A bombshell investigation into Donald Trump and his business empire by the New York Times has undoubtedly ruffled some feathers at the White House. The report documents years of tax evasion and fraud, as well as how Trump himself owes much of his so-called fortune to his father, Fred Trump. This, of course, contradicts the aura that Donald Trump has managed to create of himself over the past 5 decades in public life.
Those of us who did not vote for Mr. Trump have known for years that much of what he has said about his successes are either false or at the very least, misleading. The Times’ report merely provides this fact … with an exclamation point.
When the investigation was first made public last night, I immediately began to think about another incident surrounding Mr. Trump that now makes so much more sense and simply provides more evidence of the lifelong con game Mr. Trump has been playing on the American people. Unless you have been paying a lot of attention to Trump over the years, perhaps what happened to him in the Southern California desert back in the early 2000’s did not resonate. But the fact is, his venture into tribal gaming in the small town of Coachella speaks volumes about the man himself: Donald Trump is a fraud.
I arrived in the Coachella Valley, an expansive area of the desert in Southern California, in mid-2004 after relocating for my job. One of the first things I noticed traveling East to West on Interstate 10 was the flashy casino called Trump 29. It stuck out for two reasons: one, there was not much else surrounding the casino … and two, the name Trump.
At the time I didn’t pay much attention to the casino, but a local newspaper had been running stories that there was controversy brewing surrounding Trump and the Twenty-Nine Palms Tribe. Apparently, the Tribe had begun to sour on Mr. Trump and wanted to sever their ties with him.
Again, back when this was happening the story was merely a blip on my radar screen. Today, of course, is a much different situation. Never in a million years did I think that the person who was fired by a local Indian Tribe would become the president of the United States.
So as I absorbed the Times report yesterday, I decided to do a little more research into what happened back in the day that Trump was involved with the 29 Palms Casino. The Desert Sun, the local newspaper I mentioned earlier, ran a detailed story back in March of 2016 that lays out what exactly happened. Naturally, the story had more juice because Trump was in the midst of securing the nomination for president in the Republican primary elections.
To summarize, back in 2001, voters passed a proposition that significantly expanded legal Indian gambling. Not even one day after that vote, the Twenty-Nine Palms Tribe announced it would team up with Trump. He would help secure financing for a $60 million expansion of the casino, which included a personal loan worth $11 million, and his company – Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts – would manage the casino for 5 years, collecting about 30 percent of the revenue. The casino would be renamed Trump 29, from the original Spotlight 29. Trump would only serve as the manager of the casino with the Tribe maintaining full ownership.
It turns out that during this time period Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City were buried in almost $2 billion in debt. In other words, he needed the money, and for three years he collected several million dollars from his deal with the Tribe. But in 2004, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts declared bankruptcy and shed about $500 million of debt. The Tribe seized on this opportunity and invoked a buy-out clause that ended Trump’s management contract and took control of the casino away from him. Eventually, he was paid $6 million in the buyout, an amount less than the original buyout fee agreed upon, and missed out on two more years of revenue, had he been allowed to stay on. So much for the “Art of the Deal.” The Tribe had had enough of Donald Trump.
So what can we learn from this failed deal and the exhaustive investigative report from the New York Times? Donald J. Trump is not who he says he is. We’ve heard all along, mostly from Trump himself but also from his team of sycophants, that he’s a self-made man and shrewd negotiator. Everything he has is due to none other than Trump himself.
This is just not true. There’s so much evidence to the contrary, it requires a gigantic individual leap of faith to believe otherwise. He owes so much to his long deceased father. He owes even more to his use of the United States Bankruptcy Courts. Yes, we have a con man in the highest office in the land who was able to get 62 million people to vote for him.
Many of those 62 million voters still support this president. But I’m pretty sure there are a few of them who don’t. And it’s those who might be wavering on Mr. Trump that I share this story for. Please look at the evidence. Please take a look at the New York Times report. Is it possible to label it all as “fake news?” Or, is it more than likely that all of it is true? Many of the true believers will choose the former. I’d like to think many more will choose the latter.