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Trump Lost Over $1 Billion in 10 Years: A Closer Look

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10:17   |   May 08, 2019

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Trump Lost Over $1 Billion in 10 Years: A Closer Look
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  • -The Trump administration is defying Congress
  • over the Mueller report as we get more information
  • about the President's tax returns.
  • For more on this, it's time for "A Closer Look."
  • [ Cheers and applause ]
  • After Democrats won back the House in November
  • and promised to investigate him,
  • Trump threatened to go to war with Congress,
  • and now we're seeing what that war looks like.
  • Trump's fighting Congress on every front,
  • ordering former aides to defy subpoenas,
  • trying to block Robert Mueller from testifying,
  • suing banks to keep them from releasing his bank documents,
  • and refusing to open Rudy Giuliani's coffin
  • during the day. [ Laughter ]
  • "It's not because he's a vampire!
  • He just has sensitive eyes!"
  • [ Laughter ]
  • And then, of course, there's William Barr,
  • Trump's Attorney General who lied about the contents
  • of the Mueller report before we all got to see it
  • and then refused to show up at a House hearing last week
  • about his handling of the report,
  • leaving an empty chair in his place, which was so weird.
  • I mean, for one thing, usually when you see someone
  • talking to an empty chair, it's Clint Eastwood
  • at the Republican National Convention.
  • Remember that insane thing that happened before Donald Trump?
  • An old man got up on national TV and yelled at an empty chair
  • while everyone in the audience applauded and said,
  • "Yeah! You give that chair what for!"
  • And that happened in 2012, but somehow it took
  • the emergence of Donald Trump for us all to go,
  • "Maybe Republicans are weird."
  • [ Laughter ]
  • Democrats also want Barr
  • to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller report
  • and all the underlying evidence Mueller collected,
  • and Barr has refused to do that, as well.
  • At a hearing on a contempt resolution today,
  • Republican Congressman Jim Jordan asked
  • the chairman of the committee, Jerry Nadler,
  • why he couldn't just wait to hear from Mueller himself
  • before getting the full report,
  • and Nadler had a very simple answer.
  • -I would ask the chairman. My understanding is,
  • Mr. Mueller's gonna be here next week.
  • You're gonna get to ask the guy
  • who wrote the whole darn document.
  • We're all gonna ask him questions.
  • Why don't you hold off on this contempt
  • until at least the guy who wrote the thing,
  • spent 22 months and $35 million with a whole bunch
  • of Democratic lawyers putting it together,
  • why don't you wait and ask him next week
  • before we do this contempt resolution?
  • -I'll answer -- Well, essentially,
  • because it'll be useful to read the material
  • before we have him in front of us.
  • -Yeah, they want to read it first.
  • Republicans must have the weirdest book clubs.
  • "Okay. This week's book is 'Great Gatsby.'
  • What does everyone think of the cover?"
  • [ Laughter ]
  • And while Trump's administration is trying to block the release
  • of the full Mueller report, they've also been
  • in the middle of a stand-off with Congress
  • over Trump's tax returns.
  • Democrats formally requested Trump's tax returns,
  • and this week, the administration
  • refused to hand them over.
  • Last month, Trump even implied that Mueller had looked at them
  • and decided there was nothing wrong.
  • -I thought, after two years, we'd be finished with it.
  • No, now the House goes and starts subpoenaing.
  • They want to know every deal I've ever done.
  • Now, Mueller, I assume, for $35 million,
  • checked my taxes, checked my financials,
  • which are great by the way. You know they're great.
  • -If they're so great, then just show them to us.
  • You're the worst poker player ever.
  • He walks around like he's holding four aces,
  • but you just know he has a pair of 2s
  • and that extra card with the rules on it.
  • [ Laughter ]
  • Also, I have no idea whether Mueller --
  • [ Cheers and applause ] No idea...
  • No idea whether Mueller saw Trump's finances or not,
  • but I feel like, if he had, he would've told us about it.
  • His report was 448 pages long.
  • He included every little detail he found.
  • There's an entire section titled "Trump's Hair and How It Works."
  • [ Laughter ]
  • Now, Democrats had requested the last six years
  • of Trump's returns, but then, last night,
  • we got some blockbuster reporting
  • from "The New York Times" about Trump's tax returns
  • from a different period in his life, the '80s and '90s,
  • when he was first cultivating his celebrity status
  • as a self-made success story. And this will shock you --
  • they were not, as Trump claimed, great.
  • -A brand-new report from "The New York Times,"
  • offering one of the most detailed looks
  • we have had at Donald Trump's finances,
  • during a decade-long portion of his career.
  • "The numbers show that, in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses
  • of $46.1 million from his core businesses,
  • largely casinos, hotels,
  • and retail space in apartment buildings.
  • They continued to lose money every year,
  • totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.
  • In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost
  • more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.
  • -He lost more than a billion dollars.
  • I can't even imag-- If my 401(k) goes down
  • half a percent, I need to take three Xanax.
  • [ Laughter ]
  • If I turn on CNN and see a red arrow
  • in the bottom right-hand corner, I frantically call my broker
  • and tell him to take everything out.
  • And my broker says, "Take it out of what?
  • You have all your money in a checking account,"
  • and then I say, "Is that bad?" and he says, "Yes.
  • And, also, we've been over this --
  • I'm not your broker. I'm an actor.
  • How did you get this number?"
  • [ Laughter ]
  • Now, we already knew that Trump was a liar
  • and that Trump was a cheat,
  • who had a series of spectacular business failures,
  • but these returns are from earlier in his life,
