Trump Faces Questions About His Net Worth in Interview He Tried to Avoid (2023)

Trump Faces Questions About His Net Worth in Interview He Tried to Avoid (1)

For decades, Donald Trump has boasted with impunity about a subject close to his heart and ego: his net worth.

“I look better if I’m worth $10 billion than if I’m worth $4 billion,” he once said when disputing his ranking on the Forbes billionaires list. In a court case, he acknowledged that when it came to describing the value of his brand, “I’m as accurate as I think I can be.” And when he described his self-aggrandizing style in his book, “The Art of the Deal,” he chose a phrase that has followed him ever since: “truthful hyperbole.”’

But now, Trump will face questions under oath about that pattern of embellishment in an investigation that may shape the future of his family real estate business. The former president and his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, are expected to be questioned later this month by the New York state attorney general’s office, which has been conducting a civil investigation into whether he and his company fraudulently inflated the value of his assets. His son, Donald Trump Jr., was interviewed last week, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

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(Video) Trump faces questions about his net worth in interview he tried to avoid

The attorney general, Letitia James, has argued in court papers that “fraudulent or misleading” business practices reigned at the Trump Organization for years, and she has said her investigators must question the Trumps to determine who was responsible. Trump fought hard to avoid an interview, but a judge ordered him to face questioning, and investigators will seek to elicit answers that might reveal whether he approved any bogus valuations of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets.

Even a single misstep in the deposition could be costly for Trump, who is also the focus of a separate criminal investigation into the same issues. Although that investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office lost momentum early this year, prosecutors are planning to review Trump’s answers and any incriminating statements or clumsy comments could breathe new life into it.

Trump has derided James’ inquiry as a politically-motivated “witch hunt” and denied all wrongdoing.

The former president, who is no stranger to being deposed, will present unusual challenges and opportunities for James’ lawyers, according to accounts from people who have questioned him under oath in the past and a review of nearly a dozen depositions. He is quick to spar with his inquisitors and often struggles to restrain himself, once telling a lawyer that her questions were “very stupid.”

The deposition comes at a precarious moment for Trump, who is facing increasing legal scrutiny for his effort to overturn the 2020 election. Federal prosecutors investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are asking witnesses about him, a House committee has uncovered new details about his conduct in the wake of the election and a district attorney in Georgia has convened a grand jury to look into possible election interference by Trump and his allies.

The interviews will mark the final stage of James’ three-year civil inquiry, teeing up one of the most consequential decisions of her tenure: whether to sue Trump and his company. James, facing the likelihood that a lawsuit would bring several more years of legal wrangling without victory assured, could first pursue settlement negotiations with the former president’s lawyers to extract a swifter financial payout.

If James does bring a lawsuit, and Trump loses at trial, a judge could impose steeper financial penalties on the former president and even restrict his business operations in New York, all in the midst of a 2024 presidential campaign that he has long hinted he will join.

James, a Democrat running for reelection, has assumed the role of Trump’s chief antagonist in New York. And in recent months, she has adopted an unusually aggressive legal strategy — including persuading a judge, Arthur F. Engoron, to hold the former president in contempt of court — as she battled to obtain his documents and testimony.

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The depositions, while a victory for James, might not deliver a smoking gun. Trump could assert that he delegated the valuation of his assets to employees, and that he was not deeply involved, or he could invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination, declining to answer at least some questions.

But people familiar with Trump’s approach to legal battles expressed doubt that he would keep quiet. Unlike in criminal cases, a jury in civil cases like the one James might bring can draw a negative inference from a defendant’s refusal to answer questions. And if Trump relies on his Fifth Amendment privilege — as his son Eric Trump did hundreds of times in an interview with James’ office two years ago — that could raise questions about what he might be seeking to hide and provide fresh fodder for his political opponents.

