Leak Reveals A Decade Of Trump Tax Information, But Nothing Very Illuminating

The New York Times has obtained about ten years worth of Donald Trump's tax returns from the late eighties to early nineties. They don't tell us much that we didn't already know.

The New York Times got its hands on ten years worth of Donald Trump’s tax information from the late eighties and early nineties and, to be quite frank about it, there really isn’t much there:

By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir “Trump: The Art of the Deal” hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns.

Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition.

The data — printouts from Mr. Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 — represents 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 I.R.S. 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 I.R.S. information for those years.

Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years. It is not known whether the I.R.S. later required changes after audits.

Since the 2016 presidential campaign, journalists at The Times and elsewhere have been trying to piece together Mr. Trump’s complex and concealed finances. While The Times did not obtain the president’s actual tax returns, it received the information contained in the returns from someone who had legal access to it. The Times was then able to find matching results in the I.R.S. information on top earners — a publicly available database that each year comprises a one-third sampling of those taxpayers, with identifying details removed. It also confirmed significant findings using other public documents, along with confidential Trump family tax and financial records from the newspaper’s 2018 investigation into the origin of the president’s wealth.

Several weeks ago, a senior official issued a statement saying: “The president got massive depreciation and tax shelter because of large-scale construction and subsidized developments. That is why the president has always scoffed at the tax system and said you need to change the tax laws. You can make a large income and not have to pay large amount of taxes.”

On Saturday, after further inquiries from The Times, a lawyer for the president, Charles J. Harder, wrote that the tax information was “demonstrably false,” and that the paper’s statements “about the president’s tax returns and business from 30 years ago are highly inaccurate.” He cited no specific errors, but on Tuesday added that “I.R.S. transcripts, particularly before the days of electronic filing, are notoriously inaccurate” and “would not be able to provide a reasonable picture of any taxpayer’s return.”

Mark J. Mazur, a former director of research, analysis and statistics at the I.R.S., said that, far from being considered unreliable, data used to create such transcripts had undergone quality control for decades and had been used to analyze economic trends and set national policy. In addition, I.R.S. auditors often refer to the transcripts as “handy” summaries of tax returns, said Mr. Mazur, now director of the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington.

In fact, the source of The Times’s newly obtained information was able to provide several years of unpublished tax figures from the president’s father, the builder Fred C. Trump. They matched up precisely with Fred Trump’s actual returns, which had been obtained by The Times in the earlier investigation.

The new tax information does not answer questions raised by House Democrats in their pursuit of the last six years of Mr. Trump’s tax returns — about his recent business dealings and possible foreign sources of financing and influence. Nor does it offer a fundamentally new narrative of his picaresque career.

But in the granular detail of tax results, it gives a precise accounting of the president’s financial failures and of the constantly shifting focus that would characterize his decades in business. In contrast to his father’s stable and profitable empire of rental apartments in Brooklyn and Queens, Mr. Trump’s primary sources of income changed year after year, from big stock earnings, to a single year of more than $67.1 million in salary, to a mysterious $52.9 million windfall in interest income. But always, those gains were overwhelmed by losses on his casinos and other projects.

The new information also suggests that Mr. Trump’s 1990 collapse might have struck several years earlier if not for his brief side career posing as a corporate raider. From 1986 through 1988, while his core businesses languished under increasingly unsupportable debt, Mr. Trump made millions of dollars in the stock market by suggesting that he was about to take over companies. But the figures show that he lost most, if not all, of those gains after investors stopped taking his takeover talk seriously.

This isn’t the first time that journalists have been able to obtain copies of the Presidents tax returns, although it does amount to the most extensive collection that any single news outlet has been able to obtain throughout Trump’s entire career and most certainly since he entered the race for President in the summer of 2015. As with the previous two examples, though, these disclosures, though far more voluminous than those in the past, do not shed any light on Trump’s financial situation in the twenty years before he ran for President or in the time since he became a candidate for office.

Roughly a month prior to the 2016 election, for example, a reporter at The New York Times received two pages of Trump’s 1995 tax return from an anonymous source who had somehow obtained a copy of at least part of the return. The most notable thing about that partial return was that it showed that, at the time, Trump was carrying what would have likely been a multi-year deduction related to business losses in the early 1990s that, in theory, could have legally allowed him to avoid any real tax liability for a decade or more. This, of course, is consistent with what the Times has uncovered now. About a year later, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow made a big show out of the fact that she had obtained a partial copy of Trump’s 2005 tax return, which in this case didn’t really show anything extraordinary. As with the October leak, Maddow only received the two pages of Trump’s Form 1040 and not any of the Schedules or supporting documents that were likely filed with the return(s), so there was nothing particularly illuminating about the leaked documents. One notable thing about the return leaked to Maddow, though, is the fact that it did not appear that Trump was still taking the same sizeable loss deduction he had ten years earlier, although that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t still taking advantage of it, as permitted by law, in years after 1995. In any case, as I said, neither of these releases were particularly illuminating, but that hasn’t stopped some activists from forcing Trump to reveal more about his taxes.

There is one interesting item in the returns that is somewhat of a mystery:

One number from Mr. Trump’s tax returns is particularly striking — and particularly hard to explain: the $52.9 million in interest income he reported in 1989.

Mr. Trump reported $460,566 in interest income in 1986. That number grew to $5.5 million the next year, and $11.8 million the next. Then came the outlier 1989.

Taxpayers can receive interest income from a variety of sources, including bonds, bank accounts and mortgages. High-yield bonds, though less common today, were popular with institutional investors in the 1980s. And to make $52.9 million in interest, for example, Mr. Trump would have had to own roughly $378 million in bonds generating 14 percent a year.

Hard data on most of Mr. Trump’s business life is hard to come by, but public findings from New Jersey casino regulators show no evidence that he owned anything capable of generating close to $52.9 million annually in interest income.

Similarly, there is no such evidence in a 1990 report on Mr. Trump’s financial condition, prepared by an accounting firm he hired at his bankers’ request and based on his most current tax returns and audited financial statements.

Mr. Trump’s interest income fell almost as quickly as it rose: He reported $18.7 million in 1990, and only $3.6 million in 1992.

This is an interesting item mostly because the tax return doesn’t really explain what the interest income is from, or who may have paid it, because it is not required for taxpayers to disclose that information on the returns themselves. One possibility is that it was somehow related to one of Trump’s famous real estate deals, of course, but that would have required that he be the one who actually loaned money to some person or entity. Another possibility is that the interest income is from bonds that Trump had invested in. Given the fact that this report actually increased Trump’s overall tax liability in the given years, it seems clear that there is most likely nothing nefarious about this significant, albeit mysterious item in his return.

