Apr 20, 2018

Ex-Forbes writer: Trump lied his way to Forbes 400

Donald Trump speaking at a joint press conference. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump claimed he owned most of his father's real estate empire in the 1980s and posed as an aide named 'John Barron' to ensure he earned a spot on the Forbes 400 list, former Forbes writer Jonathan Greenberg alleges in a Washington Post editorial.

Flashback: Trump used the alter-ego of Barron in the past when posing as a public relations representative, and it's not the first time Trump has been cited as inflating his wealth.

The backstory: Forbes valued Trump's holdings at $200 million, but he claimed they were worth $1 billion. Trump made multiple efforts to convince Greenberg over the phone, sometimes through representatives, and Greenberg recorded those conversations.

The juiciest excerpts:

  • Trump posing as "John Barron": "When I recently rediscovered and listened, for first time since that year, to the tapes I made of this and other phone calls, I was amazed that I didn’t see through the ruse."
  • Trump's true valuation: "In our first-ever list, in 1982, we included him at $100 million, but Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million — a paltry sum by the standards of his super-monied peers..."
  • His stake in Fred Trump's business: "It would be decades before I learned that Forbes had been conned: In the early 1980s, Trump had zero equity in his father’s company."
  • Trump's actual assets: "They found that he had an income of about $100,000 a year, while his 1979 tax returns showed a $3.4 million taxable loss. Trump’s personal assets consisted of a $1 million trust fund that Fred Trump provided to each of his children and grandchildren, a few checking accounts with about $400,000 in them and a 1977 Mercedes 450SL."
  • A glimpse at today: "In 2016, Trump’s presidential campaign put out a statement saying the candidate had a net worth “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.” But he has never released his tax returns..."

Go deeper: The audio conversations between Greenberg and Trump.

Go deeper

The view from the other side of the coronavirus peak

We'll soon be crowding into cafes it's 1954 in Rapallo, Italy. Photo: LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

Europeans and Americans are desperate to move beyond the worst of the crisis and return to something approximating normality, but the World Health Organization is cautioning that moving too fast will undermine the sacrifices made so far.

Where things stand: Nearly every country on Earth is still seeing their caseload increase, and a recent uptick in Singapore shows that apparent victory over the virus can be fleeting. But several countries are providing reason for optimism.

Go deeperArrow7 mins ago - World

God and COVID-19

Alone at the Western Wall. Photo: Guy Prives/Getty Images

Few aspects of life bring as many people together as religion.

Why it matters: In most crises, that is a blessing. In a pandemic, it can be dangerous.

Go deeperArrow17 mins ago - World

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,587,209 — Total deaths: 94,850 — Total recoveries: 353,291Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 456,828 — Total deaths: 16,294 — Total recoveries: 25,119Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide by today if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  6. World latest: Boris Johnson is moved out of ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  7. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  8. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return to the air this weekend with a remotely produced episode.
  9. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.