The following is an excellent excerpt from the book “THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP” by David Cay Johnston from Epilogue on page 205 and Acknowledgments on page 211 and I quote: “No book can capture the entire life of someone who has done half as much as Donald John Trump has in his seventy years. Through sheer force of will, he has made himself a household name and left a dramatic mark on both the biggest city in America and a much smaller one along the New Jersey shore. He has reveled in every bit of it.
As I noted in the introduction, I would be writing a book about Hillary Clinton but for the simple fact that in 1988, my career took me not to Little Rock, Arkansas, but to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Others have written books on Mrs. Clinton and I encourage people to read them.
What I have attempted to do here was take my direct knowledge of Trump and the many thousands of pages of Trump documents I’ve collected in my nearly half a century as an investigative reporter, and focus on the aspects of Trump’s conduct that I think are most important for voters to ponder before they cast their ballots in November 2016. In winnowing down all the things I wanted to convey about Trump, I kept in mind two critical lessons for writers generally, plus a third for investigative reporters specifically.
Brevity, first and always, through the use of revelatory details and events, not every detail and every event.
Second, a lesson from F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the most perceptive of American observers: action is character. Throughout this book, I have made reference to Trump’s conduct. We can never truly know his character, but we can examine and assess it based on his actions.
This is why I focused on Donald Trump’s obsession with money and the trappings of wealth, as well as his many comments about women not as equals, but objects, their value measured in particular by the size of their busts and the length of their legs.
That is also why so much of this book is about Trump’s many complex and little-known relationships with criminals–a vast assortment of con artists, swindlers, mobsters, and mob associates, a major drug trafficker he went to bat for, and other unsavory characters. Merely knowing people who are criminals is not the basis for condemnation. I’ve spent many hours of my life with crooked cops, drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, police spies, foreign agents, and other rogues. They have been among the most trustworthy allies. The man the FBI said was the No. 2 hitman west of Chicago once sat in my kitchen, bouncing my then-infant fourth daughter on his knee while I made coffee. He was no threat to me; I was outside the subculture that employed him as enforcer of its rules.
As these pages make clear, Trump’s relationship with criminals were often profitable, sometimes gratuitous, and never properly examined by those whose duty was to investigate.
Third, the skeptical credo of investigative reporters: If your mother says she loves you, check it out. Then cross-check and cross-check again and again until you have the fact bolted in their proper place within the universe of the verifiable. Investigative reporting is about facts that are not announced in press releases or spoken in presidential addresses, but that lurk in the dark crevices of government, business, and human relations. It is a trade in which the calling is to shine bright and focused light into unwelcome places for society’s benefit.
It is not surprising, at least to me, that Trump is always attacking journalists as unfair and banning news organizations from his rallies over something they reported or how they reported it. I was not surprised when he threatened (again) to sue me. His threats help take the edge off most journalism about him. Donald Trump is not a man who tries to understand how others perceive him. Rather, he dismisses those who do not see him as he sees himself. In this he is a world-class narcissist.
While I was working on this book, Steve Weinberg, the former executive director of the training organization Investigative Reporters & Editors, wrote that he considers me among the six best investigative reporters of his lifetime, a judgment I am sure others would dispute. He also wrote that he sees a parallel between Trump and me in that we have both led colorful lives. No one who knows me and knows about Trump would question that.
Trump and I are alike in another way as well, which is one reason I was intrigued from the moment I met him in June 1988: we each do things our own way and don’t have anyone as our boss, as many an editor who has worked with me can attest.
Where we differ is in what we value. Donald Trump is all about money, a love that his conduct amply demonstrates without his constant reminders that he’s really, really, really rich. Or so he says. I value honor. Faced with a choice between the two, just as Trump compelled to choose money, I am compelled to choose honor. Once lost, honor might never be regained; more money can always be earned.
Trump’s love of money is one of many traits that I hope readers better understand after reading these pages. I hope they will evaluate the prospect of a Trump presidency.
In doing as he chooses without regard to the rules that restrict the behavior of others, Trump has made himself a hero to some, a pariah to others. Whether one adores Trump or is aghast, his public conduct should prompt us all to think about what qualities we want in our political leader and why there is so much opportunity for someone like Trump to garner tens of millions of votes. We should ask ourselves why so many Americans are excited at the prospect of someone whose public statements show utter disregard for the checks and balances that buttress our system of self-government–a system that has made America, flaws and all, a beacon to the world for more than two centuries.
Many of the things Trump says he would do if elected are not within the limited powers we grant presidents. Presidents cannot unilaterally spend taxpayer money, cannot impose tariffs on foreign goods, and cannot dictate to corporations where they will invest. They also cannot expect soldiers to follow illegal orders, as Trump has said he would demand, from the use of torture–prohibited by our Constitution and the treaties that are the law of the land–to the killing of innocent civilians, notably the children of terrorists he describes as Islamic (terrorists whom I consider Muslim apostates who describe themselves in their own publications as apocalyptic believers expecting the world to end soon).
