I have just finished reading parts of the 220-page lawsuit filed by the New York State Attorney General against a former United States President who is now just another business guy out there trying to make a buck. And what the lawsuit basically says is that this particular business guy, whose name happens to be Donald Trump, tried to make his bucks by telling a whole bunch of lies about what he was worth and what the properties he owns are worth.
I used to lie all the time when I was running my gun shop. Someone would come into the shop, ask me how business was doing, and I would always say things were great. There were some days when business was really great. There were also days when I shouldn’t have bothered to open the store. But when anyone asked how things were going, they were always going great.
Every year I had to sign two documents which contained information about how much I was actually selling in the business and how much the business was worth. One document was the commercial tax return which went to the IRS. The other was a form I sent to my bank because I had borrowed money from them to pay for some renovations and the loan required me to give them an annual financial report.
Now the good news was that the only people who ever saw these documents besides me were a staff person at the bank and a staff person who worked for the IRS. So, I didn’t have to worry about what anyone would think about my business if revenues went up or revenues went down.
Let’s face it. When you sell 4 or 5 guns a week in a 1,200-square foot store located in a little town of 10,600 residents in the hills of Western Mass., you’re not about to go out there and tell everyone that you’re a guy who knows how to build a company worth billions because you just happen to be about the best dealmaker around. And you’re certainly not about to pay a bunch of unemployed actors fifty bucks apiece to cheer as you come down the escalator to announce you’re running for President because you don’t happen to have an escalator in the gun shop.
What I find most interesting about the AG’s lawsuit is that Trump’s lies and misrepresentations about the value of his properties wasn’t something that just started when he announced his 2016 campaign. The phony appraisal of 40 Wall Street, for example, happened in 2010. The value of the penthouse in Trump Park Avenue was first questioned in 2011. That was the same year that Trump claimed he used ‘outside professionals’ to determine what his real estate holdings were worth, except there were no outside professionals. They didn’t exist.
Much of the phony information that Trump claimed to be valid and true was not only used to inflate his annual financial statements, but also ended up as narratives to help build the public image of success that he used to promote the 2016 Presidential campaign. As early as 1989, Trump claimed to Forbes Magazine that his triplex apartment In Trump Tower measured some 30,000 square feet when in fact the square footage is somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 square feet.
Using the 30,000-foot figure enabled Trump to inflate his net worth on his annul statement year after year. When Trump was questioned about this phony deal in sworn testimony, he took the 5th.
Anyone who is shocked by the allegations (backed up by massive evidence) in the AG’s lawsuit hasn’t been paying attention the last few years. Has Trump said one thing in his social media barrage over the last six years that even remotely resembled the truth?
But with all due respect to what Sun Tzu says about the wheels of justice turning slowly, I really wonder how come it took the New York State AG’s office twenty years to catch onto Donald Trump?
If Trump hadn’t run and won the Presidency in 2016, had he just continued to talk about himself to the slavish admiration and devotion of The New York Post, would he have been able to spend the rest of his life coming back from Bedminster every weekend and lying about his golf score?
Of course, he would. No question about that.