Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, researcher, and writer David Cay Johnston followed President Donald Trump’s finances throughout his business reporting career. He’s far from surprised about some of the findings featured in a bombshell report from The New York Times.
During an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Johnston called the president a fraud, liar and questioned the self-described billionaire’s status.
“What they show is that Donald Trump is a serial tax cheat,” Johnston said Tuesday. “Under the law, if you do something one time it’s not a crime. But they did it over and over and over and over again. They even cheated poor people. They quote testimony by Robert Trump about how they inflated the prices paid for refrigerators and stoves in rent-controlled apartments and marked it up so that they could cheat poor people by making them pay more in rent. You can dislike rent control laws, but there’s no moral person who steals from the poor.”
Johnston referenced some of The Times findings that detailed how the Trump family laundered funds into the president’s now-defunct casinos and through a shell company that claimed to sell building supplies at a dramatic markup.
“The Trumps see nothing wrong with this,” Johnston said. “And these deals are egregiously large in their size. In some cases, they told the tax authorities that properties were valued at 6 percent of their actual value. Six percent — a 94 percent discount!”
He echoed what others have said about the statute of limitations being up on criminal charges, but that civil charges are still possible under the state of New York or the IRS.
“There is a six-year statute of limitations both federal and state. There are some exceptions, but I don’t think we’re going to see that,” Johnston continued. “There is no, however, the statute of limitations on civil fraud and there is no reason for the state of New York and the federal government to do anything except go after Donald Trump and his siblings for tax cheating.”
He also noted that Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Berry sits on the federal bench in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. She’s heavily implicated in these charges.
“I think she should immediately remove herself from the bench. We should not have a tax cheat in the White House or on the federal bench,” he said.
Johnston has long argued that Trump was lying about his wealth and inflating it. Not only was Trump found to have lied about scoring only a $1 million loan he had to pay back to his father with interest. That number is a little closer to $400 million he never had to pay back.
“Donald the candidate told everyone he was worth 10 billion. He was actually worth 4 billion. I shout and others have that the financial statement he filed is grossly misleading,” Johnston said. “It overstates assets left and right. He is not required, as he himself said in 2015, to report all of his debts. There is not now and there never has been a scintilla of verifiable evidence that Donald Trump is or ever was a billionaire. He’s not a businessman. He’s a cash extractor.”
Watch the full commentary below: