16 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY March 28-April 3, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Who Owns Trump? The former president’s money troubles open him up to being bought and influenced. By Jeet Heer FORUM In “Atlantic City” on Bruce Springsteen’s masterpiece Nebraska (1982), a down-onhis-luck tough guy laments, “I got debts that no honest man can pay.” Spiraling downward, he decides to make some money by going to the Jersey Shore, rife with criminals and casinos, to “do a little favor” for a hoodlum. Donald Trump, who opened up the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City two years after Springsteen’s song was released, presents himself as belonging to a higher class than New Jersey wise guys—but he knows all about debt and desperation. That gambling den was shuttered in 2014, a familiar pattern with the real estate magnate’s projects. Trump’s financial history is often described, euphemistically, as checkered. The Atlantic City casino is only one of many failed enterprises Trump has tried his hand at (including Trump University, Trump Steak, Trump Vodka and Trump: The Game). He’s resorted to bankruptcy for his businesses four times. Despite having debts that no honest man can pay, Trump has remained a favorite with lenders, maintaining opaque and troubling relationships with institutions like Deutsche Bank. Although superficially a bad loan risk, Trump remained attractive to lenders for most of his business career because his brand had enough cachet that one could plausibly believe one of his endeavors would pay off. And in fact, Trump did ultimately hit pay dirt by winning the presidency in 2016. Since then, he’s been the favored child of money managers for another reason: Having a once and possibly future president in your pocket opens up all sorts of leverage possibilities. Imagine if you could call the standard-bearer of one of America’s two big political parties anytime for a “little favor.” Now gearing up for his third presidential run, Trump finds himself again in financial trouble—this time due to losses in the courtroom. Trump’s money troubles have dire implications not just for him and the Republican Party (with the RNC foolishly agreeing to help with their candidate’s legal costs) but also for American democracy. The scale of Trump’s fix is staggering. In a New York fraud case, he faces a $464 million penalty. He owes another $83 million for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of sexual assault. Trump’s leadership PAC reported that it had burned through more than $5 million in legal fees for him last month alone, which is more than the entirety of what the PAC took in. It’s unclear how Trump can pull himself out of the financial pit he’s fallen into. Bankruptcy is one option—although an embarrassing one for someone running for high office. Another source of needed cash could be Wall Street. Some of the money will come from Republican donors. Trump’s big selling point to voters is that his wealth makes him an independent force in American politics, that he’s too rich to be bought. The truth is Trump will be wholly owned by Wall Street. Jeet Heer is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation, where this story first appeared. OPINION A president in your pocket opens up all sorts of leverage. FOR MORE INFO + REGISTRATION MONTEREY.ORG/REC (831) 646-3866 SCAN ME! REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! THE CITY OF MONTEREY BEST SUMMER EVER! CAMP QUIEN SABE OVERNIGHT CAMP WHISPERING PINES DAY CAMP TINY TOTS SUMMER CAMP SPORTS CAMPS SPECIALTY CAMPS LEGO, GYMNASTICS, WOODWORKING AND MUCH MORE!