The Detroit Post
Wednesday, 01 December, 2021

How Did Donald Trump Jr Make His Money

Ellen Grant
• Saturday, 09 January, 2021
• 18 min read

As House Democrats continue their impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump ’s efforts to leverage foreign aid for political favors, among his most ardent defenders, as usual, are Trump ’s adult sons Donald Jr. It is perhaps true that when the vice president is in charge of American foreign policy in Ukraine, his son’s service on the board of a Ukrainian energy company is not a great look.

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If anything, Biden’s efforts to get rid of Shown increased the likelihood that the energy company, Burma Holdings, would face meaningful scrutiny. A lawyer for Hunter Biden told the Washington Post that his client received no compensation as a BHR board member, and has not seen a return on his investment since becoming an investor.

In late 2013, Hunter Biden accompanied his father on a diplomatic trip to China, and they briefly met in a hotel lobby with a BHR investor. Setting aside the alternative facts underlying the Trump kids’ criticisms, however, their decision to wade into this controversy is notable for a different reason: During their father’s tenure as president, Don Jr.

In doing so, he dismissed critics who called on him to place his assets in a blind trust, arguing that transferring control to immediate family was sufficient to address any conflict-of-interest concerns. When news of Jared and Ivanka’s White House employment broke, observers noted the hiring appeared to be clear violations of federal anti-nepotism laws.

Kushner, the heir to a mid-Atlantic real estate empire, had no experience that would qualify him for the many tasks to which his father-in-law would assign him: solving the opioid crisis, handling Middle East peace negotiations, modernizing the federal government, and reforming America’s criminal justice system. On Inauguration Day, however, the Department of Justice released an opinion concluding that the statute does not apply to White House staff, allowing Kushner’s employment to go forward.

Weeks before the CNN story broke, Ivanka told ABC News that she and her husband had “absolutely not” received special treatment from her father during the approval process. Both Jared and Ivanka, who took a “formal leave of absence” from her eponymous fashion label to serve in her father’s White House, have taken full advantage of the benefits of their new jobs.

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Multiple foreign governments seized on this uncertainty, privately discussing ways to take advantage of his business entanglements and financial difficulties when dealing with the United States, the Washington Post reported. In April 2017, a real estate firm tied to the Kushner family made a direct appeal to the government of Qatar to invest in the troubled building, The Intercept reported.

A month later, when a coalition of Persian Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates organized a blockade of Qatar, Kushner was among its most vocal U.S. supporters. According to NBC News, some Qatari officials believed the White House’s position was retaliation for their government’s decision not to make a deal with Kushner’s family.

Fortunately, help for the Kushner family’s financial woes subsequently arrived in the form of Brookfield Asset Management, which acquired a 99-year lease on 666 Fifth Avenue for about $1 billion in April 2018. This miraculous timing allowed the Kushner to pay off its existing mortgage and buy out its partner in the venture, Tornado Realty Trust.

Meanwhile, as my colleague Luke Darby noted at the time, although Kushner has purportedly recused himself from decisions affecting real estate policy, Ivanka has done no such thing. It is a federally-owned building on the National Register of Historic Places, which means the president is, in a manner of speaking, now acting as his own landlord on the lease.

The property has become notorious for attracting members of Congress, lobbyists, Cabinet officials, interest groups, foreign heads of state, and anyone else looking to curry the president’s favor. In July, the Washington Post reported that an Iraqi sheikh, a few months after writing to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-national security advisor John Bolton to suggest a tougher position on Iran, spent 26 nights on an eighth-floor suite.

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Traveled to India in an effort to sell more than $1 billion worth of luxury residential units built there by the Trump Organization and its partners. Have you?” Rajiv Bans, a salesman at one of the properties, predicted that the younger Trump would have little trouble moving the inventory on his whirlwind tour of the region.

On a pair of calls this summer, two notorious Russian pranksters fooled the senator into thinking he was working toward a deal with the Turkish defense minister. Donald Trump has long enjoyed presenting himself as a self-made man, claiming the real estate portfolio that brought him wealth and fame is the product of hard graft and vision, nothing more.

Frederick Christ Trump (yes, you read that right) built up a huge property empire in the mid-20th century, incorporating 27,000 apartments and row houses in the New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, while the young Donald was raised in a 23-room, nine bathroom mansion in the leafy middle-class suburb of Jamaica Estates, making a nonsense of his claim to have sprung from hardship. Fred was born in 1905, the son of German immigrant Frederick Drum pf (a family name the satirist John Oliver has delighted in), who had arrived in New York on 19 October 1885 from Hallstatt via Bremen, a 16-year-old seeking to evade military conscription.

