Tuesday, October 02, 2018


I read the big New York Times report on the Trump family's decades of financial trickery, but don't quiz me on it. I feel comfortable saying that over the years the Trump family engaged in some financial ruses that were blatantly illegal, some that broke the law but were typical for wealthy real estate people, and some that are unavailable to you and me but are generously granted to the rich, which ought to make all of us in the 99% march out into the streets, pitchforks held high. The specifics I'm not so clear on. I see a lot of people treating this story as devastating, but it's long and the details of the financial chicanery will be confusing to most people. It will be easy for the right to say, "Yes, Trump and his family paid as little tax to the evil IRS as they could get away with -- wouldn't you?" And that'll be that, because the statute of limitations has run out on any crimes reported in the piece.

However, within the report is another report, on the large amounts of money Fred Trump gave to his son Donald over the years. As we're told, "The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day." That's a lot more than the president has ever acknowledged.

I wish this had broken out into a separate story. That would have been easier for the average reader to follow, and it would have neatly rebutted Trump's claims of being a self-made billionaire. As it is, the information is woven through a sprawling report about grantor-retained annuity trusts and other yawn-inducing tricks of the accounting trade.

Tell us all about daddy's money. Put the information in a nice, neat package.

And, really, you should have done this two years ago.


There is a sidebar story titled "4 Ways Fred Trump Made Donald Trump and His Siblings Rich," but it's just a picture-heavy highlight reel. Give us a detailed but concise version of this.

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