CNN hosts and guests reacted with glee when The New York Times published tidbits about President Trump’s tax returns from 1985 to 1994. CNN Tonight host Don Lemon branded the President “our con man in chief” while The Art of the Deal co-author Tony Schwartz slammed him as a “sociopath.”
As the tax returns showed that President Trump suffered enormous losses during that time period and paid little to no income tax because of it, Lemon opened his show Tuesday night by trashing Donald Trump: “The President of the United States is a fraud and a con man, and the fraud and the con is on us, the American people.” Lemon highlighted President Trump’s financial troubles in an effort to contrast them with his portrayal of himself as a “very successful” businessman.
If Lemon had bothered to do his homework, he would have found out that this Earth-shattering news has been out in the open for a long time. The New York tabloids heavily covered Trump’s financial woes and Trump himself admitted on the pilot episode of The Apprentice that “it wasn’t always so easy. About 13 years ago, I was seriously in trouble. I was billions of dollars in debt.”
In spite of his past difficulties, even The New York Times had to admit that President Trump turned his financial situation around. So, Lemon’s premise that President Trump was lying about his success is just not true.
CNN’s obsession with President Trump’s decades old tax returns continued on Wednesday night. During an appearance on Anderson Cooper 360, Schwartz said that if he could rename The Art of the Deal, he would call it The Sociopath. After host Anderson Cooper called the President “literally the biggest loser in the American economy for a number of years,” Schwartz implied that President Trump evaded taxes.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Tuesday’s edition of CNN Tonight is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CNN Tonight With Don Lemon
DON LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I am Don Lemon. Are you listening? The President of the United States is a fraud and a con man, and the fraud and the con is on us, the American people. Now we know why the President wants to keep his tax returns hidden and it’s not because he’s under audit. Audit, Schmaudit. It turns out Donald Trump is our con man in chief, and his biggest con was pulling the wool right over your eyes, convincing the voters that he would be the best dealmaker ever in the White House. So, here’s our breaking news right now, and it is stunning, except for maybe the people who knew him. The man who ran for President on his reputation as a billionaire business genius was a really, really, really lousy businessman; literally the worst businessman in the country. I’m speaking the truth here. Read, read The New York Times report. In 1990 and 1991, Donald Trump lost more than a quarter of a billion dollars each year, a quarter of a billion a year. That is more than double the losses of the nearest taxpayers in IRS records. The New York Times analyzed previously unreleased figures from Trump’s federal income taxes, his returns from 1985 to 1984. And here’s what they found. That during those years, Trump lost a staggering $1.17 billion, 1.17 billion on his casinos, on his hotels, retail spaces and apartment buildings. Casinos, casinos losing money? You know what they say about gambling, casino gambling, right, the house always wins? Well, not always. Not if it’s a Trump casino. Come on. Who loses money at a casino except for the person gambling? Not the owner. Here’s another way of looking at it. Donald Trump received about $4.13 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, 413, $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. And in just ten years, in just ten years, he managed to lose nearly three times that amount. Great businessman. But it’s not just all about the money he lost, though that’s more than most of us could even imagine. It is this. Trump lost so much money. He lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of those ten years. Can you imagine if you didn’t have to pay income taxes for eight years? That would be awesome, right? If you’re a bad businessman, I guess you can do that. So, President Trump, who claims to have pushed through the biggest tax cut in history, which by the way is not true, okay, he didn’t pay a penny in income taxes for eight years. And the really incredible bit of irony, do you know what else happened during those years? Specifically, 1987, it was right after this. It was right when The Art of the Deal came out, this book that Donald Trump claimed to have written even though we know that he didn’t actually write this. Journalist Tony Schwartz did, he’s told us before, the book that was supposed to unveil all the secrets to his business success, Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz. Which, as it turns out, fantasy, all of it. I want you to listen to this. This is from page 58. If you have it, read along. And I quote here. It says “the final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular.” Did you hear that? They want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. Biggest tax cut. I hired the best people. I have the greatest success. Where have you heard that? And he says, I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration and a very effective form of promotion, and you bought it. Congratulations. He may call the truth hyperbole; I call it a con and a fraud with the evidence to back it up. And speaking of con, there is this, page 60. Follow along in your notebooks here, in the book. “You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.” Is that a self-fulfilling prophecy? Yeah. People will eventually catch on; like right, right now. So, let’s go to page 46. Okay? And here’s a quote. “I like thinking big. I always have. To me, it’s very simple: if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big.” “Because I’m good enough, smart enough and dog gone it, people love me.” Think big; big like $1.17 billion in business losses. That’s kind of big, don’t you think? Huge. Donald Trump has just been conning us all along, people. Own it. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you whether the President of the United States is conning you. The spinning. He’s been spinning the fantasy that he was a model of success.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I’m Donald Trump. I wrote The Art of the Deal. I didn’t need to do this. You know, I built a great company, one of the great companies. I enjoyed my life. I could have enjoyed the fruits and benefit of years of successful business deals and businesses. I was a businessman, very successful. I’ve always loved business. I’ve always been very successful at making money. I’d buy things that would fail and I’d turn them around and make them successful. And I’ve been good at it and that takes a certain ability. I say, not in a braggadocious way, I’ve made billions and billions of dollars. I’m really rich. I’m very rich. I built an unbelievable company. The money you’re talking about is a lot. But it’s peanuts for me. I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone. They thought I wouldn’t file because they said, well, he’s probably not as rich as people think. I was very successful. Thank you. I built an extraordinary business on relationships and deals that benefit all parties involved, always. Believe me, folks, I know what I’m doing. I know what I’m doing.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
LEMON: Only I can fix this. And his TV career was all part of the fantasy, the fantasy that he had all the money and the power. The fantasy that all he had to do to make a problem go away was say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You’re fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: This is a problem that Donald Trump cannot just fire away. The Times reports the information contained in his returns came from someone who had legal access to them. So that means somebody out there knows a whole lot about the President’s taxes, and now they’re talking. Got to be rocking the West Wing right now, perhaps the residence. Just imagine what else is out there. Imagine what is in the returns he is still fighting to keep under wraps. Imagine what the con man in chief is thinking right now. More to come, a lot more, on Donald Trump’s tax news. From the airline he bought in 1989 that never once made a profit to the casino he opened a year later that was drowning in debt.