Donald Trump says his 'temperament' saved him from financial ruin—but it was really his super-rich family


After more than a year of campaigning around the broad themes of economic doom and murderous chaos, Donald Trump gave the kind of speech on Monday you could print on an inspirational poster.

“During the early 90s, as companies were collapsing all over the place left and right, the media and the powers that be said ‘Donald Trump, he could never make it back,’” the Republican told a crowd at a rally in Pueblo, Colo. “I remember the stories.”

To hear Trump tell it, the real thing that saved him while he was on the verge of financial ruin was his exquisite “temperament.”

“My single best asset is temperament,” he said. “If you didn’t have the right temperament, you could never have escaped that financial jungle.”

He went on to give a speech in which he applauded himself for never giving up and triumphing over terrible odds (cue “I Believe I Can Fly“):

It was an ugly time. A lot of people, you will never hear from them again. I never had any doubts whatsoever. Most importantly, I never, ever give up or even thought about giving up. That is because I knew in my heart that when the chips are down, that’s when I perform the very best.

Interesting that he should mention chips, really, because, far from coming back from the financial brink through sheer force of will, Trump got his rich father to help him out in a very special, casino-based way.

“At the end of 1990, when Mr. Trump was facing an $18.4 million interest payment, his father sent a lawyer to the [Trump-owned] Castle casino to buy $3.3 million in chips and leave without cashing them, providing his son with an infusion of cash,” The New York Times reported on the same day Trump was extolling his character.

That wasn’t the only way that Trump’s vast family wealth helped him ride out the consequences of his catastrophically bad business judgment:

By 1993, Mr. Trump was still in dire straits. He dispatched a company executive to ask his siblings if he could borrow $10 million from their respective shares of the family trust. Mr. Trump received the loan, according to people who were involved and spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering him, and went back for another $20 million the following year. Mr. Trump has denied borrowing from his siblings.

This probably helped, too:

He promised to make up for a cash shortfall with the sale of condominium units in Trump Tower in Manhattan. When that did not generate enough money, he filled the hole in his balance sheet with the “unforecasted receipt of funds from certain family-owned properties in New York City”—apparently referring to fees from properties his father, Fred C. Trump, had built outside Manhattan.

I was so moved by Trump’s entirely relatable inspirational story that I created a poster:


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