The Slatest

The Easiest Way to Get to Know Donald Trump Is to Depose Him

Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump exits his plane during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas.

Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty Images

Donald Trump says a lot of things out loud—some true, some true-ish. Pinning the Republican frontrunner down on just about anything has proven exceedingly difficult. Trump, unlike other candidates for president, doesn’t have a long record of public policy statements. Trump’s life, despite being part reality TV bravado, is also hard to triangulate other than what Trump says has happened. Moments of clarity are rare, but as the Daily Beast’s story about his divorce from ex-wife Ivana Trump shows, the clearest picture behind the public persona is through the billionaire’s favorite rhetorical threat—the lawsuit.

Trump being Trump, as well as a businessman in commercial real estate in a rough-and-tumble New York market, he’s been before his fair share of judges and been seated, under oath, for depositions more than your average candidate. The New York Times parsed hundreds of pages of Trump testimony from lawsuits since 2007. Here are a few under oath gems they uncovered.

Trump the inflator:

“Have you ever exaggerated in statements about your properties?” one lawyer asked him. “I think everyone does,” Mr. Trump replied. “Does that mean that sometimes you’ll inflate the value of your properties in your statements?” the lawyer tried a moment later. “Not beyond reason,” he answered.

“Was he really paid $1 million for a 2005 speech, as he had boasted on television? He was not. (It was $400,000; in testimony, he said he counted efforts to promote the talk as a form of payment.)”

Did his debts ever reach $9 billion in the 1990s, as he said in two of his books to dramatize his eventual financial comeback? They did not. (“That is a mistake,” Mr. Trump said, “and I don’t know how it got there.”)

Trump on booze:

Alcohol? He does not touch it, Mr. Trump testified.

Trump on TV:

Television? “I don’t have a lot of time,” he said, “for listening to television.”

Trump on tech:

Text messages? Not for him… In 2007, he said he had no home or office computer. “Does your secretary send emails on your behalf?” he was asked. His secretary generally typed letters, Mr. Trump said. “I don’t do the email thing.” By 2013, Mr. Trump was still not sold on email. “Very rarely, but I use it,” he said under questioning.