Jonathan Swan points to this passage in Harry Hurt’s 1993 book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, which explains how Trump reacted after a string of high-profile reports that suggested his real net worth was far below what he claimed:
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Donald responds with a desperate disinformation campaign… He orders his public relations network to plant rumors in the tabloid press that he is sitting on a multibillion-dollar treasure trove of cash. New York Post columnist Cindy Adams is the first — but by no means the last — to take the bait.
“Everyone’s heard tales about how poor D.T. is leveraged out, how even his Taj is up for grabs because he needs money. Bullbleep,” Adams writes in her column of May 22, 1990. Alluding to a Forbes cover story without mentioning it by name, she declares that Donald is hardly down to his last half billion dollars. “How these august respectable financial journals overlooked certain hidden pockets in Donald’s wallet, I haven’t the foggiest… This guy is sitting on 4 billion. Cash. Billion with a ‘b.'”