Trump’s 200 Million Inauguration Visitors and $15 Million Net Worth: The Scale of His Border Lies

Tonight, Trump will take over the airwaves to lie about the southern border in what will either be a last ditch effort to persuade Senate Republicans to stay the course supporting his temper tantrum, or will include a declaration of emergency that would pave the way to reopen government while saving face, all while creating an unbelievably dangerous precedent in the process.

Yesterday, NBC reported just how enormous are the lies the Trump Administration is telling about the southern border.

It describes that while the Administration claims to have stopped 4,000 known or suspected terrorists last year, in reality, CBP stopped just six.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered only six immigrants at ports of entry on the U.S-Mexico border in the first half of fiscal year 2018 whose names were on a federal government list of known or suspected terrorists, according to CBP data provided to Congress in May 2018 and obtained by NBC News.

The low number contradicts statements by Trump administration officials, including White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who said Friday that CBP stopped nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists from crossing the southern border in fiscal year 2018.

That number six is itself an exaggeration. In a piece predicting that, “the Intelligence Community is almost certainly not able to stand publicly behind what the White House and DHS are saying,” former National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen explains what (he correctly suspected) that number represents: visa denials based on a possible link to terrorism.

[T]hose visa denials or SIA encounters hardly equates to disruption of a terrorist plot or the “capture” of a known terrorist. Our watchlisting system is predicated on a carefully calibrated risk management approach. When the intelligence community acquires information that points to a potential link to terrorist activity, individuals are not permitted to travel to the United States. But it should not be assumed that every individual who was denied the opportunity to enter the U.S. because was in fact a would-be terrorist intent on doing us harm.

Plus, the 4,000 number equates to all such stops, not just those on the southern border.

In other words, the White House has been telling an unbelievable exaggeration to attempt to ratchet up fear to justify Trump’s tantrum.

It is, even among Trump’s fantastic lies, remarkable. Trump used a number, 4,000, that is actually 666 times higher than even a conservatively high number, 6.

To show just how big a lie it is, I calculated what two of Trump’s other most famous lies, exaggerated on such a scale, would be.

In an effort to avoid looking inadequate as compared to President Obama, whose inauguration had record crowds (much to the chagrin of those us of caught in the Purple Tunnel of Doom), Trump claimed more people attended his inauguration than ever before, meaning more than the 1.8 million who attended Obama’s first inauguration. In reality, the number was likely between 300,000 and 600,000. Take the smaller of those two numbers, exaggerate by as much as Trump is exaggerating the threat of terrorist infiltration on the southern border, and he’d have to claim 200 million people would have attended his inauguration, many more times the crowd Obama got.

Or take his net worth, another of his most epic lies.

Trump has claimed his net worth is $10 billion; the company, too, claims to make that much in a given year. Last year Forbes calculated Trump’s net worth was actually closer to $3 billion.

But if we take Trump’s exaggerated claim of $10 billion, and assumed he is exaggerating by the scale that he’s exaggerating the threat at the southern border, and it’d say his real net worth was just $15 million.

I mean, that’d make Mitt Romney far richer than Trump. Richard Blumenthal, too, would be worth more than the President. The Senate might not even let a pauper like that join their club! According to some calculations, Nancy Pelosi would even be worth more — in monetary, and not just human, worth — than Trump if he exaggerated this much.

The point is this lie is not just egregious and fact-free. It is, even among Trump’s lies, a whopper.

And Trump will go on teevee tonight to try to spread lies on an epic scale.

28 replies
  1. Trip says:

    OT, but not exactly OT. Advice to the stupid media who will be airing the Liar in Chief tonight:

    Sarah Kendzior‏Verified account @sarahkendzior

    Advice for networks to minimize their utility as propaganda tools:
    1) Before the speech, get a panel of experts on autocracy to explain what rhetorical devices autocrats use, so the audience will recognize them
    2) Use a time delay. Check facts and correct lies during speech.

  2. Pete says:

    I see the Dems have a response/rebuttal to Trump set to air as well. Any ideas who it is and when? I assume immediately after and certainly hope it is a strong and articulate female Dem – hopefully Nancy Pelosi! He needs to have a strong female dunk in his face.

  3. Tom says:

    It will be interesting to see what Trump manages to say in all of the 8 minutes his speech is scheduled to last. If he sticks to reading from a text, he will likely come across as wooden and unconvincing. If he goes off-script and speaks spontaneously, he will probably sound incoherent and rambling and may go over his time limit. Also wonder if he will have one of those goofy posters as a prop or a backdrop.

  4. Drew says:

    Ah 666! The number of the Beast!