All of this comes at the same time that the issue of obtaining copies of the President’s tax returns, which he continues to decline to make public, is once again becoming newsworthy. As I noted yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has informed the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee that he would not make copies of the President’s returns available to the committee due to what Mnuchin asserts is the lack of a proper legislative purpose for the request. Additionally, California is becoming the latest state to consider legislation that would make a candidates ballot access conditional on their providing copies of their most recent returns. Both of these seem to be headed for inevitable court challenges.

In the end, it seems unlikely that this latest report from the Times, while extensive, will have much of a political impact. First of all, there’s the fact that these reports are in some cases more than 25 years old and, in many respects, confirm things that we already knew about Trump and his finances. This includes his reliance on debt for many of his most famous projects and the fact that, in the late 80s and early 90s, he went through a business and financial crisis that nearly cost him his whole empire. This last fact is one that was well covered at the time by New York City newspapers where Trump was a regular subject, for example, and much of it had been revealed during the course of revelations of other matters that Trump was involved in such as his divorces from Ivana Trump and Marla Maples in 1992 and 1999 respectively. Because of that information the fact that the early 90s were a time of grave financial danger for Trump during which he was ultimately only rescued because his creditors made deals that kept him afloat rather than sending him into a bankruptcy that would have resulted in them receiving at best pennies on the dollar. Finally, while this report does shed a light on Trump’s business and financial history, it doesn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know, and it doesn’t tell us anything about his financial dealings with banks and other sources in the United States or elsewhere beyond 1994. For that reason, the actual value of these revelations is basically zero.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Economics and Business, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Bob@Youngstown says:

    They don’t tell us much that we didn’t already know.

    I, for one, didn’t know ( for sure) that DT was the decade’s Biggest Loser.

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  2. gVOR08 says:

    From 1986 through 1988, while his core businesses languished under increasingly unsupportable debt, Mr. Trump made millions of dollars in the stock market by suggesting that he was about to take over companies.

    Holy spit. When Trump made his announcement about Chinese tariffs a couple days ago and drove markets way down, there was the inevitable speculation he might be shorting affected stocks. This would lend credibility to that speculation.

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  3. Lounsbury says:

    Well much that persons in interntional banking did not already know.
    However,

    Finally, while this report does shed a light on Trump’s business and financial history, it doesn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know, and it doesn’t tell us anything about his financial dealings with banks and other sources in the United States or elsewhere beyond 1994. For that reason, the actual value of these revelations is basically zero.

    I believe this is a wee bit wrong and on the navel gazing side of evaluation. Yes, the kind of readership here largely assumed such and among the Opposition, however it has been rather the asserted article of faith among a certain kind of supporter of Trump that he’s quite the cunning businessman, ergo brings value and skills to the Presidency.

    While it is certain that the vast majority of said supporters won’t accept any data to the contrary, presuming that NYT shall make available copies for confirmation (this not to in the least express doubt, but merely to play the challenge-game) it does provide a documentary confirmation previously lacking of what was known but not documented – that is he was a piss-poor Real Estate developer and operational business runner who was in effective insolvency at the top of a market – not due to the 1990 recession.

    Of course anyone in the international financial world has known that for ages but for a certain fringe of support, documentary confirmation that his real skill is not in actual business, but in running marketing cons (which one must say he’s really bloody good at), may have an impact of undermining solidity of his top-line support. Death by a thousand cuts as it were.

    Your jaded “nothing new” then rather misses (presuming again the documentary confirmation/access) the point of chipping away at the pretence.

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  4. michael reynolds says:

    Each new detail fleshes out the story, Doug. And not everyone out there follows the ins and outs in detail.

    We now know that Trump got more than $40o,000,000 in various ways from his rich daddy and still somehow managed to lose $1,000,000,000. In the casino business, FFS. In NYC real estate, FFS. Had Trump just invested daddy’s money in a mutual fund he’d be far, far richer than he is today, which rather makes the point that Trump knows absolutely fuck-all about business.

    You know what my daddy gave me? Before I jumped bail he bought me black and whites (waiter standard uniform) at JC Penney. With that $40 nest egg in hand – .000001% of Trump’s free daddy money – I made millions. By any rational, objective standard, the Michael Reynolds Corp. has shown an infinitely higher rate of return than the Donald Trump Corp. And zero Russian oligarchs used me as their money-laundering bitch.

    Put it another way for @Guarneri and @JKB and @Paul L: had you sad Trumpaloons invested a hundred bucks in a high school drop-out fugitive waiter you’d have done very well. Had you invested in the 400 million dollar boy, you’d be broke.

    That’s the jackass the 46% elected, an abject fraud. The Bernie Madoff of presidents.

    MAGA!

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    Yes, there’s nothing earthshaking in these returns, although the massive losses certainly look bad. And as I’ve commented before, I don’t expect any smoking gun if Congress gets his more recent returns. He’s not a criminal mastermind. He’s a tin pot huckster who’d be a nobody if he hadn’t been born rich.

    I fear he may tip us into autarchy, but that’s because I think we’ve set up an unstable system that can be tipped by an idiot with power and no scruples.

    And that’s my advice to Dems. Don’t make him out to be some super villain. His base sees that as strong. Show him up to be the sad little clown that he is. Don’t make out like there’s some big, corrupt smoking gun in his tax forms, push that they’ll be embarrassing. That they’ll show he took over a thriving 400 million dollar business and still couldn’t make money except chump change in pathetic little side hustles.

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  6. @michael reynolds:

    All this may be true, but will it really matter to anyone other than the people who never supported Trump in the first place?

  7. inhumans99 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Perhaps, but I remember when Kevin Drum gave it the good ole college try to say that Hillary’s email issues were not as big of a deal as the Republicans insisted they were and guess what, ordinary Joes noticed them and look where we are today.

    Every little bit that chips away at the myth of President Trump as some sort of financial super genius is a good thing. Even “nothingburgers” sometimes linger in folks heads so yeah…anything that can potentially get under the skin of his acolytes is a plus in my book.

  8. @gVOR08:

    As I asked Michael Reynolds, do you really think this will change anyone’s mind?

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  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I don’t know the answer to that. But what I suspect is that it will. at the margins – and the margins are where WI, PA and MI live.

    I think reality sort of erodes faith over time, and that’s what this is about: faith. If you want a single word that explains so-called populism in the US it’s ‘secularism.’ It’s actually of a piece with the larger problem of the clash of realities that gave rise to Trumpism and Brexit as well as jihadi movements, right-wing evangelical Christianity, anti-vaxxism, white nationalism, and various other social pathologies. Change came too fast for the slow kids in the class and they freaked out. It’s not an accident that old age and lack of education are strong predictors for Trumpism.

