A new book examining the Trump administration’s financial conflicts of interest showcases the alarming amount of money Trump’s companies made while he was in the White House — including hundreds of millions of dollars that his businesses received from taxpayers.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston details the full extent of Trump’s ill-gotten gains from 2017 to 2021 in his new book, The Big Cheat: Donald Trump Fleeced America, Enriched Himself And His Family. During a Monday interview CNN, Johnston discussed how the Trump Organization earned at least $1.7 billion during the time that Trump was president.
Johnston used financial disclosures that Trump was legally required make while he was president to arrive at the figure. Trump attempted to keep the records confidential despite the law requiring them to be published.
“Donald, in fact, asked through his lawyers if he could file financial disclosures without signing under penalty of perjury. He was told, no, you have to sign under penalty of perjury,” Johnston said during the interview.
American taxpayers accounted for a large portion of the $1.7 Billion that Trump Organization made over those four years.
“Donald did everything he could to make sure the taxpayers were putting money into his businesses. Hundreds of millions of dollars,” he added.
Johnston’s findings confirm a report from earlier this year by the nonprofit government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
CREW reported in February that Trump had repeatedly boasted of donating his presidential income to charity. “Far from being a sacrifice,” CREW’s Jordan Libowitz and Caitlin Moniz wrote, “the donation was merely a fig leaf to cover up four years of brazen corruption.”
CREW estimated that Trump’s companies had made him $1.6 billion during his four years in office, which is only slightly less than the number that Johnston arrived at in his book. Meanwhile, Trump’s donations to the federal government amounted to Only 0.1% of that figure.
Trump’s frequent trips back to his properties were one of his most prominent ways to spend taxpayer dollars. Trump Organization locations were frequented by the former president. He was in office 547 timesThe Secret Service was required to pay for their stays at these locations every time he was there.
Trump’s taxpayer-funded Secret Service protection even extended beyond his presidency. Indeed, He charged more than $50,000 to the agent for their stay at his resorts in 2021 alone.
Trump infamously refused to divest his financial interestsHe became president in 2017, a historic move in the modern era. Instead, Trump said that he would relinquish control — though not ownership — of his companies to his sons and his chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.
Trump’s decision not to leave his companies in his sons’ hands did not quell fears that he could misuse the presidency to improperly make large sums.
“Stepping back from running his business is meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective,” then-Office of Government Ethics director Walter Schaub said at the time.