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Where Did Trump’s Cash Come From? — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

We talk to the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold and The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson about the big mystery around the Trump Organization’s $400 million in cash deals.

Donald Trump photo: Gage Skidmore

Last week, the Washington Post had an intriguing story: In the nine years before now-President Donald Trump announced his candidacy, his company paid $400 million in cash to buy a number of properties.

Real estate companies doing deals usually borrow money for the same reason that many homeowners take out mortgages: Leveraging your money — especially when the cost of borrowing is low, as it has been for a decade — makes your money go further.

The fact that Trump — the self-styled “king of debt” — didn’t do that in these deals has raised a number of big, basic questions, including how the Trump Organization had so much cash, and why it would use it to purchase properties in all cash.

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Eric Trump told the Post that the money came from profits that his father put back in the business. “He had incredible cash flow and built incredible wealth,” the younger Trump said. “We invested in ourselves.”

In a “Trump, Inc.” podcast extra, we spoke to The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson and the Post’s David Fahrenthold — who wrote last week’s story with Jonathan O’Connell and Jack Gillum. Davidson and Fahrenthold talk about trying to make the numbers and the explanations add up. (Spoiler: They can’t.)

“There’s this fundamental question we have,” says Davidson. “Where did the money come from and why was it spent the way it was spent. There’s some piece of information that we are missing because none of the explanations make sense.”

We also talk about the revelations of payments to the president’s lawyer, Michael Cohen — and how it may be that our various investigations will converge into one.

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“Trump, Inc.” is a production of WNYC Studios and ProPublica. Support our work by visiting donate.propublica.org or by becoming a supporting member of WNYC. Find it wherever you get your podcasts. Our Trump India segments were produced in partnership with The Investigative Fund.

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Portrait of Eric Umansky

Eric Umansky

Eric Umansky is a deputy managing editor for ProPublica.

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