Trump always tries to make himself seem bigger than he is in real life.
Trump repeatedly exaggerated the size and breadth of his real estate holdings to help entice investors to hand over their money to him.
A new Washington Post report reveals that whenever Trump wanted to "make a good impression" on an investor, a lender, or even a journalist, he would hand them an official-looking "Statement of Financial Condition" that allegedly described Trump's net worth, properties, and debts.
But the statements were so absurdly inflated and unrealistic that one financial expert interviewed by the Post could only describe them as "humorous."
Perhaps the most memorable claim is Trump's description of his signature Trump Tower as a "68 story bronze glass structure."
That statement added 10 floors to the building, which is actually only 58 stories tall.
Another disclosure document has Trump alleging that Trump National Golf Club in California is "zoned for 75 home sites" — but in fact, the Post noted, only 36 lots had been approved for sale at the time of the listing.
Trump also claimed in that document to have sites available that would sell from $3 to 12 million each. But because he had far fewer real properties than he said he did, the Post reports, "there was a $72 million gap between his claims and reality."
Trump even claimed that his Virginia vineyard was 2,000 acres — almost double the true size of 1,200 acres.
It's not clear whether these exaggerations broke the law or constituted fraud. But if they could, if investors were convinced by them to spend money that they might not have otherwise.
"It’s a humorous financial statement," Kyle Welch, accountancy professor at George Washington University, told the Post, adding that he thought Trump's papers were so far removed from reality he wondered whether any bank or insurer could have actually been fooled.
The dishonest disclosures are also the subject of a new congressional inquiry. The House Oversight Committee is seeking documents from Trump's accounting firm, Mazars, to determine the source of his bogus numbers — and whether he might have committed fraud by inflating his net worth and the value of his assets in order to get bigger loans that he should have.
Previous reporting from ProPublica showed that Trump, along with his daughter Ivanka and other children, repeatedly misled investors by lying about how many units had already been sold in their new real estate projects.
Trump is a serial exaggerator, constantly obsessed with making himself seem far bigger than he is.
He started his presidency by falsely insisting that his inauguration was larger than President Barack Obama's, which a federal investigation subsequently debunked.
Trump recently said he had signed the largest pay increase for the military since 2009 — but Obama actually twice gave bigger raises to members of the armed forces while he was in office.
Trump tells lies about petty things like crowd sizes at his campaign rallies. (Once, his lies were so bad that a fire department in El Paso, Texas was forced to embarrass him by correcting his estimate.)
But Trump's lies about his assets and net worth may be far more sinister and legally dubious, which is why Congress is now investigating them for possible financial crimes.
Trump lies about big things and small things. But one thing is humiliatingly consistent for Trump: He's never as big as he says he is.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.