's helicopter drop him off on third base after buying the other team and bribing the umpire to invite Trump to steal home -- at which point Trump told viewers he considers himself the greatest player to ever play the game.