|TED THAI / LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION VIA GETTY IMAGES|
We have pretty much become inured to Donald Trump's runaway narcissism, so much so that news media stories revealing the president's pathological lies and boasts and most of all his profound corruption, roll in and out of the national consciousness like so many bad dreams that we never seem to awaken from. But The New York Times has now published the mother of all blockbusters in reporting that the man whose self-spun narratives of dealmaking acumen and extraordinary business successes as a self-made billionaire did much to propel him to the White House not only was a lousy businessman, but he appears to have lost substantially more money than any other American taxpayer in a single decade.
The Times, in revealing a far different and substantially darker picture of Trump's financial condition, reports that the data it obtained from official IRS tax transcripts for the years 1985 to 1994:
[R]epresents the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president’s taxes, information he has kept from public view. Though the information does not cover the tax years at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous chapter in a long business career — an era of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse.
The numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses -- largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the IRS compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 -- more than $250 million each year -- were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the IRS information for those years.Overall, Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years, and while The Times story finesses the matter, it is almost certain that Trump's business record since then is just as problematic.
If there is a hole in The Times exposé, it is the question of how you lose over a billion dollars if you don’t have over a billion dollars to begin with.
But that's a trick question because the correct answer is that you can do things that cause over a billion dollars in losses by leaving business partners, lenders and vendors holding much of the bag. In other words, losses Trump claimed on his tax returns actually were borne by others, further evidence that Trump is less a shrewd businessman than a grifter.
Another big clue is provided by longtime lawyer-fixer Michael Cohen, who joined the Trump Organization in 1995 and began a three-year prison term on Monday for his role in Trump's illegal hush money payments to women with whom he had affairs. Cohen has testified that Trump routinely undervalued properties for tax purposes and overvalued them when seeking bank loans, which are likely indicators of tax, insurance and bank fraud. Trump, for example, omitted from his 2017 campaign finance report his obligation to repay Cohen for a $130,000 hush payment Cohen made on his behalf to the porn film actress Stormy Daniels.
Trump, for his part, responded to The Times story by insisting that he meant to lose money on his businesses, calling it "sport."
Speaking of sports, typical of Trump's financial shenanigans is his 2017 report that his Irish golf business had revenues of $14 million, while a separate report to Irish regulators said the business lost $2 million.
Beyond being yet another reminder of how utterly unfit Trump is to be president, The Times story reinforces how imperative it is that House Democrats fight back against the administration's stonewalling and refusal to comply with subpoenas pertaining to his personal and his family business's finances, a battle that escalated this week with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin's refusal to provide the president's more recent tax returns, as required by law, as well as Trump's assertion of executive privilege over the unredacted Mueller report.
The Times story also begs the question of how Trump got out from under such enormous debt, if he indeed did, and where the money came from.
Did foreign banks and investors who are now cashing in on Trump's presidency help out? How about Russian oligarchs and mobsters hardwired to Trump's best friend Vladimir Putin whose extensive use of Trump properties to launder their ill-gotten gains has been copiously documented?
"The [Times]story not only explodes the myth of Donald Trump as a successful businessman. It also shows how skilled he is at perpetuating a lie," says Max Bergmann of the Moscow Project. "For more than 30 years he convinced everybody -- the press, banks, investors, the stock market and the American public -- that Donald Trump was this great business success, when in fact he was losing money at a truly shocking rate.
"It shows he is an incredible con man able to live two lives. He is someone who can never be taken at his word, and this means examining his taxes and financial records is an urgent national security imperative."
I urged you to read The Times exposé twice.
Once to blow your mind and again, as you mop up the pieces of your blown mind, to confirm that Donald Trump is even more corrupt than we imagined.