Analysis: Something not to miss in the New York trial against Donald Trump
Amid New York Attorney General Letitia James’s 200-plus-page lawsuit this week against Donald Trump, an allegation surfaced: The former president just isn’t as wealthy as he’s long claimed. .
* Trump estimated his triplex in Trump Tower to be over 30,000 square feet and worth $327 million at one point. The apartment, according to James’s costume, was 11,000 square feet. And she noted that no apartment in the history of New York real estate has ever sold for that kind of money.
* Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was valued at $739 million, but James said should have been valued more in the $75 million range.
* Trump’s property on Park Avenue was valued in 2010 at $72.5 million, but Trump’s company claimed in its financial statements that it was worth $292 million, according to the lawsuit.
It goes on like this, but you get the idea. Time and time again, according to James’ lawsuit, Trump greatly exaggerated the value of his properties in order to secure favorable loan terms on other properties – most of which he then made a profit on.
It would fit into a pattern of Trump’s life.
“I mean, part of my beauty is that I’m very rich,” Trump told ABC in 2012. “So if I need $600 million, I can put in $600 million myself. That’s a huge advantage. I have to tell you, that’s a huge advantage over the other candidates.
Just before he began running for president, Trump released a 2014 “statement of financial position” that showed he was worth $5.8 billion. But when he announced his candidacy in 2015, he said that same statement valued his net worth at $8.7 billion. “I’m really rich,” Trump said in his announcement speech. “I’m not doing this to brag. I do this to show that this is the kind of thinking our country needs.
A month after he entered the race, his campaign again revised that estimate upward.
“Real estate values in New York, San Francisco, Miami and many other places where he owns property have risen dramatically during this time,” read a statement from his campaign. “Its debt is a very small percentage of value and at very low interest rates. To date, Mr. Trump’s net worth exceeds TEN BILLION DOLLARS.
It’s decidedly difficult to know exactly what Trump is worth because he has never released his tax returns or other detailed financial information that would allow us to make that determination.
Forbes, which closely tracks the wealth of the country’s wealthiest people, said earlier this year that Trump was worth $3 billion, up from $2.4 billion in his final year as president.
As Forbes wrote in April:
“Donald Trump, master of reinvention, has a new title: tech entrepreneur. It’s overkill for [Trump], who doesn’t even use email, preferring instead to scribble notes in marker. But he doesn’t mind getting into businesses he has little experience in – and that job should prove far more lucrative than the presidency. In fact, it has already increased his net worth by $430 million.
The reality is – and always has been – that Trump is very rich. But not as rich as he claims. It’s the best example of the “truthful hyperbole” that Trump expounded in the late 1980s in his book “The Art of the Deal.”
“People want to believe that something is the biggest, grandest and most spectacular,” he wrote. “I call it truthful hyperbole. It is a form of innocent exaggeration and a very effective form of promotion.
It’s also true that much of Trump’s self-definition has to do with the fact that he’s extremely wealthy. Which means Wednesday was a tough day for the billionaire businessman.
As New York Times political reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted“Regardless of the outcome of the James case, a day when a prosecutor said at a press conference that Trump is not worth what he claims is a day he tried to avoid for decades.”