Charlatans like Donald Trump don’t spring from nowhere. They have antecedents — pasts replete with flimflamming trickery, boasts and lies. Take what happened in the year 2007, for example.
Once upon a time in the year 2007, Donald Trump was deposed, and back then he didn’t take the Fifth Amendment. Instead, he opened his stupid mouth and had a stupid thing or two to say about the nature of a defamation suit he brought against a man named Timothy O’Brien.
It turned out that in 2005 Timothy O’Brien dug into the so-called Trump business empire and noticed something very interesting. The size of Trump’s empire (and hence the size of Trump’s personal fortune) was far, far smaller than Trump went around claiming. In fact, Trump overstated his personal fortune by billions of dollars. What’s more, Trump wasn’t anywhere close to being a billionaire. So O’Brien wrote a book about it called “Trumpnation.” And Trump retaliated by suing O’Brien for defamation.
The suit went nowhere, of course, because everything O’Brien alleged in the book turned out to be true and, since Trump was a public figure, Trump had to suck it up. The judge threw out the suit. But before he did, Trump gave a deposition. What that deposition provided was a rare insight into what it’s like when Donald Trump testifies under oath — without resorting to the Fifth Amendment.
When asked by an attorney about his wealth, “Have you ever not been truthful,” Trump replied, “My net worth fluxuates and it goes up and down with the markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even. My own feelings. But I try.”
The attorney, unsure if he heard Trump’s answer correctly, said, “Let me understand that a little. You said your net worth goes up and down based on your feelings?” To which Trump replied, “Yes, even my own feelings, as to where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day …”
So the attorney asked him, “When you publicly state a net worth number, what do you base that number on?” Trump replied, “I would say that it’s my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked. And as I say, it varies.”
In other words, the truth is whatever Trump says it is at the time. And it’s based on his feelings. At the time. So it’s little wonder that the judge immediately threw the lawsuit out.
And it’s little wonder that Trump’s lawyers advised Trump to take the Fifth Amendment when New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office deposed him. The deposition was part of a more than three-year civil investigation into whether the Trump Organization misled lenders, insurers and tax authorities by providing them with deliberately deceptive financial statements. And Trump took the Fifth about that. More than 400 times. His attorneys must have had to work overtime to convince him that the truth had little to do with Trump’s feelings.
There are eight million stories in the naked city of Donald Trump’s infamy, lies and deceptions. This has been one of them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.