Perhaps no reporter has done so much to hold Donald Trump’s feet to the fire regarding his con-artist promises than David Farenthold of the Washington Post. Remember when Trump ran crying like a baby from the Iowa debate with Megyn Kelly in the primaries, and used as his excuse a hastily slapped together fundraiser for veterans? Trump claimed he had given $1 million of his own money to the veterans — and months later, Farenthold showed Trump had lied, forcing Trump to actually donate the money Trump had falsely claimed to have given.
Today, Farenthold has a new comprehensive article that represents months of research on the topic of Trump’s alleged philanthropy. By now, if you have been paying attention, you won’t be surprised to learn that Farenthold’s report shows that Trump a) is cheap and ungenerous; b) consistently tries to portray himself as generous when he is not; and c) tends to make sure that what little charitable giving he does make, benefits him personally.
For as long as he has been rich and famous, Donald Trump has also wanted people to believe he is generous. He spent years constructing an image as a philanthropist by appearing at charity events and by making very public — even nationally televised — promises to give his own money away.
It was, in large part, a facade. A months-long investigation by The Washington Post has not been able to verify many of Trump’s boasts about his philanthropy.
Instead, throughout his life in the spotlight, whether as a businessman, television star or presidential candidate, The Post found that Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given — or claimed other people’s giving as his own.
I’m sure the Trumpers will react to this article by saying Hillary’s self-dealing is on a grander scale. You know what? Some of Trump’s B.S. is on a large scale, such as his attempt to get out of paying the $1 million to the vets, or to get out of donating millions from “The Apprentice” or “Art of the Deal” to charities as he promised to. But some of it is pathetic and laughably small — and I don’t think it’s to his credit that he grifts on a small level as well as on a grand scale. It just shows his grifting is so habitual that he’ll grift $100 here or even $7 there (oh yes! $7! you’ll see!), just because that’s what he does.
I could tell story after story from this article, but the self-dealing from the Trump Foundation amuses me the most, because it is so penny-ante and makes him look like such a small man. Trump promised to donate his money from the “Art of the Deal” “to the homeless, to Vietnam veterans, for AIDS, multiple sclerosis” — you know, anything that sounded good.
But, of course, he reneged — as he always does:
So in 1987, Trump signed the forms to incorporate the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The paperwork warned that he could not use the charity’s money to help political candidates. Nor could he use it for the benefit of “any member, trustee, director or officer” of the charity.
That first year, Trump made himself president.
He put in $144,050.
Then he used $100 of the foundation’s money to buy a two-person membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Oh, it gets pettier than that, too! Trump used the Trump Foundation as a piggy bank to pay his son’s $7 Boy Scout registration:
New findings, for instance, show that the Trump Foundation’s largest-ever gift — $264,631 — was used to renovate a fountain outside the windows of Trump’s Plaza Hotel.
Its smallest-ever gift, for $7, was paid to the Boy Scouts in 1989, at a time when it cost $7 to register a new Scout. Trump’s oldest son was 11 at the time. Trump did not respond to a question about whether the money paid to register him.
See? It was force of habit. If there was anything he could possibly justify calling charity, he would write a check for it from the Trump Foundation.
Trump’s characteristic streak of cruelty is also evident at points in the article, such as in this anecdote:
In 1997, for instance, he was “principal for a day” at a public school in an impoverished area of the Bronx. The chess team was holding a bake sale, Hot & Crusty danishes and croissants. They were $5,000 short of what they needed to travel to a tournament.
Trump had brought something to wow them.
“He handed them a fake million-dollar bill,” said David MacEnulty, a teacher and the chess team’s coach.
The team’s parent volunteers were thrilled.
Trump then gave them $200 in real money and drove away in a limousine.
Why just $200?
“I have no idea,” MacEnulty said. “He was about the most clueless person I’ve ever seen in that regard.”
The happy ending, he said, was that a woman read about Trump’s gift in the New York Times, called the school and donated the $5,000. “I am ashamed to be the same species as this man,” MacEnulty recalled her saying.
That’s about how I feel, too. What a comically awful person.
If your reflex is to say oh yeah well what about Hillary Clinton?!?! then fine . . . but you’re missing my point. I’m not writing a brief for Hillary Clinton here. I’m making the case that we, as Americans, need to figure out how we got ourselves into a situation where we have two choices this wretched. No matter for whom you cast your single and (sorry, it’s true) almost certainly inconsequential personal vote on November 8, we have to be clear-eyed about the system that brought us two such morally defective candidates. In considering this question, it is critical that we not impatiently brush aside the problems of our preferred candidate.
You want to vote for Donald Trump because you think Hillary Clinton is worse? That’s fine with me.
But Donald Trump is human filth. Let’s not pretend otherwise for purely partisan reasons.
Kudos to David Farenthold for doing such a great job revealing it.