Businessmen can, as Trump often does, dismiss people and move on. Presidents do not enjoy that luxury. They must contend with ever-present forces that are not subject to their control. A president cannot dismiss a troublemaking foreign head of state, cannot order Congress to pass laws, and cannot disobey the rulings of judges–not if we are to be a free people, living subject to the rule of law that protects our individual liberties. Yet Trump makes clear that he would do all these things. His vision is, in many ways, not that of a president but of a dictator, as many others have observed in both political parties and beyond America’s borders.
I also hope the reader has grasped the reasons I focused on Trump’s extensive words and public statements about revenge. His clear and repeatedly articulated personal motto is to take that which Jesus said belongs only to God–vengeance. One need not be a believer to notice how at odds Trump’s many statements on religion are with the teachings of the Bible, Old Testament and New, and thus with his claim to be a Christian.
Trump says he does not see any reason to seek divine forgiveness because he has done nothing wrong in his entire life, an oft-made observation so at odds with the most basic teachings of Jesus that I am at a loss to explain any religious leader embracing him. Trump’s own words are aggressively antithetical to the teachings of the New Testament. Now factor in his statements denigrating communion–“I drink my little wine, eat my little cracker”–and his fumbling pronunciation of Paul’s second letter to the believers in Corinth, and weigh them against his claim that he reads the Bible more than anyone else. These are signs of a deceiver.
Trump’s success with voters tells an important story about the deep trouble America is in. His rise illustrates the growing chasm between America’s political leaders and the rest of the country. So does the success of Bernie Sanders, who often drew bigger crowds than Trump during the 2006 primaries.
Both men tapped into a frustration I have chronicled for decades, writing extensively about inequality for many years before it became a household concern. While both Trump and Sanders can rally people, neither has put forth actual policy proposals that could move America from where things are to a fairer, more just, and widely prosperous society. Nothing in their pasts suggests that they have the political skill to wring change from the system if elected to the presidency. Hillary Clinton has the skill, but despite her decades of action on behalf of the less fortunate, it is not at all clear that his is foremost on her political agenda.
Whatever your views, become deeply informed. The Founders believed that knowledge and reason must be the cornerstones of our representative democracy if we are to govern ourselves. So spend time learning and then do your duty as a citizen. Vote.”
David Cay Johnston
July 4, 2016
Rochester, New York
Acknowledgments – “No one practices investigative journalism alone. For nearly half a century, my work has benefitted from the generosity of an astonishing array of people. Cops, file clerks, waitresses, drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and spies, as well as professionals and professors and executives in business, government, and nonprofits. Quite a few were successful business owners. Many of these sources took risks to get information to me, trusting that I would make the best use of it for the public good.
This book draws on help from many people during my early three decades of observing Donald Trump and collecting Trump documents. My insights about him come in part from a life of deep study in economics and management as well as tax and regulatory law, the principles and theory of which I have been privileged to teach since 2009 at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management. I am not a lawyer, accountant, or MBA. Indeed, I don’t have a college degree, just seven years of full-time study, heavily weighted to upper division and graduate-level courses, including at the doctoral level.
First among the many people whose contributions I must acknowledge is my third daughter, Amy Boyle Johnnston, an artist and author of Unknown Serling, the first volume in her myth-busting study of Rod Serling’s enduring contributions to American culture. Her research skills and grasp of both legal theory and nuances of language were a tremendous help. I appreciate all the time she donated. Her twin brother, Andy, provided reminders about our dealings with Trump.
My eighth grown child, the comedy writer Kate Leonard, offer valuable research and criticism, applying the language skills for the Netflix series House of Cards. My fourth daughter, Molly Leonard, a Canadian lawyer, applied her keen eye to parts of the manuscript. My oldest son, Marke, a lodging company entrepreneur whose insights have been the inspiration for scores of news articles in major newspapers reported by me and others, played a crucial technical role in digitizing thousands of pages of paper files belonging to Wayne Barrett and to me.
Barrett, arguably the best reporter ever in New York City and whom I revere as if he were a big brother, generously made his digitized files available to many journalists doing the important work of vetting the candidate. I also benefitted from Wayne’s deeply informed, unsparing, and wise counsel.
Libby Handross, whose documentary Trump: What’s the Deal? that Donald Trump suppressed with litigation threats in 1991, graciously provided me with early access to the film and advice in tying down key facts. But for a lengthy film proposal that director Tim Burton retained me to write many years ago, I would not have thought through many of the connections that I hope readers of this book find helpful in understanding Trump.
In California, novelist and short story writer Cindy Santos diligently dug through court files, as she did for one of my earlier books. Journalists Dana Kennedy and Danelle Morton gave sage advice on tone and what to leave out.