Trump himself has ridiculed witnesses for invoking their Fifth Amendment rights, once remarking that “You see the Mob takes the Fifth,” and that, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

James’ inquiry centers on whether Trump’s annual financial statements were a work of fiction — a vehicle for exaggerating the value of his real estate so that he could secure favorable loans and other financial benefits. James, who has said that Trump “got caught” using “funny numbers in his financial documents,” is examining whether Trump and his company used inflated valuations to mislead banks and the IRS.

In challenging James, Trump’s legal team would be likely to argue that he was entitled to some leeway in valuing his real estate, a process that is widely viewed as more art than science. Trump’s financial statements contained disclaimers that the value of his properties had not been audited or authenticated.

Trump’s lawyers might also argue that the banks that received his financial statements were hardly victims; these lenders made millions of dollars from their dealings with Trump, who recently paid off some of his largest loans.

Any lawsuit James might bring could have some holes as well: Trump famously does not use email, so any directions he might have given his employees about drafting the financial statements were probably not in writing.

Trump is no novice when it comes to facing questions under oath, having navigated numerous depositions in private lawsuits throughout his half-century in the public spotlight. When asked in 2012 how many depositions he had participated in, Trump, perhaps hyperbolically, put the number at “over 100.”

(Video) Trump Faces Questions About His Net Worth in Interview He Tried to Avoid.

Yet the stakes are higher this time, with Trump facing scrutiny not from private lawyers but government investigators, a relatively rare occurrence for the former president. While Trump responded to questions from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, he did so only in writing.

And unlike Mueller, who did not examine Trump’s personal finances, James’ lawyers have spent three years investigating the minutiae of his company’s operations.

If past depositions are any guide, Trump will be likely to strike a combative tone with James’ lawyers while portraying himself as the unwitting victim of a vindictive legal opponent. He might also lob the occasional insult at his interviewers. (In a 2011 deposition, he called a female lawyer “disgusting” after she requested a break to pump breast milk for her daughter and displayed the pump to illustrate her point.)

That apparent lack of discipline could work to James’ advantage, lawyers who have deposed him said. Trump thinks of himself as his own best advocate and might ignore advice from his attorneys to avoid directly answering questions.

“He’s completely fearless in a deposition,” said Jason A. Forge, who represented the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Trump’s for-profit education venture, Trump University, and questioned him under oath. “He’s way more engaged than a normal witness, and you can tell he enjoys the challenge and revels in the verbal sparring,” said Forge, who predicted that there was “no way” he’ll refuse to answer questions.

In short, he added, Trump was “the dream deponent.” The lawsuit ended in a settlement.

Trump’s willingness to talk arguably hurt him in a 2007 deposition for a lawsuit that also centered on the value of his assets.

In that case, Trump had sued journalist Timothy L. O’Brien for writing a book that cast doubt on the size of his net worth, but in the deposition, O’Brien’s lawyer coaxed out a series of admissions from Trump, who acknowledged: “Even my own feelings affects my value to myself,” and said that his net worth “can vary actually from day to day,” and that he determined it by gauging “my general attitude at the time.” He then added, “And as I say, it varies.”

(Video) Trump Claims The Money He Owes Is A 'Tiny Percentage Of My Net Worth' | NBC News

“Have you ever exaggerated in statements about your properties?” O’Brien’s lawyer asked him.

“I think everyone does,” Trump replied.

A judge ultimately dismissed Trump’s lawsuit.

The former president will have an added incentive to avoid candidly answering James’ questions: the lingering criminal investigation into the very same conduct. That inquiry faded from view early this year after the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, declined to indict Trump.

Bragg, who could utilize Trump’s statements in the civil deposition as evidence against him in a potential criminal case, has already said that he intends to take careful stock of Trump’s answers.

In the depositions, James’ investigators are likely to home in on Trump’s involvement in his annual financial statements. Trump, who is synonymous with the Trump Organization, had authority over all its operations, and through questioning, investigators will try to deduce a connection between his actions and the “misstatements and omissions” that lawyers for James told a judge that they had found in the documents.

