Now, suggesting that Clinton uses drugs to enhance her debate performance, insisting she should be jailed, screaming that the evil forces are rigging the election against him, Trump would rather burn it all down than admit he has miserably failed — and is flailing even in some historically safe Republican states.
In Wednesday night’s debate, he refused to condemn the Russian hacks that have compromised the email of Clinton’s campaign manager, the worst foreign interference in an American election the nation has ever witnessed. Trump wouldn’t even accept the consensus judgment of the U.S. intelligence community that Moscow was responsible.
About whether or not he’ll accept the will of the voters expressed at the polls, Trump told the nation, “I’ll keep you in suspense” — the most direct challenge to the orderly transfer of power modern America has ever seen.
Spitting paranoia, dripping with sore-loser petulance, Trump has stoked the fury of the mob in some of his supporters.
A Milwaukee sheriff urged insurrection with the words, “Pitchforks and torches time.”
In North Carolina, Trump ralliers seriously beat a protester.
In Kansas, the FBI busted a militia called the Crusaders for allegedly plotting mass-casualty attacks on Muslims, with one of the accused plotters writing on Facebook, “I personally back Donald Trump.”
In Arizona, the Republic newspaper and its staff were bombarded with death threats after endorsing Clinton.
Donald Trump is ending his campaign in an ever more inflammatory and destructive assault on American democracy. The end of his presidential dreams must come under an avalanche of anti-Trump votes on Nov. 8.
After release of the tape on which Trump boasted of sexual assaults, some Republican Party leaders began, finally, to abandon him. In turn, he announced that he was glad that he was finally “unshackled” to be himself.
Then, as the women continued to come forward, Trump exponentially increased conspiracy theorizing and demagoguery.
“Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors,” he said.
And no one but Trump could tell the American people what’s really going on because the country’s “corporate media” is engaged not only in a conspiracy of silence but in a covert war to elect Clinton.”
The videotape heard round the world confirmed that Donald Trump’s misogyny is even deeper and more repulsive than he had long displayed.
Trump’s boast of forcibly kissing and assaulting women grew from his attitude, expressed often during life, that women are both playthings for sexual desire and creatures fit for evisceration if they stand up to him or fail to meet his definition of beauty.
It was the true Trump — arrogant, demeaning and criminally invasive — who said among laughing male company:
•“I moved on her like a b—h, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married.”
•“I did try and f— her. She was married.”
•“Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
•“Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.”
It was also the true Trump who read a packaged apology while attempting to dismiss his comments as “locker room talk” and thus normal.
Trump’s words were normal — only in that they came from him, a man who defended his worth during a presidential debate by boasting about the size of his penis.
In 1993, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter invited Trump to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — and sat him next to model Vendela Kirsebom, thinking “that she would get a kick out of him.”
Trump “spent his entire time with her assaying the (breasts) and legs of the other female guests and asking how they measured up to those of other women,” Carter recalled.
Kirsebom came to Carter’s table after 45 minutes, “almost in tears, and pleaded with me to move her.”
She called Trump: “The most vulgar man I have ever met.”
Trump repeatedly mistreated women on the set of “The Apprentice,” The Associated Press found after interviewing contestants and crew members.
One contestant recalled Trump asking male contestants whether they would have sex with a female contestant who was present at the time:
“We were in the boardroom one time figuring out who to blame for the task, and he just stopped in the middle and pointed to someone and said, ‘You’d f— her, wouldn’t you? I’d f— her. C’mon, wouldn’t you?’”
Trump’s attitude emerged in front of the cameras, too.
“Must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees,” he smirked to a contestant on “The Apprentice” as she described how she had pleaded not to be fired from the show.
At his California golf course, Trump told managers, according to a lawsuit, to fire women who were “not pretty enough” — ordering, “I want you to get some good-looking hostesses here.”
For women sexually harassed in the workplace, Trump suggested they take the advice he would give his daughter — quit and get another job.
Those who threaten Trump’s alpha-male status are met with vicious treatment.
After Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked Trump about calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,’ Trump said of Kelly:
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” — the unmistakable message being that Kelly must have been menstruating as an explanation for her demanding a straight answer.
When Carly Fiorina was gaining on Trump in Republican primary polls, Trump mocked not her business credentials but her appearance: “Look at that face!”
“Would anyone vote for that?” he asked. “Can you imagine that, the face of our next President?”
When Hillary Clinton criticized him effectively, Trump asked a predominantly male crowd, “Does she look presidential, fellas? Give me a break.”
Since the “Access Hollywood” videotape brought him national disgrace, 11 women have said that Trump made inappropriate sexual contact with them, ranging from unwanted kissing to groping.
