Every Time Donald Trump Has Been Exposed

The following article includes brief references to sexual assault allegations.

When many Americans think about George Washington, they might remember a myth they were taught as children: how America's first president couldn't lie about chopping down a cherry tree. Donald J. Trump, however, might bring to mind a different fictional hunk of wood. If the puppet Geppetto carved was cursed to repeat Trump's many mistruths, his nose might eventually poke him in the back of the head. (Perhaps this is hyperbole, but it's difficult not to use it when discussing a man who is so fond of it — with Trump, seemingly anything can be dubbed the "greatest" or the "biggest.") According to The Washington Post, Trump's lies numbered over 30,000 during his presidency. The outlet itself uses a Pinocchio scale to rate politicians' falsehoods, and in 2018, it created a new designation for Trump's special brand of big-league dishonesty: the Bottomless Pinocchio. It's bestowed on the lies that politicians repeat the most, such as Trump's claim that he passed "the biggest tax cuts in history." 

For his part, Trump decries "fake news" while keeping the fact-checkers busy debunking any untrue statements from the dangerous to the outlandish. "I think I'm the most honest human being perhaps that God ever created," he said during a 2022 campaign rally. But he's arguably made baseless claims about everything from the 2020 election being stolen to wind turbines causing cancer.

All that said, Donald Trump's habit of twisting the truth actually started long before he became president, and while some of these fibs may be fairly harmless, some have also been exposed in a court of law.

His greatly exaggerated affluence landed him in legal trouble

Important features of the Donald Trump brand have always been influence, power, and wealth. Trump used his reality show "The Apprentice" to demonstrate that he's the big boss in the boardroom by dismissing contestants with his "You're fired!" catchphrase, and he was also known to oust White House officials who arguably weren't servile sycophants. But one place he found that his chest-thumping did him little good was in the Manhattan courtroom of Judge Arthur Engoron. Ahead his fall of 2023 civil fraud trial, the former president was already exposed for lying about his wealth.

Engoron found Trump liable for fleecing financial institutions by inflating the values — and even the sizes — of his properties on financial statements. Trump's real estate holdings include his Trump Tower penthouse, which he claimed to be 30,000 square feet. However, this is one blatant lie that's easily provable as false with property records or even a measuring tape — and it's actually just 10,966 square feet. Trump also overvalued the apartment's worth by as much as $207 million. "A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud," Engoron wrote in his ruling. Engoron found that Trump also overinflated his Mar-a-Lago club's value by a whopping 2,300%! 

The judge summed up Trump's plumping up of his real estate portfolio's value by writing, "That is a fantasy world, not the real world."

Donald Trump's big birther whopper

It's no secret that Donald Trump is no fan of Barack Obama; there's even a rumor that he decided to run for president because both Obama and comedian Seth Meyers roasted him during the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner. But to be fair, Trump had arguably brought the discomfort of having to sit there and be the butt of jokes on himself by loudly supporting the conspiracy theory that Obama wasn't born in the United States. Trump even vowed that he was going to deliver proof to his fellow birthers to back this lie. "I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they're finding," he claimed during a 2011 appearance on the "Today" show (via Fox News). At the time, Trump was mulling over the idea of running for president against Obama. He bowed out, however. 

Trump never produced any evidence from the private investigators he supposedly sent to Obama's home state of Hawaii, and according to his former attorney, Michael Cohen, this is because no such investigation ever happened. "He didn't want to spend the money, and he didn't believe it," Cohen said on "The Rachel Maddow Show" in 2020. Cohen also alleged of why Trump so strongly dislikes Obama: "He's Black; he went to Harvard Law; he graduated at the top of his class; he's incredibly articulate. And he's all the things that Donald Trump wants to be." Maybe now we can add "He's a president who didn't get indicted" to that list.

The alleged hush money mistruth

In 2018, a pair of reports about Donald Trump's alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels ignited a media firestorm. The first came courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, which reported that Trump's ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, had paid $130,000 to Daniels to buy her silence in 2016. The second was an InTouch interview with Daniels, who claimed that Trump had sex with her after they met at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006. 

Trump later told reporters that he was allegedly unaware of the hush money payment, and when asked why Cohen gave the money to Daniels, he replied, "Well, you'll have to ask Michael Cohen." Cohen was slapped with a three-year prison sentence in December 2018 after he was found guilty of financial crimes, including campaign finance violations. He'd also helped orchestrate a $150,000 hush money payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed that she had an affair with Trump, as well. 

When a grand jury examined the evidence against Trump in 2023, it found that he allegedly was actually aware of both payments. He was charged with falsifying business records to cover them up, becoming the first U.S. president to be indicted. "The defendant DONALD J. TRUMP repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election," read the Statement of Facts in the case. Trump pleaded not guilty that April to the 34 felony counts against him.