    The question is whether these people are just slow or their engines have thrown a rod. Slow is manageable. After all, these are the types who used to be livid at men with long hair and bell bottoms. (They got over it and created the mullet.) Then they were livid at cohabitation. (Got over it.) Then they were livid at marijuana, and now it’s the biggest cash crop in the counry and it doesn’t seem like the goobers care anymore. If I were guessing I’d say about six or seven points of Trump’s current 43% support are just slow but can get there. Eventually.

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    Your right, Doug, that this may not have much direct effect on voters. The base have already dismissed this as fake news from the loser libturds at NYT. And more involved voters, like the commenters here, with notable exceptions, knew the broad outlines of this before the election. Although I confess I thought he was a mediocre businessman, not terrible. This is the thing I find most depressing, that most of what we now know about Trump was known to some approximation before the election.

    But you know who didn’t know it? The horse race touts in the supposedly liberal MSM. With each new revelation, it becomes harder for the Mark Halperins and Chuck Todds to pretend they don’t know Trump is a fraud. These stories may shift the media narrative enough to make a difference. Pelosi’s right, avoid the I word and turn over every rock.

  11. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    (as to DT’s business acumen) — it did matter to the many people who voted for him in ’16 primaries. Among my acquaintances, the refrain that “he is such a fantastic businessman and dealmaker” was a principle rationale to support him in the general.

    Now, you ask will it matter, perhaps not. I’d just suggest that most people don’t choose to be conned twice by the same guy. People may not change their public position, but when in the secrecy of the voting booth they will not have to admit to being conned. It’s that kind of margin that will make the difference.

  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @gVOR08:

    Show him up to be the sad little clown that he is.

    This.
    I’ve been saying for a while that the way to beat Dennison is to show what a fraud he is. Everything about him is phony.
    Fake tan.
    Fake teeth.
    Phony comb-over hiding his bald head.
    He is smart, but you can’t see his grades.
    He is rich but you can’t see his taxes.
    He has been totally exonerated by Mueller, but you can’t see the report.
    The support for him is all based on emotions. You cannot look at the objective data and decide he should be in charge of anything. Guarneri and JKB worship him because he makes them feel all squishy and warm. You can’t argue with emotions like that.
    So stories like this one may not be new (although I didn’t know he was a Billion Dollar Loser) but they are another data point in the fraudulent make-up of this con man. It’ll never sway the true sycophants, like Guarneri and JKB, but I have no doubt that some Americans are smart enough to wake up and see that they have been conned. Hopefully that happens before he kills many more people.

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  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As I asked Michael Reynolds, do you really think this will change anyone’s mind?

    I think that it won’t be one story. It’ll be a number of them. Last month it was all the cheating he did on his taxes. Now it’s that he is a Billion Dollar Loser. And you’re right, most of his support will not change their minds. But there will be some who are awake enough to have second-thoughts.
    The bigger danger here is tone. Accepting that the POTUS is a fraud normalizes the fraudulence. Normalizing this asshat is dangerous for the nation.

  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The other thing going un-mentioned here is that Dennison admitted to tax fraud and to bank fraud, earlier this morning, because of this story.

    You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes….almost all real estate developers did – and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport

  15. charon says:

    I do not believe either journalists or the general public have the appropriate skill set or background knowledge to suss out the significance or meaning of this raw data.

    What this all means, I think, is really something for forensic tax specialists to be digging into.

    @michael reynolds:

    But what I suspect is that it will. at the margins – and the margins are where WI, PA and MI live.

    Just so, for the data we see. Even a small impact matters.

  16. Lounsbury says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Directly no, but that’s more or less true of almost any particular news story excepting the proverbial red handed with murder or perhaps (regrettably it really is perhaps) pedophiliac engagements.

    On the margins and for a certain kind of fringe of the suburban middle of the country Republican or the Obama to Trump voter who bought the spin and the imagery, it undermines the plausible deniability.

    Further presuming again the documentary evidence is made available, it undercuts the Deny-Deny game and forces him to defend on rather PR shaky grounds – as he apparently already has done.

    As per
    [quote]
    You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes….almost all real estate developers did – and often re-negotiate with banks, it was sport[/quote]
    Forced declarations along these lines of course do not bother the core MAGA crowd, but do undercut the margins.

    Back-footed, going to core of the pretence.

    Insofar as the Opposition merely needs to
    (1) nominate someone reasonably charismatic and appealing to the centre and not baked-in despised (as in not Madame Clinton)
    (2) Peel off in key central constiuencies in the mid-Western states perhaps 5-10% of the vote (the Obama to Trump conversions if one may use a short-hand)
    documentary confirmation and the ongoing undercut of his self-promotion and mythology serves rather similar purpose to the Clinton Emails. The marginal doubts, the flippers. The Clinton emails never changed any Core minds, but clearly pushed down the percentage just enough to get the result that you lot gave the world, an orange Vulgarian.

    In short, you are posing 100% entirely the wrong bloody question mate.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Having thought about it a bit further, yes, I do think it will change a few important minds. @gVOR08:

  18. @michael reynolds:

    Perhaps you are right.

    I am more skeptical.

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  19. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I think that it won’t be one story. It’ll be a number of them.

    Think of a paper clip. you can bend a piece of it and it changes nothing. then you can bend the piece back, and that changes nothing. Keep at it, and metal fatigue does its thing and the clip breaks.

    It’s possible Dennison’s support has a scandal, ridicule, lying, incompetence fatigue factor which will break him.

    Just don’t count on it to win the election.

  20. James Pearce says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I’ve been saying for a while that the way to beat Dennison is to show what a fraud he is. Everything about him is phony.

    What if Trump supporters know he’s a fake and a fraud and terrible at his job, but nonetheless prefer him to what the Democrats are selling?

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  21. Stormy Dragon says:

    It does tell us something new: that most of his income was from unreported sources, which adds further evidence to the theory that his fortune primarily came from laundering money for the mob rather than real estate.

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  22. Moosebreath says:

    @gVOR08:

    “But you know who didn’t know it? The horse race touts in the supposedly liberal MSM. With each new revelation, it becomes harder for the Mark Halperins and Chuck Todds to pretend they don’t know Trump is a fraud. These stories may shift the media narrative enough to make a difference. ”

    And on cue, Chris Cillizza, the very model of the inside the beltway consensus, is out with a piece entitled “Donald Trump’s emperor-has-no-clothes moment on his wealth is here”. It begins:

    “President Donald Trump’s entire persona is built on a singular idea: He’s the brash, break-all-the-rules billionaire. Like him or hate him, you can’t help but admire his massive wealth and the smarts that allowed him to accrue it.