    It should be remembered that the book of Revelation was composed in Asia Minor (Turkey) at the end of the first century CE in a community hard up against it and particularly suffering under the authoritarian depredations of the Roman Empire and its dehumanizing use of power & wealth to undermine the general weal. It is a profoundly political document, to the point that it speaks in code, particularly using Babylon when it means Rome. But as such it gives generalizable insights into power & evil.

    Here are some notable excerpts of that passage where 666 appears:
    “Then I saw another best…it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first best on its behalf & it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast…” 2nd Beast=Trump 1st Beast=Putin??
    “it deceives the inhabitants of the earth, telling them to make an image for the beast…” “…and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.” [Where’s your MAGA hat? Your papers? Have you signed on with the Trump Org as a vendor or customer?]
    The passage concludes: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.” Revelation 13:11-18.

    Thank you Marcy for your wisdom and your calculations. There’s no reference to Orange Hair here, but he’s definitely a beast of the same category.

    • Peterr says:

      A word from a pastor’s study . . .

      Revelation does not speak in code, but rather in the literary mode of apocalyptic literature. To translate out of the biblical framework into more secular apocalyptic writing, think of Yertle the Turtle. This is Theodore Geisel’s literary treatise on the fundamental flaws of authoritarianism that will ultimately bring about its collapse. Geisel is taking on folks like Hitler, Stalin, Khrushchev, Mao, and others, not in the manner of Hannah Arendt, nor FDR or JFK or Ronald Reagan. Instead, he wrote an apocalyptic piece, filled with talking animals, numbers, symbols, metaphors, puns, and fantastic imagery, all to serve his very very political point.

      What makes Revelation feel like a secret code is that apocalyptic literature (whether sacred or secular) is highly attached to cultural understandings. The less immersed one is in the culture, the more that one misses. For instance, Yertle the Turtle came out in 1958, a year after the USSR launched Sputnik. Kind of adds new meaning to Yertle’s lust to build his throne higher, higher even than the moon, to be the powerful ruler of all that he sees. Any reader in the 1950s or 60s (the children who had “duck-and-cover” nuclear drills in school) would grasp this parallel immediately. Those who came to the book later may or may not get the specific reference, though the general message is surely not lost.

  5. Semanticleo says:

    I’ve often wondered what debt service Megamouth had in his cauldron. Capitalism assumes Adam Smiths Invisible Hand checks human avarice, but that fairy-tale disappears with full implementation.

    Debt is absolutely necessary for one to have a decent credit rating but I used to think honoring your debts was a necessary concomitant.

    Bulloney. Sorry for swinging that ax off topic.

  6. Klaas Muizelaar says:

    200 million people is about 110 times as many people Obama had in 2009, or 200 times as many as Obama in 2013. Math not 100% correct yet…

  7. gmoke says:

    I doubt Trmp is worth even $15 million. I suspect he owes much more money than he actually owns and has been working off his cash float for decades now.

  8. clairence says:

    I could be wrong, but it seems that these people stopped at the border were *stopped at the border without a wall*, and thus we have a secure border – without a wall – and the wall is ego juice for Oval Office Occupant 1.

    • J R in WV says:

      I think the $5,000,000,000 is intended to be a slush fund for Trump’s minions to use for the next campaign, and/or for Trump’s Trumplets to steal for personal gain.

      In other words, not about the wall at all — he’s already gotten billions of dollars for that wall, and hasn’t spent more than a few shekels on it so far. If they can’t spend monies already allocated for the wall, why on Earth should Congress allocate more money?

      Plus no blueprints, no maps, no litigation to seize the land needed, no environmental impact statements prepared for the damage the wall is bound to create, etc, etc! Total incompetence shouldn’t be rewarded like that!

  9. CCM says:

    I just met a traveller on one of the blacklists. Her crime? Trying to bring in fresh fruit and lying about it. Nice way for TSA to pad their terrorism stats. Creates several hours of delay every time she travels.

    • Tom says:

      But haven’t you ever seen the Monty Python sketch where John Cleese demonstrates how to defend yourself when someone attacks you with a piece of fresh fruit?

  10. Mike Stagg says:

    This will be Trump’s first Oval Office address. There will be more. Like his rallies, he’ll lie to incite viewers, appealing to their worse angels. Consider these his Gaslight Chats.

  11. Raven Eye says:

    I once worked for a pathological liar on a small contractor team — my first work situation where I has a chance to really track the lies (helped by the fact that the rest of the team also knew, and also knew that she lied to the different team members about each of them — we’d all get together and share the lies).  It was an illuminating experience.

    (But it did really help with team bonding.)

  12. Rusharuse says:

    What the . .

