Jonathan Greenberg, an investigative reporter who used to write for Forbes, has written an extensively documented article for the Washington Post detailing how President Donald Trump once used his alias “John Barron” to lie about his personal wealth.
Specifically, Greenberg says that, while writing up Forbes’ annual list of the 400 richest people in America in 1984, he received a phone call from a Trump Organization official who went by the name of John Barron and who informed him that Trump’s wealth was far greater than what was currently understood.
Although Greenberg didn’t know it at the time, he has now figured out that “John Barron” was actually Trump himself. What’s more, Greenberg says Trump told him a series of whoppers that artificially inflated his wealth beyond its true value.
“It took decades to unwind the elaborate farce Trump had built to project an image as one of the richest people in America,” Greenberg writes. “Nearly every assertion supporting that claim was untrue. Trump wasn’t just poorer than he said he was. Over time I have learned that he should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all.”
Greenberg says that he and his fellow Forbes reporters had long suspected that Trump exaggerated his wealth. However, he also says that Trump’s hyperbole about his net worth had the perverse side effect of making reporters assume he was only stretching the truth — not simply making it up whole cloth.
“This was a model Trump would use for the rest of his career, telling a lie so cosmic that people believed that some kernel of it had to be real,” he writes. “The tactic landed him a place on the Forbes list he hadn’t earned — and led to future accolades, press coverage and deals. It eventually paved a path toward the presidency.”
Listen to Greenberg’s call with Trump posing as Barron below.