    “I’m the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far,” he told the Des Moines Register just before announcing his presidential candidacy in June 2015. “Nobody’s ever been more successful than me. I’m the most successful person ever to run. Ross Perot isn’t successful like me. [Mitt] Romney — I have a Gucci store that’s worth more than Romney.”

    It turns out that isn’t true.”

  23. JKB says:

    Today, we learned with this stalkerish data mining of Trump’s INCOME tax returns from 30 years ago, that mid-80s to mid-90s tabloid gossip about Donald Trump wasn’t far from the truth. I highlight “income” because one can be wealthy and have little or no, even negative income.

    Now when I entered Naval OCS, my company officer told us up front that they were going to try to make us fail…because they wanted to see how we reacted and overcame. Donald Trump has “failed” but he also has overcome his business and personal life setbacks. I realize this is alien to the “no fail” slog into and through the “good” schools but failing and recovering is what makes someone resilient.

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  24. Pylon says:

    Learning from failure, JKB? Well, what did the King of Debt learn after no one would lend him money? In the 2000s he started buying with cash. But where did the cash come from? No banks would touch him, he wasn’t raising money with public companies. His kids did say a few things about it though…

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  25. CSK says:

    @JKB: Well, if that’s true–for Trump, anyway–he ought to be doubly eager to release all his returns so that everyone can share his triumph over adversity.

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  26. dmichael says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Under your standard, literally nothing that is revealed about DJT would be “of value” to use your phrase. You may denigrate the information released as “not particularly illuminating” or “there really isn’t much there” but the information relies on documents that however you characterize them, directly contradict the image he has worked to develop over many years (which is all that he cares about).

  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    @JKB:

    Yeah, Trump’s ability to turn his father’s massive fortune into a much smaller fortunate while breaking the law at every turn is a true Horatio Alger story.

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  28. Liberal Capitalist says:

    On the other hand….

    Since this came out in The New York Times, it’s obvious: The Trumpist Loyal 38% will dismiss this as fake news, and a liberal plot.

    After all, the president has said that he wouldn’t release his taxes, and that is to protect all of us from the Government, so how could the Times get his taxes? Totally fake.

    Or, as some would say: “not particularly illuminating” or “there really isn’t much there”.

    QED

  29. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    You were suckered, why not just man up and admit it? You bought the whole Master Businessman lie, you swallowed it whole. The one thing Trump was supposedly good at, he actually sucked at. Hence the failed airline, the fraudulent university, the ties, the steaks, the casinos and the bogus charity. Hence the tax evasion. Hence the fraudulent financial filings. And hence Trump’s taint-licking obeisance to Putin and his money.

    You fell for a con man. Your cult leader is and always has been a fraud, and no, sorry, we didn’t all fall for it. You did. I didn’t. You did, and the rest of us here did not. Now if you had some core honesty and integrity and strength of character, you’d admit it like a grown-up. But no, you’re a liar in service to the liar who conned you. You lie because you lack the strength to face the truth.

    Fool.

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  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:

    Donald Trump has “failed” but he also has overcome his business and personal life setbacks.

    By paying hush money to porn stars and laundering money for Russians.
    How does it smell, that far up his orange ass-crack?

  31. JKB says:

    For those who wish to ignore, both the widespread knowledge of Trump’s history and that he came back from the brink. Here is a contemporary source. Is the NY Times legit enough for you?

    Though there are still four years to go in the 90’s, business and government leaders in New York honored Donald J. Trump yesterday for pulling off what they called “the comeback of the decade.”

    Mr. Trump, the developer who came to epitomize opulent wealth during the 80’s before tumbling into deep financial trouble, has managed to erase much of his debt and is moving ahead with major projects at a time other developers are idling.

    After the collapse of the real estate market of the 1980’s, Mr. Trump’s company was left holding some $8.8 billion in debt, causing his personal net worth to drop to a low of about $1 billion in the red by 1991.

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  32. Teve says:

    Looks like NY is going to release Trump’s state taxes, which’ll probly have more or less the same info as his fed taxes.

    (CNN) — Democratic efforts in New York state to enable the release of President Donald Trump’s state tax returns are expected to pass the state Senate Wednesday, according to Senate leadership.
    Mike Murphy, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, told CNN on Tuesday that he predicts the bill will pass.
    “This President and his administration have repeatedly shown a true hostility to the rule of law and Presidential customs,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement that was provided by Murphy. “No person is above the law and New Yorkers, as well as all Americans, deserve transparency from their elected officials at every level of government.”
    If made law, the bill will allow the state’s tax commissioner to hand over any New York tax returns at the request of the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, the US Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation.
    The Democratic leader of the US House Ways and Mean Committee has submitted a request to the IRS for Trump’s federal tax returns. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected that request on Monday afternoon.
    A companion bill winding its way through the New York State Assembly is currently before that chamber’s Ways and Means Committee.
    The proposed legislation must pass both chambers before ending up on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk. Cuomo’s office told CNN last week that he supports the bill.
    The state Senate’s floor session is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

    linky

  33. Joe says:

    @James Pearce:

    What if Trump supporters know he’s a fake and a fraud and terrible at his job, but nonetheless prefer him to what the Democrats are selling?

    I will do you one better: they prefer him to what the status quo is selling. It may not even be a Republican/Democratic thing. They don’t like the status quo and any chaos that appears to blow it up is worth the try and at least entertaining to watch.

  34. Hal_10000 says:

    Trump is on Twitter saying these were paper losses. That may very well be true. I have extremely extremely limited experience in this, having rented a house or two. We rented at a loss on paper, mostly due to depreciation and improvements in the property. In the end, it balanced out when we sold the house from the capital gains.

    If Trump is claiming these were paper losses, there is one way to prove it: release all of his financial records.

  35. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds: You bought the whole Master Businessman lie

    Actually, what I bought was between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Trump was the better choice for President. And I haven’t seen anything to change that opinion in the 28 months Trump has been President.

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  36. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But what I suspect is that it will. at the margins – and the margins are where WI, PA and MI live.

    Why do you think voters who haven’t already made up their minds are paying any attention to this stuff? Look at the trendlines in his approval ratings in those states: while underwater, they’ve been essentially flat since mid-2017. Everything that’s happened in the meantime–Charlottesville, ACA repeal, the tax bill, the shutdowns, family separation, the midterms, Michael Cohen, the Mueller report (did I leave anything out?)–hasn’t budged his numbers in any of those states, which don’t look like good numbers for him but have proved remarkably stable and are actually better than his 2016 favorability numbers.

