On Thursday, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal released mammoth reports documenting Donald Trump’s alleged failures to pay his bills full. In hundreds of court filings from more than 30 states, the newspapers found businesses owners, contractors and employees who claimed Trump and his companies refused to pay what they owed.
According to USA Today, which focussed on Trump’s legal battles with “ordinary Americans,” 253 subcontractors, 48 waiters and dozens of bartenders have accused the presumptive Republican nominee’s companies of failing to pay them either on time or in full. Additionally, Trump’s companies have reportedly been cited 24 times for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005.
In an interview, Trump told the paper that underpayments were the result of poor work on the part of his hires.
“Let’s say that they do a job that’s not good, or a job that they didn’t finish, or a job that was way late. I’ll deduct from their contract, absolutely,” Trump told USA Today. “That’s what the country should be doing.”
Mr. Trump’s withholding of payments stood out as particularly aggressive in the industry and in the broader business world, said some vendors who had trouble getting paid.
It is “a strong-arm tactic that is frowned on,” said Wayne Rivers, a small-business consultant in construction. The tactic is more common in Northeast construction than in other regions, he said, and is abnormal in much of American business.
“Part of how he did business as a philosophy was to negotiate the best price he could,” Jack O’Donnell, a former president of one of Trump’s casinos, told the Journal. “And then when it came time to pay the bills, [he’d say,] ‘I’m going to pay you but I’m going to pay you 75% of what we agreed to.’ ”
According to O’Donnell, such tactics made it difficult to do business and casino operators would pay suppliers in full against Trump’s wishes, infuriating him. Speaking to the Journal, Trump denied he had trouble paying his bills.
“I pay thousands of bills on time,” said Trump, dismissing claims to the contrary as “disgusting.”