Donald Trump’s sleazy business record

87aa7546_donald-80s[This was originally posted July 13, 2016.  Links added since then are in italics.]

Candidates for political office can be better understood by their records than by their rhetoric.

Donald Trump has never held public office, but his record as a business owner and promoter tells what to expect from him if he ever does.

His record is one of success through use of political influence, and at the expense of investors and customers who believe his claims.

I’ve compiled links to articles about Trump’s business record.   They should be a good warning to voters who think Trump’s business success qualifies him for high political office, or who think that Trump can be trusted to act in their interests.

Probably there are links to more articles than you, as a busy person, have time to click on.  I recommend that you skim the headlines to get a general idea, and click on whatever seems interesting to you.  I particularly recommend the articles by David Cay Johnson, who has been following Trump for many years.  Or, if you have time to read only one a couple, read the following:

Trumpology: A Master Class, a group interview of Trump biographers Wayne Barrett, Michael D’Antonio, Harry Hurt III, Gwenda Blair and Timothy L. O’Brien by Susan B. Glasser and Michael Kruse for POLITICO magazine.

‘The Making of Donald Trump’: David Cay Johnston on Trump’s Ties to the Mob and & Drug Traffickers, an interview by Amy Goodman for Democracy Now.


Donald Trump’s dad, Fred Trump, made his fortune building government-subsidized housing in Brooklyn.

Young Donald Trump got his start in the late 1970s by buying up distressed property in Manhattan, at the depths of New York City’s economic and financial crisis, and developing it into luxury hotels.

Donald Trump in New York City, 1976

Donald Trump in New York City, 1976.  Via New York Daily News.

He deserves credit for seeing this business opportunity and seizing upon it, but he never would have been able to do it without the backing of his father’s money and, more important, his father’s political connections.

Trump’s success depended on getting city and state government to grant him subsidies, tax abatements, zoning variances and permits.  His lawyer and mentor, Roy Cohn, helped with that.

Wayne Barrett, then a reporter for the Village Voice, documented the favoritism shown to Trump.  A video in Shoshana Weissman’s article shows how Trump cut corners and broke promises.

Still, in this phase of his career, he did actually build things and operate them profitably.

‘A Classic State Capitalist’: How Donald Trump Profited From Public Subsidies and Political Favors, an interview of investigative reporter Wayne Barrett by Amy Goodman for Democracy Now!

How Donald Trump Tricked New York Into Giving Him His First Big Deal by Max J. Rosenthal for Mother Jones.

How a Young Donald Trump Forced His Way From Avenue Z to Manhattan by Wayne Barrett and Jon Campbell for Village Voice.

Behind the Seventies-Era Deals That Made Donald Trump by Wayne Barrett for Village Voice.

When Donald Trump Destroyed Historic Art to Build Trump Tower by Max J. Rosenthal for Mother Jones.

How Joseph McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn became Donald Trump’s mentor by Michael Kruse for POLITICO.

Trump Hired Polish Illegal Immigrants to Build Trump Tower by Shoshana Weissmann for the Weekly Standard.

DOJ: Trump’s Early Businesses Blocked Blacks by Gideon Resnick for The Daily Beast


The next phase of Donald Trump’s career was building gambling casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  They were not successful, even during the gambling boom.

But Trump made a fortune by using other people’s money to finance the casinos, milking them for all he could get out of them and letting others pay the price when they went bankrupt.

The point is not that Trump’s businesses failed.  Many successful entrepreneurs fail at things over the course of their careers.  The point is that Trump made others pay the price of his failures while profiting himself.

The Barron’s article tells how he got a securities analyst fired and blacklisted for exposing the financial weakness of his operations.

How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos But Still Earned Millions by Ross Beuttner and Charles V. Bagli for the New York Times.

How Donald Trump Made Millions Off His Biggest Business Failure by Shawn Tully for Fortune.

Donald Trump, Self-Proclaimed Outsider, Was New Jersey Political Insider by Mark Katz for WNYC.

Donald Trump’s 1990 Campaign Against a Wall Street Analyst by Jonathan R. Laing for Barron’s.

The Art of the Inside Deal: How Regulators Rescued Trump by David Cay Johnston for the Washington Spectator.

How Donald Trump Tried to Hide His Legal Troubles to Get His Casino Approved by Max J. Rosenthal for Mother Jones.


Organized crime was powerful in New York City and in New Jersey at the time of Donald Trump’s rise.  The kindest thing you can say about him was that he went along with the system.

Trump swam in mob-infested waters in early years in New York City by Robert O’Harrow Jr. for The Chicago Tribune.

Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob? by David Cay Johnston for POLITICO.

The Drug Trafficker Donald Trump Risked His Casino Empire to Protect by David Cay Johnston for The Daily Beast.

How Close Was Donald Trump to the Mob? by David Marcus for The Federalist.

Trump challenged over ties to mob-linked gambler with ugly past by Michael Ishikoff for Yahoo News!

How Did an Alleged Russian Mobster End Up on Trump’s Red Carpet? by David Corn and Hannah Levintova for Mother Jones.

The Many Times Donald Trump Has Lied About His Mob Connections by David Corn for Mother Jones.


The third phase of Trump’s career consisted of promoting and exploiting the Trump name and Trump brand.

One example of his was Trump University, in which students paid thousands of dollars for supposedly learning Trump’s secrets of making money in real estate.  The actual teachers had no expertise in real estate—only in talking the students to sign up for more courses.

Yes, Trump University Was a Massive Scam by Ian Tuttle for National Review.

What the Legal Battle Over Trump University Reveals About Its Founder by Steven Brill for TIME.

The Art of the Upsell: How Donald Trump Profits From ‘Free’ Seminars by Tom McNichol for The Atlantic.

State attorneys general who dropped Trump University fraud inquiries subsequently got Trump donations by Matthew Yglesias for Vox.

Trump University was not the only example of selling an inferior product based on the Trump name.

Trump Institute Offered Get-Rich Schemes With Plagiarized Lessons by Jonathan Martin for The New York Times.

Trump Network’s Failure Harmed Small Investors by Ian Tuttle for National Review.

Donald Trump settles lawsuit over Baja condo that went bust by Stuart Pfeifer for the Los Angeles Times.

Buyers still feel burned by Donald Trump over Tampa condo tower failure by Susan Taylor Martin for Tampa Bay Times.


Then there is the so-called charity called the Trump Foundation.

How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money by David A. Fahrenthold for The Washington Post.

Guess which candidate’s foundation was caught in illegal campaign funding by David A. Fahrenthold for The Washington Post.

Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems by David A. Farenthold for The Washington Post.

Trump charity gave $100,000 to David Bossie’s Citizens United that helped fund lawsuit against mogul’s foe by Michael Isikoff for Yahoo News.


Here’s more about Trump’s business practices.

How the Trumps Got Rich by Sam Stein for Jacobin

Donald Trump’s Business Record Has Been One of Bullying Ordinary Citizens by Mark Antonio Wright for National Review.

What a bogey: Donald Trump’s broken promises over golf course left Scotland worse off by Stuart Patterson for The Sun (UK)

Trump and Golf: In the Rough by Lou DuBose for the Washington Spectator.

Former Models for Donald Trump Say They Violated Immigration Rules and Worked Illegally by James West for Mother Jones.

There is “Incredibly Strong Evidence” Donald Trump Has Committed Tax Fraud, an interview of David Cay Johnston by Amy Goodman for Democracy Now.

Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills by Steve Reilly for USA Today.

Trump’s 3,500 lawsuits unprecedented for a presidential nominee by Nick Penzenstadier and Susan Page for USA Today.

21 Questions for Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston for The National Memo.

9 Key Points About Donald Trump’s Income Taxes (And Many More Questions) by David Cay Johnson for The National Memo.

Donald Trump’s Get-Rich Quick Advice Makes a Mockery of His Campaign Record by Trip Brennan for The Intercept.

The Zone-Skirting Scheme and Shadowy Businessmen Behind Trump Soho by Michael Odov for New York magazine.

Trump Has a Conflict of Interest Problem No Other White House Candidate Ever Had by Ross Choma and David Corn for Mother Jones.

How The Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security by Kurt Eichenwald for Newsweek.

Trump campaign spends $6 million with Trump companies by Julie Bycowicz and Chad Day for The National Memo.

Donald Trump’s website won’t let you cancel recurring donations by Jeremy Stahl for Slate.

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2 Responses to “Donald Trump’s sleazy business record”

  1. 61chrissterry Says:

    Reblogged this on 61chrissterry.


  2. brotherdave Says:

    I don’t know much about Trump. What I do believe is he is not a felon.
    I once worked for James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. I have a good understanding of security procedures. Based on information in the news about Hillary’s treatment of classified information, I believe Hillary should be in Leavenworth. She lied to us about Libya. Her judgement in international affairs was disastrous. If she is elected I’ll be on a list for saying this.
    This country is in danger from many directions, the most serious attacks are from the Alinski devotees.


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