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  37. inhumans99 says:

    So the story today that may overshadow the tax story is that President Trump has been forced to publicly disavow his relationship with David Bossie, who scammed retired elderly Republicans for campaign contributions.

    It is amazing how many friends President Trump has had to toss under the bus because they turned out to be scum of the earth (I was thinking of Rob Zombie when I typed that out).

  38. CSK says:

    @inhumans99: With very few exceptions, who else would work for Trump but the scum of the earth?

  39. Moosebreath says:

    @CSK:

    “With very few exceptions, who else would work for Trump but the scum of the earth?”

    The zealots who believe that they can manipulate Trump to doing their bidding (e.g., Bolton).

  40. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “What if Trump supporters know he’s a fake and a fraud and terrible at his job, but nonetheless prefer him to what the Democrats are selling?”

    My guess is that description represents you and a handful of other hardcore trolls. Not enough to tip an election.

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  41. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:

    Trump was the better choice for President. And I haven’t seen anything to change that opinion in the 28 months Trump has been President.

    It’s so weird…in an online community like this you can sometimes not know the person you are communicating with is totally blind. Those braille keyboards are amazing.

  42. MikeSJ says:

    Trump won the election in large part to:

    1. Hillary was guaranteed to win; lots of people didn’t bother to get off their asses to vote because her winning was such a sure thing.
    2. Trump is a big time super successful and super rich business man; he was a Get Things Done kind of guy.
    3. His campaign act was just that, his “shtick”. Once in office he’d certainly act like a normal person.

    Now that all the above has been proven to be wrong will it make a difference? Not to most of his base (he brings out their inner Archie Bunker) but as has been pointed out even a 1 ~ 2% drop in the battleground states means he loses.

    Lets find out how deep in debt he is; how much of his “Empire” he actually owns and yep, I think it’s a very viable line of attack.

  43. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath: That would make them fairly scummy.

  44. Pylon says:

    @JKB: Your NYT story suggests he brought himself back from the brink of insolvency. He didn’t. He just lost his investors a ton of money. He never personally suffered because of his grifting and cheating. And, later, because TV saved him. Still later, because Russians bought him.

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  45. Kylopod says:

    @MikeSJ:

    Not to most of his base (he brings out their inner Archie Bunker) but as has been pointed out even a 1 ~ 2% drop in the battleground states means he loses.

    Not if he gains votes he didn’t get in 2016. There’s a lot of evidence he’s consolidated the party behind him since he took office.

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  46. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Trump is on Twitter saying these were paper losses. That may very well be true.

    They had to be paper losses…he never had a “real” billion dollars to lose.

  47. André Kenji says:

    The problem is not that common voters care about financial and tax intricacies, but what these issues tell about Trump personality and trustness. The problem of Hillary’s emails was not that they cared about FOIA, but that these emails told them that Hillary was untrustworthy and cared only about herself.

    People like Guarneri and JKB will vote for Trump, and that really doesn’t matter. But Trump needs these people that dislikes both parties, and these taxes info tell people that he is untrustworthy and only cares about himself.

  48. Tyrell says:

    @André Kenji: I am not in favor of the government releasing such personal information as tax forms and such other. Where would the line be moved to next? State and local officials? Police, fire, and teachers? And what information would be on their list – medical records, school grades, test scores (IQ, SAT), driving records, purchases?
    This whole thing looks more like the antics of third graders at recess: tattling, calling names, gossip, pouting.
    Members of Congress need a code of honor, much like the military schools have.
    They can look at my tax returns all they want – maybe they will find why I am paying so much. A decimal error maybe? I am not a math person.
    That’s how they can make themselves useful – fill out tax returns for people for free.

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @André Kenji:

    The problem is not that common voters care about financial and tax intricacies, but what these issues tell about Trump personality and trustness. The problem of Hillary’s emails was not that they cared about FOIA, but that these emails told them that Hillary was untrustworthy and cared only about herself.

    Agreed–but the important thing is that there was room to build a narrative about her that changed her public image. In just a couple of years she went from one of the most popular and admired figures in the country to one of the most toxic and hated.

    Trump, in contrast, starts out as a candidate who’s widely hated and seen as a crook and cheat. The attitudes are baked in at this point, and it seems doubtful that any of these new revelations will be a game-changer. He still is able to maintain a large base of support from people who either (a) refuse to accept any negative information about him (b) accept that he’s a crook and a liar, but don’t care.

  50. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Oh, bullshit. Everyone who has ever been taken by a con says the same thing. No, I wasn’t fooled by the 3-Card Monte, I was just, um, enjoying the air, that’s right, I knew where the pea was all along I, um, I just wanted to see if you knew. That’s right, that’s the ticket.

    And you got taken in by the very definition of a confidence scam. Ever hear the phrase, ‘you can’t cheat an honest man? The essence of a good con is exploiting human weakness. The con man needs the mark to think he’s in on it, he needs the mark – that’d be you – to think some other poor sap is the mark. You want to believe the con man hustled us libs, but oops, no, because see we never gave him our votes or our money or our respect.

    No, dude, you are the mark.

  51. michael reynolds says:

    @Kylopod:
    We don’t need all the apples, we just need a few.

  52. rachel says:

    @inhumans99:

    Every little bit that chips away at the myth of President Trump as some sort of financial super genius is a good thing.

    Trump : financial super genius :: Wile E. Coyote : Roadrunner-catching super genius
    The more people who are brought to realize this, the better.

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  53. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kylopod: Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were people that the thirteen year old version of me knew, in the nineties. Lots of history there that can be reinforced by relatively small things.

    Trump might be reelected, but he is underwater in every single state that he needs to win.

    Besides that, I think that people in the US are underestimating Brazil(and Argentina and Paraguay) in the issue of trade war with China. That’s going to prove incredibly destructive for states like Iowa and Missouri.

  54. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Well then clearly you should have won the presidency. He did, you didn’t. Figure it out, genius. You just write kiddie books. And from what I gather, the wifey may be the real talent in your family.

  55. Guarneri says:

    For all you geniuses, the NYC and Atlantic City markets crashed. It wiped out many.

    But Trump survived. There is not one single person at this blogsite, other than me because of what I do for a living, who understands the enormity of the multi-year workout and subsequent success he enjoyed. (And before they became Hate Trump all the Time, so did the NYTs). You guys, relatively speaking, are qualified only to clean his toilets.

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  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: I think you may be wrong when you say

    Had Trump just invested daddy’s money in a mutual fund he’d be far, far richer than he is today…

    Consider the following from the post:

    Mr. Trump’s primary sources of income changed year after year, from big stock earnings, to a single year of more than $67.1 million in salary, to a mysterious $52.9 million windfall in interest income. But always, those gains were overwhelmed by losses on his casinos and other projects.

