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con /con/ (n): something (as a ruse) used deceptively to gain another’s confidence; also : a confidence game
Donald Trump is a con man.
Always has been. Always will be.
- New York City slumlord: Con
- Atlantic City revitalization: Con
- Trump Air: Con
- Trump Steaks: Con
- The USFL: Con
This list goes on and on. Donald Trump’s life is nothing but one long con.
But one thing is for certain. Whatever con Donald Trump is currently fronting the only person that con is working for is Donald J. Trump.And he’s clearly saved his best for last.This is the story of how Donald Trump pulled one over on the entire world.The shortest, greatest con of them all.Part One: BeginningsOur story begins in Sweden.Except that it doesn’t.In The Art Of The Deal, Trump stated that his paternal grandfather Frederick was from there.Except that he wasn’t.So already we find ourselves on rather uneven footing when it comes to Donald Trump and his relationship with the truth, but here’s what we think we know.On the run from the law for draft-dodging and tax evasion, Frederick Trump “emigrated” to the US from his hometown of Kallstadt, Germany to New York City in 1885 and made his fortune owning and managing a series of hotels, restaurants and whorehouses in the Pacific northwest at the turn of the 20th century. On the run from whatever passed for the law in late 19th century Yukon for tax evasion and prostitution, Frederick Trump “emigrated” from Yellowknife back to Kallstadt in the hopes that the authorities there had forgotten about his previous indiscretions. As it turned out they hadn’t, so he and his newlywed and pregnant wife were deported to the US and took up permanent residence in New York where he worked as a barber and restaurant manager until his untimely death of pneumonia during the worldwide epidemics of 1918. In his spare time he had begun to assemble a small local real estate portfolio that his sons Fred and John would continue under the name Elizabeth Trump & Co., parent company of The Trump Corporation LLC.Donald Trump’s father Frederick Christ “Fred” Trump was born in New York on October 11, 1905. With the financial support of his mother he turned his father’s modest holdings into a $300 millon real estate and construction empire with a portfolio of over 27,000 properties throughout the outer boroughs of New York alone. Fred Trump was first and foremost an opportunist, taking advantage of the poor and the military to build substandard housing for both. He was involved in several racial and civil rights disputes, from a 1973 USDOJ Civil Rights Division lawsuit for racial discrimination in property rental to his arrest for involvement in a street brawl between the Ku Klux Klan and the NYPD on June 1, 1927. Longtime tenant Woody Guthrie held a special place in his heart for his landlord:
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project
As fond remembrances go, that isn’t one.
And that false claim to Swedish ancestry in The Art Of The Deal? The somewhat bizarre perpetration of a calculated business deception of Fred’s made because, according to his nephew, “He had a lot of Jewish tenants and it wasn’t a good thing to be German in those days (after World War II).”Into this humble, hardscrabble family business would be born a son. A son who would fail his way upward through some of the finest institutions of higher learning in the country. A son who would establish his own personal fortune, his and his alone and nobody else’s, using nothing but his father’s connections, a hugely depressed Manhattan real estate market, and $1 million in cash. A son who would one day reach the soaring pinnacles of casino gambling, professional wrestling, and fast-food hucksterism. A son who would do all this and more while exuding an air of class and sophistication heretofore unseen in high society.A son we would all come to know simply as “The Donald.”