    (See, e.g., Doc. 460 at 5 (After being shown documents, Mr. Manafort

    “conceded” that he discussed or may have discussed a Ukraine peace plan with Mr. Kilimnik on

    more than one occasion); id. at 6 (After being told that Mr. Kilimnik had traveled to Madrid on the

    same day that Mr. Manafort was in Madrid, Mr. Manafort “acknowledged” that he and Mr.

    Kilimnik met while they were both in Madrid)).

  13. koolmoe says:

    And even beyond the flaws and exaggerations of pro-wall arguments, what’s the actual evidence it would work anyway? Israel claims illegal immigration was cut significantly. Sounds great (I guess). Is there verification? Is that a consistent reduction or just the first year…until tunnels were completed. And our wall would go coast-to-coast…then what? How do we prevent boats from long, roundabout trips? Walls, fences, whatever…are overcome or bypassed all the time.

    What I’m blabbering about is, Trump claims the wall will make us safe. Bull. Even if it was a good idea and Mexico did pay for it and it was beautiful…tunnels, aircraft, and boats still exist.

    PLUS even if it happens, has any thought been given to expanding legal points of entry? I mean, funnel all those asylum seekers to fewer points, that’s another potential catastrophe.


  14. Jenny says:

    Lies and exaggeration sums up Trump and his maniacal administration.  A vicious cycle.  He will try to convince his base federal employees want a wall more than a pay check.  UGH.  People want to feel valued, not devalued.  Federal workers are pawns in his narcissistic life.  Plus the GOP are complicit.  UGH!

    “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”  Mark Twain

  15. 200Toros says:
    This is from our own United States Depart of State Country Reports on Terrorism:
    MEXICO Overview:
    Counterterrorism cooperation between Mexico and the United States remained strong in 2017. Improved information sharing regarding migrant populations constituted a major step forward. At year’s end there was no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States.
    The Idiot says that “drugs are flooding into the country” – true, but, the DEA states that while drugs coming in from Mexico are certainly on the increase, they come in primarily through Ports of Entry, hidden in cars and trucks, they are not smuggled across open desert. Not clear how a wall would change that. (Need more drug-sniffing dogs!)
    Finally, Per US Customs and Border Protection, illegal border crossings are at near decades-lows (had a nice little graph but it wouldn’t show up here):
     I’m trying to look at our own government’s data on the issues here, and I just don’t see how ANY of this adds up to a “National Emergency”.
    As you say, he’s manufacturing an “Emergency” when there is none, spreading fear, for his own agenda, at the direct expense, both financially and from a national security standpoint, of the US taxpayer. This little episode alone would seem to show we have a President who is wiling to enact policy that is in direct conflict with the data/intelligence provided by the relevant government agencies tasked to support those policies.

    THAT is the real national emergency…

    (I am fine with enhancing border security, but a wall isn’t a quick fix. Ultimately, people will immigrate to our country as long as we continue to hire them. They come at our invitation – we demand, they supply.)

  16. Trip says:


    The Republicans WHO DIDN’T FUND A WALL WHILE THEY HAD ALL 3 BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, think it’s perfectly okay to create anxiety for the citizenry, continue not to pay Fed Workers, and only end the shut down by holding a FAKE press conference to CRY WOLF with an emergency STUNT, so that they can save themselves from humiliation.
    That is an ABUSE OF POWER, that they are TAKING PART IN. A FAKE EMERGENCY.
    NONE should remain in power.

    Some Republicans see an emergency declaration to build Trump’s border wall as a way out of a shutdown fight they’re losing

    Some Republicans see the move as a face-saving way out of the shutdown.

    • Trip says:

      I forgot to add, that if this defended in court, your tax dollars will pay dearly just so a bunch of GOP members don’t suffer embarrassment of losing an argument, a policy, an expenditure, that they didn’t even want to begin with, (never mind that the majority of US citizens don’t want it either).

      Representative democracy, my ass.

  17. Taxidermist says:

    IMO, djt can’t provide budgets, bids or plans for a wall because he likely needs the money to pay his buddies for un-budgeted kiddie jails that severely over spent in 2018. Keeping the government closed allows him to avoid any pretense of presidential responsibility (his daily public calendar is unbelievable), stops the avalanche of civil cases against him & lets him focus on his conspiracy against the United States to-do list. He hates everything the government does and represents, with the exception of it’s ease of allowing grifting.
    The Senate needs to override his veto now, before he declares a national emergency and escalates this to a point they can’t reign in.

  18. Jockobadger says:

    Alan, the reply button is out of order, but I read the Wonkette story and you’re right! It was worth it.

    I find myself wondering just how truly big, how monumental this thing might be? I’ve been fooling myself, I think, that it was just a few rogue types like Gates/Manafort, et al. I have a horrible feeling it’s much worse. Maybe you folks tumbled to it long ago. Not me. Just a dumb geologist. Thanks for the amazing writing/commentary.

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