    I’m sorry, but I have to conclude that even if he’d invested his inheritance, he’d have just fukt that up too.

    And those in the community who are majoring in business currently should remember this tale as cautionary. If instead of spending your time studying hard and taking all of your tests yourself, you spend your time in Manhattan “fighting [your own] personal Vietnam” [the famous “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” campaign??] you may not even fare as well as Trump unless someone gives you $400,000,000 to blow.

  57. Guarneri says:

    “And those in the community who are majoring in business currently should remember this tale as cautionary. If instead of spending your time studying hard and taking all of your tests yourself, you spend your time in Manhattan “fighting [your own] personal Vietnam” [the famous “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” campaign??] you may not even fare as well as Trump unless someone gives you $400,000,000 to blow.”

    Heh. Nice defeatist attitude. Funny thing, though, I went to business school. At age 30 my net worth was zero. Now, I’m filthy rich.

    I don’t think you have much to offer here.

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  58. MarkedMan says:

    This story (and all the ones that follow) may very well have the effect around the periphery that so many commenting above hope. But there’s another crucially important way this will have an effect. When Donnie is debating with his opponent and says something about his genius business mind and his opponent just chuckles and says “Sure, sure, we all know about your (air quotes) great business successses.” And then Trump will just melt down on stage.

  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Lounsbury: Your point is well made and Reynolds is right about where that margin is–the three states where the literal margin was >100,000 votes, but I will emphasize that this swing will not happen on its own (and I don’t accuse either you or Reynolds of saying that it will BTW). The Democratic candidate will need to work for this win, no matter how repulsive and pathetic Trump is, because American voters showed themselves to be breathtakingly stupid in 2016. There’s no reason to believe they’re becoming smarter.

  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: I think that by emphasizing Trump supporters you make the same mistake that Lounsbury notes that Doug is making. Asking the wrong question. Bleep, Trump supporters would (as I noted in another thread) vote for sewer effluent as long as there’s an (R) at the end of the name. The question may really be as simple as how do the Democrats get 200,000 or so (I like a margin for error) more votes next time in WI, MI, and PA? The answer to that question doesn’t rely on convincing Trump supporters of anything. They’re a lost cause.

    Now I know that it makes you feel bad that I think of you as a lost cause, but…

  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB: And as if to reinforce what I was just saying to Pearce, you show up with another blatherfest 2 posts down. Thanks! I needed that! (And I really mean it this time.)

  62. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod:

    Not if he gains votes he didn’t get in 2016. There’s a lot of evidence he’s consolidated the party behind him since he took office.

    Good point. As I note, the Democrats have to win, they can’t count on Trump to lose. That’s the 2016 mistake, and it caught almost everyone by surprise (including Trump based on what information is out there).

  63. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Guarneri: I see you still haven’t solved your *squatter* problem, eh Drew?

  64. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    Oooh, struck a nerve, did I?

    Your ‘point’ is hardly worth bothering with, but: Obama also won the presidency. Twice. And he actually got a majority of voters. How do you fail to see that your whole idea for this comment could be effortlessly brushed aside and rendered ridiculous?

    As for my wife being the real talent, I am happy to agree. I married very well. 40 years on July 1.

    See, why do you bother? See the preceding sentence? See how weak your little jab looks now? See how easy that was for me? You’re a heckler, aren’t you, one of those guys in a comedy show who thinks he’s smart until the comic on-stage takes him down.

    Here’s the thing, Drew: you’re not being honest. And that dishonesty is blatant and essentially makes you nothing but a nuisance. You’re the gnat of OTB. You pop in, say something you think is clever and everyone waves their hands in front of their face and says, ‘lousy bugs!’ A lie is just noise. Bzzz, bzzz. Nobody’s buying what you’re selling.

    If you want to participate in conversation and be treated with some respect, stop lying. It’s that simple. Stop lying. And answer one simple question:

    Drew? How come Trump won’t allow another American in the room when he talks to Putin?

  65. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis, I think I now have a better answer to your question as to whether this line of attack has any effect. Look how emotional our trolls, I mean our ‘conservative’ friends, have become. This is like the elven rope around Gollum’s neck. It burns us, precious. They feel the vulnerability this creates. This has been their big rationale to themselves, poor simple creatures they equate money with capability and morality. It’s all inextricably linked for them, wealth is virtue, money needs no justification. But my God, what if Cult Leader is just a mere. . . millionaire?

    Let me just reiterate: I made far more from far less than Trump did. And honest to God, when it comes to managing money I’m an idiot. I have auto-pays from a gym in Italy that we joined 10 years ago still going out. I order out 6 out of 7 meals in a week. I have never paid my quarterlies on time. I’ve run a small private charity for literally 20 years and never taken a deduction because I’m just too lazy to do the paperwork. That’s the kind of acumen we’re talking and yet, I am still a better investment than Trump. Wow. He’s really a moron.

  66. rachel says:

    @michael reynolds: Don’t sell yourself short! You — unlike Boss Tweet — actually have a talent that contributes something to the world.

  67. JKB says:

    Egads, evidence Trump “lied”. In a clip from ‘The Apprentice’ some 14 years ago, Trump discusses his past financial challenges saying we was billions, that’s right plural, in debt. But apparently, it was only a little over one billion.

  68. Scott O says:

    @JKB: Donald Trump never lies. Donald Trump is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

  69. MarkedMan says:

    @JKB: You seem to be confusing debt with loss. I have a mortgage. Even after paying it every month I’m still showing a net profit.

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  70. Lounsbury says:

    @Guarneri:
    Well let me as a proper international banker have a small reply to this tripe.

    For all you geniuses, the NYC and Atlantic City markets crashed. It wiped out many.

    Trump crashed before hand mate, well before hand. But it is a nice try on repeating his ahistorical spin to cover up is hard-lean forward get-ahead-of-the-market cycle to fail history.

    But Trump survived. There is not one single person at this blogsite, other than me because of what I do for a living, who understands the enormity of the multi-year workout and subsequent success he enjoyed.

    If you what you do for a living actually does involve anything of a banking and financial sense, you would know that this spin is largely rubbish and pathetic political spin. The enormity of the workout, oh yes, the ‘success’ well that rather depends on what one means by ‘success’ although one does have to credit his skill in marketing and pure shameless hucksterism, values well loved in a certain segment of America.

    Trump did indeed prove quite the master in the art form not of the making proper deals but in the art of bankruptcy, but more in the art of marketing to cover up bankruptcy. It is fairly clear from the hard numbers available ex-Trumpist spin that he was long technically insolvent and essentially made recovery based on a marketing machine and franchising. There is no denying his sheer genius for the very American role of the Huckster, the PT Barnum if you will.

