Trump Shows How Much He Really Cares About Veterans

It would've been easy for Trump to make good on his original claim of giving $6 million to veterans' groups — but he didn't

Donald Trump admitted this week that he did not raise $6 million for veterans during a January event, as he previously claimed. Credit: Mark Peterson/Redux

Donald Trump is rich as hell. I know this because he says so, often. His wealth has shaped his campaign's entire narrative. He can create jobs because he's a businessman who does important business things. He does all the best deals. He never settles. Trump is so rich he won't be beholden to lobbyists because he's self-funding his campaign, at least until recently. (In fact, he never entirely was.)

But he is rich! He reportedly made at least $557 million last year, although we can't be certain of that until he releases his taxes, which he definitely never will. But we know he's Richie McRicherson because he lives in the ugliest apartment you've ever seen, and that much ugly don't come cheap. Racist butlers don't either. And who but a rich man could have his businesses declare bankruptcy four times, screwing the vendors who supplied his casinos out of millions of dollars he owed them, and still rent his name out to people as a way to give their own ventures a sheen of legitimacy?

The nice thing about being rich (I imagine) is money can save you from all sorts of scrapes, from minor mishaps to murder charges. And Donald Trump is in a bit of a scrape.

It might be hard to remember, what with their kiss-and-make-up interview last week, but Donald Trump once hated Megyn Kelly so much he skipped an entire Republican debate. (Remember debates?) Instead of arguing with his fellow Republican candidates over who would deport the most Mexicans for having gay abortions, Trump staged his own event, dutifully covered live by every news network not holding the debate: a fundraiser for veterans' organizations. He claimed to have raised $6 million for the various charities — $5 million from others, $1 million from himself. That's real money when it comes to nonprofit budgets.

Only… he didn't.

Trump being Trump, we'll probably never know how much money he raised that night. But his campaign manager has admitted it wasn't the $6 million Trump claimed.

Trump, who went to a rich kids' military boarding school, got multiple deferments to get out of Vietnam, and has said he likes troops who "didn't get captured," loves to fashion himself a champion of veterans. That's what his counter-event that debate night was all about: selling himself as a generous friend of the men and women who serve our country in the military.

But just like the specious claims of "bone spurs" he used to get one of those deferments during Vietnam, the whole thing was a sham. He was slow to disburse the money to vets' organizations, and now it turns out he didn't even raised what he claimed.

But all of this is easy to fix. If you recall, we've established beyond a doubt that Donald Trump is, in fact, a rich man.

So if he didn't raise the full $6 million, why doesn't he just write a check and make up the difference? Hell, why wasn't that his first instinct?

No matter how much he's fallen short, the difference should be a drop in the bucket to Trump. He's already spent $43 million of his own fortune on his campaign for the White House. (Technically it's a loan, but he's said he won't pay it back now that he's raising money from the exact same special interests he claimed he wouldn't be beholden to because he's just so darned rich.)

Why didn't Trump come right out when the story broke and say, "Here's the rest"? He could have easily turned a negative story into a positive one. It would've been the right thing to do.

But when was the last thing Donald Trump did the right thing? His values, if they exist at all, are inside out and backwards. He's stuck in the world's worst feedback loop, surrounded by sycophants, with millions of suckers buying his shtick.

And it is a shtick. Trump's professed love for veterans is a perfect example. He makes a show — a literal television show — out of his devotion to vets. But his real feelings came out in that unguarded moment where he made fun of John McCain's stint as a prisoner of war. Someone who has given a moment's thought to the sacrifices and challenges of veterans would never, ever have said what he said.

It's not about the money. Trump may have given money to veterans' organizations in the past — though, according to data shared by his own campaign, his charitable giving is better measured in rounds of golf than actual dollars. (His tax returns would shed more light on this, but we're not going to see them, ever.)

It's about values. It's about using veterans as a prop for his campaign, lying about how much money he raised for them, and then not fixing his lie once he was caught. It would have been easy.

After all, in case you hadn't heard, Trump is very rich.