The old adage, “Like father, like son,” aptly described the relationship between Donald Trump and his father, Fred. While Fred built a real estate empire, he not only cut corners whenever he could, but he evaded paying hundreds of millions in gift and inheritance taxes in the process of handing over his vast holdings to his children.
When Donald applied to the University of Pennsylvania as a transfer student, his father actually went to the interview with him. It surely did not hurt his son’s chances when Fred made a very generous contribution to the school. And Donald was rumored to have paid someone to take his SATs.
Then, of course, came the infamous bone spur caper, which enabled Donald to dodge the draft during the Vietnam War. A podiatrist, who lived in one of Fred’s buildings, helpfully provided a letter to Donald’s local draft board which earned him a 4F status.
Like his dad, Donald is also a grifter, which is defined as a person who engages in petty or small-scale swindling. But that does not preclude major illegal activities.
Here’s what we know about his grifts so far:
- He has regularly stiffed his lawyers.
- He has paid very little income tax for the last two decades and has been under audit for the last six years.
- He has regularly stiffed his building contractors, refusing to pay more than a fraction of what he owes them.
- Trump University defrauded thousands of students and was forced to refund $25 million in tuition fees.
- The Trump Foundation was shuttered after it was discovered that only a small fraction of the proceeds went to charity.
The Trump Corporation is being prosecuted as a criminal organization. So far, the only indictment involving an individual is that of Alan Weiselberg, the chief financial officer, for income tax evasion. But surely, he was not the only employee engaged in this practice.
Investigators employed by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and New York State Attorney General Letitia James have uncovered a trove of business records and tax returns of the Trump Corporation. In addition, they have been talking to dozens of employees, business associates, and other individuals with direct knowledge of Donald Trump’s illegal business practices. They are putting pressure on Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Eric Trump, who have been actively running the family business for the last six years.
While I cannot claim any insider knowledge of what additional indictments will be handed up in the coming months by the Manhattan grand jury, one thing is perfectly clear. Because Donald Trump is a lifelong grifter, it is inconceivable that he has ever been able to resist the many opportunities of illegal self-dealing with which he has been presented. Grifting was in his father’s blood, this own blood, and in the blood of his three oldest children.
The indictment recently secured by the Manhattan district attorney against the Trump Corporation and its chief financial officer are said to represent just the tip of the iceberg. We can certainly expect additional – and much more serious -- indictments -- against members of the Trump family, including former president Donald Trump himself.