    His Atlantic city properties were insolvent well before the overall Atlantic city went down-hill, his NYC failures also preceded market. He does spin nicely providing lickspittles the ammunition to repeat and posture.

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  71. MarkedMan says:

    There are many, many things about Trump’s history that reveal him to be a fake businessman. But for something current, look at his response to this news. He said something along the lines of “I use clever tricks to make it look I have a loss and use that to renegotiate my debt.” Put another way, “I signed those loan agreements with no intention of paying back the full amount.” What legitimate banker would walk into their boss’ office and say, “I think we should lend Trump this money despite the fact that he has repeatedly and publicly said he takes loans out without any intention of paying them back”? And in fact, he doesn’t get loans anymore from legitimate banks, and hasn’t in decades. He gets loans from the personal wealth management arm of Deutsche Bank, not the commercial real estate arm. And what do we know about that entity? They have paid huge fines for helping Russians launder their money. But surely they (again, the only bank that will lend Trump money) have learned their lesson and are staying away from seedy Russian money. Whoops, guess not. You would almost think they were the type of sleazy operation that would need a corrupt front man who pretended to be the “developer” behind the apartments involved in these criminal schemes.

  72. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve been morbidly fascinated by Trump since the eighties, and having lived in the NYC media market there was no shortage of news showing him up as a corrupt phony. He is like a Bernie Madoff who only ripped off people stupid enough to fall for “Sure I stole those other guys’ money but you and me, we are like business geniuses and I like you so I won’t rip you off.”

    So there are a lot of incidents of Trump’s double dealing and sleaze, but there are a couple of glaring absences that tell the tale too. The first is that in all those years I’ve never seen anyone, not one single person, who has ever had a positive business dealing with him. Think about that. There is no investor that says, “yes, that was a good deal and we made a lot of money.” If any of you Trumpers can be prove me wrong, go ahead, I’d be fascinated. And don’t use that Trumper family, the Chawla brothers in Mississippi, who have shelled out millions of their own money and have yet to put up a single wall of the hotel which, again, is entirely financed by them including the fees paid to the Trump organization. They remain confident though that, unlike those other brown people, Trump and his sons have great respect for their type of brown person.

    The second one is that in all those decades of the Trump organization, not one single long term employee has gone on to success of their own. Trump can’t attract A list people or even solid B’s. The people who are end up, working for him are the Michael Cohens and Omarossas of the world.

  73. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Trump is the scorpion in the tale of the scorpion and the frog. He’s the dimwit who will grab at a chance to rip you off, even if that means you’ll never come back to him again.

    I suspect that the bulk of Trump’s supporters are gullible enough to go back and get ripped off multiple times.

  74. MarkedMan says:

    I suspect that the bulk of Trump’s supporters are gullible enough to go back and get ripped off multiple times.

    It’s no accident that Fox News is 100% in on Trump. Their business model calls not for high numbers of viewers, but high numbers of stupid and gullible viewers. I don’t watch it, but occasionally see it in the background of a restaurant or bar I’m at. Even with the sound off it is obvious the kind of commercials they play. Worthless or harmful products that only gullible people stung out on fear would buy. It does no good for Fox to pitch themselves as attracting, say, 1.5M viewers who are well educated and on top of things. They need to be able to pitch 1.5M viewers, 60% of whom are willing to buy gold at a 40% above market value.

  75. wr says:

    @Guarneri: “What if Trump supporters know he’s a fake and a fraud and terrible at his job, but nonetheless prefer him to what the Democrats are selling?”

    Oh, yes, you buy and sell companies all the time. We all believe that, really we do. And we’re all sure that if you lost $500 million over two years, the people you work for would have congratulated you on being such a super-genius and suggested you run for president, while people who actually make money instead flushing it down the toilet are only fit to lick your shoes.

    Honestly, your schtick is phonier than Tyrell’s and twice as tiresome.

  76. wr says:

    @Guarneri: “Now, I’m filthy rich.”

    Yes, we all believe this.

  77. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “40 years on July 1.”

    Congratulations. We just hit 25 and I thought that was a pretty big deal.

  78. wr says:

    @Scott O: “Donald Trump is the kindest, warmest, bravest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

    Now how about a nice game of cards?

  79. Pylon says:

    @Guarneri: You are the only one who knows about recovering from financial wipeouts? Gee I guess I better quit my job as an insolvency lawyer. I hate to cite my own work in responding to posts, but as a matter of fact I’ve worked on the Air Canada, Canadian Airlines, Sears, Enron, SemCams, insolvencies, to name a few well known ones. Trump’s case isn’t a “multi-year workout”. His businesses went broke, he maintained his personal standard of living because of the money he skimmed and stole, and was saved by having a TV show and by borrowing money under the table from Russians. Frankly, the penny-ante nature of his current scams (using his own properties for government functions at premium rates) tells me he is still cash poor.

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  80. just nutha says:

    “What if Trump supporters know he’s a fake and a fraud and terrible at his job, but nonetheless prefer him to what the Democrats are selling?”

    Then they’re perfect candidates for investing in Drew’s next business venture. It’s all about knowing the targets market demographics.

  81. grumpy realist says:

    @wr: ….as the saying goes, EVERYONE’S Ronnie Coleman on the internets…

    I’ve been actually fascinated about the claims people come up with because it brings up a very good question–how are you going to be able to prove, simply through text (and usually under a pseudonym), that you have the qualifications you claim you possess? (Am remembering that epic thread here at OTC where we were plagued by a particularly egregious troll claiming all sorts of qualifications (a M.S. from the London School of Economics was the least, IIRC) and we batted him around for quite a few hours.)

  82. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist: It’s a good question. Whenever I post here on something substantial, I try to include sources and make my reasoning apparent, so my qualifications are less important. But sometimes I reference my own experience with Medical Devices, China and a few other things that I know well enough Offer my own experience relevant. I’m curious, does anyone think I’m making those up?

    Michael Reynolds claims to be an author and former criminal. HarvardLaw92 claim(ed) to be a big time lawyer. And Guarneri claims to be a huge deal in the business community. Why do I outright believe Reynolds, assume Harvard is legit but am fairly skeptical (but not outright disbelieving) about G? I guess it’s the sum total of what they say. As the first two post more and more there is a level of consistency and detail, and Guarneri never seems to get there. But I don’t disbelieve Guarneri’s background simply because he naively accepts Trump’s bilge. There are all kinds of experts in one area that get another area completely wrong. I just watched a bit where Bob Lutz, who was unquestionably the head of GM, say laughably stupid things about global warming. (Did you know there hasn’t been a major hurricane since Katrina?)