A former “Apprentice” contestant says that Trump grabbed her, kissed her, placed a hand on her breast and thrust his genitals at her.
A People magazine staffer wrote that Trump stuck his tongue into her mouth.
A one-time aspiring model says that, in a crowded nightclub, Trump slipped his hand up her miniskirt and touched her vagina through her underwear.
Raging, Trump has denied every story, while attacking the women’s motives and trying to cast doubt on some of their statements by disparaging their appearance.
“Check out her Facebook page, you’ll understand,” he said of one of them.
- Trump the enemy of democracy
At the height of his power as a candidate salesman, Trump told the crowd assembled at the Republican National Convention: “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, will come to an end.”
He has complemented that assertion with the pledge that he will “knock the hell out of” ISIS, and will build a military so strong, “nobody’s going to mess with us anymore.”
Scrutiny of his plans, and Trump’s own words, have given the lie to his cavalier promises.
Some presidential candidates spend decades readying for terrible responsibilities, culminating in having to decide when to send American troops into harm’s way — or even to order a nuclear strike.
Not so Trump, who declared, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do,” and pronounced that the nation’s top brass has been “reduced to rubble” and is “embarrassing our country.”
Even so, Trump has often promised to follow the advice of his generals — after chillingly vowing that he would force military commanders to illegally torture and kill terrorists’ families.
“They won’t refuse,” Trump pronounced. “They’re not gonna refuse me. Believe me.”
In January, Trump told CBS News’ John Dickerson that “you want to be unpredictable” about the use of nuclear weapons — which runs disastrously counter to long-established wisdom that American nuclear policy must be clear to the world.
In March, Trump repeated his conviction that the U.S. must keep the globe guessing as to its atomic intentions.
Months later, in his first general election debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump had yet to grapple with the reality of having his finger on the button.
Asked whether he agreed with U.S. policy that reserves the right to use nukes first in the face of an overwhelming attack, Trump rambled all over the map.
“I would like everybody to end it, just get rid of it. But I would certainly not do first strike. I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table.”
Although nuclear proliferation is one of the most serious threats to global stability, in March and April and May, Trump expressed something between resignation and enthusiasm about South Korea, Japan, even Saudi Arabia acquiring atomic weapons.
Sometimes describing himself as “the most militaristic person there is,” sometimes promising to avoid military entanglements, Trump has bounced between criticizing the war in Iraq and claiming that he would seize all of that country’s oil — an undertaking that would require a massive invasion and troop presence.
On the cusp of his first intelligence briefing as the nominee, Trump ruled out taking advice from U.S. intelligence agencies.
“I won’t use some of the people that are sort of your standards, you know, just use them, use them, use them, very easy to use them, but I won’t use them because they’ve made such bad decisions,” he said.
After the intelligence briefing — which was classified — Trump broke the rules to suggest that he had learned from the briefers’ “body language” that they were uncomfortable with President Obama’s policies.
His assertion drew off-the-record rebukes from the briefers, who said the claim was nonsense.
Global security rests on interlocking alliances, the most important of which is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Since the end of World War II, NATO allies have stood with each other, on the core notion that an attack on one is an attack on all; the principle was invoked in the wake of 9/11, when allies rushed to America’s side in the war in Afghanistan.
Trump sees NATO as just another contract to be broken. Asked whether he would provide military aid to NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania if Russia encroached on them, Trump suggested the U.S. would honor treaty obligations only if an invaded country was appropriately paying into NATO’s budget.
It is little wonder why 50 Republican national security officials wrote an unprecedented joint letter saying that Trump “would be the most reckless President in American history.”
- Trump the misogynist
Every salesman needs a tagline, and Trump’s, emblazoned on red caps, is “Make America Great Again.” But the traditions of governance for which he expresses respect are quintessentially un-American.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has squashed dissent and trampled international law with military power, Trump compared Putin favorably with Obama, saying: “I think in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A and our President is not doing so well.”
The Republican presidential nominee outright invited Russian hackers to conduct espionage in the U.S. by penetrating Hillary Clinton’s email server in hope of recovering deleted emails.
And, despite being explicitly told otherwise by the experts, Trump expressed doubt about U.S. intelligence findings that Russia had hacked into Democratic National Committee computers.
It goes well beyond Putin. Speaking about Kim Jong Un, the ultra-absolutist dictator of North Korea who is starving his own people, Trump said:
“If you look at North Korea, this guy, I mean, he’s like a maniac, OK? And you’ve got to give him credit. He goes in, he takes over, and he’s the boss. It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle. He wiped out this one, that one.”
