Watch: Inside the Bailout that Saved a Collapsing Trump Organization

Share:
October 3, 2016

This weekend, The New York Times obtained portions of Donald Trump’s tax returns from 1995 which revealed that the candidate declared a loss of $916 million that year.

It’s a loss that could have allowed Trump to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, according to tax experts interviewed by the Times. 

The Choice 2016, FRONTLINE’s recently-released documentary on the lives of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, takes a close look at the decisions that led to that nearly $1 billion loss — including the purchase and subsequent struggles of three Atlantic City casinos, an airline, a yacht, and the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan — and how Trump and his financial backers responded as one by one, those investments failed.

“He sort of blamed the people around him for what went wrong instead of himself,” Barbara Res, a vice president of the Trump Organization from 1980 to 1992, tells FRONTLINE in the above excerpt from The Choice 2016.

As the film explores, the banks that Trump and his companies owed billions to faced a choice: cut ties with Trump or bail him out.

Ultimately, the banks decided that Trump was too big to fail. As they stared into the Trump Organization’s financial abyss, they came to decide that Trump’s assets — the buildings, the casinos — were worth more with his name still attached to them than they would be in foreclosure.

As The Choice 2016 details, they even put Trump on a $450,000-a-month allowance. In exchange, he would continue to promote the business.

“I think bankers look at Trump as a promoter, not as a CEO. At least, that’s the way I looked at him,” Ben Berzin, who as vice president of Midlantic Bank helped negotiate Trump’s rescue, tells FRONTLINE. “And if you talk to other bankers, I think they share that opinion. He’s a wonderful promoter. He — you know, he’s the P. T. Barnum of the 21st century.”

Stream The Choice 2016 online, in full, any time, or watch an encore presentation Sunday night, October 9, on PBS.

 

 


Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@ptaddonio

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

New Data on Utah Police Shootings and Race Called ‘Extremely Uncomfortable’, ‘Disappointing’
Racial and ethnic minorities account for a third of the people shot at by Utah police over the past decade — despite these groups making up just a quarter of the population.
September 20, 2021
Most Minneapolis Voters Believe Crime Is on the Rise, New Poll Finds
An overwhelming majority of likely Minneapolis voters say crime is on the rise, a view strongly held by residents of every race, gender and age group across the city, according to a new Minnesota poll, our Local Journalism Initiative partner the Star Tribune reports.
September 18, 2021
Minnesota Poll: Most Minneapolis Voters Want Reform, Not Fewer Cops
A clear majority of Minneapolis voters oppose reducing the size of the city’s police force — a feeling that’s especially strong among Black voters, according to a new poll. At the same time, voters are showing support for replacing the police department with a new agency, our Local Journalism Initiative partner the Star Tribune finds.
September 18, 2021
Get the Backstory on Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’ as ICC Green Lights Investigation into Philippines Killings
With the International Criminal Court authorizing an official investigation into Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody “war on drugs," these two documentaries and one podcast episode offer context.
September 17, 2021