“I think a good part of it was mistakes,” said Barbara Res, a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization who managed construction at Trump Tower.
Res said the mistakes started in the 1980s, when Trump paid $365 million for the Eastern Air Lines Shuttle and $400 million for the Plaza Hotel.
“He overpaid for all that stuff,” said Res. “Those were not wise decisions. Those were mistakes on his part.”
Those mistakes alone don’t quite account for the $916 million Donald Trump reported losing on state tax returns in 1995, according to documents obtained by the New York Times. We don’t know exactly where that figure comes from, because only a few pages were leaked. A loss that big could have allowed Trump to avoid paying federal income tax for years.
At a rally Monday in Colorado, Trump did not dispute the broad strokes of the story. But he blamed the recession of the early 1990s for his financial problems.
“I was able to use the tax laws of this country and my skills as a business person to dig out of the real estate depression when few others were able to do that,” Trump said.
But former employees and business associates say Trump himself was also to blame.
“All the assets that he bought — the shuttle, his real estate — he believed he could make a lot of money on them,” said Alan Pomerantz, a lawyer who represented dozens of banks in negotiations with Trump in the early 1990s. “He was wrong. His judgment was wrong.”
At one point, Trump owed $3.4 billion. He was personally on the hook for more than $800 million.
Pomerantz said investors lost big while Trump claimed the tax benefits for himself: “By doing …