When we first shared The Trump Files, we pulled together strong investigative journalism revealing both Donald Trump’s path to power — a route cleared by his father’s fortune and political connections — and his blemished record as a businessman. We also asked readers to send us additional articles that had been overshadowed by the latest campaign antics, and you did. This week, we pull back the curtains a bit further, revealing more of Trump’s history of public and private prejudice, of outsourcing to low-wage countries and of profiting from business ventures while leaving partners, shareholders and customers devastated.
Rosalind Helderman and Tom Hamburger report for The Washington Post that Donald Trump’s rhetoric, attacking companies like Carrier, the air-conditioner maker, for moving jobs to Mexico, is belied by his own outsourcing. The investigation of Donald J. Trump Collection shirts, eyeglasses, perfume, cufflinks and suits, found that they are manufactured in low-wage countries like Bangladesh, China and Honduras.
Brett Arends, a columnist at MarketWatch has his eye on Donald Trump’s business record. His recent column looks at Trump’s performance as CEO and chairman of the board for Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts between 1995 and 2005. Even as the Dow index of gambling stocks rose 160 percent, Trump’s company accumulated more than $600 million in net losses. During those 10 years, writes Arends, Trump’s company “collapsed into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. His stockholders were almost entirely wiped out, losing a staggering 89% of their money. The company actually lost money every single year.” Donald Trump, however, walked away from the disaster with $32 million in his own pocket.
— Robert Guillo, Trump University Student
Trump University is facing two lawsuits claiming that the for-profit university defrauded students. Investigative reporters Michael Barbaro and Steve Eder at The New York Times combed through hundreds of pages of legal documents and interviewed former students and instructors at Trump University. They report that instructors, who were themselves under pressure to get good reviews, pressured students to change their negative reviews to positive ones.
A piece by Oliver Laughland in The Guardian explores Donald Trump’s history of racially charged rhetoric by revisiting New York City in 1989. That was the year that five youths, four black and one Hispanic, were wrongly accused (and later convicted), of raping a white jogger in Central Park. Donald Trump added to the tension surrounding the case by paying a reported $85,000 to buy ads in four newspapers calling for a reinstatement of the death penalty. Above his signature, Trump wrote: “I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” Laughland quotes a former Trump executive who describes a less public, and more casual racism: “I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”
— Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair, 1990
Last summer, Vanity Fair re-posted a long 1990 profile of Donald Trump written by Marie Brenner. At that time, Trump’s empire was in danger of collapse and his marriage to Ivana had already crumbled. Brenner wrote that people thought Trump was finished: “The Wall Street Journal estimated that Trump’s guarantees could exceed $600 million.” Brenner explained that “deals had always been his only art,” and his deal to avoid bankruptcy was particularly interesting. Trump got $65 million to pay his bills and a personal allowance of $450,000 a month, after agreeing to dismantle his empire. And while Trump denied it, Brenner reported: “Trump’s bankers were said to be so upset at Trump’s balance sheet — he was reportedly over half a billion dollars in the hole — that they demanded he sign over his future trust inheritance to secure the new loans. Trump’s father, who had created him by helping him achieve his first deals, now seemed to be rescuing him again.”
Brenner’s reporting contains many insights. But most jolting is her conclusion, written 26 years ago, “Trump appeared to believe that his money gave him a freedom to set the rules. No one stopped him. His exaggerations and baloney were reported, and people laughed. His bankers showered him with money. City officials almost allowed him to set public policy by erecting his wall of concrete on the Hudson River. New York City, like the bankers from the Chase and Manny Hanny, allowed Trump to exist in a universe where all reality had vanished.”
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