CBC News / YouTube Donald Trump talks possible impeachment Michael...
CBC News / YouTube

The Worst Businessman in America

Nancy Le Tourneau has picked up on the rest of the tax story the NY Times broke. The Trump family engaged in all kinds of tax evasion schemes to build up the fortune Trump’s father handed off to him. Trump has been lying for years about how he got rich — he’s not the brilliant business man he wants everyone to believe he is. It’s also why Trump declared looking into his business dealings is “a red line” that he won’t allow Mueller to cross.

As damning as the Times story is, for most people it’s just too much to absorb — tl;dr.

It’s what Trump did with the business empire he was handed that gets interesting. Tourneau looks at that and connects some dots.

Trump was clearly in deep financial trouble: he sold off his father’s assets to pay creditors, filed for bankruptcy, sued his banker to avoid a loan payment, and took a job hosting a reality TV show.  And yet, at the about the same time, he went on a $400 million spending spree with cash. On top of that, he got more than $300 million in loans from Deutsche Bank. Keep in mind that in 2017, Deutsche Bank reached a $630 million settlement with American and British regulators for turning a blind eye to money laundering from Russian investors.

In other words, Trump blew through the money his father had accumulated with a series of bad business deals — but still found a way to keep operating.

Football Anyone?

What he did with the USFL is an example of Trump’s business ‘genius’ at work. Jeff Pearlman has a write up of how he destroyed the league.

Whenever President Trump says or does something outrageous, you can be certain that near-identical utterances were made, or actions taken, some three decades ago, when he was the owner of the New Jersey Generals of the long-defunct United States Football League.

For those who might not recall, the U.S.F.L. was a 12-team professional spring football league that began in 1983 with a modest goal: to provide quality games with franchises stocked largely with regional players. (For example, the Philadelphia Stars had a high number of former Penn State standouts.) It was fun and flashy, and largely successful.

Then Donald J. Trump bought in.

He purchased the Generals from an Oklahoma oilman named J. Walter Duncan, paying $10 million for a team reportedly valued at $8.5 million by the league. (Mr. Trump says there was a bidding war. There was not.) What ensued was an early-’80s ode to deception and selfishness that eerily mirrors the ongoing 2018 ode to deception and selfishness.

emphasis added — read the whole thing

To summarize, Trump spent too much money, tried to get other people to put up the money for his bills, made bad decisions, and tried to bluster and bully his way through the resulting mess. He  destroyed the USFL, and walked away with nothing to show for it, except a lot of money down the drain —  his and other people’s.

Following the Money

This pattern repeats over and over again in Trump’s career. US banks wouldn’t touch him — so where did he get the money to keep his business empire crawling along? Le Tourneau (as the first quote indicates) points to the Russian connections.

Of course, that raises the question of where the $400 million in cash came from. I’m pretty sure Robert Mueller is interested in the answer. You might remember that when James Dodson asked Eric Trump about that, he said, “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”

Above and beyond the complicated games the Trump family played with their taxes, it’s what Trump did down the road that everyone should find easy to understand, as Le Tourneau sums it up:

This demonstrates that Donald Trump might be the worst businessmen in America. He squandered his father’s entire fortune and might very well have gotten a Russian bailout about a decade before deciding to run for president. Even the most financially-challenged among us should be able to understand that sorry tale.

What Le Tourneau is speculating about here is a big story. “Follow the money” is still relevant — but does it matter now?

Beyond Money

Trump has moved beyond just playing games with money — although he is using the presidency to cash in. If this story had broken in 2015, would it have derailed his campaign before it began? Too late now. Will it burn him now? That’s the question.

Trump’s political empire is not built on money. It’s built on racism, resentment, misogyny, and entitlement, along with lies and bluster — which is how the GOP has been marketing itself to suckers for years. Trump has transcended money to get what he wants — and that’s truly frightening.

For those of us who want to see Mueller bring Trump to justice and hold him and his administration accountable, the revelations about his business dealings add more fuel to the fire.

For those who support Trump, this is irrelevant — it happened years ago, it’s fake news, it’s the deep state, it’s lies — because Trump’s image as a smart business guy is no longer the big reason they support him. He’s the president, the strong leader making America great again — so who cares about Libs and the lies they tell?

So, make a note of Le Tourneau’s story — but don’t believe it’s enough by itself to stop Trump now. The list of things Trump could do on Fifth Avenue and get away with keeps getting longer…

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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