In July, while musing about longtime Iraqi boss Saddam Hussein, Trump waxed longingly about dictatorial powers:
“He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights — they didn’t talk, they were a terrorist, it was over.”
Trump has a history of thinking this way. In a 1990 Playboy interview, Trump expressed admiration for the Chinese Communist Party’s murderous crackdown on the Tiananmen Square student protest.
“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.”
In perhaps his most frightening show of authoritarian tendencies, Trump has signaled that First Amendment guarantees extend only to speech of his pleasure.
He has revoked campaign press credentials of news organizations that fail to offer him sufficient or consistent praise, and he responded to coverage he perceived as negative — the likes of which Presidents face all the time — with threats of lawsuits and by saying:
“I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”
- Trump the security risk
Most appalling, for five years, in tweet after tweet and interview after interview, Trump proudly led the so-called birther movement that attempted to destroy the legitimacy of America’s first black President by claiming that Obama had actually been born in Kenya.
Trump persisted even after Obama in 2011 produced a long-form certificate proving his birth in Hawaii.
In May 2012, Trump told CNN, “A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate.”
In August 2012, Trump called the certificate “a fraud,” attributing the assertion to an “extremely credible source.”
In August 2013, on ABC News, he mused: “Was it a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.”
And so on and so forth up until Trump’s campaign advisers forced him into a no-apology admission in September: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States — period.”
He accompanied that statement with an all-time Trumpian claim that he had done a public service by prompting Obama to release his birth certificate, plus with a flight into demagoguery: Hillary Clinton had started birtherism.
If this was the only evidence of calculated racial divisiveness in Trump’s campaign, it would be one thing. It is not.
Last year — in one of the many tweets by racial supremacists that he has promoted to 12 million followers of his Twitter account — Trump disseminated the falsehood that blacks kill 81% of white homicide victims. (The actual number is 15%.)
In February, asked on national television whether he would reject the support of former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, Trump said “I just don’t know anything about him.”
He later blamed an earpiece — and said that he disavowed Duke. But the message, the wink and nod, had been sent.
More chilling were images of African-American protesters getting pummeled at Trump rallies, with the candidate himself inciting violence.
With black support as low as 1% in some polls and facing rejection by moderate white suburbanites, Trump this summer began what was billed as an attempt to reach out to black voters — but he did so with racial stereotypes.
“Poverty, rejection, horrible education, no housing, no homes, no ownership, crime at levels that nobody’s seen,” he said, characterizing African-Americans by the social situation of the poor.
“What the hell do you have to lose?” he condescended, blithely unaware that some blacks share the same fears about Trump that some whites do, as well as the possibility of losses particular to many African-Americans, such as a rollback of affirmative action or voting rights.
Trump then went further, claiming “our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever.”
In making that statement, Trump revealed that his concern for African-Americans did not extend to learning about, never mind respecting, fundamental horrors of black life in the U.S. down through the centuries, as well as recognizing post-civil-rights-era economic, cultural and educational achievements.
The tendency to view African-Americans as a group extends to numerous others.
Some Muslims are terrorists. To Trump, all Muslims should be banned from entering the U.S.
The federal judge presiding over a Trump University lawsuit must be biased against him because the judge is of Mexican descent and Trump had characterized Mexican immigrants as criminals.
And rather than distancing himself from the Breitbart News website — which stirs up racist fever-dreams — Trump brought on its CEO as his campaign chair.
Emboldened alt-right Trump supporters have polluted Jewish social media accounts with Holocaust and anti-Semitic images.
As journalist Yair Rosenberg wrote for Tablet magazine, voting for Trump would represent “the mainstreaming of anti-Jewish and anti-minority bigotry into the American government and the country’s political discourse.”
- Trump the authoritarian
The package wrapped around Donald Trump advertises the product within as a man of all the people. His history and true character, revealed over the course of the long campaign, prove otherwise.
Is Trump a racist? The question is unanswerable without prying into the recesses of his brain — yet it is valid in light of a history of racial offense.
As president of Trump Management in the early 1970s, Trump helped lead a company that systematically excluded blacks from renting apartments in Brooklyn and Queens.
So said a 1973 lawsuit brought by the federal Justice Department, built on a foundation laid by a nonprofit group that sent testers to inquire about vacancies.
White would-be renters were welcomed in. Black would-be renters were refused, for the exact same apartments.
A former Trump superintendent testified that multiple Trump Management employees had told him to attach a piece of paper with a letter “c” on it — “c” for “colored” — to rental applications by African-Americans.
