Trump’s siblings doubted their brother could repay them because his collection of condominium buildings, casinos, hotels and other assorted properties was collapsing under the weight of billions of dollars in bank loans he couldn’t repay. So they made him pledge his future share of his father’s estate as collateral and loaned him the money. Trump gave me his “word” that none of that had happened, but I wrote about it anyway. When he later unsuccessfully sued me for libel he was forced to acknowledge under oath during the litigation that he had, indeed, borrowed from his family.
“We would have literally closed down,” a former Trump Organization employee with direct knowledge of Trump’s attempts to keep his company and himself afloat told me in 2005. “The key would have been in the door and there would have been no more Donald Trump. The family saved him.”
It wasn’t really the entire family that saved Trump, of course. It was Fred, the man who held the purse strings. And the president, who is 72, has spent about five decades pretending not only that his father never rescued him from bankruptcy but that he played a minimal role in his business successes.
“It has not been easy for me,” Trump said in 2015 during the presidential race. “My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.”
As I noted in a column in 2016, Trump was lying when he said that — allowing him to also gloss over how central his father was to his career.
When Trump entered the Manhattan real estate business in the mid-1970s, Fred cosigned bank loans for tens of millions of dollars, making it possible for Trump to develop early projects like the Grand Hyatt hotel. When he targeted Atlantic City’s casino market, Fred loaned him about $7.5 million to get started. When he floundered there in the ’90s, Fred sent a lawyer into a Trump casino to buy $3.5 million in chips so his son could use the funds for a bond payment and avoid filing for corporate bankruptcy. There are many other examples like these.