Donald Trump's inaccurate 9/11 recollection of rendering aid

Donald Trump exposed himself to a lot of criticism in 2013 with a since-deleted tweet that read, "I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th." He's also been exposed telling a tall tale about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In 2019, the then-president signed a law that provided medical funding for emergency personnel who suffered adverse health effects from exposure to the toxic dust of Ground Zero. Some first responders were in attendance for the signing, and Trump told them that he had joined them at Ground Zero after the towers fell. "I spent a lot of time down there with you," he claimed. He'd previously told attendees at a 2016 campaign rally that he'd even "helped a little bit" when first responders were clearing debris and searching for survivors. 

However, Richard Alles, who was a New York Fire Department deputy chief at the time, told The New York Times that he never saw Trump there. "He was a private citizen at the time. I don't know what kind of role he could have possibly played," he added.

On the day of the attacks, Trump spoke to WWOR-TV and made another dubious claim that was easily disproven. He boasted that one of the buildings he owned, Forty Wall St., had become downtown Manhattan's tallest structure after the Twin Towers fell. However, according to Snopes, 70 Pine Street was still 25 feet taller. 

The art of the engagement ring deal

If there's one thing Donald Trump might like bragging about more than his wealth, it's his ability to make a deal. He was very proud to say that he didn't pay full price for Melania Trump's 15-carat engagement ring, telling The New York Times that he got a 50% discount from Graff Diamonds. "Only a fool would say, 'No thank you, I want to pay a million dollars more for a diamond,"' he said ahead of his 2005 wedding. But "The Art of the Deal" author got no such steal, a Graff exec told Forbes in 2018.

Donald claimed that Graff reduced the cost of the engagement ring, which reportedly had a $1.5 million price tag, for free publicity. He wanted everyone to believe his name held so much prestige that various businesses were clamoring to shower him with free stuff as he prepared to get married for the third time. "For every item, there's five people who want to do it. In all cases they don't want anything, but they want recognition," he told The New York Times. 

But lest any engaged social media influencers with yuge! followings get any ideas, Graff CFO Nicholas Paine said to Forbes, "We don't sell items for publicity value." According to another insider, Donald allegedly didn't even get a small discount on Melania's ring. But hey, at least she now knows that her husband is seemingly willing to pay full price for her happiness.

Donald Trump's apparent desperation to date famous women

According to "Desperado" star Salma Hayek, Donald Trump was once so desperate to score a date with her that he apparently ingratiated himself with the guy Hayek was dating at the time. This is how Trump obtained her phone number. "When I told him I wouldn't go out with him even if I didn't have a boyfriend, [which he took as disrespectful], he called — well, he wouldn't say he called, but someone told the National Enquirer," Hayek said on "El Show del Mandril" in 2016 (via BuzzFeed News). Hayek didn't reveal whether Trump's good pal, David Pecker, had become the owner of the Enquirer by then, but the tabloid had the real estate mogul's back; it printed a story claiming Trump found Hayek "too short" to date.

Then there was the time Trump got caught posing as a publicist named John Miller in 1991. Under this guise, he told a People reporter that the many famous women who wanted to date Trump included Madonna and Kim Basinger. However, it was the future first lady of France, model Carla Bruni, whom Trump had purportedly dumped his then-girlfriend, Marla Maples, for. This was news to Maples, who confirmed to People that Miller's voice actually belonged to Trump after listening to the audio interview. "I feel betrayed at the deepest level," she said. Maples would marry Trump two years later, and Bruni would eventually clarify to the Daily Mail that she never dated Trump. She also claimed he was "clearly a lunatic."

Hillary Clinton called him out on a climate change claim

Donald Trump has some bizarre beliefs about the environment. Some of the modern-day Don Quixote's biggest enemies in the fight to save Mother Nature are "windmills" (which is what he calls wind turbines) — he mistakenly believes they are killing whales. "The windmills are driving them crazy," he baselessly claimed at a September 2023 campaign rally, per The Guardian.

In Trump's world, there's really no need for the machines to exist. While he's capable of accepting his unproven theories about whales and wind energy as truth, he doesn't agree with the scientists who can prove that climate change exists. When wildfires ravaged the West Coast in 2020, the soon-to-be-ex-POTUS suggested that a lack of raking leaves, not climate change, was the problem. And if it's not an issue, why bother adopting forms of renewable energy? 

However, an anti-climate change conspiracy theory Trump once promoted was so outlandish that he later found himself trying to deny that he ever believed it. "Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real," Hillary Clinton said during the first 2016 presidential debate. Speaking over her, Trump argued, "I do not say that. I do not say that." But science wasn't needed to prove Clinton's claim; Trump's own X, formerly Twitter, feed exposed his lie. "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive," he tweeted in 2012.

