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Don The Con The Real Donald J. Trump Page 2
By Elliot Hannon

It’s not Trump’s taxes, the whole enchilada, but ProPublica got ahold of property tax documents of the Trump Organization, adding to the growing corpus of financial info on the president that strongly points to Trump deploying a secret financial weapon to maintain the appearance of “successful businessman”—fraud. ProPublica collated financial info from public sources and found the president was reporting different numbers on his properties to lenders and tax authorities. Trump arranged the numbers to paint a rosier picture of his buildings’ performance for lenders to secure cheaper loans, and then rearranged those numbers to look less profitable when reporting to the taxman in order to lower his property taxes.

“The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records,” ProPublica reports. “We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.” The site reviewed records for four Trump buildings and found noticeable discrepancies at two properties in particular—40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Full Story

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) - President Donald Trump's real estate business reported different financial figures for two of his Manhattan properties to lenders than to New York tax authorities, according to documents obtained by ProPublica. The different sets of numbers on expenses, profits and occupancy figures resulted in the two buildings appearing more lucrative to lenders and less so to city officials assessing property taxes, ProPublica found in an investigation published Wednesday. ProPublica obtained the property tax documents through the state of New York's Freedom of Information Act law and loan records after Trump's lender sold the debt on the properties, making them public. The Trump Organization did not respond to questions from ProPublica or CNN. ProPublica had reviewed the documents for four Trump properties, finding discrepancies involving two of them -- 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower.

Trump has not publicly released his tax returns, claiming that he's barred from doing so because he's under IRS audit. Being under IRS audit does not prevent someone from making their tax returns public. CNN previously reported that Trump believed in 2013 and 2014 that releasing his tax returns as part of a presidential bid would make him look like a smart businessman who had spent years lowering his taxable income, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of conversations at the time. According to ProPublica, Trump's company reported to New York City tax officials that it made about $822,000 in 2017 renting out space in the Trump International Hotel and Tower -- which Trump owns only a portion of -- to two commercial tenants. However, the company told Ladder Capital that it made $1.67 million that same year — more than twice as much reported to tax authorities, ProPublica reported. ProPublica also found that Trump had given conflicting occupancy figures for 40 Wall Street, recently rebranded as "The Trump Building."

The Trump Organization told the lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased as of December 31, 2012. A few years later, the occupancy level had been raised to 95%. The company reported to tax officials that the building was 81% rented as of January 5, 2013. The figures in the tax and loan reports finally matched up in January 2016, ProPublica noted. The portrayal of an increase in occupancy and prediction that revenue would surge were critical to helping Trump secure a refinance loan for 40 Wall Street, according to ProPublica. Experts told ProPublica that there can be legitimate reasons for the differences in tax and loan documents but that the multiple inconsistencies lacked a clear explanation. As President, he has faced numerous legal challenges seeking the release of his tax returns, including from House Democrats and the Manhattan district attorney. Trump on Friday lost his appeal to stop a House subpoena of his tax documents from his longtime accountant Mazars USA. The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit upheld a lower court ruling saying the firm must turn over eight years of accounting records. Full Story

Analysis: The president has a canned approach for trying to fend off bad news. This time, it's a whistleblower report.
By Shannon Pettypiece

President Donald Trump is turning to what's become a tried-and-true pattern of defending himself against scandal in the latest controversy over a whistleblower's accusation that he made a disturbing promise to a foreign leader. It goes like this: Step one: Deny the reports while arguing that even if true, there is nothing wrong with what was done. Step two: Divert attention to a subplot that implicates political rivals. Step three: Discredit investigators by accusing those involved of a deep state or partisan witch hunt. The playbook has been used by Trump and his surrogates repeatedly against various accusations, including whether his campaign held an improper meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton, that he paid hush money to an adult film actress, and that he is profiting off the presidency through his private businesses.

The strategy played out in the Oval Office on Friday when Trump was pressed about a whistleblower report by an intelligence officer who raised concerns after learning of an alleged promise Trump made during a phone call to a foreign leader. Ukraine is at the center of the complaint, The Washington Post reported on Thursday evening. Trump denied knowing who the whistleblower is or the date of the conversation in question — but said he never did anything wrong anyway. "It was a totally appropriate conversation, it was actually a beautiful conversation," Trump told reporters. When Trump was asked about speculation he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, the president deflected. He tried to shift to his own accusation that Biden had been involved in a quid pro quo with Ukraine connected to the former vice president son's involvement in a Ukrainian gas company. It was the same pattern of defense Trump used when media reports came out about a meeting arranged between his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer, whom he believed had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Trump initially denied knowing about the meeting and his lawyer denied he knew anything about his son's response to the media reports.