  • in the '80s and '90s,
  • when he was touting himself as a business genius
  • and one of the most successful men in America.
  • I mean, in 1987, while he was losing all of this money,
  • he literally wrote "The Art of the Deal."
  • Based on how bad he is at deals,
  • I'm surprised the cost of that book wasn't,
  • "I pay you $20 if you take one."
  • [ Laughter ]
  • During this 10-year period, Trump was actively
  • building the myth that he was a self-made success,
  • while in reality, he was a massive failure
  • who lost more money than any other American taxpayer.
  • For example, you might remember that, in the '80s and '90s,
  • Trump pretended to be a spokesman for himself,
  • named John Barron, who would call
  • various media outlets and brag about Trump's success.
  • For example, here is Donald Trump
  • calling a reporter at "Forbes," pretending to be John Barron.
  • Specifically, he was trying to convince the reporter
  • that assets that belonged to his father, Fred Trump,
  • were actually his now.
  • And while he was at it, he also bragged
  • about how close he was with his father.
  • -Okay. What's your first name,then?
  • -John. John Barron.
  • Let me tell you what the deal is,
  • just so you understand. -Okay, Mr. Trump.
  • -First of all, most of the assets
  • have been consolidated to Mr. Trump,
  • you know, because you have down Fred Trump.
  • But I think you can really use Donald Trump now,
  • and you can just consolidate it.
  • -Does Fred Trump make many management decisions?
  • -Oh, yeah, sure, he's the -- he's the chairman.
  • Donald's the president. And Fred Trump is active.
  • He's an excellent guy, and you know how --
  • They're very close, their relationship.
  • The two are, as you know, very close, as you've heard
  • or know, or perhaps you don't know.
  • -He used a fake name to call a reporter
  • and brag about how much his father loves him.
  • Man, I would say the dude needs to therapy,
  • but I don't think he can afford it.
  • [ Laughter ] Maybe -- Maybe --
  • [ Cheers and applause ]
  • Maybe he can just use a fake name and be his own therapist.
  • "And how does that make you feel, Donald?"
  • "I feel smart, Dr. Barron." [ Laughter ]
  • "You are smart, Donald. That'll be $200."
  • "Uh..." [ Laughter ]
  • "Can I owe you?"
  • So, the "Times" story covers a period of 10 years,
  • during which Trump lost over a billion dollars,
  • and yet throughout that period, he was actively cultivating
  • his celebrity persona as a self-made business titan.
  • He told "Newsweek" in 1987,
  • "There's no one my age who has accomplished more,"
  • but during that time, there were also fleeting moments
  • where Trump could barely hide that he was lying.
  • In fact, in an interview that same year,
  • on the first iteration of this show,
  • David Letterman tried to get Trump to reveal his net worth.
  • Now keep in mind, Trump has spent his whole life
  • bragging about how much he's worth.
  • When he first announced his presidential campaign in 2015,
  • he literally said the words, "I'm really rich."
  • [ Laughter ] And his campaign issued
  • a press release that said,
  • "Mr. Trump's net worth is in excess of $10 billion."
  • And you know it's true 'cause it's in all caps.
  • It's like when you get an e-mail with the subject line
  • "Erectile dysfunction medicine," you're suspicious.
  • But when it says, "Free boner pills"...
  • [ Laughter ] ...you know it's legit.
  • And yet, in 1987, the year he published "The Art of the Deal"
  • and cast himself as a self-made business genius,
  • his tone was very different.
  • When Letterman asked him the question,
  • you could tell Trump, who has openly bragged
  • throughout his life about how much money he has,
  • did not want to answer.
  • -How much are you worth right now,
  • as you're sitting right here?
  • [ Laughter ]
  • -Zero idea, David.
  • It depends on what's happening with the world and the market.
  • -I think this is the kind of thing
  • that people love to fantasize about.
  • Because you are, unquestionably, one of the most successful men
  • in the country, if not the world,
  • and also one of the wealthiest.
  • So, give us a figure that we might ponder here.
  • [ Laughter ]
  • -You'll never get it out of me, David.
  • You'll never get it out of me.
  • -You won't put a figure? Just an imaginary figure?
  • -Never have, never would.
  • -A billion. You're worth a billion dollars?
  • [ Laughter ] -Perhaps.
  • -Perhaps.
  • -I mean, look how young he was.
  • What happened to you, man?
  • I mean, you actually used to look like a normal person.
  • How did that guy turn into this guy?
  • [ Laughter ]
  • I mean, that looks like the before-and-after
  • in one of those anti-drug PSAs.
  • [ Laughter and applause ]
  • And, of course -- [ Cheers and applause ]
  • Look, Trump --
  • Trump was never a successful businessman.
  • He just played one on TV.
  • Expecting Donald Trump to exhibit business acumen
  • is like expecting George Clooney to do an arterial bypass.
  • [ Laughter ]
  • But this isn't just a story about Trump.
  • We already knew he was a con artist.
  • It's also a story about the thing
  • Trump cynically claimed to fix,
  • the thing he actually benefited from his entire life,
  • the rigged system.
  • Most regular people are one layoff
  • or medical emergency away from a financial crisis,
  • but this guy lost a billion dollars over 10 years
  • and he ended up fine --
  • except for the fact that he went from looking
  • like the wolf of Wall Street
  • to a guy getting chased by a pack of wolves.
  • [ Laughter ]
  • Trump is defying Congress and subpoenas,
  • and, once again, we have more proof
  • that he's one of the world's most prolific con artists.
  • Congress is exercising its duty to investigate the President
  • by asking for documents, and Trump is just saying...
  • -No!
  • [ Laughter ]
  • -Caught me off guard with that one.
  • That was real good. [ Laughs ]
  • This has been "A Closer Look."
  • [ Cheers and applause ]

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Seth takes a closer look at the Trump administration’s defiance of Congress over the Mueller report.
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Trump Lost Over $1 Billion in 10 Years: A Closer Look- Late Night with Seth Meyers
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