After fighting the case for two years, Trump signed a consent decree without admitting wrongdoing but agreeing to change practices to ensure that Trump properties would desegregate.
Years later, the government accused Trump’s company of violating the decree.
“We believe that an underlying pattern of discrimination continues to exist in the Trump Management organization,” the government wrote, providing additional examples of blacks having applications denied — and new evidence that blacks were essentially relegated to a small number of low-quality complexes.
That case was closed in 1982, with no formal finding by a court.
In 1992, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined a Trump Atlantic City property for removing African-American card dealers at the request of a high-rolling white gambler.
And: “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” a former employee at Trump’s Castle told The New Yorker.
Every salesman needs credibility. Trump, who sells himself as a solution to evasive, opaque, corrupt politicians, has behaved worse than the worst of them in keeping his tax returns from public scrutiny.
The Internal Revenue Service audited then-President Richard Nixon in 1973, simultaneous with — but separate from — the Watergate investigation. To quiet criticism with transparency, Nixon released four years of his tax returns.
Since then, every major party nominee in every presidential election has followed suit. Bob Dole released 30 years of returns. Bill Clinton, 12 years. Al Gore and George W. Bush, eight years. John Kerry, 20 years.
Hillary Clinton has released tax returns stretching back to 2000; together, she and her husband have released 39 consecutive years of returns.
Not Donald Trump, who ran a long con about making his taxes public.
In 2011, when Trump flirted with running for President, he pledged to release his tax returns after President Obama released his birth certificate. Obama did so. Trump broke his word.
Four years ago, Trump harangued Republican nominee Mitt Romney to release his returns — then blasted Romney for being slow to put them out.
Trump tweeted: “Mitt Romney didn’t show his tax return until SEPTEMBER 21, 2012, and then only after being humiliated by Harry (Reid)! A bad messenger for estab!”
In May 2014, Trump said if he chose to run for President, “I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely, and I would love to do that.”
In February 2015, before entering the race, Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt: “I would release tax returns.”
Pressed about releasing his returns in the heat of the primary campaign, Trump said on “Meet the Press” last January:
“We’re working on that now. I have big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful and we’ll be working that over in the next period of time.”
In February, Trump predicted that he would release returns “probably over the next few months.”
“They’re being worked on now,” he told NBC News.
Later that month, on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Trump got fudgier: “Well, we’ll get them out at some point, probably.”
Around then, Trump claimed that, sorry, he wasn’t allowed to release his returns because the IRS was checking them out.
“I will absolutely give my return but I’m being audited now for two or three (years) now so I can’t.”
Audit or no, taxpayers are free to lay bare their returns.
Finally, summary sheets of Trump’s 1995 state tax returns authenticated by the New York Times revealed that Trump reported an unfathomable $916 million loss in a single year — a claim that would have enabled him to avoid taxes on massive amounts of income for 18 years into the future.
In the debates with Clinton, Trump admitted that in some years he had paid zero income taxes, declaring, “That makes me smart.”
Has Trump written off his private jet and expensive suits, forcing taxpayers to subsidize his lavish lifestyle?
To whom does Trump owe money? Other documentation shows that Trump carries at least five loans, each over $50 million — one of which is held by a German bank. Does Trump owe other foreign financial institutions?
How much does Trump give to charity, and to whom? Trump’s tax plan would limit charitable deductions.
How do the taxes Trump has paid and the deductions and credits he has claimed match up with the tax plan Trump has offered the country?
Would his reform agenda pad his wealth? It appears to put him in line for a bonanza, while preserving the riches he would presumably pass on to his children.
By keeping his tax returns secret, Trump is asking voters to trust him. Request denied.
- Trump the divider
As American voters began to see through his sales job, Trump latched onto conspiracy theories to gin up hysteria and distract from his defects.
His latest paranoiac ramblings — that the election will be “rigged” — have taken a presidential campaign deep into the fever swamps at the fringes of American life.
He claimed that “that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton,” and supported the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism.
After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in February at the age of 79, Trump intimated that the famed conservative jurist had been the victim of foul play.
“They say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow,” he told radio host Michael Savage.
The candidate, who has made the media into Public Enemy No. 1, has a soft spot for Infowars, an internet radio operation run by Alex Jones, who calls 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing inside jobs perpetrated by the U.S. government to seize more power.
Jones also describes the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre as a “false flag” operation — in which no children were killed. The dead bodies and grieving parents were played by actors, he says.
Appearing on Jones’ radio show in December, Trump said: “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.”
