White House Correspondents’ Dinner host Michelle Wolf did an entire routine last night about how she thinks Donald Trump isn’t nearly as wealthy as he claims he is. It resonated with viewers so widely that #TrumpIsSoBroke quickly became a trending topic on Twitter as people began chiming in. But others are struggling to wrap their heads around the idea that a guy with billions of dollars in assets to his name might not actually be a billionaire, and might instead be flat broke.
Try it this way. Here’s a quick and dirty method of calculating your own net worth: add up the value of all your assets (home, car, bank account, etc) and then subtract all your debts (home loan, car loan, credit cards, etc). That’s your net worth. If your debts are larger than your assets, then your net worth is negative, even if you have a nice house and car in your name.
It works the same way with people whose assets are in the billions. Earlier this month a former writer for Forbes revealed that Donald Trump lied to him decades ago about what assets were actually in his name, in order to get his name on the Forbes 400 list. That caused investors to mistakenly loan money to Trump under the false premise that he had a large net worth to begin with, thus allowing him to move forward with real estate projects that he never could have otherwise funded. It’s been a shell game all along. When you look at Trump’s infamous six (now technically seven) corporate bankruptcies, you see that he’s always been overextending himself with debt on his various projects, and when the business plan hasn’t gone exactly as hoped for, that crushing debt brings down the entire project.
Donald Trump’s stated assets, minus his known debts, give him a supposed net worth of around $4 billion. But we know he lies about the true value of his assets. And we know he has foreign debts that he has kept secret; we just don’t know how large they are. But let’s hypothetically say that, just to pick two numbers, Trump’s assets are worth $5 billion and his debts add up to $6 billion. That would give him a net worth of negative $1 billion, which is far lower than your net worth. It would mean he’s not a billionaire or a millionaire, no matter how many real estate projects have his name on the building or the paperwork. The beauty of the Robert Mueller investigation is it’ll ultimately prove Trump is flat broke. It’s why he needed Russian money.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report