Deadbeat

14. He doesn’t pay his bills

During all those years when he oversaw the building of casinos and hotels, DT used an unusual method to rake in as much money as possible: he refused to pay the people who did the actual building. This was widely covered in 2016 but quickly moved off the radar screen, displaced by scandals more recent and more lurid. Now it is getting some press once again, as his second campaign holds rallies in city after city without paying the costs associated with hosting them.

Back in the day, the pattern went something like this: DT arranged for contractors to build or renovate his properties. Although his sense of style leans heavily toward the tacky, he insisted on premium materials and high-quality craftsmanship, especially when it came to features that were readily observed. In other words, the overall effect may be tasteless, but it’s an expensive tastelessness. So, on his orders, the contractors dutifully hired the best woodworkers and metalworkers and painters, sought out the finest carpets and most luxurious appointments, and the properties were built and completed and opened for business. The contractors billed DT but he didn’t pay them, in full or in part. They sued DT. He still didn’t pay them, and he hired lawyers to get him off the hook. The lawyers billed DT but he didn’t pay them. They sued DT. He still didn’t pay them, and he hired new lawyers to get him off the hook with the old lawyers. In the meantime, bank loans came due but he didn’t pay them. He took out new loans to pay off the old loans. The new loans came due but he didn’t pay them. On on and on and on it went, mostly with him staying a step ahead of his creditors.

Of course, he wasn’t able to outrun his creditors indefinitely; six times he was forced to file for bankruptcy. Nevertheless, he emerged from each of these bankruptcies, having found new suckers willing to finance still more unprofitable schemes. Meanwhile, a whole lot of people who try to make an honest living were left in the lurch. Some were obliged to declare bankruptcy themselves. Others lost their livelihoods, settled into downward spirals of debt and despair. Careers, families, lives were destroyed, and it can be said with high confidence that DT never gave them a second thought. To sociopaths like him, people are there to be used. One wonders how many of the blue-collar workers who voted for him realize that he screwed over a whole bunch of people just like themselves. (Psst! He’s doing it again.)

There were other failed ventures over the years, including a pyramid scheme involving nutritional supplements, a made-in-China clothing line, and the infamous Tr-mp University, which defrauded thousands of would-be students who wanted to learn how to succeed in real estate and had imbibed the fiction that DT knows how to do that. They paid thousands of dollars to watch infomercials and hotel-room seminars, then were refused their diplomas until they gave a favorable rating to the company that had just ripped them off. This led to numerous lawsuits. Some students got their money back (it was paid out by a business associate, not DT himself), others were out of luck. DT paid off at least one state attorney general, who promptly dropped her suit. In another suit, DT complained about the ethnic background of the judge.

Predictably, he didn’t start paying his bills after he was elected. As of six months ago, his campaign owed almost $2 million to municipalities for security reimbursement costs for MAGA rallies dating back to 2016. The chances of any of that being recouped are not good. Perhaps the president should start charging admission to those rallies, with a small cut going to the local government. Anyone willing play Russian roulette with Covid-19 at a super spreader event would probably be willing to pay for the experience.

All creditors, foreign and domestic

Since he continues to refuse to release his tax returns, we really don’t know who all DT is in debt to. Has he been repaying some of his business debts by causing the government to do favors for certain individuals? That’s unknown at this time, but if so, it certainly would constitute corruption of a kind not commonly practiced by U.S. presidents. We know he owes a lot to Deutsche Bank, but there may well be other foreign actors as well. That is a national security concern.

Whoever all his creditors are, if history repeats itself, they probably will get stiffed. In any case, routinely and deliberately stiffing people is the sort of unethical activity that presidents shouldn’t engage in. That’s one more reason to return him to civilian life, where at least he can be deposed, sued, and prosecuted, just like anyone else. In another four years, it may be too late.