The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston (Part 2)

‘Better than Harvard’. Michael Sexton licensed Trump’s name for online real estate courses. Trump loved this idea. Trump University was born. He promised to handpick the professors etc but this was not true. The address chosen was also used by other criminals. Trump was prohibited using the word university unless it was authorized by the state education department. The professors were actually commissioned sales people, many with little experience in real estate. In 2012, he was sued for civil fraud. Trump, when questioned, said he couldn’t remember what the lawsuit was about. He could not even name one good live events instructor. He said that the education would be better than the best business school. This was not true at all. He also did not review the scripts used by the live events instructors. The whole Trump University was a fraud. The students were taught ‘to prey upon homeowners in financial turmoil and to target foreclosure properties’. The whole course was more of a high pressure tactic to buy into Trump U’s “Gold Elite” package. The Texas attorney took no public action in recommending penalties for Trump’s conduct. Abbott and Trump seemed to have some relationship going on. Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general, would investigate Trump. Trump’s office sent a cheque to her to support her re-election. Later, Bondi failed to further carry on the investigation. When the court records was released to the public, Trump was furious. Trump was also involved in problems with charities helping military veterans.

Trump Charities. Liberty House is a small veteran’s charity. Trump wanted to donate $100k but Keith Howard declined. It was illegal for charities to participate in partisan politics. However, some charities accepted the donations. These reduced their ability to receive tax-deductible donations. Trump was questioned by reporters on whether the donated money really went to charities. There are no buildings on Philadelphia campus that bears Trump’s name. Trump often declares a large amount of money would go to charities, but in reality, less of it will be transferred. He claims he is an ardent philanthropist, but there is little record of his charitable gifts given. Trump can’t recall all the veteran organizations that he has dealt with. Trump also has imaginary employees.

Imaginary Friends. When reporters tried to call Trump, a guy named John Baron, a VP of the Trump organization, answered. He said he was Trump’s spokesperson. He explained why destroying the sculptures was the only way. It was actually Donald Trump on the phone. By posing as his publicist, he could get more attention. Sometimes, Trump would confirm what Baron has said to give affirmation to the stories. Similarly, he used this tactic to taunt his enemies. Later, after he was exposed, he switched to using the name ‘John Miller’.

Imaginary Lovers. In 1991, Trump apparently dumped Marla Maples and taken up Carla Bruni. A reporter got a call from John Miller. He pretended to be Trump’s PR man. He said that Trump was too busy to answer calls because he was taking to other beautiful women. Miller claimed that Trump was not seeing Bruni. Bruni would be later treated to a hotel stay by Trump. Carswell, the reporter, was not fooled and knew that was Trump. She doubted he was with Bruni as he knew Trump wanted to have that playboy image. Once, Maples and Trump was caught arguing. In 1991, Carswell released the news that Trump was actually John Miller. In 2008, after Carla Bruni was the first lady of France, Howard Stern asked Trump why he was no longer with Bruni. He denied dating Bruni and claimed she was flat-chested. Trump kept declining to comment. He didn’t want to criticize the first lady of France. A few months later, Bruni slammed Trump for making up stories. Now, Trump would attempt to advance his pursuit of the Presidency.

Myth Maintenance. Trump often recites facts without analysis and threatens to sue journalists. This often shuts reports and journalists from further questioning. He sued Tim O’Brien for wrongly quoting his net worth. The aim of it was to harass him and waste his time. His second strategy is to distort information and contradict himself. When queried in 2016, Trump said he couldn’t know who was on the tape in 1991. He said the voice on the phone sounded like a scam. He denied that it was him on the phone. Trump often uses the words ‘I don’t recall’ very frequently. Trump has also accepted awards that he gave to himself.

I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees and they spent a whole lot more. I did it to make his life miserable, which I’m happy about. – Donald Trump

You mean you are going so low as to talk about something that took place 25 years ago about whether I made a phone call… Let’s get on to more current subjects. – Donald Trump

Collecting Honours. The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences gave awards to Trump. His golf course won the Star Diamond award. Cinque was the President of the Academy. His other buildings have won similar awards. The awards are chosen by the board of trustees. Donald J. Trump sat on the board. In other words, Trump accepted awards from a board on which he was a member. He also gave his friends and family awards. Cinque is often praised by Trump. Cinque has also a history of being involved in organized crime. Cinque also boasts about his prowess with women and his rich friends. In a recent interview, Trump denied attending any board meetings.

