Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman:
Donald’s stress about the opening-weekend debacle traced to the fact that they had spent so much to build the Taj that they needed extraordinary cash flow to sustain it. The casino needed to take in $1.3 million a day in revenue just to stay afloat. Just weeks earlier, when a casino-industry analyst named Marvin Roffman had been quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying he thought the Taj would have trouble generating that revenue, Trump called Roffman’s bosses at the investment firm Janney Montgomery Scott threatening to sue the company if Roffman did not either apologize and say publicly that the Taj would be a massive success or lose his job. Roffman refused to recant and was fired shortly after, a situation that led Representative John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to call for a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
Trump might have succeeded in delivering vengeance, but he could not keep scrutiny of his finances at bay. A pair of journalists at Forbes received a leaked copy of a financial-disclosure report that Trump was required to file with New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission. Most notably, the filing made clear how dire the day-to-day cash flow was for the Taj’s owner: his businesses were already in the red, stretched by debt from all his purchases. When he learned Forbes was going to write the story, Trump applied pressure.
In one telling, Trump dangled the threat of a lawsuit against the magazine. In another, according to a journalist who worked for the magazine, Trump made clear to the Forbes leadership that he was ready to embarrass the family of the magazine’s recently deceased owner, Malcolm Forbes, a gay man who had worked hard to keep his sexuality secret. The journalist said that Trump warned that shortly before his death Forbes had attempted to enter the Plaza Hotel’s bar with two male friends below the legal drinking age. Trump claimed he blocked their entry, prompting Forbes to call the next day and threaten him. The hit piece about his net worth, Trump alleged, was that retribution. (In Surviving at the Top, Trump recounted that story and twisted the knife into Forbes’s corpse. “I also saw a double standard in the way he lived openly as a homosexual—which he had every right to do—but expected the media and his famous friends to cover for him.”) There were reasons to question Trump’s account—the two reporters behind the article said they did not begin work on it until after Forbes’s death—but Trump’s threats, whether it was about Malcolm Forbes or simply the possibility of a lawsuit, succeeded: the story was changed before publication.