Decades of Trump’s inheritance fail to explain how he’s funding mysterious cash purchases

Trump claims he has spend hundreds of millions in cash.
Trump claims he has spend hundreds of millions in cash.
Image: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
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Between the ages of 3 and 58, president Donald Trump inherited at least $413 million from his father’s business empire using some potentially fraudulent tax-dodging methods, a blockbuster New York Times investigation shows.

The last tranche came in 2004—years after his father, Fred, died—when Trump and his siblings sold off their father’s empire. The deal seems to have been done in a rush, and they offloaded the building for hundreds of millions less than it was worth, the Times reports. Nonetheless, Donald picked up $177.3 million, or $236.2 million at today’s rates, the Times reports.

However, even that extraordinary windfall doesn’t explain a trend in Trump’s business revealed by the Washington Post this year: starting in 2006, Trump began a cash spending spree of $400 million on 14 new properties, ostensibly with no external loans. Analysts and journalists have spent a lot of time puzzling over where in his illiquid business empire he found the cash to do that.

The Times’ insights into thousands of pages of Fred Trump’s financial documents don’t help. Trump spent $149 million of the last wedge of cash he’d inherited from his father within a year of getting his hands on it, the Times reports. Just three projects took up all that money: $73 million on buying his partner’s share of a planned Trump Tower in Chicago; $55 million on the casino to appease his creditors there; and $21 million to help him buy a Florida mansion.

In 2008, Trump flipped the mansion for a $54 million profit to a Russian oligarch on the eve of the financial crisis. However, even if we combine that profit with the $28.3 million left from his father, he is well short of the $400 million he began spending in 2006. On top of that, we don’t know how he services millions of dollars of annual losses on his Scottish golf courses, or where the Trump Organization is getting the $200 million it plans to spend building a small town around one of the courses.

Trump’s son Eric told the Post this has all been funded by “incredible cash flow.” But that’s not what Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had to say when asked if Trump would spend $50 million on crucial ads in his presidential campaign in 2016, according to Bob Woodward’s book Fear.

“Maybe we can get $25 million out of him,” Kushner reportedly said. “He doesn’t have a lot of cash.”

Trump was eventually persuaded to loan the campaign just $10 million.