Donald Trump loves to talk about his generosity, but it’s hard to tell what’s true given his propensity to inflate his contributions and worth, sometimes, or even often, from nothing.
Spokesperson Hope Hicks said in a statement Monday he has given away “tens of millions of dollars” but she offered no specifics. She said “Mr. Trump continues to be unfairly maligned for his generosity and we will continue to correct the record,” but she did not actually set the record straight.
Sounds familiar. That’s how Republican nominee Donald Trump operates. We have no idea if she meant that Trump gives away other people’s money, which is the money in the foundation bearing his name, or that he personally contributed to charity.
It takes an iron will and dedication to follow a Trump claim through to its inevitably stunningly empty end, because he’s so slippery. He responds to questions with vague superlatives and declarations so bold that the person on the other end can’t help but assume it’s true because who would tell a lie that big.
Who would tell a lie that big? Donald Trump.
Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence (R-IN), told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Monday that Donald Trump has “given away tens of millions of dollars to charitable causes throughout his business life.”
To back this up, Pence offered up a $100,000.00 check to a church in August to help with clean up, according to David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post.
The good news is that this actually happened as verified by Fahrenthold, the bad news is it’s about the only giving that happened. And since it happened after Trump was unable to verify his claim that he had given $102 million over five years, and the Post busted him again as they were unable to verify a SINGLE instance of giving of his own money by Trump, it looks like this $100,000.00 donation was a deliberate attempt to put an end to Fahrenthold’s fierce investigation.
From the Post:
The Post has called 326 charities with connections to Trump, asking if they had received a gift of the nominee’s own money. Between 2008 and this May, that search turned up just one gift, from 2009. It worth less than $10,000.
Fahrenthold also reported “unlike most private foundations — Trump’s charity had been retooled to rely almost entirely on other donors’ money. In fact, tax records show no gifts at all from Trump to the Trump Foundation since 2008.”
Basically Trump gives away other people’s money.
… Or does he.
The Post found that the foundation not only “appeared to have defied tax laws” but “defied laws against self-dealing.” That is to say that the foundation full of other people’s money bought things for Donald Trump.
Things like a $12,000.00 football helmet.
Things a man who is so rich and such a good businessman should be able to buy on his own. Why is Donald Trump using other people’s money in his foundation to buy himself expensive trinkets if he’s so successful. And who does that. This is a troubling insight into the grotesque values that drive Trump.
While many Americans are frustrated with the media, there are people doing extraordinary work. For example, David Fahrenthold is relentlessly dedicated to his investigation into Trump’s donations.
His tireless work tells a story about Donald Trump very different from the story the Republican candidate tells. Donald Trump is the little Oz spending other people’s money and taking credit for it, seemingly using other people’s money illegally to protect himself from investigations even.
This is who Donald Trump really is, and we see this over and over again. It’s the story of his life, as told from the other people in it: Vague claims of ownership, success, wealth and generosity that fall apart under scrutiny. When called on his lies, Trump often retaliates, biting and sniping with the help of expensive lawyers like a scared little dog, hoping his intimidation tactics will shut down the questions.
Journalist Selina Scott found this out the hard way after she exposed Trump as a fraud. “My 60-minute documentary exposed how through bluff, bombast and braggadocio, he had convinced the American business community he was far richer than he was, and that while the rest of his rivals were ‘losers’, he knew how to make the US great,” Scott wrote.
As payback for this revelation of fact, Trump harassed Scott for years with “intimidating” letters, calling her “sleazy, unattractive, obnoxious and boring.”
It’s hard to mark deplorable behavior since Trump has set the bar so low, but this is the mark of a petty, little man.
This pattern of Trump’s behavior is reliable, and as such, any claim he makes should require verification before being accepted as truth. In fact, it’s harder to find claims he’s made about himself that actually stand up under scrutiny than it is to find claims that fail the test of accuracy.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.