If a guy’s (Cinque) going to give you an award, you take it. You don’t tend to look up his whole life story. – Donald Trump

Who’s That? Felix H Sater’s name was usually spelt with one T. However, he added another T to his name, Satter, to conceal his past. His father was Russian mob boss in Brooklyn. Trump said he was unaware of Sater’s criminal background. He was allowed to work on property projects. He was eventually made ‘Senior Adviser to Donald Trump’. Trump had his name on buildings, causing investor to invest. However, they later learnt that Trump was only licensing his name. Sater had a short jail time considering the crimes he committed. Trump continued to work with Sater. When interviewed much later, Trump claimed that he would not be able to recongize Sater.

Down Mexico Way. Trump announced that he would build in the Trump Ocean Resort in a great location. It would be a world-class resort. It would be the new Cabo. The whole Trump family appeared bullish during the launch. Some people purchased because of the strong Trump brand. They would regret their decision. 200 people bought in, paying more than $22 million in deposits. In 2007, construction was underway. 3 months later, the market crashed by Ivanka assured that the project would carry on. Even in 2008, construction did not start. In fact, neither Trump nor the Trump organization was involved as investment partners. They had use licensed the use of their name. All the buyers sued him as they felt that Trump was the developer. Trump denied any wrong-doing. Many of the buyers were given too short time to decide whether to purchase the house. It was unfair business practices. Trump has done something before which was similar too. The fact that Trump licensed his name was not disclosed to buyers.

Trump Beaches a Whale. He wanted updates on the baccarat game at the Atlantic City casino. Akio Kashiwagi was a huge gambler, a billion dollar customer. It was year 1990. He was known as ‘The Warrior’. Trump was very anxious because Akio was up 4.2 million. Wynn was very rich too and personally talked to high rollers. He made the customer feel special. Trump didn’t treat his big customers as well. He was greedy and wanted bigger profits from high-rollers. Many casinos wanted ‘The Warrior’ to play. His life was mysterious. Trump didn’t understand the maths of the games well. The Warrior had already bankrupted a casino before after he won too much. Akio never varied the size of the bets whether he won or lost. Akio brought $12 million to the Atlantic casino and was preparing to lose it all. As a high roller, Akio received wonderful treatment. Baccarat was his game of choice. He left for meals only but continued playing. Akio made the same flat bet every time, this was pure maths. Many of them believed in lady luck. Marcum knew that the odds were 5 to 1 that he would lose his bankroll before doubling it. The house had slim advantages but it would multiply over time. It was predicted in 10,000 bets, Trump could win 5,125 bets to Kashiwagi’s 4875. . Even on the second day, Akio was winning. Trump introduced Khashoggi to Akio, but Akio didn’t know him. It was awkward indeed. Trump was nervous and appeared to ‘sweat the action’. Trump panicked when Akio was up 6.8 million. Trump asked whether Akio was cheating. The next day, his profit was only $4.4 million. Trump said Akio was the greatest when he was only down to $2 million cash. This was dishonourable. Akio left and never came back. In 1992, he was murdered by the yakuza. He died after owing Trump $6 million, on top of the $5.4 million he had previously won. Trump lost big time.

There are no such things as lucky streaks, but all gamblers believe in them. – Marcum

Probability is like a wave. Because of the house advantage, over time the player dips lower and lower until he stops crossing the midpoint and ultimately loses all his money, unless he quits first. –  Marcum

Biggest Loser. Bob Libutti was the biggest loser. Trump treated him like a friend and tried to seduce his daughter. Lubutti was involved in evaluating racehorses. He was charged for civil tax fraud etc. In the 1980s, he led the high life. Trump treated him like a king. Trump took him on helicopter rides and top sporting events and shows. His daughter was Ebie Libutti. Libutti confronted Trump when he approached his daughter. Trump kept fulfilling his demands. Libutti was a very hot tempered man.

Epilogue. Trump is a household name in US history. Voters should definitely ponder about his conduct before voting in November 2016. Action is character. This book is about his relationship with criminals etc. Often, they were profitable in nature and were not subject to greater scrutiny. Trump has threatened to sue me. He dismisses others who do not see him as he sees himself. Trump values money a lot whereas I value honour more. Money can always be earned back again. His conduct should make us reflect on what we want to see in a leader of our great nation. Many of the things he does in business cannot be applied in politics. From his campaign speeches, some of the things he plans to do makes him seem like a dictator. Trump is smart in that he is tapping into people’s frustrations with the current state of affairs. Whether he can put up viable policies is another matter altogether.

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