Her lawyers have also identified instances in which his two adult children made use of the documents: Ivanka Trump submitted them to Deutsche Bank, the company’s largest lender, and Donald Trump Jr. issued financial statements related to the assets in his father’s trust. Their depositions will be likely to explore their roles at the company and their knowledge of the financial statements.

James’ investigators also are likely to press Trump about his relationship with his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, which compiled his annual financial statements. In February, James revealed that Mazars had cut ties with Trump.

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A lawyer for James, Kevin Wallace, explained at a court hearing this spring why the investigation had taken so long, telling a judge that although the Trump Organization’s assets are as snarled and impenetrable as “a Russian nesting doll,” the attorney general’s office had managed to obtain “a very complete record.”

© 2022 The New York Times Company

FAQs

What is Donald Trump's gross net worth? ›

Forbes estimates it at $3 billion as of February 17, 2022, with Trump chronically making much higher claims. Trump inherited wealth from his father, and he has also made money from fundraising, real estate ventures, hotels, casinos, golf courses, and Trump-branded products including neckties and steaks.

What is Ivanka Trump's net worth? ›

She has an estimated net worth of $300 million.

What is Donald Trump's education? ›

Donald Trump

Who is the richest president in the world? ›

1. Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin is the President of Russia and is believed to be the richest president in the world. Although his estimated net worth is around forty billion dollars, some claim that Vladimir Putin has a net worth of over $200 billion.

Who is the richest president alive? ›

Donald Trump, 45th president, 2017 – 2021, US$3 billion

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump is the wealthiest on our list.

Who is the richest celebrity? ›

Actress and investor Jamie Gertz is the richest actor in the world. The '80s star's net worth is estimated to be $3 billion. She is the owner of the Atlanta Hawks NBA team and has acted in many films and TV series throughout her career.

Who is the wealthiest entertainer? ›

Top 10 Richest Musicians in the World (2022)
PositionMusicianNet Worth
1Ye (Kanye West)$6.6 Billion
2Rihanna$1.4 Billion
3Jay-Z$1.3 Billion
4Paul McCartney$1.2 Billion
6 more rows
16 Jun 2022

What city has the most billionaires? ›

Beijing

Why do people want to be rich? ›

Why We Want You to Be Rich: Two Men, One Message is a non-fiction book about personal finance, co-authored by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki. The book was first published in hardcover format in 2006.
...
Why We Want You to Be Rich.
Book cover
AuthorsDonald Trump Robert Kiyosaki
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
Pages345
ISBN978-1933914022
10 more rows

Who was the youngest president? ›

Age of presidents

The youngest to become president by election was John F. Kennedy, who was inaugurated at age 43. The oldest person to assume the presidency was Joe Biden, who took the presidential oath of office 61 days after turning 78.

Who is the poorest US president? ›

Truman was among the poorest U.S. presidents, with a net worth considerably less than $1 million. His financial situation contributed to the doubling of the presidential salary to $100,000 in 1949. In addition, the presidential pension was created in 1958 when Truman was again experiencing financial difficulties.

Who is the richest woman in the world? ›

Most affluent women worldwide 2022, by net worth

The granddaughter of the L'Oréal founder, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers was the wealthiest woman in the world as of April 2022. Her and her family's net worth was estimated at 74.8 billion U.S. dollars.

Who is the richest family in the world? ›

Which 10 Families Are the Wealthiest?
  • The Waltons with $212 billion24.
  • The Mars family with $142 billion.
  • The Kochs with $124 billion.
  • The Hermès family with $112 billion.
  • The Sauds with $100 billion.
  • The Ambanis with $94 billion.
  • The Wertheimers with $62 billion.
  • The Johnsons with $61 billion.

What is the richest country in the world? ›

Here are the 10 richest countries in the world:
  • United States - $18.62 Tn.
  • China - $11.22 Tn.
  • Japan - $4.94 Tn.
  • Germany - $3.48 Tn.
  • United Kingdom - $2.65 Tn.
  • France - $2.47 Tn.
  • India - $2.26 Tn.
  • Italy - $1.86 Tn.

