The fact that Donald Trump used the presidency in various ways to enrich himself will not shock anyone who has been paying attention. A great deal of the self-dealing from which Trump profited has been gathered by investigative reporter David Cay Johnston for his new book, “The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and his Family.”
I haven’t read it yet, but for a quick overview, watch the video, linked below, of a CNN interview with Johnson who logs between $1.6 and $1.7 billion in revenue that the Trump companies earned while he was in office.
“A lot of it came from the taxpayers,” Johnson said. Trump “did everything he could to make sure that the taxpayers were putting money into his businesses, hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Like all government officials, Trump had to sign a disclosure of the money that came to him through his public job, and how he spent the money. Johnson mentions in passing during the interview that Trump asked whether he could decline to sign the part of the statement that said he was disclosing how he spent the money “under penalty of perjury.” But he was told no, he had to sign a statement that his disclosures weren’t lies.
According to the CNN interview, shortly before the 2020 election and up to the day he left office, his fund-raising activities took in an additional $500 million of which he apparently spent less than $9 million on lawyers, leading CNN to ask where the other $400 million-plus went. Johnston said he is allowed to “spend it on himself,” and surmised that much of it would go to pay for lawyers as Trump defends himself in various lawsuits.
You probably heard or read long ago that Trump did things like encourage foreign visitors to Washington to stay at the Trump hotel he had opened less than a mile from the White House. It wasn’t illegal for Trump to own the hotel, nor for White House visitors to stay there. But it’s not hard to suspect that many of those who paid the exorbitant room rates thought they might curry some favor with Trump by doing so.
If you don’t plan to read the book, there’s more in the three-minute long clip of the CNN interview.