-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.” 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. “It’s not because he’s a vampire! He just has sensitive eyes!” 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.” 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?” 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. Also, I have no idea whether Mueller — 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.” 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 $million from his core businesses, largely casinos, hotels, and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $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. 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?” 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.” 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. Maybe — Maybe — 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.” “You are smart, Donald. That’ll be $200.” “Uh…” “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.” 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”… …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? -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. -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? -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? I mean, that looks like the before-and-after in one of those anti-drug PSAs. And, of course — 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. 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. 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! -Caught me off guard with that one.
That was real good. This has been “A Closer Look.” .
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