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Donald Trump’s Dirty Tactics: How the King of Deals Plays a Zero-Sum Game

Donald Trump has employed the same dirty tactics in his business and political dealings. Here's a sampling. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has employed the same dirty tactics in his business and political dealings. Here’s a sampling. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Donald Trump prides himself on being “King of the Deal.” But he’s always operated his businesses like a zero-sum game, leaving a trail of broken promises and bankruptcies in his wake. His tactics reveal some startling insights into his mindset, how he treats others and exactly what kind of president he may become.

Based on an examination of his foulest deals, he’s got a “method of operation” that he uses over-and-over again in his business and political dealings.

They may or may not be found in “The Art of the Deal,” his famous tome concocted by someone else–who now claims its a fraud–but many of them have already become evident in the primary and presidential campaigns.

Here’s a sampling.

Tactic: When facing a tough rival, sully their reputation with taunts, smears character assassination and baseless insinuations.

He employed this tactic against both GOP primary rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who posed the biggest threats during the primary.

“I see him starting to sweat,” Trump said of Rubio following a debate. “Thank God he has really large ears, the biggest ears I’ve ever seen, because they were protecting him.”

Rubio did his best to trade barbs, but he was no match for the King of Slights.

Cruz got it far worse. Trump insinuated that his father may have been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, based on the flimsiest of evidence.

“I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump said incredulously on Fox News.

In a statement, Cruz issued a sharp response: “[Trump’s] false, cheap, meaningless comments every day indicate his desperation to get attention and willingness to say anything to do so.”

By then, however, the damage was done.

In the presidential campaign, Trump has sunk to a new low of relentless innuendo and outright falsehoods about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, according to media reports.

For one, he continues to call her “Crooked Hillary” even though the depth of his corruption is far worse. It’s a common propaganda tactic. Repeat a lie often enough and maybe it will stick.

Tactic: Bully people with your wealth.

When he fails to pay for something, or refuses to pay in full, his response often is “sue me.”

He threatens to tie up the case in court so it costs far more in legal fees to collect what’s owed. Then he negotiates a settlement for pennies on the dollar.

Tactic: Threaten to sue anytime someone displeases or challenges you.

So far in the campaign, Trump has threatened to sue both The Washington Post and The New York Times for reporting the details about his business dealings he’d rather not have known.

During the primary, he threatened to sue Cruz to prove he was born in Canada (a falsehood) and disqualify him from the campaign.

Tactic: Operate behind a wall of secrecy.

He stonewalls banks, investors, bond holders–or in the case of the election–voters to hide personal and business dealings that may shed light on his true character.

Unlike any presidential candidate in recent history, he refuses to release his tax returns. He questions Clinton’s health, yet turned his promise to release a “full review” of his health into a joke.

Instead, he released a four-paragraph letter written unprofessionally by a doctor who lied about his credentials on the stationary and listed his father as his practice partner, even though he’s been dead for six years.

He criticized the Clinton Foundation for taking money from foreign nationals. But he refuses to reveal how much money from Saudi Arabia, China and other foreign investors is propping up has vast Trump Organization empire.

Tactic: Say anything to get what you want, no matter how far fetched. (See first tactic)

He’s run a campaign solely on slogans unrivaled since the rise of Hitler, and demonized an entire religion to galvanize his base.

In his ads for defunct Trump University, he personally promised to make people rich by revealing his real estate trade secrets. Now he’s being sued for fraud for allegedly bilking students, who paid as much as $35,000 on the basis of false promises.

Tactic: Change your message to suit the audience.

This explains his various flip-flops on immigration, one moment softening on the issue and the next talking tough again.

In one speech he’s the “law and order” candidate; in the next he’s the kinder, gentler candidate promising African-Americans a cornucopia of jobs. Yet, his New York City “war room” team doesn’t include one minority.

Tactic: When called out, dig in, never admit you’re wrong and never apologize.

When he came back from his short trip to Mexico empty-handed, he said he discussed the “wall” but not the payment.

But Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto called him out on it, saying he was told Mexico would not pay for it under any circumstances.

When asked about it, Trump still insists Mexico will pay.

Trump refused to apologize after sparking outrage for calling Vietnam War hero John McCain a coward, simply because he was captured after his plane was shot down.

He insulted the family of a U.S. soldier who died protecting his men in Afghanistan, simply because he was a Muslim. He still hasn’t said he’s sorry.

Tactic: Carefully craft a superlative public image and stick to it.

Through it all, Trump has skated on casino bankruptcies, stiffing investors, refusing to pay small business contractors, Trump University, Mafia dealings, violating immigration laws at Trump Model Management, engaging in a multi-level marketing scheme, employing foreign “guest workers” and illegal immigrants, and violating anti-trust laws.

Now, he’s running for president, with a smiling wife at his side (his third), a shoeshine and a smile. Will he skate into the White House?

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