Monday, February 25, 2019
A playbook of deceit starts with the origin lie' that made him richer than he was. And it's still being written. Nearly four decades ago, Donald Trump deceived me into including him on the first Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans. He claimed a net worth of $100 million but was actually worth less than a tenth of that. Last week, President Trump declared a national state of emergency to bypass the constitutional budgeting powers of Congress and divert money to build a wall on the border with Mexico. What do these acts have in common? Only that they are the first and latest entries on the continuum of cons that have defined Trump's success.
A real estate insider told me back in the 1980s that Trump's win-at-all-costs father, Fred, "loves a crook and he loves a showman." Donald Trump has built his extraordinary career by exhibiting the characteristics of both. He is a self-promoter willing to lie, swindle and destroy to advance his insatiable self-interest. I am not the first journalist to observe that for Trump, the "Art of the Deal" has been the art of the con. But as the first journalist to enable the consummate con man's career-boosting deceptions, I have a completist's view of the pernicious racket that is his playbook. Here, in roughly chronological order, are the six essential cons around which Trump has built and sustained his success:
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