Donald Trump’s ghostwriter says that he personally watched the then-businessman lose 1 billion dollars over the course of a few years, all while trying valiantly to maintain the illusion that everything he touched turned to gold.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo! News, Charles Leerhsen, ghostwriter of Trump’s book Surviving at the Top, says he had a front-row seat for the entire debacle. And he says that Trump, when told by his subordinates of the day’s losses at his Atlantic City casinos, was mostly “bored out of his mind” with the information.
Leerhsen describes that period of Trump’s life as his “Midas Period” — that is, everything he touched turned to gold, much like the mythical king of Greek mythology — or at least, that’s what Trump appeared to believe. However, Leerhsen says that he never mentioned the words to Trump, else Trump conclude that Leerhsen was suggesting that Trump get into the muffler business.
News broke this week that Trump’s tax returns, obtained by The New York Times, show that Trump lost over a billion dollars between 1985 and 1994 — much of it other people’s money, according to Slate.
And during that time, says Leerhsen, Trump was mostly concerned with fabric swatches.
“Flipping through fabric swatches seemed at times to be his main occupation. Some days he would do it for hours, then take me… to Atlantic City — where he looked at more fabric swatches or sometimes small samples of wood paneling.”
Meanwhile, his businesses were bleeding money, largely through poor management. For example, one of Trump’s subordinates allegedly told Leerhsen that Trump so poorly managed the Trump Taj Majal, in Atlantic City, that if every room were filled every night, the revenue still wouldn’t be enough to cover the monthly payments on the loans Trump took out to buy it. “He made a ridiculous deal,” says Leerhsen.
I'm all for seeing Trump's tax records, but I'm confused as to why it's being portrayed as new or surprising that he endured major financial turmoil in the late 80s / early 90s. Everyone has known this forever. The tabloids covered it breathlessly at the time pic.twitter.com/uQnRMGcNji— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) May 8, 2019
Part of the reason Trump lost so much money, claims Leerhsen, was that banks enabled him. So good was Trump at presenting the image of himself as a shrewd businessman — one who could do no wrong — that banks basically threw money at him.
“The banks seemed to accept the version of him depicted in his first book, The Art of the Deal, which we now know… was entirely invented. They believed it over what they saw on his balance sheets or heard coming out of his mouth, and they never said no to his requests for more money.”
That failure of the banks to see things through left “a failing real estate developer who had little idea of what he was doing and less interest in doing it” owning three New Jersey hotel casinos, a New York hotel, an airline, and a yacht. He would lose all of those things within a decade.
And even then, he was unwilling to admit defeat, says Leerhsen. For example, Trump reportedly passed off the loss of his yacht by saying “I don’t need it anymore.”