Drum pf initially settled in the Big Apple before relocating to Seattle and then moving on to the Yukon Territory to take part in the Klondike Gold Rush, where he operated restaurants serving horse meat and a string of brothels catering to itinerant miners venturing in from the cold. A wealthy man, Frederick married Elizabeth Christ in 1902 and returned to New York where he worked as a hotel keeper and where their son Fred was raised in the Bronx.

Fred Trump started his first business venture at 15 in 1920, building garage extensions to existing houses as the automobile’s future at the heart of American life was becoming increasingly clear. Taking advantage of the Great Depression, when Franklin D Roosevelt’s government was doing all it could to bolster the construction and home financing industries, Fred Trump gradually grew his business throughout the 1930s to the 1950s by borrowing from the Federal Housing Authority and making influential friends among the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

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Donald would recall in his ghost-written business manual The Art of the Deal (1987) that his father would roll up at construction sites after the working day was done and collect stray nails from the ground for his carpenters to use again the next morning. He would also water down paint and manufacture his own disinfectant and cockroach spray to save cash, sending brand samples to labs to determine their ingredients.

Profiled by the trade magazine American Builder and Building Age in 1940, this side of his personality was revealed in depth: “Until last year he never had an office, and carried all his bookkeeping records around in his pocket. A hard-bitten and ruthless man, he would lie about his family heritage, saying his ancestors hailed from Sweden so as not to deter potential Jewish tenants and developed a reputation for turning away black applicants, frequently bringing him into conflict with indignant civil rights groups.

Whereas Trump Sr was largely frugal, although he was vain about his dyed hair in old age, Donald was flashy and flamboyant, vowing to take Manhattan and enter the luxury apartment market, dreaming of building the world’s tallest tower with his name emblazoned on it before turning his eye to the Eastern Seaboard and the gaming tables of Atlantic City, New Jersey. While Fred may not have shared his boy’s taste for ostentation, he approved of his ambition and did not hesitate to bail him out when his Taj Mahal Casino folly hit the rocks in 1991.

“When the TAJ was sinking like Donald ’s own private Titanic, Fred Trump rushed to the casino to buy $3.35m in chips to buoy his flailing child, who used the money to avoid default by making an interest payment he wouldn’t otherwise have had the liquid reserves to meet. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission ruled a year later that Fred Trump had engaged in an illegal loan and that Donald should return it, which would have forced him into instant bankruptcy.

Various news organizations have attempted to estimate Trump's wealth. Donald Trump received at least $413 million (2018 prices) from his father's business empire, the New York Times reported in 2018.

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The Times drew upon more than 100,000 pages of tax returns and financial records from Fred Trump's businesses and interviews with former advisers and employees, finding 295 distinct streams of revenue that Fred Trump created over five decades in order to channel his wealth to his son. Trump is the beneficiary of several trust funds set up by his father and paternal grandmother beginning in 1949 when he was three years old.

According to the New York Times, he “was a millionaire by age 8”, In 1976, Fred set up trust funds of $1 million ($4.5 million in 2019 dollars) for each of his five children and three grandchildren. Donald Trump was also involved in a number of allegedly fraudulent tax schemes.

When Fred Trump sold shares in Trump Palace condos to his son well below their purchase price, masking what could be considered a hidden donation, and benefiting from a tax write-off. A lawyer for Trump denied the allegations, calling them “100 percent false, and highly defamatory”.

A spokesman for the New York State tax department said the agency was “vigorously pursuing all appropriate areas of investigation”. New York City officials also indicated they are examining the matter of Trump's alleged fraudulence.

Upon Fred Trump's death in 1999, his will divided $20 million after taxes among his surviving children. His immense wealth from childhood notwithstanding, Trump has sought to burnish a reputation for business acumen by minimizing the amount of money he received from his father.

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He has acknowledged borrowing just $1 million from his father as a young adult, in a sworn deposition and repeatedly on the campaign trail, calling his loan “a very small amount of money “. Due largely to income received from the show, he paid a combined $70.1 million in federal taxes in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

When he filed taxes in 2009, he declared over $700 million in business losses and, on that basis, he asked for a refund of his federal income taxes paid in 2005–2007. The New York Times said: “He also received $21.2 million in state and local refunds, which often piggyback on federal filings,” and he may be obligated to return those refunds, too.

Trump was listed on the initial Forbes List of wealthy individuals in 1982 as having a share of his family's estimated $200 million net worth. Former Forbes reporter Jonathan Greenberg said in 2018 that during the 1980s Trump had deceived him about his actual net worth and his share of the family assets in order to appear on the list.