While locked in a primary fight with Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump seized on a National Enquirer report to link Cruz’s father to the John F. Kennedy assassination:
“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot,” Trump asserted.
In March, after the Secret Service stopped protesters from rushing the stage at a rally, Trump tweeted about one of them:
“USSS did an excellent job stopping the maniac running to the stage. He has ties to ISIS. Should be in jail.”
When NBC’s Chuck Todd questioned Trump about the supposed ISIS link, the man who would be President responded with a statement that’s an apt metaphor for his entire mindset:
“All I know is what’s on the internet.”
- Trump the tax evader
Add genius to the marketing of Trump the Product. He boasted during the campaign that he has an IQ that is “very high” and that, with “one of the highest,” he would finally put high-caliber brainpower in the Oval Office.
Yet his statements have revealed that Trump lacks even rudimentary knowledge of American government and world affairs. Worse, Trump — who has asserted that he knows “more about ISIS than the generals do” and similar boasts — doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.
He didn’t know that the U.S. Constitution extends to only seven articles when he told congressional Republicans that he would protect all 12 of its articles. The document has seven sections.
Most middle school civics students know that Presidents sign bills into law and the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether a law is valid in the event of a challenge.
Trump portrayed the court as signing bills — a remarkable statement considering that Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is a federal appeals judge.
Trump has also depicted the Supreme Court as a national inquisitor general rather than the top arbiter of legal disputes. Asked to describe the justices he would nominate for the court, he answered:
“People that would look very seriously at (Hillary Clinton’s) email disaster.”
Looking out toward the world, Trump has been similarly dim.
In March, The New York Times threw Trump this basic test of foreign-policy fluency: “In terms of Israel, and in terms of the peace process, do you think it should result in a two-state solution, or in a single state?”
Responded a clearly clueless Trump:
“Well, I think a lot of people are saying it’s going to result in a two-state solution. What I would love to do is to, a lot of people are saying that. I’m not saying anything.”
He returned after a break with a prepped response: “Basically I support a two-state solution on Israel.”
Finally, Trump expressed utter obliviousness to President Vladimir Putin’s world-defying annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
Putin is “not going into Ukraine,” the candidate predicted well after Putin had done just that.
- Trump the conspiracy theorist
Equally damaging to Trump’s claim to authenticity has been his epic, cynical shifts on almost every significant issue.
Does Trump believe that America was right to wage war in Afghanistan after 9/11?
Last October, he said, “We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place.”
Two weeks later, he said “I’ve never said we made a mistake going into Afghanistan.”
Does Trump support accepting refugees from Syria?
Last September, he said that “on a humanitarian basis, you have to.”
“There’s no question about it,” Trump said. “They’re living in hell, and something has to be done.”
One day later: “I think we should help, but I think we should be very careful.”
Soon, though, he said that admitting even the small number of refugees accepted by President Obama could result in “one of the greatest military coups of all time.” For emphasis, he added:
“If I win, they’re going back.”
Does Trump want to raise the federal minimum wage?
Last year, Trump said he was “sorry to say it, but we have to leave (the wage) where it is.”
In May, he said he was “looking” at a possible increase in the federal minimum, adding, “I’m open to doing something with it because I don’t like that.”
What is Trump’s perspective on abortion?
Although once “very pro-choice,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in March:
“You have to ban” abortion, adding that “there has to be some form of punishment” of women if they were to terminate pregnancies after the enactment of such a ban.
An hour later, the Trump campaign said the issue “should be put back into the states.”
An hour after that, the campaign said “the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”
The following day, Trump told an interviewer, “At this moment, the laws are set. And I think we have to leave it that way,” meaning he would not pursue an abortion ban.
Does Trump want to grow or shrink America’s military?
“I want to build up the military so nobody messes with us,” Trump said last year when asked what he would do first, if elected.
“I would bring it back to where it was at the height because we’re in such trouble.”
Two months later, he urged a cut in spending: “We can do it for a lot less.”
Does Trump want to ban all Muslims from entering the United States?
In December, he urged a “total and complete shutdown” of all immigration and U.S. tourism by the world’s 1 billion-plus Muslims.
After reiterating the policy for months, Trump said he would make an exception for some people, including his “many Muslim friends.”
Then he said that a total ban was “just a suggestion.”
Then he called for suspending immigration “from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies.”
Researchers at NBC News have catalogued Trump’s positions on major issues since the start of the campaign.
They found, as of early October: 18 different positions on immigration reform; 15 different positions on banning Muslims; nine different positions on how to defeat ISIS; eight different positions on raising the minimum wage; seven different tax plans, and eight different strategies for dealing with the national debt.
