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Apr 02 2019

Trump’s Fictional Wealth

As everyone knows by now, and what every New Yorker has known since the 80’s, Donald Trump is a con artist who lie and cheat even when he is winning. Most bankers and contractors eventually learned the hard way, losing millions along the way. Donald probably only ran for president because he saw it as a good scam to make money off of. Because of his unexpected win thanks to the Russians and some very stupid people in three states, all his cons are now catching up to him.

When Donald Trump wanted to make a good impression — on a lender, a business partner, or a journalist — he sometimes sent them official-looking documents called “Statements of Financial Condition.”

These documents sometimes ran up to 20 pages. They were full of numbers, laying out Trump’s properties, debts and multibillion-dollar net worth.

But, for someone trying to get a true picture of Trump’s net worth, the documents were deeply flawed. Some simply omitted properties that carried big debts. Some assets were overvalued. And some key numbers were wrong.

For instance, Trump’s financial statement for 2011 said he had 55 home lots to sell at his golf course in Southern California. Those lots would sell for $3 million or more, the statement said.

But Trump had only 31 lots zoned and ready for sale at the course, according to city records. He claimed credit for 24 lots — and at least $72 million in future revenue — he didn’t have.

He also claimed his Virginia vineyard had 2,000 acres, when it really has about 1,200. He said Trump Tower has 68 stories. It has 58.

Now, investigators on Capitol Hill and in New York are homing in on these unusual documents in an apparent attempt to determine whether Trump’s familiar habit of bragging about his wealth ever crossed a line into fraud.

The statements are at the center of at least two of the inquiries that continue to follow Trump, unaffected by the end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. On Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform said it had requested 10 years of these statements from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA.

And earlier this month, the New York state Department of Financial Services subpoenaed records from Trump’s longtime insurer, Aon. A person familiar with that subpoena, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said “a key component” was questions about whether Trump had given Aon these documents in an effort to lower his insurance premiums.

Both inquiries stemmed from testimony last month by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who told Congress that Trump had used these statements to inflate his wealth — and then sent them to his lenders and his insurers.

The entire article by David A. Fahrenhold and Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post is worth reading.

A very wealthy older woman I know who lived in Trump tower in the 90’s while her Central Park condo was being renovated got to know Trump. He tried to get her to invest in one of his scams but being a wise woman, she passed on his offer. During lunch one day, she told me she believed Trump was either broke or leveraged so badly that he had no “wiggle room” to finance his projects. Knowing about his habit of not paying contractors and cheating banks and reading this article, I believe my older friend is very correct. Trump is broke and, because he’s president (ugh), it’s all coming back to bite him.

David Fahrenthold spoke with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow about documents showing Donald Trump presenting a distorted picture of his financial holdings to make himself appear to have more wealth, and whether such lying comes with any legal liability for Trump.