Reporting team that busted Trump's tax secrets crumbles -- thanks to 'wrecking ball' NYT journalist
US President Donald Trump says there is "nothing wrong" with listening to foreign governments offering dirt on his political opponents. (AFP / SAUL LOEB)

In October 2018, The New York Times published a landmark story on how President Donald Trump and his siblings committed large-scale tax fraud in the 1990s to maximize their inheritance.


Even for a story about Trump, who is seemingly invulnerable to financial scandal, it was hugely consequential — among other things, it led to Trump's sister resigning as a federal judge — and the reporters won a Pulitzer Prize for their efforts.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. According to The Daily Beast, the hard-hitting team responsible for the story shortly collapsed after one of the reporters, David Barstow, flouted Times ethics rules to try to profit off the story.

Specifically, Barstow tried to pursue a deal to ghostwrite a book on the story with the anonymous source — which is not allowed by the paper — and at one point even showed up unannounced at the source's house.

Current and former editors of the paper were stunned at this behavior from Barstow, who was the first reporter in history to win four Pulitzers.

"I'm astonished at the idea that any reporter involved in a sensitive investigative project for an organization like the New York Times would attempt to go separately to sources and try and profit from them," said former public editor Clark Hoyt.

Speaking to The Daily Beast, his colleagues agreed that Barstow is a highly skilled journalist, but characterized him as a "wrecking ball" who is difficult to work with in group projects.

Barstow's partners on the Trump story were Russ Buettner, who has been reporting on Trump's finances for three years, and Susanne Craig, who is known for her investigative work into the 2008 financial crisis.