- Trump the ignoramus
In early polls, the supposed get-it-done outsider cornered the vote of those who crave a no-holds-barred truth-teller, political correctness be damned.
Since then, the Republican Party standard-bearer has proven to be the most extraordinary, if not pathological, liar ever to seek the presidency.
Small, large and in-between, Trump’s standard-issue falsehoods are deliberate and purposeful. He spouts them with bravado even after his facts have been proven wrong. And he has done so for decades.
Writing in Politico this year, former New York Post Page Six editor Susan Mulcahy recalled covering the up-and-coming real estate mogul in the 1980s.
“Trump had a different way of doing things. He wanted attention, but he could not control his pathological lying,” Mulcahy wrote.
“He lied about everything, with gusto,” she added.
In a sworn deposition given in the bankruptcy case for Trump Plaza in 1993, Trump’s own lawyer, Patrick McGahn, testified that attorneys always visited the client in pairs. Why?
“We tried to do it with Donald always if we could, because Donald says certain things and then has a lack of memory.”
McGahn added: “He’s an expert at interpreting things. Let’s put it that way.”
The former journalist who actually wrote Trump’s pride-and- joy biography, “The Art of the Deal,” has an even more damning assessment of the would-be President. Asked what he would title the book today, Tony Schwartz told The New Yorker magazine: “The Sociopath.”
During the campaign, Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact has rated fully 71% of Trump’s statements as mostly false, false, or pants-on-fire false. The Washington Post Fact Checker has given 65% of the Trump statements it reviewed four Pinocchios, its worst rating for truthfulness.
A few of the most egregious among too many to catalog:
He says he was against the war in Iraq before it began. False.
Trump regularly claims that the U.S. is home to as many as 30 million undocumented immigrants. The well-researched estimate is in the ballpark of 11 million.
He insists that the U.S. is the “highest-taxed nation in the world.” In fact, U.S. taxes are in the middle of the pack.
He has described social interactions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that he had spoken “indirectly and directly” with Putin and “got to know him very well,” and that “Putin even sent me a present.”
But in July, Trump said on ABC, “I have no relationship with Putin. I don’t think I’ve ever met him.”
Never was Trump, the steadfast liar, on more vivid display than when he claimed to have seen thousands of Muslims celebrating the toppling of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
No one has ever found the television footage.
- Trump the flip-flopper
While living gaudily, Trump puffed out his chest as a man of great generosity. Not only was he a rich guy, and a tell-it-like-it-is-guy, and the most can-do guy around, he broadcast that deep down he had a heart of gold — when he was selling brass.
Over the years, Trump has announced that he would devote profits from several of his ventures — from Trump Vodka to Trump University — to good causes.
A month after the 9/11 terror attacks, while appearing on Howard Stern’s radio program, Trump pledged to donate $10,000 to the Twin Towers Fund.
Between 2010 and 2015 alone, he claimed to have given away more than $100 million.
“I give to hundreds of charities and people in need of help,” Trump told The Associated Press in a 2015 email.
Almost all of this is false.
At the request of The News, the city controller’s office reviewed donations to the Twin Towers Fund and found none from Trump through mid-2002.
His image as a beneficent billionaire went largely unchallenged until scrutiny during the presidential campaign, led by The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, exposed maneuverings that crossed even into self-enrichment.
While Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns bars a full accounting of his giving, disclosures during the campaign point to the Donald J. Trump Foundation as the main source for his charity.
Trump established the foundation in 1988, ostensibly as the vehicle for making good on a promise to give away proceeds from “The Art of the Deal,” his 1987 business best-seller, Eventually, he extended the pledge to other ventures, including “The Apprentice.”
Official filings show that Trump donated a grand total of $5.4 million cash to the foundation — millions less than those ventures are known to have netted him and millions less than his public charitable pledges.
Since 2009, Trump has not given a cent to the foundation. From that point, it became a funnel for tax-deductible contributions from other charities as well as from business associates, some of whom appear to have given the foundation money that they owed Trump himself for expenses like rent and TV appearances.
At the same time, Trump has exploited the foundation for self-dealing.
In 2014, he drew on it to pay $10,000 for a painted portrait of you-know-who at a charity auction at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida resort and residence.
The foundation also spent $20,000 for Melania Trump to purchase a 6-foot Donald portrait; $12,000 to buy a Tim Tebow helmet at a charity auction; and $258,000 to settle legal disputes and unpaid fines involving Trump’s businesses.
In 2013, the Trump Foundation contributed $25,000 to an organization supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, after Bondi announced she was considering whether to join New York Attorney General Schneiderman’s investigation of fraud at Trump University.
