If you counted every finger and toe in a respectable newsroom you couldn’t count up to the number of lies Donald Trump has told as president.
Sometimes it feels like the New York Times actually does that: as in the recent finger-pointing list by David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick of more than a dozen apparent violations of the emoluments clause and other corrupt practices that enrich President Trump himself and those closest to him.
“The president has spoken of riots that have not happened,” they wrote, “claimed deals that have not been reached, cited jobs that have not been created and spun dark conspiracies that have no apparent basis in reality.”
Lie, lie, lie.
But when journalists add up the lies, they see connections, patterns, which can turn repetitions into revelations.
The Times team of Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner, David Barstow and Gabriel J. X. Dance spent months demolishing Donald Trump’s favorite lie: that he is a self-made billionaire. Their demonstration that Trump’s story that his father Fred Trump had given him nothing more than a single $1 million loan was off by several hundred million dollars also showed an even more defining paternal legacy: the habits and associations that made the Trump family fortune so great.
The Times showed that Fred Trump’s riches were from profits greatly enhanced by inflated invoices that rooked the city and its citizens, and rewarded corrupt officials and Mafia-controlled union bosses and their patrons. Fred’s cut of the housing business was enabled by the mob-tied Democratic Parties of Brooklyn and Queens and was then hidden from the taxman in ways that ranged from creative to criminal.
Wanna bet Fred Trump’s lying legacy isn’t laid bare in all those tax returns Donald Trump won’t show us?
Fred Trump’s second son is a compulsive liar and an impulsive liar, but when it comes to his chosen profession – real estate developer – Donald Trump is truly a professional liar, a master in business as in politics of exaggeration and falsehood.
Heather Vogell is a reporter at ProPublica. She is currently investigating President Trump’s business entanglements and collaborating with reporters at WNYC on the podcast, “Trump, Inc.” Her stories have exposed abuse at group homes for the developmentally disabled and high schools that push out low-achievers to goose their graduation rates. Previously, she was a reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where her work on test cheating in the public school system resulted in the indictments of the superintendent and 34 others.