Remember when the juiciest follow-the-money stories about President Donald Trump were his six bankruptcies? Gosh, that seems like a 100 years ago. Now we run out of fingers counting the serial money scandals of our 45th president. Here's a laundry list to help put this wheeling, self-dealing presidency into perspective:
1. All of us remember Trump University — the first real look behind Trump's Wizard of Oz curtain. The sham "university" came to light with dozens of fraud lawsuits from conned students and the state of New York. The same president who said he never settled lawsuits ultimately reached a $25 million settlement to repay victims.
2. Then came the campaign hush money payments paid to women — a porn star and a Playboy bunny — to keep them quiet ahead of the election about the affairs they said he had with them. The indictment charging Trump's attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, with campaign violations and lying named the president as the person who supervised and ordered the commission of those felonies. The indictment referred to Trump as "Individual 1." Cohen, in public testimony before Congress before he went to prison, produced checks signed by Trump and the Trump Organization's executives, that conveyed money to Cohen to pay off the women.
3. Then there are the president's taxes. Although Trump still refuses to release his taxes, The New York Times and other media have managed to obtain a few random pages of his tax returns and piece together — along with publicly available family business records and the president's father's tax records — a pattern showing the president and his siblings over a decade claimed more than $1 billion in business losses in schemes to evade taxes. The Times' 13,000-word, Pulitzer-winning expose was so damning that Trump's sister, a federal judge, retired from her lifetime seat to end an ethics inquiry into her role in the tax dodges, according to The Times.
4. What about the Trump family charity? You might recall that in the run-up to the 2016 presidential primary, Trump boycotted one of the debates and instead held a fundraiser and promised a charitable gift to a veterans' organization. Later a Washington Post reporter, trying to learn why the veterans reported that this donation never materialized, happened on a larger fraud that led to the charity being ordered shut by New York State regulators. Among the findings? The Trump Foundation improperly used $2.82 million received from the fundraiser — money collected from donors intended for charitable uses. Instead Trump used it to pay campaign expenses, to settle lawsuits and even to buy a giant portrait of himself for one of his golf clubs. In November, a New York Judge ordered the Trumps to pay $2 million in damages to settle claims.
5. Don't forget the Trump inaugural committee that accepted foreign funds. Lobbyist Sam Patten pleaded guilty to steering those foreign funds to the inauguration and was sentenced to several years of probation. A full accounting of the inaugural funds remains incomplete.
6. There's also the Trump super PAC, America F1RST, now subpoenaed in connection with the federal charges against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — the compatriots of Rudy Giuliani working in Ukraine to find dirt on a current Trump presidential opponent. Parnas and Fruman are accused of illegally giving $300,000 to the PAC.
7. Last fall, Trump announced that the G-7 Summit this summer would be held at his Doral Golf Resort in Florida — with a multimillion-dollar contract to the Trump Organization. Amid lots of blowback, the Trump administration moved the summit to Camp David.
8. Then with that dust-up seemingly behind him, we learned (thanks to enterprising Washington Post reporters) that our tax dollars were already lining Trump's pockets when the president spends a full one third of his days in one or another of his golf properties. Despite the Trump Organization's assertion that the Secret Service stays free at Trump resorts, it's not true. Instead, Trump's company has billed U.S. taxpayers for Secret Service room-and-board at rates as high as $650 a night, according tofederal records and statements from people who've seen the receipts. Further, according to receipts from 2017 at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 a month to use a three-bedroom cottage on the property, an unusually high rent for homes in that area.
9. And why did Vice President Mike Pence's taxpayer-funded trip for official doings about Brexit in Dublin, Ireland, last year require him to sleep at a Trump resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, — 180 miles and a 40-minute flight from the meeting site? We paid for that, too.
10. We also paid, more than once, for flying military personnel to be instructed to bypass normal military refueling stops and instead refuel and stay over at a Trump-owned property in Turnberry, Scotland — with substantial increases in military lodging costs and military refueling costs at nearby Prestwick Airport. The debt-ridden Prestwick airport was threatening to close, endangering the Trump resort. Not anymore, thanks to U.S. refueling to the tune of at least $11 million.
Whoops. We're out of space. Suffice it to say, these examples indicate that Trump the deal-maker has made America his chump.