When it was later reported, and eventually confirmed by Trump’s lawyers, that Trump helped his son write a misleading statement about the purpose of the meeting, the president and his lawyers shifted their defense to saying that there was nothing wrong with having such a meeting. Throughout the Russia investigation, Trump and his allies sought to discredit any findings saying they were a politically motivated "witch hunt," accusing Robert Mueller's investigators of being "angry Democrats." White House lawyers have since stonewalled subpoenas by House Democrats into the Trump campaign's connections with Russia. And now Trump's used a similar tactic to attempt to discredit the intelligence community whistleblower. "It’s ridiculous, it's a partisan whistleblower," he said. Like with the Russia investigation, where Trump tried to push a counter-narrative about Obama administration spying and rogue Justice Department officials, he is using the controversy to try to further his accusations that Biden was involved in nefarious deals in Ukraine. It was a pattern he also followed when reports came out that Trump paid hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an affair days before the election. Full Story

by Ben Parker, Stephanie Steinbrecher, and Kelsey Ronan

Adam Davidson follows the money trail in one of President Donald Trump's past deals all the way to Vladimir Putin.

It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day.
But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark — an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election. This milestone appeared unlikely when The Fact Checker first started this project during his first 100 days. In the first 100 days, Trump averaged less than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.
WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday defended the more than $1 billion he reported in business losses between 1985 and 1994, a previously undisclosed amount revealed in a New York Times investigation, as a best practice that other real estate developers had also used. Yet even as he tried to explain in a pair of Twitter posts that showing “losses for tax purposes” was considered a “sport” among real estate developers like himself, the president also said The Times’s account was “a highly inaccurate Fake News hit job!” It was not immediately clear what specifically in The Times investigation Mr. Trump disputed. The article reported the staggering figure of $1.17 billion in losses between 1985 and 1994, an amount calculated from 10 years of his tax information obtained by The Times. It also raised questions about the image that Mr. Trump presented of himself, and whether he is a tarnished, not triumphant, businessman. In some years, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than any other single taxpayer among an I.R.S. sampling of high earners. Mr. Trump has portrayed himself as a self-made billionaire and master deal maker. The new details about the president’s steep financial losses provide the fullest picture yet of his taxes. And his defense of the losses that he reported in the 1980s and 1990s will fuel House Democrats in their fight to get his tax returns for the past six years.

On a rainy day in the spring of 1976, FBI Special Agent Myron Fuller  took the New York subway to Brooklyn to interview Donald Trump. The  future tycoon, about 30, was just getting his real estate career off the  ground, aided by secret payments from his father. Fuller found Trump  working out of a temporary office in a double-wide trailer on a muddy  construction site. “There were boards covering wet dirt, in lieu of  cement walkways,” Fuller recalls to Newsweek. He knocked on the door and  went in. “His secretary sat there by the entrance, and Trump was a door  away from there.” Ushered in, he found Trump sitting behind his desk.  The businessman did not get up to welcome the agent. “He never came  around, and I do not recall him shaking my hand,” Fuller says. The  FBI agent was carrying out an errand for the bureau’s Miami office, to  follow up on a tip that mobsters had asked Trump to front for them in a  purchase of the Fontainebleau hotel. Once a beachside favorite of movie  stars and the rich, the hotel was also a notorious hangout for Mafia  kingpins like Sam Giancana, who famously met with CIA agents in the  hotel’s Boom Boom Room to plot the assassination of Fidel Castro. But in  1976, the Fontainebleau was teetering on bankruptcy, and the mobsters  needed a straw man to buy it.

By Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly

The Fact Checker is keeping a running list of the false or misleading claims Trump says most regularly. Here's our latest tally as of March 3, 2019. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post). Powered by his two-hour stemwinder at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2 — which featured more than 100 false or misleading claims — President Trump is on pace to exceed his daily quota set during his first two years in office. The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. He hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year. So far in 2019, he’s averaging nearly 22 claims a day. As of the end of March 3, the 773rd day of his term in office, Trump accumulated 9,014 fishy claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

Trump’s performance at CPAC is emblematic of his version of the truth during his presidency — a potent mix of exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasting and outright falsehoods. His speech helped push March 3 to his fourth-biggest day for false or misleading claims, totaling 104. The speech included his greatest hits: 131 times he has falsely said he passed the biggest tax cut in history, 126 times he has falsely said his border wall is already being built and 116 times he has asserted that the U.S. economy today is the best in history. All three of those claims are on The Fact Checker’s list of Bottomless Pinocchios, as well as other claims Trump made during his CPAC speech. Since the Bottomless Pinocchio list was introduced in December, it has continued to grow. The president now has 20 claims that qualify. Here’s a sampling of other claims from the CPAC address, drawn from the database: “A state called Michigan, where — by the way — where Fiat Chrysler just announced a four and a half billion dollar incredible expansion and new plant doubling their workforce. Many, many car companies have moved back to Michigan and are continuing to do so.” Fiat Chrysler did announce this expansion in Michigan, but Trump leaves out that it announced 1,500 layoffs in Illinois at the same time. It’s a big exaggeration to say many car companies have moved back to Michigan, though Chrysler has announced several new investments there under Trump...

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

(CNN) Nearly everyone in Donald Trump's world just became a potential witness.
House Democrats are laying down a vast net as they ramp up their investigation into deep tracts of the President's personal, business and political life, with a breathtaking document request from a list of 81 people, agencies and entities. They went after the Trump Organization, Trump employees, the Trump presidential campaign, the Trump transition team, the Trump inauguration committee, the Trump White House and blood members of the Trump clan. The intent of the sweeping oversight offensive designed to encircle the President, launched by Rep. Jerry Nadler, the New York Democrat who's the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is clear. Democrats are eyeing a case that Trump is not fit to continue in his job.

"Our goal is to hold the administration accountable for the obstruction of justice, the abuse of power and the corruption," Nadler said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" on Monday. "Our goal is to protect the rule of law in this country. We have to find out what is going on and we have to lay out a case to the American people and we have to reveal it." While Democrats are convinced they can make a case that denigrates Trump, it is a measure of the political sensitivity of their quest that they are not willing to talk about their options at the end of it. Whether the eventual remedy for that case is impeachment or the 2020 election, in which voters will be asked to reject what Democrats already brand a historically corrupt presidency, is a decision for down the road. "This is not a pre-impeachment hearing," Nadler said. "If we are going to do anything, we have to have proof."

Moving forward carefully. It's basic politics for Democrats not to call their investigations an impeachment drive right now. To do so would hand the GOP a gift as it claims the fix is already in -- a case some Republicans are making, as well as arguing that Democrats are trying to reverse a presidential election and that the constant investigations are a classic case of congressional overreach. "(They are) going into every part of his life now. In America, we investigate crimes. We don't investigate people," said Rob Astorino, a prominent Trump supporter, Monday night on CNN. To defuse such claims, the Democratic line is that the majority is simply fulfilling a duty to check a norm-busting President. "To do anything less would be delinquent in our duties to exercise our oversight," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday. Perhaps Democrats will not turn up offenses by Trump that would meet the constitutional impeachment threshold of "high crimes and misdemeanors." Or Democratic leaders, sensing the Republican Party will never ditch its President, could conclude that a foiled effort to oust Trump in a Senate trial could harm their political prospects more than his in 2020. But the shadow of a potential impeachment process will never pass, given Nadler's use of terms like "abuse of power" and "obstruction" -- offenses for which presidents have faced impeachment inquiries twice within the last 50 years. And Nadler, as chair of the Judiciary Committee, would preside over any eventual impeachment proceedings -- which would likely be based on evidence that his investigators are now seeking to unearth.

By Ed Mazza

Michael Cohen testifies before Congress on Wednesday, but his opening statement was published by The New York Times late Tuesday. In it, the disgraced former attorney to President Donald Trump painted a picture of a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat” sitting in the Oval Office. Then, in scathing detail, Cohen listed examples of each in action. Here are some of the most stunning excerpts from the statement: “Mr. Trump is a racist” “He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn’t a ‘shithole.’ This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States. “While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way. “And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.”

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