The New York Times investigative reporting on the Trump family empire, the tax dodging and cheating that created its wealth, Fred Trump’s constant bailing out of his much less successful son Donald, and the fact that the entire Trump clan — including Trump sister and federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry — participates in the flow of shadily gotten gains, is stunning. The report is long, 13,000 words. I read it once, and will read it again and again until the breadth of the audacity sinks in. What an investigative reporting tour de force. What a grotesque family. Nothing on TV — not Succession, not Billions — comes even close to the machinations of the real life Trump clan.
No wonder Trump acts with impunity, thinking he’ll never bear any consequences for his sordid actions. He never has.
My initial reaction is that this story, if Trump voters even read it and not just a Fox News summary of it, will solidify their adoration of Trump as a guy who really sticks it to the system and gets away with it. The admire his brazen disregard for the rules now. Even more so will they admire that the brazenness resulted in fabulous wealth. Of course, when the rich cheat the tax system, the burden is picked up by ordinary people. But to the Trump crowd, that seems not to matter.
To me, this story is an utter perversion of the American dream, a mockery of it. And the story is grotesque, a word first used by Jeffrey Toobin on CNN. The Trump family is grotesque in their lying, their cheating, their disdain for the decency that binds ordinary lives into a human family. All of this, commentators tell us, took place far enough in the past so that the statute of limitations has expired. This is like a crime family who has, by rolling over its ill gotten gains. gone legit. And now they occupy the White House.
One dark note lingers. Fred Trump was always there with is fortune, waiting to bail out Donald. There is no Fred Trump now, and no powerful entity — not a Republican Congress, not a Republican Supreme Court — that will bail him out either.
The Trump presidency, as I’ve always felt, is a slow rolling disaster.