Trump dossier loaded with un­known de­tail

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS - By Nancy Benac

There’s noth­ing like a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign to shine a bright light into the nooks, cran­nies and back al­leys of a can­di­date’s life. And there’s noth­ing like Don­ald Trump in the an­nals of US pol­i­tics. Some of what’s been re­vealed about Trump’s preda­tory per­sonal in­ter­ac­tions, busi­ness deal­ings, le­gal tac­tics and man­age­ment style would come as no sur­prise to those who’ve made a ca­reer out of fol­low­ing the bil­lion­aire’s rise to promi­nence. But or­di­nary Amer­i­cans who be­gan the 2016 cam­paign with a pass­ing im­pres­sion of Trump as the out­spo­ken mogul of “Ap­pren­tice” fame now have far more in­for­ma­tion to draw upon as Elec­tion Day nears.

De­spite his cu­rated im­age as the busi­ness­man with the golden touch, Trump’s track record in busi­ness isn’t as mag­i­cal as he would have peo­ple think. Yes, he is rich. Yes, he has had his share of suc­cess. But he’s also kept com­pany with any num­ber of ques­tion­able busi­ness as­so­ciates, had quite a share of projects go bust, left a string of con­trac­tors in the lurch, ex­ag­ger­ated his wealth and bragged of us­ing his star power to im­pose him­self sex­u­ally on women.

An­other thing peo­ple dis­cov­ered about Trump this year is all the things they still don’t know. He hasn’t re­leased his tax re­turns, records of char­i­ta­ble giv­ing, de­tailed med­i­cal records, im­mi­gra­tion files for his wife and more. That pen­chant for se­crecy is cou­pled with an ag­gres­sive strat­egy to muz­zle busi­ness and cam­paign em­ploy­ees by re­quir­ing them to sign nondis­clo­sure agree­ments.

A look at some of what’s been learned about Trump dur­ing the cam­paign:

Tax Tur­moil

Trump is the first pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in four decades to refuse to re­lease his tax re­turns. The se­crecy has spawned spec­u­la­tion that Trump doesn’t pay fed­eral in­come taxes, isn’t as wealthy as he claims or is hid­ing some­thing else about his busi­ness en­tan­gle­ments. The in­trigue deep­ened when The New York Times re­ported that Trump lost so much in one year that he could have avoided fed­eral in­come taxes for as many as 18 years. Trump sub­se­quently ad­mit­ted that he had paid no fed­eral in­come taxes for many years.

TV Tur­moil

From the out­side, NBC’s “The Ap­pren­tice” was an in­stant hit that helped turn Trump into a house­hold name, even if its rat­ings did slip over time. In­sid­ers told AP that Trump re­peat­edly de­meaned fe­male crew and con­tes­tants over the years, rating women by the size of their breasts and talk­ing about which ones he’d like to have sex with. None of that made it into the show, of course. But the rev­e­la­tions added to per­sis­tent ques­tions about Trump’s be­hav­ior to­ward women.

Be­yond Ban­ter

Days af­ter “The Ap­pren­tice” rev­e­la­tions, The Wash­ing­ton Post came out with a 2005 video in which Trump is cap­tured brag­ging about kiss­ing women at will, grop­ing their gen­i­tals and try­ing to have sex with them. Trump dis­missed the ex­plo­sive video as noth­ing more than locker-room ban­ter and said he’d never done the things he talked about in the video. But it caused a num­ber of top GOP of­fi­cials to call for Trump to step down from the ticket and prompted a num­ber of women, out­raged by his de­nials, to step for­ward to say they had been tar­gets of his lech­ery.

Char­i­ta­ble Giv­ing

Trump claims he’s given mil­lions to char­ity. But there’s a big ques­tion mark about that. An AP in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of re­cent gifts dis­trib­uted by the Trump Foun­da­tion had been made with other peo­ple’s money, not con­tri­bu­tions from the can­di­date. And it turns out Trump has used his foun­da­tion’s money to pay le­gal set­tle­ments for his for-profit busi­nesses, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported. The New York at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice this month or­dered Trump’s foun­da­tion to stop fundrais­ing im­me­di­ately in the state, say­ing it isn’t reg­is­tered to do so.

Shady Char­ac­ters

For all Trump’s talk about seek­ing out the best peo­ple, his busi­ness as­so­ciates over the years have in­cluded a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of ques­tion­able char­ac­ters. He part­nered with the son of an Azer­bai­jani govern­ment min­is­ter sus­pected by US diplo­mats of laun­der­ing money for Iran’s mil­i­tary. He named a Mafia-linked govern­ment in­for­mant as a se­nior ad­viser and sup­ported a con­victed co­caine dealer in a let­ter to a fed­eral judge. He hired a con­victed felon to be the su­per­in­ten­dent of Trump Tower.