  83. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. And as a lot of us have been mentioning, a REAL billionaire wouldn’t be farting around with the equivalent of pocket-change diving the way ol’ Trump has with his “Trump Steaks”, “Trump Vodka”, “Trump whatever”. Reminds me of the time (20 years ago) I was working at a Fortune 100 company and we were going over possible areas for new products. I was informed, in no uncertain terms, that the bare minimum they would be demanding from the project was at least $6M profit from year one. Otherwise it just wasn’t worth the hassle/paperwork/opportunity cost.

    That’s the craziest thing about Trump’s projects–they were all over the map. There was no systematic structure, no strategy where a success in one area could be bootstrapped upon to create a success in another area and so on. It was always “put my name on something and sell an overpriced crappy product to a bunch of gullible yokels who think that a gold toilet is the ultimate in luxury and class.” (Trump’s daughter seems to have carried on the tradition).

    ….which leads me to conclude that for 30 years Trump has been scrambling for an income stream to prop up his “billionaire” image. He’s great at selling the image. So has every single con man in history, from the guys who floated the South Sea Bubble down to Ponzi. And from some of the commentators here, he’s still finding victims.

  84. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: I think it also comes down to whether the demonstrated incompetence is in the area they claim to have expertise in. If I go sashaying around claiming to be a professor in Medieval Law, saying “who’s he?” when taxed with Bartolus’s consilia would be a dead giveaway, for instance.

  85. just nutha says:

    @grumpy realist: I probably watched The Apprentice more seasons than most people here (watch mostly trashy escapist fare) and I recall on a later season Trump actually saying that there was no particular rhyme or reason involved in the various “Trump _ ” enterprises and that they were principally for the purpose of showing the overall *value* of the *Trump brand*. His schtick at that time was “everything I do succeeds spectacularly.

  86. grumpy realist says:

    @just nutha: We’re seeing a version of that right now with Uber, which has morphed from a car ride provider to Uber-this and Uber-that (automatic cars! grocery deliveries!), frantically adding on more and more “things we’re going to get into!”.

    Methinks it’s in an attempt to puff up their IPO and to distract everyone’s attention from the fact that they still don’t have a way of, erm, actually making profits. The IPO documents admit that the only way they’re going to start making $$$ is by paying their drivers even less than they’ve been doing now….but they’ve already been squashing down on the payouts to the drivers, who are now royally irked and starting to call strikes, so any further attempt to grab more of the loot is going to be even worse.

    The other gee-we’re-so-smart-we’ve-bit-ourselves-in-the-ass tactic Uber used was the standard let’s-use-arbitration-so-we-don’t-get-class-action-suits, figuring that only a very few drivers would bother to go through the hassle. Mistake. A huge number of complaints have been filed and Uber is now looking down the gun at unexpectedly high legal expenses because each complaint has to be handled separately and the resolution of one means absolutely zilch when it comes to dealing with the next one.

    Add to that the tendency of the law courts to find Uber “independent contractors” to be, in fact, employees (meaning back taxes, overtime payments, etc. etc. and so forth) and I don’t think Uber is going to be looking at a very good future. I suspect this incipient IPO is nothing more than the original founders and investors selling off stocks to self-proclaimed business geniuses like Guarneri and scampering off with the loot before the whole rickety contraction finally collapses.

  87. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist: 90% of the time when I use Uber (actually Lyft more often than Uber) it’s on a customers dime so I’m not sensitive to price, but I have noticed a steady decline in the quality of driver and I’m sensitive to that. And the percentage who have been driving for less than a couple of months has gone sharply up. Uber loses up to 40% on each ride, but the drivers still don’t earn enough to make it worth their while. If Uber were to jack up prices enough to make a profit and keep their drivers, they would have to shrink substantially. I actually think that would be a good business plan, but their investors believe in relentless growth. And they get essentially no economies of scale. I don’t know how they would survive absent constant infusions of investor money.

  88. Lounsbury says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Now, you are being somewhat imprecise:

    That’s the craziest thing about Trump’s projects–they were all over the map. There was no systematic structure, no strategy where a success in one area could be bootstrapped upon to create a success in another area and so on. It was always “put my name on something and sell an overpriced crappy product to a bunch of gullible yokels who think that a gold toilet is the ultimate in luxury and class.” (Trump’s daughter seems to have carried on the tradition).

    The systematic structure is and was in fact the bolded. And if one understands that Trump has no organisational nor any proper business management sense at all, but does have a natural cunning for the scam and pimping the scheme, this is indeed a systematic structure – of course not a proper business structure if you’re thinking he’s in the business of operational business. But he’s not really (nor has he the slightest soupçon of skill).

    ….which leads me to conclude that for 30 years Trump has been scrambling for an income stream to prop up his “billionaire” image.

    Rather.

    He’s great at selling the image. So has every single con man in history, from the guys who floated the South Sea Bubble down to Ponzi. And from some of the commentators here, he’s still finding victims.

    See this is in fact his business.

  89. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “.as the saying goes, EVERYONE’S Ronnie Coleman on the internets…”

    Think how much better the world would be if they were all Ronald Colman…

  90. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Why do I outright believe Reynolds, assume Harvard is legit but am fairly skeptical (but not outright disbelieving) about G? I guess it’s the sum total of what they say.

    To some extent, though I generally try to avoid getting myself into a situation where I need to make a judgment call one way or the other. I just don’t deal with the question of whether their credentials are real most of the time, and when I’m arguing with someone like Guarneri, I don’t see much point to questioning his claims about his offline self; it just doesn’t figure into the discussion for me at all.

    It’s true that I repeatedly linked to HL92’s glorious smackdown of a Bung comment where you more or less have to accept what he’s saying about his past personal experience with Trump on faith. But what he’s saying does add up, and he presents a considerable level of plausible detail. In theory he could have just made it all up, but that seems like something that would be pretty excessive for an Internet troll, a species known for its laziness.

    In my experience, when Internet commenters fake credentials it usually becomes clear sooner or later. Most of the time it’s pretty obvious, where their posts are full of spelling errors and factual errors and grandiose claims that a real professional in the field would be unlikely to make. One common tell is their trying to use their alleged credentials to attack other commenters; another is allowing their arguments to rest entirely on their unconfirmed credentials, as opposed to it simply being a side point.

  91. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: ” Uber loses up to 40% on each ride,”
    There was an old joke in the produce business about buying something for a dollar, selling it for 60 cents, and making up the difference on the volume. At least, I always thought it was a joke until today.

  92. Tyrell says:

    “Is that all there is? Then let’s take out the booze and have a ball, if that’s all – there is”
    (The incredible Peggy Lee)