It would be charitable to call Donald Trump a philanthropist.
- Trump the liar
Promising to be “more presidential than anybody other than the great Abe Lincoln,” Trump paired his billionaire outsider appeal with a swaggering demeanor that drew supporters like moths to a flame.
The more they came, the brighter he burned, and the more he craved the cheers of the crowd.
This jones for applause explains Trump’s boastfulness, his reflexive personalization of criticism, his instinct to attack opponents on a personal level, and his slavish devotion to polls — at least when they seem to affirm his power and glory.
During a November debate, when Ohio Gov. John Kasich questioned Trump’s record, Trump sneered:
“I built an unbelievable company worth billions and billions of dollars. I don’t have to hear from this guy.”
Remember, too, that Trump mocked Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as “Little Marco,” branded Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted,” and compared retired surgeon Ben Carson to “a child molester.” Hillary Clinton is, of course, “Crooked Hillary.”
Trump seethed after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Democrats in critiquing him at that party’s convention.
“I wanted to hit a couple of those speakers so hard,” he proclaimed, adding of Bloomberg, “in particular a very little guy. I was going to hit this guy so hard his head would spin.”
The Donald and the Daily News: Trump’s front pages
Famously, Trump has relied on Twitter to unleash a steady stream of juvenile attacks. By The New York Times’ running account, Trump has insulted 274 people, places and things — usually multiple times.
Often, awake in the wee hours of the morning, he has obsessively attacked critics on the most personal terms, portraying the insomniac rantings of an unhealthy psyche as a sign of strength.
Unhappy with their coverage, Trump denied campaign access to The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico and the Huffington Post. Infamously, he mocked the congenital physical disability of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who had questioned Trump’s characterization of an article Kovaleski had once written.
Even more notoriously, Trump ridiculed the parents of Muslim U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan — who was killed in Iraq — after they criticized his call for banning Muslim immigrants.
He lashed out at Navy veteran John McCain, revered for enduring, with high honor, five brutal years as a Vietnam War captive.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump declared of McCain, before modifying his venom to say: “He’s a war hero ’cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”
Trump’s need for unqualified approval — and the high he gets from a whooping throng — are so powerful that he has chased after cheers by musing about violence against peaceful protesters.
“I’d like to punch him in the face,” Trump said of one. About another, he said, “I’ll beat the crap out of you,” adding, “Part of the problem … is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.”
- Trump the fake philanthropist
At the start, among a big field of conventional Republicans, Trump postured as the outsider who had guts to slay Washington, his appeal supercharged by having played the part of brilliant billionaire businessman on the reality TV show “The Apprentice.”
But, as the campaign progressed, real-life Trump emerged as a one-time builder who had dined out for years on fixing a Central Park skating rink while amassing more failures than successes.
Often, he succeeded through unsavory business practices or in deals that left others holding the bag. (When doing business with Trump, be prepared for negotiations to start after he signs a contract.) Quite often, he failed spectacularly.
Trump traces his interest in real estate to his father, Fred, who found success building housing in Brooklyn and Queens. Fred’s paternal influence was extraordinarily powerful — and he seeded Donald’s ambitions with millions in critical early loans.
In the 1970s, Trump leaped brashly into Manhattan real estate, executing projects, such as Trump Tower, with the help of substantial property tax abatements and undocumented immigrant labor.
Today, 17 Manhattan towers bear Trump’s name, only a few of which he owns or built, because he has shifted from executing real estate developments to licensing his name for use on other people’s projects around the globe.
While he hit gold owning golf courses and starring on “The Apprentice,” Trump’s roster of business bombs include Trump Shuttle, Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Mortgage, Trump Magazine and a franchise in the defunct United States Football League.
In the 1980s, Trump dived into the casino business in Atlantic City, when gambling looked like a sure thing. Saddled with debt that exceeded regulatory standards, Trump’s casino companies tanked even when the good times rolled.
Eventually, he led his empire into four bankruptcies that devastated lenders and shareholders — while Trump made sure that he did very well.
“The money I took out of there was incredible,” he told The New York Times in May.
Refusing to pay bills became a standard business practice.
A Wall Street Journal review of court filings from jurisdictions in 33 states found numerous vendors, including a chandelier shop, a curtain maker and a lawyer, who said that Trump’s companies had reneged on paying for goods or services.
Similarly, USA Today found hundreds of vendors who said Trump had failed to pay them, including Philadelphia cabinet-maker Edward Friel, who contracted to build the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars and furnishings at Harrah’s at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.
Trump never paid the firm’s final $83,600.