On two de­vel­op­ment deals, he part­nered with con­victed crim­i­nals, one con­victed in a Mafia-linked stock fraud scheme. More re­cently, Trump cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort re­signed af­ter AP re­ported that he had helped a pro-Rus­sian Ukrainian po­lit­i­cal party se­cretly route at least $2.2 mil­lion to two prom­i­nent Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ing firms in 2012, do­ing so in a way that ef­fec­tively ob­scured the party’s ef­forts to in­flu­ence U.S. pol­icy.

Casino Woes

Trump’s six cor­po­rate bank­rupt­cies af­ter his big gam­ble on three At­lantic City casi­nos were no se­cret when he be­gan his cam­paign, but the cir­cum­stances have come into sharper fo­cus over the past year. Trump con­tin­ues to blame his casi­nos’ trou­bles on an eco­nomic down­turn that wal­loped the whole in­dus­try. But in fact, two of his casi­nos’ bank­rupt­cies oc­curred in years when over­all At­lantic City gam­bling rev­enue was ris­ing.

Un­paid Bills

Mul­ti­ple re­ports over the past year have doc­u­mented Trump’s re­fusal to pay var­i­ous con­trac­tors who worked for him. USA To­day found at least 60 law­suits, as well as hun­dreds of liens, judg­ments and other govern­ment fil­ings that doc­u­ment peo­ple who ac­cused Trump and his busi­nesses of fail­ing to pay them. The Wall Street Jour­nal, like­wise, doc­u­mented hardball tac­tics that short­changed Trump’s sup­pli­ers.

Dur­ing the bank­ruptcy of the Taj Ma­hal Casino in the early 1990s, some con­trac­tors who’d helped Trump build the prop­erty went un­der be­cause Trump’s com­pany didn’t pay what it owed them - mil­lions of dol­lars in some cases. Trump re­fused to pay in full 253 con­trac­tors who had helped build the Taj. Trump’s bankers gave him a $450,000 monthly al­lowance while his debts were rene­go­ti­ated.

Head Start

Trump per­pet­u­ates a self-made-man per­sona, stress­ing that he started out with a “small” $1 mil­lion loan from his fa­ther that he later re­paid. He doesn’t men­tion that he also re­ceived loan guar­an­tees, bailouts and a draw­down from his fu­ture in­her­i­tance. Re­porter Tim O’Brien noted in a 2005 book that Trump drew $10 mil­lion from his fu­ture in­her­i­tance dur­ing hard times, and in­her­ited a share of his fa­ther’s real es­tate hold­ings, which were worth hun­dreds of mil­lions when they were even­tu­ally sold off.

Brand­ing

In re­cent years, Trump has been known more for li­cens­ing use of his name than for build­ing things. Not all those brand­ing deals have been seam­less. Condo buy­ers at failed Trump-named prop­er­ties in Fort Laud­erdale, Florida , Tampa, Florida , and Baja, Mex­ico , have claimed in law­suits that the bil­lion­aire mis­led them into be­liev­ing he was more in­volved in the projects than just lend­ing his name. Trump won the Fort Laud­erdale case and set­tled those in Baja and Tampa.

Trump Univer­sity

Trump faces class-ac­tion law­suits in Cal­i­for­nia and New York al­leg­ing that his Trump Univer­sity, which of­fered real es­tate sem­i­nars and classes around the coun­try, pressed stu­dents to pay up to $35,000 for men­tor­ships and failed at its prom­ise to teach suc­cess in the busi­ness. While mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als said that Trump had “hand­picked” em­ploy­ees for the op­er­a­tion, in court tes­ti­mony he ac­knowl­edged that he couldn’t re­call names of his em­ploy­ees. New York At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man sued Trump Univer­sity in 2013 al­leg­ing it had com­mit­ted fraud and fleeced 5,000 peo­ple out of mil­lions of dol­lars.

Le­gal Tac­tics

Trump caused a firestorm when he com­plained in Fe­bru­ary that Gon­zalo Curiel, the judge han­dling the Cal­i­for­nia Trump Univer­sity class-ac­tion law­suit, couldn’t be fair, cit­ing the judge’s Mex­i­can her­itage. Trump also tried to get a judge pulled off a New York case in 2011, and he called the judge on a 2009 case bi­ased.

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