Skip to Main Content

The Big Cheat

How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family

Pulitzer Prize­–winning reporter and dean of Trumpologists David Cay Johnston reveals years of eye-popping financial misdeeds by Donald Trump and his family.

While the world watched Donald Trump’s presidency in horror or delight, few noticed that his lifelong grifting quietly continued. Less than forty minutes after taking the oath of office, Trump began turning the White House into a money machine for himself, his family, and his courtiers.

More than $1.7 billion flowed into Donald Trump’s bank accounts during his four years as president. Foreign governments rented out whole floors of his hotel five blocks from the White House while lobbyists conducted business in the hotel’s restaurants. Payday lenders and other trade groups moved their annual conventions to Trump golf resorts. And individual favor seekers joined his private Mar-a-Lago club with its $200,000 admission fee in hopes of getting a few minutes with the President. Despite earning more than $1 million every day he was in office, Trump left the White House as he arrived—hard up for cash. More than $400 million in debt comes due by 2024, and Trump still lacks the resources to pay it back.

The Big Cheat takes you on a guided tour of how money flowed in and out of Trump’s hundreds of enterprises, showing in simple terms how his family and courtiers used his presidency to enrich themselves, even putting national security at risk. Johnston details the four most recent years of the corruption that has defined the Trump family since 1885 and reveals the costs of Trump’s extravagant lifestyle for American taxpayers.

Photograph by Amy Boyle Johnston

David Cay Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter and bestselling author of The Making of Donald Trump and It’s Even Worse Than You Think. He has lectured on economics, journalism, and tax policy on every continent except Antarctica and is a former president of Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE). Johnston has been a frequent guest on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC, ABC World News Tonight, Democracy Now!, and NPR’s Morning Edition, among other shows, and was a consultant for the Netflix series House of Cards.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 6, 2022)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982178031

"The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and longtime Trump-watcher Johnston delivers enough charges to fuel a few hundred indictments. . . . Johnston assembles a case that’s full of news and startling incidents. . . . Those inclined to despise Trump and Trumpism will find ample reinforcement."

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A devastating roundup of malfeasance."

– Publishers Weekly

"Refreshing. . . . Rather than simply tsk-tsking about Trump’s abuses, Johnston offers common-sense solutions for bringing transparency and integrity back to politics and government."

– Booklist

More books from this author: David Cay Johnston