“That began the demise of the Edward J. Friel Company,” said the business’ accountant.
Most notorious of all: Trump University.
Launched in 2005, the venture promised that Trump’s hand-picked instructors would teach students the master’s real estate investing secrets.
“At Trump University, we teach success,” Trump pledged in a promotional video. “It’s going to happen to you.”
In fact, many of Trump University’s supposed experts had little to no real estate experience, had never met Trump and failed to deliver the promised education.
Still more, the venture defied New York State orders to stop illegally using the word “university” in its name.
Thousands of enrollees are suing after paying from $20,000 to $60,000 for courses that proved worthless to them. In court, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has labeled Trump University a fraud.
Ronald Schnackenberg, a former Trump U. salesman, recalled his experience with one particular target, a couple including a man who was on disability:
“After the hard-sell sales presentation, they were considering purchasing the $35,000 Elite program. I did not feel it was an appropriate program for them because of their precarious financial condition.”
- Trump the head case
Donald Trump launched his product in ostentatious spectacle on June 16, 2015, with a full-blown demonstration of demagoguery — defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as the “use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”
Connecting with millions who had suffered the loss of jobs and homes in the Great Recession, as well as the loss of opportunities in the shrinkage of industries and the stagnation of wages in the country’s continuing struggle to recover, Trump roared that America had gone to hell and beyond.
A sampling from his opening remarks:
“Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them.”
“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.”
“Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work.”
“We got nothing but problems.”
And, finally: “Sadly, the American Dream is dead.”
Next, he railed at villainous enemies — foreigners and evil corporate titans — who were to blame.
Japan: “When did we beat Japan at anything? They send their cars over by the millions, and what do we do? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo? It doesn’t exist, folks. They beat us all the time.”
Mexico: “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
China: “They are ripping us. We are rebuilding China. We’re rebuilding many countries. China, you go there now, roads, bridges, schools, you never saw anything like it.”
Next, America’s political leaders have betrayed all but the rich: “We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain.”
Finally, the superlative wonders of a President Trump would bend the world to his will in order to “Make America Great Again.”
He would not only build a wall along the entire Mexican border to prevent the hordes from stealing American jobs, he would force Mexico to pay for it.
If the Ford car company planned to move a plant to Mexico, Trump would force a begging CEO to reverse course.
“They have no choice. They have no choice,” Trump promised, his vows reaching a crescendo with the words: “I will be the greatest jobs President that God ever created. I tell you that.”
Rage at nightmares that only he and his audiences saw, fury at enemies that only he and his audiences were willing to name and faith that Trump was the savior played out in rally after rally.
“I’m going to make our country rich again,” he declared.
“We’re going to win so much. You’re going to get tired of winning. You’re going to say, ‘Please, Mr. President, I have a headache. Please, don’t win so much,’” he vowed.
Over time, Trump’s pledges grew ever more grandiose.
“I alone can fix it,” he said.
“I will give you everything,” he told supporters for whom the truth was either irrelevant or a conspiracy of lies.
Trump the fraudster
Trump the demagogue
Chillingly, he refused in Wednesday night’s debate to commit to honoring the results of the November election. Doing so, he questioned the fundamental soundness of America’s democracy.
Trump’s reckless willingness to damage trust in the electoral process — in order to save face and hold leadership of the paranoid wing of U.S. politics — is the most pressing reason why voters must defeat him in a landslide.
To take full stock of Trump must be to understand the urgency of barring him from the White House, as well as to reckon with how an authoritarian fabulist has gotten so close to leading the globe’s beacon of democracy.
History will mark the presidential contest of 2016 for demagoguery that distorted America’s electoral process from a competition of ideas into, on the one hand, a reach for power based on a cultish thirst for vengeance, and, on the other, a bipartisan drive to save the American presidency itself.
Herewith, we fervently pray, is the political obituary of Donald Trump and all that he stands for.
When deliberating over a presidential endorsement, the Daily News Editorial Board strives to identify the person who offers the greatest promise to brighten the futures of Americans and to safeguard the national security.
Never have we questioned a candidate’s fitness to serve.
Then came Donald Trump — liar, thief, bully, hypocrite, sexual victimizer and unhinged, self-adoring demagogue.
The 16-month campaign since Trump vaingloriously entered the race has horrifyingly revealed that the Big Lie brazenly told — built on smaller falsehoods and spread by social media and a lust for TV ratings — can bring the United States to the brink of electing an aspiring strongman with no moral bearing or self-control.
But, now, with his defeat all but certain, Trump is conjuring for his followers demons that conspire to destroy them and the nation.