Who is the richest actor in the world? ›

As of August 2022, Jerry Seinfeld is the richest actor in the world with a net worth of $950 million. Who is the 2nd richest actor in the world? Tyler Perry with a net worth of $800 million.

Who was the first billionaire? ›

The American business magazine Forbes produces a global list of known U.S. dollar billionaires every year and updates an Internet version of this list in real time. The American oil magnate John D. Rockefeller became the world's first confirmed U.S. dollar billionaire in 1916.

Who is No 1 actor in world? ›

Top 100 Stars in Leading Roles at the Worldwide Box Office
RankNameMovies
1Scarlett Johansson33
2Robert Downey, Jr.43
3Samuel L. Jackson64
4Chris Hemsworth25
79 more rows

How is Justin Bieber so rich? ›

Justin Bieber rose to fame in the late 2000s, and he's been building his fortune ever since. He primarily makes his money from his music and tours, but the musician also has endorsement deals. Bieber has spent his money on houses, cars, and tattoos over the years.

Is Justin Bieber a billionaire? ›

Justin Bieber is a fabulously wealthy individual, but he's not a billionaire.

Who is richest Hollywood actor? ›

Let's dive into the list of the top richest actors in the world-
RankRichest Actors In The WorldNet worth (USD)
1Tyler Perry$1 Billion
2Jerry Seinfeld$950 Million
3Shah Rukh khan$700 Million
4Tom Cruise$600 Million
6 more rows
1 Aug 2022

Who is the richest woman celebrity? ›

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers is currently the richest woman in the world with a net worth of $74.1 billion, per Forbes. She originally inherited her wealth from her grandfather's business ventures, specifically from L'Oréal cosmetics.

Which U.S. city has most millionaires? ›

U.S. Is Home to 6 of the Top 20 Cities with the Most Billionaires in the World. San Francisco has the most billionaire residents of any city, and New York has the most millionaires.

Where do the rich live in USA? ›

New York and Los Angeles are home to the most millionaires in America because of their large populations and lucrative industries.

Which country has the most millionaires? ›

Switzerland was the country with the highest rate of millionaires worldwide in 2020, with almost 15 percent of the adult population owning assets worth more than one million U.S. dollars.
...
Countries with the highest proportion of millionaires in 2020.
CharacteristicShare of adults
--
12 more rows
5 Aug 2022

What Jobs will make me rich? ›

There are certain career paths that tend to create wealth more so than most.
...
Top 10 Jobs That Make You Rich
  • Doctor. ...
  • Surgeon. ...
  • Investment Banker. ...
  • Corporate Executive. ...
  • Petroleum Engineer. ...
  • Psychiatrist. ...
  • Data Scientist. ...
  • Research & Development Manager.

What are the characteristics of a rich person? ›

The prototypical personality profile of the rich is marked by higher Risk tolerance, Openness, Extraversion, and Conscientiousness, and lower Neuroticism. Further, we provide initial suggestive evidence that this unique personality profile may contribute to wealth accumulation.

Which president had the longest speech? ›

Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address to date, running 8,445 words. He wrote the entire speech himself, though it was edited by soon-to-be Secretary of State, Daniel Webster. Webster said afterwards that in the process of reducing the text, he had "killed seventeen Roman proconsuls".

Which president served the shortest term? ›

William Henry Harrison (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) was an American military officer and politician who served as the ninth president of the United States. Harrison died just 31 days after his inauguration in 1841, and had the shortest presidency in United States history.

Who was 27th president? ›

William Howard Taft was elected the 27th President of the United States (1909-1913) and later became the tenth Chief Justice of the United States (1921-1930), the only person to have served in both of these offices.

How can I run for president? ›

A natural born citizen (U.S. citizen from birth) At least 35 years old and. A U.S. resident (permanently lives in the U.S.) for at least 14 years.

