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New book reveals Trump's business practices included once being paid with gold bars

Haberman reveals new details about Trump’s business dealings in the New York City real estate world and beyond, from a veiled threat to the owner of a magazine preparing to report on his inflated net worth to an acknowledgment that his businesses had to sometimes interact with the mob, according to the reporting obtained by CNN.

Separately, Trump’s other business practices are now under renewed and intense scrutiny in the wake of the New York attorney general’s sweeping lawsuit, announced Wednesday, against Trump, some of his children and his company alleging scores of fraudulent financial activities that the former President used to enrich himself.

In one striking episode, Haberman writes that Trump would occasionally receive portions of lease payments in cash, including when a leaseholder once sent Trump a box of dozens of gold bricks to cover the cash portion of the lease on the parking garage in the General Motors building in Manhattan, which Trump purchased in 1998.

Trump told aides he didn’t know what to do with the gold bars, according to Haberman. He ultimately directed Matt Calamari, a onetime security guard who became chief operating officer in the Trump Organization, to wheel the bars up to his apartment in Trump Tower. It’s not clear what happened to the gold bricks. A lawyer for Calamari declined to comment, and Haberman writes that Trump called it “a fantasy question.”

Haberman’s book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America,” is being released on October 4. It includes an examination of Trump’s journey through the New York business world as well as his presidency and the aftermath of his 2020 loss to Joe Biden. Haberman, a CNN political analyst, is a longtime New York-based reporter who has worked for both of the city’s tabloid newspapers, and she covered Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns and the Trump White House for the New York Times.

Haberman writes that Trump’s financial situation at his company was often more precarious than people realized, according to former officials.

At one point, Trump was said to have borrowed several million dollars from Trump Organization executive George Ross, according to Haberman. Ross acknowledged to the author that he loaned Trump money, but insisted it was to “cover a situation that was disposed of very quickly” and not for payroll expenses.

In another episode, Haberman writes that Trump was said to have threatened to go public with rumors that Malcolm Forbes, the deceased owner of Forbes magazine, was gay, when the magazine was preparing to report that Trump’s net worth was far less than what he was claiming publicly.

Haberman writes that officials at the Trump Organization operated in silos, and they often were unaware of what was happening elsewhere in the business.

When Trump’s hotel and casino company was rebuked by the Securities and Exchange Commission over a misleading earnings statement, Haberman writes that Trump was more involved than the company let on.

Trump’s lawyer at the time, Jay Goldberg, blamed company officials for the misleading projections in 1999 and insisted Trump was not involved, Haberman writes. News stories at the time of the SEC action three years later also stated that Trump did not have a role in the financial statement that overstated the company’s earnings.

Analysis: Dual legal blows hammer Trump

But Haberman reports that a former company consultant, Alan Marcus, said that Trump personally marked up a draft of the release in question and made existing projections rosier.

Trump denied that account, according to Haberman.

In an interview with Haberman, Trump acknowledged that his business dealings in New York City meant he would sometimes have to interact with the mob, though he downplayed how aware he was of it.

“Well, anybody that built in New York City, whether you dealt with them indirectly, or didn’t even know they existed, they did exist,” Trump said. “Well, you dealt, you had contractors and you don’t know if they were mob or controlled or maybe not controlled, but I will tell you getting bids sometimes is very tough. You’d get one bid, it’d be a high end disappointing bid. And then there was nobody else to bid.”

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