During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump claimed to be "really, really rich," boasting a net worth of about $10 billion. But according to the author of the New York Times bestselling book Proof of Collusion, not only may Trump not be a billionaire, but he may actually be broke. Trump's often risky behavior both before and since the election indicates that Trump "likely has a negative net worth," according to author Seth Abramson, writing on his Twitter account Saturday.
Abramson notes that in 2016, Trump claimed that he would self-fund his campaign. In fact, as The New York Times reported, most of the money that Trump actually contributed to his campaign was given in the form of reimbursable loans, not donations.
Trump campaign official Corey Lewandowski acknowledged that the campaign actually paid money to Trump's businesses, in the form of "such things as the rent for the headquarters," according to The Times.
Abramson also notes that Trump recently relocated from his lifelong home of New York City, to Florida, "to avoid revealing how much money he has." The state of New York was suing to gain access to Trump's tax returns — though it appears likely that the lawsuit will continue despite Trump's move to Florida, New York's governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Abramson's claim that Trump's behavior shows he is "desperate" for money appears to build on research by Pultizer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston. In his newsletter DC Report last year, Johnston noted that, by the admission of his own lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Trump borrowed $130,000 to pay "hush money" to adult film performer Stormy Daniels in 2016 — and then took four months to pay that relatively small sum back.
"Think of it as one of those 90-days same-as-cash deals that merchants with excess goods offer so they can generate enough immediate cash to pay their bills," Johnston wrote.
The reporter urged his media colleagues to "look hard at whether [Trump's] fortune is really just massive cash flow, not wealth."
Abramson also noted that Trump faces lawsuits over receiving "emoluments" — illegal payments from foreign governments — through his businesses. Receiving emoluments could be an impeachable offense.
In addition, Trump was reportedly "so involved in the inaugural finances that he even wanted to know about tablecloths." But millions of dollars supposedly spent on Trump's January 2017 inauguration remain missing, Abramson says.
"Every. Single. Thing. he does communicates he's wildly in debt and must save every penny he can—and his entire history in business suggests not just that he's insanely in debt but that he has to actually commit crimes to stay afloat," Abramson wrote. "Why would anyone think he has money?