In a feat of masterful reporting, The New York Times exposed the truth about Donald Trump’s business acumen, finances, and fraudulent behavior. Most New Yorkers weren’t surprised to see proof of what they’ve known for a long time: Donald Trump is a charlatan and terrible businessman. Indeed, transcripts of his main federal tax returns from 1985 to 1994 make it clear that Mr. Trump lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer. Most troubling, however, is how he evaded paying U.S. income taxes. Note I use the word “evaded” rather than “avoided” since I believe many of his tactics will prove to be criminal. Aside from placing documented facts in front of the American public, the real importance of the Times exposé is that it vividly reveals that, more than ever, Donald Trump represents a clear and present danger to the United States.
Trump, the Aspiring Autocrat
Regular readers of my blog know that I’ve frequently commented that Trump has increasingly revealed his desire to move away from a democracy toward authoritarian rule. He paints himself as a patriot, whose sole interest is promoting the greatness of the United States. But all the while his aim has been to promote his own greatness and denigrate or eliminate those who protest or disagree with his ideas.
It has become abundantly clear that this President is not concerned about advancing the interests of the United States. His sole goal and obsession is advancing what will benefit him, his family and cronies. Tax policies are designed to look after his financial interests, while he feeds government funds to his loss-ridden hotels and golf resorts. Because Trump’s first and only concern is himself, putting our national security at extreme risk doesn’t give him pause.
The Incompetent President and Businessman
Previously, I’ve written about his lack of a national plan to address Covid-19, which resulted in making the impact of this horrific pandemic even greater than it should have been. He continues to aggravate the situation with his rhetoric and actions, insuring further deterioration in the nation’s health, economy and employment. Ironically, he’s now bearing the fruit of his own demagoguery as he and his wife have now been infected with Covid-19. But that’s another story.
The Times investigation confirms perhaps the greatest risk to the safety and security of the United States. That is the persistent and escalating drain on Donald Trump’s cash resources, necessitating a cash infusion to avoid foreclosure on some of his properties. The potential source of that financing exposes him and by extension, the United States, to dangerous leverage by a foreign actor. And that danger emanates from the man himself, a man who values nothing beyond his own interests.
Trump, the Good Citizen but Not of the United States
Consider that in 2017, when he paid $750 in U.S. income taxes, he or his companies paid $15,598 in Panama, $145,400 in India and $156,824 in the Philippines. There can be no doubt why he felt obligated to pay taxes to those countries, while feeling no obligation to his own country. Those countries provide him a source of income, and have the power to limit or stop the cash flow if he was not the “good citizen” they demanded. Even the power of the U.S. Presidency has its limits in the personal realm.
Then there is Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds in Syria. He withdrew U.S. forces and allowed the Turkish strongman President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to occupy the vacated territory. That action prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. I have heard no good policy reason for Trump’s decision. It is only comprehensible if you factor in his self-interest. He has two hotels in Turkey, both of which are likely to be under Erdoğan’s total control. Perhaps that also explains why Trump had instructed his lackey Attorney General to go softly on Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank, accused of circumventing U.S. sanctions on Iran, and why the Trump administration has been trying to extradite the exiled Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen for his alleged role in the 2016 attempted coup in Turkey.
Trump’s Desperate Need for Cash
So now we turn back to Trump’s desperate need for cash. Where does he get it? According to son, Don Jr., Daddy Trump—as any other real estate developer—can leverage the value of his existing properties. Specifically referring to and valuing Trump Tower at $500 million, he implied he could obtain many millions in loans using it as collateral. Several questions immediately come to mind. Is that property worth $500 million? Is it already collateralized and to what extent? With Trump’s reputation of stiffing banks and creditors, who will step up to provide that cash? We’ll come back to that most important question.
Trump can consider other options. Does he sell some of his properties? He can’t sell the ones currently providing the cash needed to keep the wheels of his empire moving. Another businessman might consider selling some of the properties that are losing money and draining cash. But that would be an admission that they were the failures the Times has reported. Could Trump tolerate such an admission? Then again, even if he could, who would buy them? Unless he offered them at fire sale prices, why would anyone buy such losers? And if the price were too low, how could he raise enough to satisfy his creditors? So the question ultimately comes back to who will provide millions of dollars in loans to a proven credit risk, known to consistently stiff his creditors?
Trump’s Secret Source of Funding
Well, dangerously, there are several such possibilities. Donald Trump has access to information more valuable than any property he owns, and there are those who would pay dearly for it. Moreover, while we don’t know for sure, there is a strong possibility that Russian interests may hold much of his loans. We know that from a golf writer, James Dodson, who was invited to play golf with Donald in 2014 at the Trump National Golf Club in Charlotte. After asking how he was paying for his golf courses, Trump said he had access to $100 million. Later, Dodson put the question to son, Eric Trump, who was with them for the day. Eric replied, “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”…. “Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.”
It’s been reported that anyone with the level of debt held by Donald Trump would be unable to obtain security clearance in government. Yet here is the President with access to the most sensitive information protecting our country in what is considered a highly vulnerable position. Further, given Trump’s failure to take on Vladimir Putin for bounties on American soldiers, interference in American elections, assassinations and poisonings of political opponents, or any subject that might be critical of the Russian autocrat, there is reason to believe Trump is somehow beholden to Putin. That makes Donald Trump himself a great risk to our national security.
Actions Open to an Amoral Person
Donald Trump is an amoral person who thumbs his nose at decency, truth, and concern for the American people. He makes little attempt to disguise the fact that he places his own interests above those of the country and the Constitution he has sworn to defend. There is no doubt in my mind that he will do anything to protect his failing financial position, including trading debt for sensitive information.
Yes, treason is on Donald Trump’s agenda and he will have no compunction committing it. That makes him a clear and present danger to the United States.