August 23, 2016

It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s… David Cay Johnston!


David Cay Johnston is reputed to resemble this man, but without the glasses.

In recent weeks, as the noise of the Donald Trump campaign has grown so loud as to drown out almost everything else going on in the United States, a hero has emerged to help us make sense of the overwhelming and, frankly, bizarre situation. This caped crusader’s name is David Cay Johnston, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper (well, several newspapers over the years, including the New York Times, where he won a Pulitzer, the Daily Beast, and USA Today). His book, The Making of Donald Trump, has been climbing the Times bestseller list for the past two weeks (dare we compare it to… a speeding bullet?). And he’s been making the rounds of TV, radio, print media, podcasts, internet journalism — wherever there is bewilderment as to how we got here and where we may be headed, David Cay Johnston is there, offering facts and deeply informed opinions on what Trump — whom he has known for nearly thirty years — may in fact be up to.

This weekend, Johnston spoke to AlterNet’s Steve Rosenfeld. An excerpt:

SR: Have you seen [Trump’s impulse to always attack] change since you started covering him in the ’80s?

DCJ: Donald is 70 years old. I’m almost the same age, I’m 67. He’s not any different than when I met him, when he was in his early 40s. Donald is a guy who has no empathy for other people, who doesn’t see other people as human beings. He sees them as things to be used. That’s why when he was challenged about cutting off health care for his sickly grandnephew, over money, and he was asked, as I report in the book, “Don’t you think that will look cold-hearted?” [He replied] “What else can I do?” There is no moral core inside Donald Trump. There is no moral compass. It doesn’t exist.

The interview is certainly worth a read, and you can give it one right here.

Johnston also stopped by the TrumpCast podcast to talk with Jacob Weisberg, founder and editor-in-chief of Slate, about Trump’s tax returns and the swirling mystery of why he won’t disclose them to the public. The episode is called He Probably Doesn’t Pay Taxes, and you can listen to it here.

After that, Johnston flew over to speak with Larry Mantle at Pasadena’s public radio station, KPCC, about the enigma that Trump presents to the American voter. Asked what we can know about Trump’s actual wealth, Johnston replied:

We know Donald didn’t pay income taxes in ’78, ’79, I recently found records showing he didn’t pay in ’84, he didn’t pay in ’92 or ’94. Those are all from government records. And in all likelihood, Donald has not paid income taxes in all but maybe a few of the last forty years, partly because there are special rules for full-time real estate professionals that a fraction of one percent of Americans—a tiny fraction—qualify for. And under those rules, as I’ve written about in other books, you can live tax-free. Secondly, there’s clear evidence of Donald cheating on his taxes that I go through in The Making of Donald Trump, at least in 1984. And we know that Donald has cheated on sales taxes, that he has submitted not matching sets of documents to different government agencies… The most he could possibly be worth is a billion dollars. In all likelihood, it’s a lot less. It’s essentially smoke and mirrors… I don’t know of any actual billionaire who is out there hawking steaks, water, neckties, and running this fraud called Trump University in order to raise money.

It’s a fantastically interesting interview, and you can listen to it here:



And just last night, Johnston appeared to discuss Trump’s debt alongside the New York Times’ Susanne Craig on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. Both guests were blistering. Here’s Johnston:

Donald, we found out in 1990, had $900 million of debt on his signature — that’s one heck of a big credit card. But I think what’s astonishing here, in this extraordinary piece of work that Susanne has done, and dug out what she was able to get, is: imagine if President Obama had so much as a car loan, or a mortgage on his Chicago mansion, from a communist Chinese bank. What would Fox News be doing, twenty-four hours a day?What would the Wall Street Journal editorial page be saying about this? We really need a full accounting… We know that Trump has received millions and millions of dollars from Russian oligarchs. We can connect him in various ways to them. We don’t understand the depth of those connections. We have never had before a presidential candidate who’s in hock to the Chinese communist government in Beijing—and who is receiving money, large sums of money—from the leader in Moscow.

To say the least! Watch the entire segment here:

If you see David Cay Johnston, say, exiting a phone booth, or repairing to his fortress of solitude in the icy north, please express the thanks of a grateful Metropolis.