After several years on the Forbes List, Trump's financial losses in the 1980s caused him to be dropped from 1990 to 1995, and reportedly obliged him to borrow from his siblings' trusts in 1993; in 2005, The New York Times referred to Trump's “verbal billions” in a skeptical article about Trump's self-reported wealth. At the time, three individuals with direct knowledge of Trump's finances told reporter Timothy L. O'Brien that Trump's actual net worth was between $150 and $250 million, though Trump then publicly claimed a net worth of $5 to $6 billion.

Claiming libel, Trump sued the reporter (and his book publisher) for $5 billion, lost the case, and then lost again on appeal; Trump refused to turn over his unreacted tax returns despite his assertion they supported his case. In April 2011, amid speculation whether Trump would run as a candidate in the United States presidential election of 2012, Politico quoted unnamed sources close to him stating that, if Trump should decide to run for president, he would file “financial disclosure statements that show his net worth in excess of $7 billion with more than $250 million of cash, and very little debt”.

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Forbes believed his claim of $9billion was “a whopper”, figuring it was actually $4.1 billion. In June 2015, Business Insider published Trump's June 2014 financial statement, noting that $3.3 billion of that total is represented by “Real Estate Licensing Deals, Brand and Branded Developments”, described by Business Insider as “basically that Trump values his character at $3.3 billion”.

Forbes reduced its estimate of Trump's net worth by $125 million following Trump's controversial 2015 remarks about Mexican undocumented immigrants, which ended Trump's business contracts with Universal, Univision, Macy's, Serra, pH Corporation, and Pyromania. In 2016, Forbes estimated Trump's net worth at $3.7 billion.

During the three years after Trump announced his presidential run in 2015, Forbes estimated his net worth declined 31% and his ranking fell 138 spots. Discrepancies in estimates of various organizations is due in part to the uncertainty of appraised property values, as well as Trump's own assessment of the value of his personal brand.

In its 2018 billionaires ranking, Forbes estimated Trump's net worth at $3.1 billion (766th in the world, 248th in the U.S.). In its 2019 billionaires ranking, Forbes estimated Trump's net worth at $3.1 billion (715th in the world, 259th in the U.S.) as of 5 March 2019 .

In July 2015, federal election regulators released new details of Trump's self-reported wealth and financial holdings when he became a Republican presidential candidate, reporting that his assets are worth above $1.4 billion, which includes at least $70 million in stocks, and a debt of at least $265 million. According to Bloomberg, for the purposes of Trump's FEC filings Trump “only reported revenue for golf properties in his campaign filings even though the disclosure form asks for income”, noting independent filings showing all three of his major European golf properties were unprofitable.


Trump is a leaseholder, not owner, of the land beneath 40 Wall Street. Other outstanding Trump mortgages and debts are pegged to current market interest rates.

A 2012 report from Trump's accounting firm estimated $451.7 million in debt and other collateral obligations. Filings in 2015 disclosed debt of $504 million, according to Fortune magazine.

Trump's outstanding debt was at least $650 million in August 2016, in addition to an outstanding loan of $950 million to the Bank of China and Deutsche Bank (among other creditors) on 1290 Avenue of the Americas, in which Trump is a minority owner. In April 2020 it is reported Trump is tens of millions of dollars in debt to China.

The debt includes $211 million from the state-owned Bank of China, which matures in 2022. Trump and his family reported more than $500 million of income in mid-2018 financial disclosure forms.

A July 2015 campaign press release, issued one month after Trump announced his presidential run, said the FEC filing “was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump's massive wealth” and that his net worth is “in excess of ”. But in September 2020, the New York Times noted that “he is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million, with most of it coming due within four years” and no obvious way to repay them.

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Trump has a total of over $1 billion in debts, borrowed to finance his assets, reported Forbes in October 2020. Around $450 million was owed to unknown creditors, due to loans related to his properties of 1290 Avenue of the Americas and 555 California Street.

In addition, Trump owes over $50 million to Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC, a company he owns, which would indicate that this company is worth over $50 million; however Trump has not disclosed any value for this company on his financial disclosure report. Overall, Trump's assets still out value his debts, reported Forbes.

On the same day, Trump's own stated estimates of his net worth have varied by as much as $3.3 billion. Trump has also acknowledged that past exaggerated estimates of his wealth have been “good for financing”.

A subsequent analysis in The Washington Post similarly noted that Trump's estimated net worth of $100 million in 1978 would have increased to $6 billion by 2016 if he had invested it in a typical retirement fund, and concluded that Trump is a mix of braggadocio, business failures, and real success.” On May 10, 2019, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal subpoenaed the Treasury Department and the IRS for six years of Trump's tax returns.

Seven days later, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to comply with the subpoenas. On May 20, 2019, President Trump lost an unrelated lawsuit in which he sought to stop his accounting firm, Majors USA, from complying with a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee for various financial records.

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The ruling against Trump was issued by Judge Amit Meta of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, who also denied the president a stay of the ruling pending any future appeal. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York issued a ruling which again found that the lower court had acted properly in upholding the congressional subpoenas for Trump's financial records, but this time also ordered for Deutsche Bank and Capital One to cooperate in releasing the financial records as well.

On July 9, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that Trump cannot continue to keep his financial records secret, but ruled they should instead be given to a Manhattan District Attorney rather than the U.S. House of Representatives. In May 2019, both houses of the New York State Legislature, which is based in Trump's native and business home of New York, approved a bill which allows the state's tax commissioner to release any state tax return requested by the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation for any “specific and legitimate legislative purpose”.

According to a 2019 study in the journal Political Behavior, many voters who perceived Trump as a keen businessman and the right choice for the presidency changed their opinions when given the knowledge that he inherited a lot of his money from his father. In the first decade of the 2000s, he gave away $2.8 million through the foundation (though he had pledged three times that amount).

He stopped personally contributing to the foundation in 2008, though he accepted donations from others. It was facing a civil lawsuit by the New York attorney general that alleged “persistently illegal conduct” including self-dealing and funneling campaign contributions.

Furthermore, it had never been properly certified in New York and did not submit to the annual audit that would have been required. ^ a b c Bar stow, David ; Craig, Susanne ; Better, Russ (October 2, 2018).

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Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father”. Trump's false claim he built his empire with a 'small loan' from his father”.

^ Campbell, Jon; Spector, Joseph (October 3, 2018). “New York could levy hefty penalties if Trump tax fraud is proven”.

^ “New York Regulators Examine the Trump Family's Tax Schemes”. “Fred C. Trump, Postwar Master Builder of Housing for Middle Class, Dies at 93”.

Trump's false claim he built his empire with a 'small loan' from his father”. Trump In Deposition: $1 Million I Borrowed From Dad's Estate A “Small Amount ".

^ Costa, Robert; Gold, Mate (June 15, 2015). “ Donald Trump will declare $9 billion in assets as he reveals 2016 plans”.

“As Trump Files FEC Disclosure, He Raises Claimed Net Worth To $10 Billion; Forbes Disagrees”. Trump Is Richer in Property and Deeper in Debt in New Valuation”.

The gap between... is largely attributable to differences in how the two publications appraised individual properties. ^ Donald Trump wealth details released by federal regulators”.

^ Trump attack on Biden highlights president's own past dealings with China”. ^ Trump owed tens of millions to Bank of China”.

Lewandowski, Corey R. ; Hicks, Hope (July 15, 2015). “ Donald J. Trump Files Personal Financial Disclosure Statement With Federal Election Commission” (PDF).

Ale sci, Cristina ; Frankel, Laurie; Saudi, Jeanne (May 19, 2016). “The government just released a document detailing Donald Trump's alleged $10 billion fortune”.

Donald Trump Has At Least $1 Billion In Debt, More Than Twice The Amount He Suggested”. Donald Trump Claims His Wealth Exceeds 'TEN BILLION DOLLARS “.

Mr Trump's performance has been mediocre compared with the stock market and property in New York. “The myth and the reality of Donald Trump's business empire”.

“House Ways and Means Chairman Subpoenas Trump Tax Records”. “Mnuchin Defies Subpoena for President Trump's Tax Returns”.

“Mnuchin defies House Democrats' subpoenas for Trump's tax returns”. Trump loses lawsuit challenging subpoena for financial records”.

^ “Judge rules against Trump in fight over president's financial records”. Trump loses lawsuit challenging subpoena for financial records”.

Benjamin Weiser & Adam Lipton, Trump Taxes: Appeals Court Rules President Must Turn Over 8 Years of Tax Returns, New York Times (November 4, 2019). ^ “Banks Must Provide Trump's Financial Records To Congress, Federal Appeals Court Rules”.

“Supreme Court Rules Trump Cannot Block Release of Financial Records”. “Supreme Court says President Trump cannot keep tax, financial records from prosecutors”.

^ McDonald, Jared; Karol, David; Mason, Lillian (January 9, 2019). “ “ An Inherited Money Dude from Queens County”: How Unseen Candidate Characteristics Affect Voter Perceptions”.

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