The proof is allegedly in the potty

When Donald Trump earned himself a second indictment, this time for his alleged handling of classified documents, we learned that some of the records he reportedly absconded with after leaving the White House were found inside a Mar-a-Lago bathroom. It's unclear whether he may have been using that particular loo in lieu of a paper shredder, but in 2022, Axios shared photos that purportedly showed torn-up documents with Trump's handwriting on them marinating inside two commodes. One toilet was reportedly located inside the White House, and someone had risked clogging the other during a trip abroad. The name of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) was jotted on one paper fragment in permanent marker.

The New York Times columnist Maggie Haberman documented Trump's seemingly unusual manner of document disposal (which he has denied) in "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America." While promoting the book on "CNN This Morning," Haberman claimed of Trump's toilet troubles, "I learned that staff in the White House residence would periodically find the toilet clogged." When an engineer was called to fix a clog, Trump's soggy docs were discovered to be the source of the problem.

If he really was tearing up documents during his time in the White House, Trump would have been violating the Presidential Records Act. And if was actually putting them in the potty, this may explain why he thinks it's typical in the U.S. for it to take up to 15 flushes to get everything in the bowl to go down.

Donald Trump's late-night host lie

Jimmy Kimmel has remained one of Donald Trump's most vocal late-night critics, and when he was still occupying the Oval Office, it didn't escape Trump's notice that he was regularly roasted during Kimmel's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" monologues. At a June 2018 campaign rally for South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, Trump took aim at Kimmel with one of the worst insults he could lob at him: He claimed that the funnyman used to respect him. Trump told the rally crowd that Kimmel was once so excited to greet him that he waited outside his studio. "He opens my door," Trump recalled. "I said, 'Does he do this to everybody?' to his people. 'He does it for nobody.'"

Kimmel called Trump's story a total fabrication and taught him a valuable lesson about why it's probably not a good idea to lie about late-night hosts. "This is what really happened that night. Donald Trump showed up one night outside our show banging on the backstage door," Kimmel quipped on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," adding, "He had a half-finished bucket of chicken under his arm, and he was screaming that he needed to use the bathroom." Alas, the bathroom was occupied, so Kimmel's own fictional story ended with the chicken bucket meeting a terrible fate.

According to Rolling Stone, Kimmel is so good at getting under Trump's skin that Trump reportedly had staff members call Disney to complain about him. These alleged calls happened mere months before Kimmel exposed Trump's lie.

The ex-POTUS' big Forbes fib

Donald Trump hasn't just been accused of telling falsehoods about his finances to further line his pockets. According to a former Forbes reporter, he also masqueraded as a Trump Organization exec named John Barron solely because he desired the notoriety of having his name printed on the Forbes 400 list. In a 2018 report for The Washington Post, Jonathan Greenberg recalled getting a call from "Barron" when he was working for Forbes in 1984. Donald's apparent goal was to convince Greenberg that he had become a billionaire by obtaining a majority of his father, Fred Trump's, business holdings.

Greenberg decided to rely on his own research instead of taking the pretender at his word, but he would later discover that Forbes still got it wrong when reporting on Donald's finances. Donald's net worth was just $5 million in 1982, but he managed to make the Forbes 400 when the magazine mistakenly estimated that he was worth $100 million. This was based on Donald's false claim that he had taken over the family real estate business. (In reality, it remained under Fred's control until he died in 1999.) 

According to Greenberg, Donald Trump, "Barron," and Trump attorney Roy Cohn occasionally badgered Forbes about its reporting on The Donald's finances over the years, seemingly always with the goal of getting the magazine to increase its already over-inflated numbers. Of the future president's first appearance on the list, Greenberg told CNN, "He should never have been there in the first place."

Donald Trump was exposed by an Access Hollywood tape

The infamous "Access Hollywood" tape is an example of a different kind of exposure. In this instance, Donald Trump got caught behaving badly and reportedly tried to lie about it later. The Washington Post was the first outlet to share the 2005 tape footage ahead of the 2016 presidential election. In it, Trump makes vulgar comments about women, including "Access" host Nancy O'Dell. "I did try and f*** her. She was married," he says. The former "Celebrity Apprentice" host also boasts that his celebrity makes it easy for him to get away with sexual assault. "I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait," Trump says. "And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. ... Grab them by the p***y."