How old is Joe Biden? ›

How old is Donaldtrump? ›

Who is the richest person in the world 2022? ›

In the 36th annual Forbes list of the world's billionaires, the list included 2,668 billionaires with a total net wealth of $12.7 trillion, down 97 members from 2021.
...
2022.
NameSergey Brin
Net worth (USD)$107 billion
Age48
NationalityUnited States
Source(s) of wealthAlphabet Inc.
9 more columns

How much does Bill Gate have? ›

How much is Bill Gates' net worth? As of March 2022, Gates' net worth is estimated to be $133.8 billion, making him the fourth richest person in the world.

What is Elon Musk's net worth? ›

Who is the richest kid in America? ›

How old is the richest kid in America? The richest kid is Preston Bezos, who is 22 years old. He was born in 2000 and his worth is about $44.1 billion, and his three siblings have the exact amount.

Who is the poorest man in the world? ›

As a result, Jerome Kerviel is the world's most indebted man making him the poorest person in the world. He is an ex-Societe Generale Trader who was sentenced to three years in prison after surrendering to French authorities. Jerome Kerviel owes $6.3 billion making him the most indebted person in the world.

Who is the richest actor in the world? ›

As of August 2022, Jerry Seinfeld is the richest actor in the world with a net worth of $950 million. Who is the 2nd richest actor in the world? Tyler Perry with a net worth of $800 million.

Who has the most cash in the world? ›

The world's 10 richest people added $402 billion to their fortunes in 2021. Here's whose net worth grew the most
  1. Elon Musk: $277 billion (+$121 billion) ...
  2. Jeff Bezos: $195 billion (+$5 billion) ...
  3. 3. Bernard Arnault: $176 billion (+$61 billion) ...
  4. Bill Gates: $139 billion (+$7 billion) ...
  5. Larry Page: $130 billion (+$47 billion)
30 Dec 2021

Where do billionaires keep their money? ›

Another common place where billionaires keep their money is in securities. Securities are financial investments and instruments with some value that can be traded, oftentimes on public markets. Common types of securities include bonds, stocks and funds (mutual and exchange-traded).

What percentage of Bill Gates money goes to charity? ›

The 91-year-old Sage of Omaha has said he will gradually give away 99% of his wealth both during and after his lifetime, with $56 billion of his $90 billion stake in investment firm Berkshire Hathaway reportedly destined for the Gates Foundation.

How much does Elon Musk make per hour? ›

Elon Musk makes approximately $81.25 million per hour.

To put it into perspective, the average person in the US makes $32.08 per hour. This means that it would take you over three thousand years to make Elon Musk's hourly pay.

What is the richest country in the world? ›

Here are the 10 richest countries in the world:
  • United States - $18.62 Tn.
  • China - $11.22 Tn.
  • Japan - $4.94 Tn.
  • Germany - $3.48 Tn.
  • United Kingdom - $2.65 Tn.
  • France - $2.47 Tn.
  • India - $2.26 Tn.
  • Italy - $1.86 Tn.

Who is the richest family in the world? ›

Which 10 Families Are the Wealthiest?
  • The Waltons with $212 billion24.
  • The Mars family with $142 billion.
  • The Kochs with $124 billion.
  • The Hermès family with $112 billion.
  • The Sauds with $100 billion.
  • The Ambanis with $94 billion.
  • The Wertheimers with $62 billion.
  • The Johnsons with $61 billion.

Does Elon own PayPal? ›

Musk no longer holds a stake in PayPal. He exited his position after the sale of the company and used his proceeds from the sale to fund investments such as SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity.

Who is richer blue ivy or North West? ›

According to GQ, Blue Ivy and her siblings have a larger net worth than North and her siblings.

Are the Rockefellers still rich? ›

How much is the Rockefeller family worth today? Rockefeller family's Net Worth is over $360 Billion Dollars.

Who is the richest woman in the world? ›

Most affluent women worldwide 2022, by net worth

The granddaughter of the L'Oréal founder, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers was the wealthiest woman in the world as of April 2022. Her and her family's net worth was estimated at 74.8 billion U.S. dollars.

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