Trump Tried to Seize Family Fortune by Duping His Mentally Declining Father
Whenever Donald Trump stages one of his made-for-TV, proclamation signing photo ops in the Oval Office, a photograph of a smiling Fred Trump, Sr., often can be seen in the background. It seems like a touching tribute to his father.
Donald often speaks admiringly of Fred Sr. and has retold the story of how the Trump family patriarch kick-started his son’s real estate career in 1975 with a “small” loan of $1 million. (New York Times reporting places that figure at closer to $61 million.)
But in 1990, when Fred Sr. was beginning to suffer the effects of dementia, son Donald attempted to take advantage of his declining mental state and seize control of the family’s fortune.
As detailed in medical records and other documents obtained by the Washington Post, the current president was well aware of his 85-year-old father’s cognitive state when he tried to pressure him into changing his will and turning over all control of the family business to Donald. That episode tore apart the family and the repercussions continue today.
The release of a tell-all book by the president’s niece Mary L. Trump and the disclosure of secret recordings of her conversations with her aunt reflect the ongoing resentment of some family members. This past Thursday Mary filed suit in New York, alleging that her uncles Donald Trump and his brother Robert (who died last month), along with a sister, her aunt Maryanne Trump Barry (a former federal judge), acted fraudulently when they deliberately withheld her share of the minority interests in the Trump family’s extensive real estate holdings.
The Post reports that Donald was in desperate need of cash.
“By the end of 1990, Donald Trump’s financial problems were spiraling out of control, and he increasingly looked to his inheritance as his salvation.
“It was a very bad period of time and if for any reason I was not able to come out of this well, then this would be giving me a trust to protect the money” that he would inherit, Trump said in a deposition he gave in the 2000 inheritance case, explaining why he came up with the idea to amend the will.
“His casino empire at the time was in “severe financial distress,” according to a report by New Jersey regulators, the Trump Shuttle airline was losing millions of dollars per month, and his latest project, his crown jewel called the Taj Mahal, was cannibalizing business from his other casinos.”
When a $100 million bank line of credit and millions more in loans from his father weren’t enough, Donald filed six corporate bankruptcies and came up with the plan to amend his father’s will.
Maryanne Trump Barry said that when she was asked by her father to review the proposed changes, she consulted with her husband, John Barry, an attorney familiar with estate law who died in 2000. “I show it to John, and he says, ‘Holy s–t.’ It was basically taking the whole estate and giving it to Donald,” Barry said.
Barry helped convince her father to reject her brother’s effort. As a result, Donald Trump “didn’t talk to me for two years,” Barry said during one of several conversations her niece recorded. Mary Trump recently provided the tapes to The Post.