Those who say Donald Trump isn't serious about running for president often point to the fact that candidates have to file a disclosure form revealing their personal finances. The Donald, they say, would never be willing to give that information up.
They've got some evidence to support that theory. In 2005, New York Times reporter Timothy O'Brien wrote in a book called "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald" that the developer was worth somewhere between $150 million and $250 million - far less than Trump claimed.
Trump responded with a lawsuit. In the deposition, from which CNN has posted excerpts, he called himself a "billionaire, many times over, on a conservative basis."
Trump declined to put a number on his net worth, saying it "goes up and down with the markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings."
Last month, Forbes magazine put Trump's net worth at $2.7 billion. He subsequently told Candy Crowley that in reality "it's much more than that," adding, "I think people will be extremely impressed." In 2007, Trump estimated his net worth at more than $4 billion, which he called "a very conservative number." (Considering his brand value, he suggested, he was really worth closer to $6 billion.) In 2009, he put his net worth at $5 billion in a Wall Street Journal interview, a figure he said did not include brand value. (Though it's hard to quantify, there is some legitimacy to his brand value claims: He leases his name to properties that he does not own in exchange for a licensing fee.)
Sources told Politico earlier this week that Trump is worth $7 billion, with one saying "his net worth is in excess of $7 billion with more than $250 million of cash, and very little debt. He is very, very liquid."
If Trump does file as a candidate with the Federal Election Commission, he will have to file detailed financial statements within 30 days - unless he applies for and is given up to two 45-day extensions, which are granted when an individual is said to have "good cause." That means Trump could potentially become a candidate and stay in the race for months without ever showing his financial records.
Since Trump has an incentive to inflate his financial success - the notion that he is exceedingly wealthy is integral to the Trump brand, after all - a disclosure offers an opportunity to silence those who say he has overstated his worth. If he opts not to run or drops out before filing, however, it will only increase the speculation that he isn't worth as much as he claims to be. (CNN ran a segment Thursday documenting Trump's "misstatements" about his properties.)
Trump told Time he looks forward to the chance to show his financial records, "because they are huge." He cast them as "[f]ar bigger than anyone knows. Far bigger than anyone would understand." He also said recently that he is worth "many, many, many times" as much as potential rival Mitt Romney, who disclosed in the 2008 cycle that his net worth is up to $250 million.
Michael Cohen, Trump's chief political adviser and an executive at The Trump Organization, told Hotsheet he did not know Trump's exact net worth, having not been provided with financial records. But he said he is confident the number is impressive.
"Mr. Trump has said on many occasions that if he elects to run, he looks forward to releasing his financials because they are significantly higher than the Forbes estimate, contain an enormous amount of cash, and a company that has very low debt," said Cohen. "One thing that I do know: He's rich."