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Donald Trump tried to get his father, Fred Trump, to rewrite his will in a way that would have left the younger Trump the ability to bail out his own failing businesses, according to a New York Times investigation published Tuesday. The report alleged that the president averted hundreds of millions of dollars worth of taxes on money from his father's real estate empire in the 1990s.

Despite his father’s will having already been written by a top real estate lawyer, Trump had his own lawyers draft a new copy and sent it to his father in December 1990. Trump, according to The Times, sent his father a 12-page document and asked him to sign it immediately.

Sworn depositions made by unnamed members of the Trump family during a dispute over Donald Trump’s nieces’ and nephews’ inheritance were obtained by The Times. Those depositions reportedly showed that Fred Trump believed the document his son wanted him to sign would put his vast business empire at risk.

The document, according to The Times, would have protected Donald Trump’s portion of his father’s inheritance from the people to whom he owed money and from his ongoing divorce settlement with his first wife, Ivana Trump. Had his father signed the document, which he did not, it also would have given Donald Trump sole control over his dying father’s estate. 


Fred Trump was, according to the sworn Trump family testimonies obtained by The Times, angered by his son’s attempt to rewrite his own will without his prior knowledge or consent. His father sought new estate lawyers to help prevent Donald Trump’s efforts to rewrite his will after he went to his daughter, Donald’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, for help. At the time, she was a federal judge who gave her father legal advice.

“This doesn’t pass the smell test,” Fred Trump reportedly told Maryanne, according to her deposition. 

“Donald was in precarious financial straits by his own admission and Dad was very concerned as a man who worked hard for his money and never wanted any of it to leave the family,” Maryanne Trump Barry said.

Based on confidential tax returns and financial records, Trump received today’s equivalent of at least $413 million from his father’s prior business dealings, according to The Times. The first payoffs began when Donald was just a toddler.

Trump and his siblings allegedly helped his father to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes by using sham corporations, lowering the value of properties and making improper tax deductions, according to records and interviews obtained by The Times.

All of this is despite Trump’s repeated claims he only received a $1 million loan from his father when he first began his own business ventures into real estate. He’s long portrayed himself a self-made billionaire, but his lack of willingness to release his tax returns, coupled with investigations by reporters over many years, have begun to show otherwise.

Following the report, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said it was “reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation.”

In a statement to The Times, Trump attorney Charles Harder threatened future legal action over the paper’s reporting.

“The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” Harder said. “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate. Should the times state or imply that President Trump participated in fraud, tax evasion or any other crime, it will be exposing itself to substantial liability and damages for defamation.”

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