Book Review: The Making of Donald Trump

Donald J. Trump

Donald J. Trump

Knock the crap out of them.
I’ll pay your legal fees.
– Donald J. Trump at a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids

Donald Trump is the judge with more money.  My sense is that I’m not the only abuse survivor who will never vote for Trump because he reminds her of the abuse perpetrator in her life.  David Cay Johnston met him in 1987 and has followed him “intensely” for nearly thirty years.  The Making of Donald Trump is fascinating and exceptionally informative.

David Cay Johnston

David Cay Johnston

Trump declared he would become the first person to
run for president and make a profit.
– David Cay Johnston, The Making of Donald Trump

In an earlier post, I shared the story of Trump’s grandfather Friedrich, who was fond of building “hotels” (brothels) on land he didn’t own.  Friedrich left Germany to avoid the draft and made a fortune in the United States and Canada running brothels during the Gold Rush.  When he returned to Germany, he was ordered out:

Donald Trump has not yet been asked whether this episode of family history plays any role in his unconstitutional proposals to deport an estimated eleven million immigrants who entered the country illegally.

Elizabeth Christ and Friedrich Trump

Elizabeth Christ and Friedrich Trump

My motto is:  Always get even.
When someone screws you, 
get them back in spades.
– Donald Trump

This is very interesting because Hitler exterminated millions of Jewish people because he hated his father who had Jewish ancestors.  Fred Christ Trump, Donald’s father, was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Queens, NY.

The family’s real estate empire was founded in post-World War II subsidized housing.  Fred was called before the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency for “gaming Federal Housing Administration [FHA] rules on mortgage guarantees” and “an excess profit of nearly $4 million.”  His partner, Willie Tomasello, was linked to the Genovese and Gambino crime families.

Donald and Fred Trump

Donald and Fred C. Trump

Trump has been a party in more than 3,500 lawsuits,
some of them accusing him of civil fraud.
– David Cay Johnston, The Making of Donald Trump

Fred Trump provided generous medical benefits to everyone in the Trump clan, but he essentially cut the descendants of his late son Fred, Jr. out of his will.  When they contested the will, Donald cut off their medical insurance which could have potentially been a death sentence for Fred’s infant great-grandson William, who was ultimately diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Roy Cohn, whose clients included Sen. Joseph McCarthy and Mafia bosses, was Donald’s attorney.  He was hired in 1972 to fight Justice Department charges of racial bias.

Woody Guthrie. The sign on his guitar says, "This machine kills fascists." He was a tenant at Beach Haven, the Trump's first major housing project, in 1950.

Woody Guthrie. The sign on his guitar says, “This machine kills fascists.” He was a tenant at Beach Haven, the Trump’s first major housing project, in 1950.

I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate
He stirred up in that bloodspot of human hearts
When he drawed that color line
Here at his Beach Haven family project.
– Woody Guthrie, “Old Man Trump”

When he applied for a casino license in New Jersey, Donald lied about the Justice Department’s investigation which would have disqualified him from casino ownership.  Ditto for tax evasion and his business associations with mobsters, drug dealers, and convicted felons.

Bonwit Teller in New York City was torn down to build Trump Tower.  Photo credit:  New York Times

Bonwit Teller in New York City was torn down to build Trump Tower. Photo credit: New York Times

Before he tore down the Bonwit Teller store in New York City to build Trump Tower, Donald promised the Art Deco bas-relief panels on the side of the building and the grillwork entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Instead, he hired the Polish Brigade, illegal immigrants, to work without safety gear around the clock for $4 to 5/hour to demolish the building with sledgehammers.  The grillwork and bas-relief panels were destroyed, and the workers often didn’t get paid.  Federal court Judge Charles E. Stewart Jr. charged Donald with fraud and awarded the workers $325,000 in back pay.

In 1990, the Trump empire collapsed.  Accounting firm Kenneth Leventhal & Co. determined Donald’s net worth was “minus $295 million.”  New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement determined that he owed $3.2 billion.  In 1991, the Trump Taj Mahal entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy:

Today, Trump shrugs off the four bankruptcies in which investors lost more than $1.5 billion, saying it’s a standard business tactic to restructure debt.  In truth, there were actually six bankruptcies. . .If government hadn’t saved him by taking his side against his bankers, we almost certainly would not be imagining the prospect of Donald Trump living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Instead, he would have drowned in a sea of red ink.

David Cay Johnston

David Cay Johnston

The difference between what Trump swore in
his Federal Election Commission filings and
his property tax appeal [on Briarcliff Manor]
was 97 percent.
David Cay Johnston, The Making of Donald Trump

Everyone speculates on why Donald Trump won’t release his tax returns.  Mr. Johnston gives us a clue:

Trump has often placed wildly variable values on his properties in official documents, presenting high values to bankers, investors, and the public. . .and small numbers to tax authorities, contractors, and vendors seeking payment for work.  Government auditors, bankers, and investors have questioned these mismatches on multiple occasions.  In every case that has been resolved, Trump has negotiated civil settlements, many on undisclosed terms.  Judges sealed these files. . .

But asserting that the properties he calls top-shelf in one forum are virtually worthless in others is not Trump’s only technique for avoiding taxes.  He also works hard to avoid income taxes and has even reported huge directions [sic] from a business that had no revenue.


Rick Berlin, an assistant attorney general in Texas, recommended collecting $5.4 million and banning Donald Trump from doing business in Texas after a fraud investigation into Trump University.  Greg Abbott, who was attorney general at the time, did nothing.  When Abbott ran for governor, Donald made a $35,000 donation to his campaign.


Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general, dropped plans to investigate Trump University for fraud after receiving a $25,000 donation from the Donald J. Trump Foundation along with a $500 check from Ivanka Trump.  Ms. Bondi had 8,491 pages of evidence.

Donald wasn’t so lucky in California.  Two cases are before federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge Donald blasted for being of Mexican ancestry.

Marla Maples, Tiffany, and Donald Trump

Marla Maples, Tiffany, and Donald Trump

Mr. Johnston’s best-selling book contains the details behind scandalous headlines about Donald Trump.  The story we haven’t yet read is about the night he introduced his mistress at his birthday party:

On their way to the event. . .[Marla] Maples and Trump argued over whether his shirt was appropriately formal.  They appeared happy at the party, but things must have devolved thereafter.  The next morning, the doors to their twenty-sixth-floor suite at Trump’s Castle were off the hinges.  Tom Fitzsimmons. . .found Maples in tears and Trump about to walk out the broken doorway. . .there had been other arguments that left physical evidence. . .

Marla Maples, the long-suffering mistress Trump had publicly humiliated. . .Two months before the wedding, she gave birth to Trump’s second daughter, whose future breast size Trump would speculate about on national television before the baby was a year old.

Ivanka, Donald, and Melania Trump

Ivanka, Donald, and Melania Trump

Ick.  Mr. Johnston didn’t report on Donald’s proud proclamations that he’d love to date his daughter Ivanka, who looks remarkably like his third wife Melania.

Related link and post:
Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one?” by Paul Waldman, Washington Post, 9/5/16 [includes a laundry list of Donald Trump’s questionable activity]

Trump Rally:  Why Everett?  8/31/16


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