Never underestimate the power of a well-worded Google search.
On Tuesday, the New York Times published an expansive investigation that uncovered the complicated, and legally dubious, financial history of the Trump family. It exposed definitively that Donald Trump is not the self-made man that he claims, and that he and his siblings received more than $1 billion from the real power broker of the family, Fred Trump, Donald’s father.
In another article, the Times broke down how its journalists uncovered the truth. Reporter Susanne Craig revealed a very interesting detail about the role of a Google search in unearthing one of the biggest scoops of the story.Â
Discovering the existence and true purpose of the company All County Building Supply & Maintenance was key to learning how Fred Trump passed huge financial gifts to his children, tax-free. And it turns out that the thread the reporters pulled on to uncover All County â the most fraudulent aspect of the (Fred) Trump empire â came from… Googling it.
A central finding of the story began to emerge in April 2017, when Ms. Craig had been Google searching an arcane term the group was interested in â âmortgage receivable,â which the Trumps used to describe the mortgages from the children to Fred â paired with the last name âTrump.â She found the disclosure form that the presidentâs sister Maryanne, a federal judge, had filed related to her Senate confirmation hearing. Unlike the many she filed during her years on the bench, this one was not redacted. In that document, Ms. Craig noticed a $1 million contribution from an obscure family-owned company: All County Building Supply & Maintenance.
ââWhat the heck?ââ Ms. Craig remembered thinking. âThat was the first inkling we had that, hey, thereâs something to do with this company that we need to figure out.â
The Trump family created All County as a way to pass money from father to children without the IRS noticing. Fred Trump essentially paid inflated maintenance costs for his buildings to All County, which then paid the legitimate costs to vendors and repair men. All Countyâs owners, the Trump children, kept the extra cash. Even worse? Fred Trump used the higher costs to justify raising rents.
A simple Google search enabled the reporters to discover the explosive and potentially illegal true purpose of the company.
If you haven’t read the whole investigation yet, it’s chock full of, um, creative ways that Fred Trump passed on his fortune to his children while avoiding estate and gift taxes. The reporters had access to hundreds of thousands of never before seen documents, and combined this access with interviews and FOIA requests to paint the larger picture of the president’s fortune.Â
All County is one of the piece’s biggest revelations, and it was discovered thanks to a Google search. But something tells us that these dogged and diligent reporters weren’t just Feelin’ Lucky.