Trump’s Ego: Political Net Worth?

It’s little secret that Trump’s ego guides his actions and therefore governs the U.S. For instance, Trump’s approval rating went up following his address to Congress in February. CBS wrote: “Viewers strongly approve of Trump’s speech to Congress.” But several days later, Michael Flynn resigned as Director of National Intelligence because he lied about meeting with a Russian ambassador. Shortly after, video shows Trump on a rampage with staff members because news about Flynn undermined his popularity.

Steve Bannon is another example of how Trump’s ego guides his policies. Bannon made the cover of Time Magazine with the headline “The Great Manipulator.” Bannon is regarded as the mastermind behind Trump’s popularity among White Nationalists and others. Bannon became a member of the National Security Council by writing it into an executive order, which Trump apparently did not read very well. According to Fox News, Trump “was reportedly not fully briefed on the executive order he signed that allowed his chief strategist Steve Bannon a seat at the meeting of the country’s top national security efforts.”[1] Trump was so enraged that he “demanded to be looped in on the executive orders earlier in the drafting process.” . Time’s article also infuriated Trump, which is most likely leading to Bannon’s ousting from political affairs.

But the most telling event is Trump’s testimony in a defamation lawsuit he filed against Timothy O’Brien and Time Warner in 2011 (Case No. A-6141–08T3 (NJ Superior Ct. App. Div., Sep. 7, 2011). Defamation occurs when someone knowingly misrepresents another person with malicious intent. Trump believed that both O’Brien and Time Warner conspired against him and sought to undermine his ‘brand’ or ‘image’ by under reporting his net worth.[2] O’Brien claimed that Trump’s net worth, most of which came from inheritance, is between 200 to 300 million dollars. Trump argued that his net worth is actually between 2 to 5 billion dollars, but in the court records, Trump admits that his net worth is intimately connected with his feelings at the time.

In the following, we see that Trump admits that a businessman should never tell anyone that he is doing poorly. He explains that misinforming the public about actual business dealings is a business tactic to solicit a positive response for his ‘brand.’ As we know from his comments about Republican attempts to reform the American Health Care Act, Trump is not forthcoming about the actual political environment. For instance, with the Republican’s attempt to reform the ACHA, Trump tried to assure the public that it was a great bill and “everyone was onboard,” but as we know — very few politicians were on board. If Trump is right about his feelings and his net worth, it follows that if someone hurts Trump’s feelings or image — it is a direct attack on America — his brand!

From 2006 to 2011, Trump expanded his ‘brand,’ including real estate and other transactions. The following comes from the official court records. Andrew Ceresney interrogates Trump:

Q: Would you say that your brand is hotter than ever today?

A: Well, the brand is doing very well. I don’t know about hotter than ever. I can’t define hotter than ever. But I think the brand is doing very well.

Q: Have you said publicly that your brand is hotter than ever?

A: Possibly. I think it’s doing very well.

Ceresney produces “Defendant’s Exhibit 90, article from Crain’s New York Business dated 11/12/07), where Trump is quoted as saying “My brand is hotter than ever.” Ceresney asks Trump if he was telling the truth to the reporter:

A. Yes

Q: Because whenever you speak to reporters, you are accurate; correct?

A: I’m as accurate as I think I can be.

Q: Okay, you try to check your facts before you talk to reporters?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: You try to get what you say to them accurate, correct?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: Isn’t it also true that you believed your brand was blazing hot even back in February?

A: Probably

Q: Do you think you did?

A: I don’t — I don’t think I didn’t. I don’t — I assume they’re quoting me correctly.

Q: Did you actually believe it at the time?

A: Yes, I think the brand was — was doing fine. I don’t know blazing hot. But I think the brand was doing well.

Q: Is it possible you told a reporter in February of 2006 that your brand was blazing hot?

A: Well, you wouldn’t tell a reporter you’re doing poorly. I’ve never seen a person go up and say, I’m really doing poorly now. You just don’t do that.

Q: So when you speak to a reporter about how your brand is doing, I think you just said a moment [ago] saying you try to be accurate?

A: Well generally speaking you want to say that you’re doing well. You don’t want to say you’re doing poorly. If I’m doing well, I say I’m doing well; and if I’m doing poorly, I’d rather not comment. Usually I try not to take those calls.

Q: When have you actually been doing poorly, Trump?

A: In the early nineties I was doing poorly.

Q: In the last five years have you been doing poorly?

A: Well, I would say that I had some moments, some bad moments, like when this book came out. That was a very bad moment. I think I was — I was perceived as doing poorly. I wasn’t doing poorly.

But I was perceived by a lot of people as doing poorly when this book came out and when the Times wrote a front page in the business section story that was one of the largest stories they’ve ever written where virtually every paragraph was a negative.

I think I was perceived as doing poorly then. I wasn’t doing poorly then, but I was perceived.

Trump, then, declares that the article (New York Times) “was very detrimental to me.”

Q: And it hurt your brand, is that what you’re saying?

A: Well, I think it hurt my brand. I think the fact that I sued got a lot of publicity, which was good because at least you’re protesting the article. I thin kit was important that I brought this lawsuit. But yes, I think the article hurt my brand… and it hurt me.

A month after Trump filed his lawsuit, he told the Dallas Business Journal “that your name, your brand is blazing hot.” He states how the article affected him by saying:

“Well number one I lost deals, specific deals, and we’ll get to that,” and “then there are things that happened or didn’t happen that I don’t even know about. For instance, there are many deals that I lost that I don’t even know about where people wouldn’t see me. So I didn’t know I lost the deal, but I lost the deal. And there are many of those deals out there, and I can’t name them.”

Q: How do you know that there are deals out there that you didn’t know about that didn’t come to you because of this book?

A: Because the perception of me after that article was a very bad perception, by sophisticated people; not necessarily the man on the street because they don’t read the book and they don’t read the Times.

But the perception of me by business people was a very weak perception, and that’s why I lost certain deals that we’ll talk about. It’s also why I lost certain deals that I’ll never know about.

Trump equates his ‘brand’ with his personal image, his reputation. I will return to this point. Next, Ceresney ask Trump if he has “always been completely truthful” in his public statements about his net worth “of properties.”

A: I try.

Q: Have you ever not been truthful?

A: My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets with attitudes and with feelings, even my feelings, but I try.

Q: Let me understand that a little bit…. You said that the net worth goes up and down based upon your own feelings?

A: Yes…

Q: When you publically state what you’re worth, what do you base that number on?

A: I would say my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked. And as I say, it varies.

Several questions later, Trump claims that his net worth “can change when somebody writes a vicious article like O’Brien. I mean, I didn’t feel so great about myself when I read that article.” And, “yeah, it changes [his net worth]. It can change pretty rapidly.”

His testimony reveals that his psychological state is directly connected to his financial holdings.

Superior Court of New Jersey,Appellate Division.

Donald J. TRUMP, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. Timothy L. O’BRIEN, Time Warner Book Group, Inc., and Warner Books, Inc., Defendants–Respondents. Decided: September 07, 2011

The Litigious — and Bullying — Mr. Trump

In lawsuit deposition, Trump repeatedly called out for exaggerating wealth

What really gets under Trump’s skin? A reporter questioning his net worth

[1] http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/06/report-trump-not-fully-briefed-on-exec-order-that-gave-bannon-seat-at-nsc-meetings.html

[2] Case No. A-6141–08T3 (NJ Superior Ct. App. Div., Sep. 7, 2011