You’re probably sick of hearing about this guy, but there are a few things I read today that I think people really need to be aware of.
For a start, there’s Trump’s PR stunt claiming to raise money for veterans, one counter-programmed against a GOP debate Trump didn’t want to attend. It’s now clear that Trump and his spokespeople made a series of false statement about the event and the result, and it appears that Trump did not donate the $1 million he’d promised until more than four months later, after negative press reports were starting to make him look bad. Josh Marshall has a good, brief summary here. He concludes,
We should not lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day, almost $6 million went to apparently worthy organizations helping veterans. We should also not lose sight of the fact that Trump repeatedly lied about the money and seemed to be hoping to get away without contributing any of his own money at all, despite repeatedly taking credit for doing so.
Then there’s Trump University, a fairly standard sleazy get-rich-in-real-estate seminar scheme of the sort long pushed in late-night infomercials (though not quite so often as a few years back). The initial seminar turns out to be a source of some basic information of the sort you can find in a library or on line combined with a high-pressure sales pitch that if you really want to succeed you need to pay for additional training and coaching. According to various reports, only one of the supposed real-estate experts “hand-picked” by Trump as instructors had ever even met him, and they were told to pressure the students, many of them retirees hoping to live out their days in greater comfort, into maxing out their credit cards and applying for new ones in order to pay stiff fees that could reach $35,000. Kevin Drum quotes a number of damning items from just-released court documents in this brief blog post, and it’s also worth reading what Josh Marshall has to say about it.
Finally, one more item worth reading (from Josh Marshall quoting Mark Cuban), questions why, if Trump really is worth over $10 billion as he claims, he would stoop to so many embarrassingly sleazy things. Trump’s federal election campaign reports indicate he has $165 million in liquid assets such as securities and cash. That’s obviously a lot of money, but it seems odd for a self-described multi-billionaire to have less than two percent of his assets in stocks, bonds, and cash. Others have speculated that he won’t release his income tax returns, as presidential candidates have routinely done for decades, because the returns would show him to be rich but far less so than he claims to be.
(Update 2016 June 4: Apparently $35,000 wasn’t the upper limit of charges from Trump University, some paid tens of thousands more. They were apparently pressured to believe that they would easily make so much money by following the “secret” methods taught in the courses that paying off the credit card charges would be a breeze. Nope.)