My Columbia University Journalism School classmate Tim O’Brien, a former Trump biographer, said the president has close ties to the Russian Mob in a recent interview with ABC News.
Tim also concisely explained the Trump real estate business and exposed a number of intentional misrepresentations and outright lies by the rich con artist. Trump is a former Reality TV Star who successfully rebranded himself himself as a man of the people to win the support of the faltering middle class during the tainted 2016 presidential election.
Tim, a journalism lifer and former New York Times reporter, should know as author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald.
Donnie Bagadonuts sued him for $5 billion after the book was published in 2005. The figure is pure posturing – just like naming yourself CEO of a one-person company – because anyone can sue anyone for any amount in this country. Winning that kind of money and then collecting it is another story altogether.
So why did the most despised president in modern American history ask for such a ridiculous amount?
The same reason a spoiled 5-year-old throws a temper tantrum: Attention.
Why did Trump even begin to assume that as a public figure he could fulfill the daunting legal burden of proving Tim had intentionally lied about him, done so with malicious intent, and hurt him financially – especially when he incessantly lies about himself and his own business?
The answer is that Trump wasn’t trying to win. Instead, he was gaming the competitive nature of the news industry to generate free advertising for his Reality TV show and upscale brand. Just as he did with the Republican presidential primary.
The fact that Trump actually won is an indictment of the current diminished state of U.S. politics and journalism, which rewards the most audacious candidates with more attention as if they’re cast members on the old The Real World Reality-TV show on MTV.
Tim indicated Trump was neither a billionaire nor the successful businessman he claimed to be; he was as much as $9 billion in debt at one point; and his net worth actually ranged between $150 million and $250 million. Afterward, the silver spoon scribe further deflated Donnie Trustfund’s inflated ego by denigrating him as a “faux millionaire,” a “train wreck,” “the walking embodiment of financial pornography,” and a “serial bankruptcy addict.”
All of which is true.
In this video he says Trump’s real estate empire was mainly about facilitating investments in his upscale condos by rich foreign investors. It was a lucrative business, frequented by those seeking to turn dirty money into the kind of clean money that can be deposited in a government regulated bank account.
Condos had virtually become a unit of currency at the peak of the Housing Bubble that exploded in 2006. Traders were exchanging them sight unseen on one Florida online board.
Donnie Bagadonuts was heavily in debt and on the precipice of financial disaster when he began working with Russian investors, according to Tim. Some of whom were also Russian mobsters.
“It’s really important for people to understand how small Donald Trump’s business is,” Tim told ABC (click here for video). “The sort of notion that he is the recipient of billions and billions of dollars of money flowing in from overseas I think is mythic.”
“When Donald Trump says that most of the family’s assets are coming from Russia, I think what he’s really talking about are condominium sales. I don’t think he’s talking about billion dollar bank loans. He’s talking about units in these various Trump properties that change hands. And it’s important to remember that Hong Kong, London and New York (are) the center of a lot of this loose money. Some of it’s dirty – undoubtedly – and some of it’s being laundered – undoubtedly.”
Full disclosure, I’m not a friend of Tim O’Brien. I thought he was an arrogant rich jackass – much like Trump – during our time together as graduate students at Columbia J-School in 1990. He never produced anything I admired in school and there were plenty of other people in our class of 170 who were more talented and affable.
As we neared graduation most of us fretted about securing employment in the contracting news industry. Meanwhile, Tim and one of his fellow trust fund babies boasted about how they were going to buy Seven Days Magazine at a time when magazines were still robust news vehicles – four years before the Internet. They seemed like the human embodiment of the obnoxious rich kids filmmaker John Hughes employed in coming-of-age flicks like “Pretty in Pink” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.”
Those boasts were very Trump-like and I’m sure Tim’s braggadocio and fortunate upbringing played well with the future president when he sought access to the fellow country club commando’s life, business and friends.
It’s not surprising to me that Trump gave Tim such wide-ranging access and got journalistically reamed with such enthusiasm for his credulity, because Tim seemed to posses the same sense of rich entitlement as Trump when I knew him. The resulting book and lawsuit made him a national figure, although it never sold well, and exposed Trump as a rich wannabee with zero street smarts and little book learning.
Which is exactly what he is.
Buying books and reading books are two different things, which may be why Trump made the same mistake in 2016-2017 with biographer Michael Wolff. The journalism lifer who pilloried billionaire-propagandist Rupert Murdoch just a decade earlier in The Man Who Owns the News.
If Trump had read that earlier work he would have known he was not going to receive a “blowjob story” from Wolff.
Instead, the trust fund baby saw Wolff’s Columbia J-School and Vassar University education credentials, and New York Times pedigree, and assumed he was dealing with a fawning wealthophile or fellow silver spoon. Another big mistake.
If Donnie Bagodonuts had scratched the surface a little more closely he would have seen that Wolff was from hardworking Paterson, New Jersey. A blue collar city so rough its own mayor tried to impose an adult curfew on the entire community in 2008.
Like my own hometown Bronx, Paterson is not a place where people are raised to admire those who get rich sitting on cottage cheese asses. Our heroes are more likely to be those who buck a broken system – like say whistleblowers Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning Frank Serpico or special counsel Robert Mueller – than crooked politicians or trust fund babies. Let alone a combination of the two, which is what Trump is.
I attended The Bronx High School of Science with the daughter of then Bronx Borough President Stanley and brought her to tears freshman year with an adolescent joke about her daddy being a crooked politician. A couple years later he was arrested for corruption. It would have been a shock if he hadn’t been.
But I digress.
The five-time draft evader-in-chief gave Wolff even more access than O’Brien in his first year in The Oval Office, and was journalistically reamed even harder. Why?
Because good journalists tell the truth, and the truth is that Donald Trump is a rich asshole. That’s why he keeps rolling snake eyes with biographers.
Wolff’s blistering expose of Trump’s personal and professional shortcomings illustrates what Tim had already demonstrated: The more you get to know Donnie Bagadonuts, the more you dislike him.
As far as I’m concerned, Tim and Trump are both just doing what most rich kids do: Blowing themselves up in a hopeless attempt to justify their fortuitous births. They’re rarely content to pay their dues in the trenches beside the rest of us and be judged by their actions instead of their country club connections.
Tim was a rich jerk when I knew him, who seemed to think his shit did not stink. And I was an arrogant working class kid from the Bronx who wore a Die Yuppie Scum to class every chance I got and thought my own work ethic, street smarts and talent were enough to overcome my own modest roots.
We were both wrong. And we’re both still jerks. Ergo this column.
However one thing has changed. Tim is finally doing work I respect.
I’m delighted to see him beating Trump ass with his news interviews. Seems like more rich people should be trying to clean up this rich mess, instead of dumping silver spoon mofos like Donnie Trustfund, Kim Kardashian and The Koch Brothers on the rest of America.
Tim seems to have finally grown up. Trump, not so much. He’s still the spoiled rich kid who didn’t get beat up nearly enough in junior high school.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is there’s a former U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant on his ass named Robert Mueller. The Vietnam War combat veteran, former FBI director and self-made man is motivated, durable, experienced and talent.
Basically everything Trump pretends to be and is not.
Which is why the smart money is on the Jarhead. Not Cadet Bonespurs.
Lube up Donnie. I’ve got a feeling it’s your turn in the proverbial pickle barrel.