Donald Trump has always been a man who cared more about how people perceive him than how he really is and he has surrounded himself in a veil of secrecy to prevent the public from finding out what the reality of both his private and business lives really is. But with the turning of Cohen, Pecker and Weiselberg, that veil is now being pulled back.
President Trump’s wall of secrecy — the work of a lifetime — is starting to crack.
His longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty last week to breaking campaign-finance laws and said he had arranged hush-money payments to two women at Trump’s direction. A tabloid executive — who had served Trump by snuffing out damaging tales before they went public — and Trump’s chief financial officer gave testimony in the case.
All three had been part of the small circle of family, longtime aides and trusted associates who have long played crucial roles in Trump’s strategy to shield the details of his personal life and business dealings from prying outsiders.
But, as their cooperation with prosecutors shows, a growing number of legal challenges — including the Russia investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and a raft of lawsuits and state-level probes in New York — is eroding that barrier.
The result has been a moment in which Trump seems politically wounded, as friends turn and embarrassing revelations about alleged affairs and his charity trickle out, uncontained. In coming months, certain cases could force Trump’s company to open its books about foreign government customers or compel the president to testify about his relationships with women.
He has relied on that veil of secrecy to be able to just make up how rich he is at any given time. Anyone who dared to suggest that he wasn’t as rich as he claimed to be got sued, most famously Timothy O’Brien, but during a deposition in that case he admitted that he just plain makes up whatever figure he likes that day. “My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings,” he admitted. When one biographer asked him how many rooms his apartment in Trump Tower actually had, since he had seen so many different numbers, Trump told him to just use the biggest one he had encountered.
His business dealings have always been corrupt. He has stiffed thousands of contractors and subcontractors as a standard operating procedure for his development projects. He’s cost banks and municipalities billions and billions of dollars in debt after using mostly bonds to finance his projects, then defaulting on the bonds and leaving his creditors holding the bag. Investigative reporters have been on this for a long time, but now, for the first time, there is a serious legal investigation going on and looking into these matters. And with the ultimate insiders getting immunity, Trump has to be absolutely terrified right now. The entire facade he has spent a lifetime building could come crumbling down. I certainly hope it does.