Trump initially apologized for his comments and claimed that the tape was not an accurate representation of the type of person that he is. But over a dozen women would eventually come forward to accuse him of inappropriate sexual behavior. He'd also change his story about the video, even though it wasn't enough to keep him out of the White House. In 2017, The New York Times reported that Trump was floating around the idea that it wasn't actually him speaking in the footage. "Access Hollywood" host Natalie Morales addressed the report on the show. "Let us make this perfectly clear," she said (via HuffPost). "The tape is very real."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

A big little lie about crowd size

One of Donald Trump's first orders of business as president was to tackle one of the issues that mattered most to him: convincing the public that his inauguration was attended by a truly tremendous crowd of supportive Americans. It's probably one of his most innocuous lies, but it got a ton of press coverage because Trump was so fixated on it. While speaking at CIA headquarters in January 2017, he claimed that the sea of people present at his inauguration reached the Washington Monument. But this was demonstrably false; a photo taken from the top of the obelisk proved that the back end of the crowd was nowhere near it. Worse yet for Trump was the photographic evidence proving that Barack Obama's inauguration crowd was far larger; one crowd expert told The Washington Post that his number of attendees trumped Trump's by three times.

Then there was the unbelievable statement from White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who told reporters, "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe." But Trump was likely disappointed when he checked those ever-important TV ratings and learned that upwards of 7 million more viewers watched Obama's 2009 swearing-in. The Guardian made another embarrassing discovery about Trump's obsession with crowd optics in 2018: He had personally reached out to the National Park Service director seeking photos that made his crowd size look more substantial.

Donald Trump and that hurricane map mystery

Donald Trump waded into a crossfire hurricane of controversy in 2019 — or, as it became known on social media, #SharpieGate. During a press conference, he used an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) map to warn Americans that Hurricane Dorian's trajectory would take it over Alabama. But there was one problem: the dangerous storm's path had been altered using a permanent marker. While some on social media found the addition amusing and meme-able, it likely caused many Alabama residents unnecessary alarm. The National Weather Service office in Birmingham had already used its X account to assure Alabamans that the hurricane was not heading their way after Trump tweeted, "In addition to Florida — South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!"

When a reporter asked Trump about whether the map had been altered with a Sharpie, he would only say, "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know," per Time. But for some in the then-president's orbit, it wasn't that hard to puzzle out who was the culprit behind the extra loop of black around the Cotton State that supported Trump's mistaken meteorological prediction. A White House official claimed to The Washington Post that the president himself was the marker-wielding madman. "No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie," said the source.

The former president's foundation fund falsehood

Donald Trump hasn't just been adept at convincing people that he's wealthier than he really is; he also possesses a talent for being deceptively generous. In 2016, The Washington Post recounted an occasion from two decades prior, where he showed up to an Association to Benefit Children event uninvited and stole the seat of one of the charity's donors. He was photographed alongside celebrities and politicians who had made large contributions to the organization — without donating a penny to it himself.

Trump did create his own charitable organization, the Trump Foundation, but The Washington Post discovered that one of its largest donations was used to the benefit of Trump himself; over $260,000 went towards the noble cause of giving a Trump Plaza Hotel fountain a facelift. Another shady expenditure was a portrait of Trump used to decorate one of his properties. Despite additional evidence that he's also used foundation money to settle legal issues, he tweeted in December 2016, "The DJT Foundation, unlike most foundations, never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses. 100% of money goes to wonderful charities!"

The Trump Foundation was put out of business in 2018 due to Trump's unlawful use of its funds, which included violations of campaign finance laws. But against his will, Trump's money did some good. "The president has been forced to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his own political gain," said New York Attorney General Letitia James. "... Funds have finally gone where they deserve — to eight credible charities."

Donald Trump's NFL fumbles

Donald Trump once harbored a dream of owning an NFL team; Michael Cohen even testified that Trump allegedly lied about his wealth on financial documents to increase his chances of securing a loan from Deutsche Bank that would enable him to buy the Buffalo Bills. Trump's bid on the team was unsuccessful, so he had to settle for competing with the NFL for Americans' eyeballs during the 2016 presidential debates.

Trump believed that the Democratic Party had conspired to have the debates scheduled in the same timeslots as NFL games, which he was upset about. "I got a letter from the NFL saying, 'This is ridiculous. ...' because the NFL doesn't want to go against the debates," he claimed to ABC News. However, a rep for the league denied that it sent Trump any such commiserative letter.

While Trump never got an NFL team, he did get the presidency. You might think that he'd be happy with such a large consolation prize, but according to journalist Jonathan Karl, he remained obsessed with pro football during his time in the White House. In his book "Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party," Karl claimed that Trump promised Kim Kardashian he would commute the sentences of the prisoners she was advocating on behalf of, if she could convince NFL players to meet with him. "All the players she approached declined," Karl wrote (via Axios). "Trump had become too toxic."