Dennis Johnson, co-founder with Valerie Merians of Melville House Publishing, and my longtime literary agent Alice Fried Martell were the artists of this book deal. Editors Ryan Harrington and Taylor Sperry helped focus and polish my words in the very fast-paced production of this manuscript. Zachary Gresham performed the vital and often unappreciated work of copyediting, while Holly Knowles created the index, and David Chesanow proofread it all. Alan Kaufman legally vetted my work. Fritz Metsch designed the book’s interior, and Archie Ferguson designed the jacket art, with a simple elegance I love, with art director Marina Drukman overseeing their efforts. Simon Reichely helped keep the production schedule on track. Supervising them all was managing editor Wah-Ming Chang.
This book and my first book, the 1992 casino industry expose Temples of Chance, would not have been possible without the generosity of the late Al Glasgow, a Trump consultant mentioned in these pages; lawyer David Arrajj; Philadelphia Inquirer journalists Bill Marimow, George Anatasia, Mike Schurman, and Bill Sokolic, as well as Dan Heneghan, then a journalist from the Press of Atlantic City; and physicians Marvin Hoffman and Clive Zent. Many other people who asked back then not to name them provided documents and invaluable explanations and insights.
I am grateful to the editors who improved the two dozen columns and articles I wrote for various national publications beginning just days after Donald Trump announced his candidacy: Joe Conason of National Memo, Michael Hirsh of Politico, Jim Impoco of Newsweek, David Johnson of the now-defunct Al Jazeera America, Jill Lawrence of USA Today, Harry Shearer and John Avalon of The Daily Beast, as well as Caleb Silver and Julia Kagan of Investopedia.
As always, my wife, Jennifer Leonard, despite her duties as CEO of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and her tireless advocacy for those born into tough circumstances, gave her unvarnished criticism, as she has throughout a wonderful marriage that after thirty-four years has not lasted nearly long enough.”
(I HAVE READ BOOKS ABOUT HILARY CLINTON AND I’VE ALSO READ BOOKS ABOUT DONALD TRUMP AND HILLARY IMPRESSES ME A LOT MORE THAN DONALD TRUMP, WHO ARE BOTH RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT NOW. SHE HAS AN INCOME TAX PROGRAM THAT WILL KEEP THE GOVERNMENT BILLS PAID, BASED ON ABILITY TO PAY, WHERE THE WEALTHY PEOPLE WILL PAY MORE BUT SINCE THEIR INCOME IS HIGHER, EVERYONE WILL BE CARRYING THEIR FAIR SHARE OF THE TAX LOAD AND SHE WANTS TO CLOSE THE TAX LOOPHOLES. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO CANDIDATES RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT IS THAT HILLARY CLINTON SHOWED HER INCOME TAX RETURNS FOR OVER 30 YEARS WHERE DONALD TRUMP IS STILL MAKING EXCUSES WHY HE CAN’T RELEASE HIS. AFTER READING THE ARTICLE IN SALON BY JEFF HORWITZ OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ON OCTOBER 1, 2016 TITLED “DONALD TRUMP TAX SHOCKER: HUGE LOSSES MAY MEAN HE DIDN’T PAY FEDERAL TAXES FOR YEARS,” WHERE HE LOST ALMOST A BILLION DOLLARS. AND DONALD TRUMP CLAIMED ON TV THAT SHOWS HE WAS A GOOD BUSINESSMAN AND GOING BANKRUPT WAS ONE OF THE WAYS HE COULD GET THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY FOR HIS BAD INVESTMENTS. I LIKE PAYING INCOME TAX. MY GOAL IS TO SUCCEED THE FIRST TIME, WHEN I STARTED FARMING WHICH I DID. I’VE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT HILLARY CLINTON WOULD MAKE A BETTER PRESIDENT THAN DONALD TRUMP. WE ATTENDED A RALLY IN MADISON, WISCONSIN AT THE OVERTURE CENTER ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2016 WHERE SEN ELIZABETH WARREN AND RUSS FEINGOLD SPOKE, WHERE SHE SAID THE WHOLE DEMOCRATIC TICKET IS IMPORTANT, STARTING FROM THE TOP, HILLARY CLINTON, ON DOWN. THIS IS GOING TO BE THE LAST SEGMENT ON DONALD TRUMP. THE SEGMENT’S WE’VE BEEN PUTTING ON HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY EXCELLENT AUTHORS, LEADING UP TO WHAT FINALLY SINKS DONALD TRUMP–HIS BIG MOUTH ON TAPE AND VIDEO LEAVING A BUS BRAGGING ABOUT HIS SEXUAL EXPLOITS TO A FRIEND. NOW, SUNDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 9, 2016, THE TALK SHOWS WILL BE LEADING UP TO THE SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, OCTOBER 9, 2016 BETWEEN DEMOCRAT HILLARY CLINTON AND REPUBLICAN DONALD TRUMP. MY NEXT SUBJECT ON MY BLOG SITE WITH BE SEN BERNIE SANDERS SUBJECT—REGULATING THE BIG INVESTMENT BANKERS AND MORTGAGE FRAUD.
La Vern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Veteran