Alden Graves | Graves registry: Who's the biggest loser?


On May 8, Donald Trump, Jr. was served with a subpoena to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee to answer questions about his involvement with Russian agents. The now infamous meeting at the Trump Tower in June 2016 between Junior, Jared Kushner, convicted felon Paul Manafort and a lawyer with ties to the Kremlin was initially billed as an attempt to facilitate the adoption of Russian orphans.

After the laughter subsided a bit, the president admitted that the real purpose of the meeting was to gather dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Robert Mueller declined to indict the prodigal son for conspiring with a foreign power to influence the election because investigators concluded, in effect, that he was too dimwitted to understand the gravity of what he was doing. Such is the inevitably dismal future for the Trump Organization. But, as they say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

At the Democratic National Convention in 2016, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a longtime Republican, told — read warned — the nation that Donald Trump wanted to "run the country the way he ran his businesses." He added an ominous final caveat to the statement: "God help us."

Mr. Bloomberg was a savvy, self-made multi billionaire, unlike Trump, who was handed a fortune by his father and then spent the rest of his business career squandering it on doomed projects like Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump Magazine, the TourDeTrump bike race (honest!), the bogus Trump University, and the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan that he lost to something called a prepackaged bankruptcy in 1992.

Sometimes I wonder if there is one square inch of Donald Trump that isn't a phony put-on. Sure, he is godless and soulless, but now it seems as if Mr. Trump's vaunted reputation for raking in big money had a lot in common with Rock Hudson's ability to take Doris Day's virginity. Both were born out of show biz fabrications.

Steven Mnuchin, a former investment banker and hedge fund manager, was one of the architects of the 2008 financial meltdown that left a lot of Americans standing out on the sidewalk surrounded by their families and belongings. Mr. Mnuchin, as is the tradition in the U.S., waltzed off with his millions intact and expanding, even acquiring a hammy actress nobody ever heard of to pose as a trophy wife. In keeping with Mr. Trump's remarkable ability to stock his administration with the most disreputable dregs of the recent past, Mnuchin is now the nation's treasury secretary.

In a surprise to the public on a level with Meryl Streep's last Oscar nomination, Mr. Mnuchin refused a request by the House judiciary committee for Donald Trump's tax returns. Mnuchin claims that there is no legitimate reason for requesting the information. It seems to me that an opportunity to accurately gauge the president's — shall we say — financial allegiances to Russia is reason enough to look at the returns, but the New York Times has exposed another reason that Mr. Trump, with all his Big Business Titan posturing, would prefer to keep the facts quiet.

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If Trump's business history was a military engagement, it would be the Little Big Horn.

(Can you imagine the chill that went through the corridors of Deutsche Bank when Trump started making noises about being president? The bank, which itself has a history that makes Bernie Madoff look a little more legitimate, was the only major financial institution that would extend credit to the Trump Organization. I'm assuming that, having routinely dealt with scandals ranging from money laundering to misleading investors, it occurred to a number of people at Deutsche that investigations into Mr. Trump's checkered past might not be in their own best interests.)

The Times story divulged the fact that Mr. Trump had managed to loose $1.17 billion between 1985 and 1994. He lost more money than any other individual taxpayer in the country. What was thought to be an earth tremor in the neighborhood of the Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery in Queens after the Times story broke is now believed to have been Fred Trump turning over in his grave. A woman who lived nearby said the same thing happened on election night.

If you want a good chuckle, access a clip of the Three Trumpeteers on "Fox and Friends" after the Times story was published. The woman (I don't know her name and wouldn't write it if I did) expressed astonishment at the sheer amount of the loss in much the same way that people reacted to Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic.

"If anything, you read this and you're like: `Wow, it's pretty impressive all the things that he's done in his life. It's beyond what most of us could ever achieve.'" Actually, she is right. It does take a special kind of genius to lose that much money during one of the most booming economic periods in recent history.

And now Mr. Trump can inflict his special brand of economic expertise upon the entire country, not to mention the world.

When Donald Trump calls someone else a "loser," you have to wonder if it's as close to introspection as he ever gets.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for the Banner.


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