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2020-05-11 — bloomberg.com

Sometimes a tweet is just a tweet. And sometimes it's an advertisement for your business. And sometimes, when the president of the United States promotes his business on Twitter while overseeing the federal response to a pandemic gutting the economy, it's a financial conflict of interest.

Is Trump pushing businesses to reopen despite ongoing perils attached to the coronavirus because it's best for the country? Or is it because Covid-19 has battered his family's fortunes? Or is it simply because he has the upcoming presidential election in mind? Who knows. But we are more than three years into this presidency and the same questions that have hung over Trump from the moment he launched his bid for the White House still linger: What are the contours of his personal finances and how do they inform his actions and policies?

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will help shape our understanding of some of this when it hears arguments involving efforts by Congress and a New York prosecutor to get access to Trump's tax returns, bank documents and bookkeeping records.

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Trump sued me for libel in 2006 for a biography I wrote, "TrumpNation," claiming the book unfairly and intentionally misrepresented his track record as a businessman and lowballed the size of his fortune. The suit was dismissed in 2011.

During the course of the litigation, Trump resisted releasing his tax returns and other financial records. My lawyers got the returns, and while I can't disclose specifics, I imagine that Trump is hesitant to release them now because they would reveal how robust his businesses actually are and shine a light on some of his foreign sources of income.

Deutsche Bank AG, one of the firms Trump's lawyers are trying to stifle in their arguments before the Supreme Court, also turned over documents in my case -- including its own assessment of Trump's wealth that pegged his fortune at $788 million in 2004, well below the $3 billion he told them he had at the time. Deutsche is the only major global bank to have continued doing business with Trump since the early 1990s and is conversant with his financial comings and goings since then.

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