Eric Trump is taking flack for tweeting a conspiracy theory about former Vice President Joe Biden that was easily and thoroughly disproven. The younger Trump brother posted a photo of a lavish home in Delaware, wondering how Biden could afford this home on a salary of $174,000 per year. As it turns out, many reports had already traced Biden's history with this mansion.
Eric Trump punctuated his tweet with an eye-rolling emoji, implying that Biden was corrupt and was accepting money from some other source to pay for the home in this photo. As reporters were quick to point out, that wasn't the case. A report by The New York Times' Mike McIntire from 2008 explained how Biden had actually bought the home in 1975 for $185,000, then slowly renovated it over 21 years until it was worth $1.2 million. To many, this was indicative of middle-class savvy, not corruption. Meanwhile, others pointed to the more recent report about President Donald Trump's personal use of residences that are technically owned by his businesses.
Actually, that's not Biden's house. It's a money pit he bought in 1975 for $185,000, spent 21 years renovating and sold in 1996 for $1.2 million. I wrote about it last time he ran 12 years ago: https://t.co/KySe0aAERX https://t.co/1dzj2v0cLV— Mike McIntire (@mmcintire) October 17, 2020
The home in the picture Trump posted is on Montchan Drive in the Greenville area of Wilmington, Delaware. It is a DuPont-style mansion, and according to Snopes, when Biden purchased it, it was abandoned, run-down and in need of major repairs to even become livable. Biden fixed the home up piece by piece while living in it, and sold it in 1996. It has not been his personal residence for over two decades, and this fact is so well-documented that many critics are now calling Eric Trump's tweet a case of intentional misinformation.
Throughout his career in politics, Biden has maintained the reputation of a middle-class politician, grounded in the realities of his constituents' day-to-day lives. Careful reports like the ones linked above dispute the truth of that reputation on some levels, but not in the way that Eric Trump's tweet does. However, critics worry that Eric's followers are unlikely to see the contrary evidence.
Meanwhile, last month The Times obtained some of the president's tax filings of the last few decades, revealing a pattern of dubious business write-offs to create an illusion of great personal wealth that does not really exist. Many of Trump's lavish personal residences are in properties owned by his businesses, where he keeps suites and condos on reserve for himself and his family.
One particularly scandalous case is a mansion in suburban New York called Seven Springs, which the Trump organization claims as a business property. However, there is plenty of evidence that the Trump family has used it as a personal residence since 1996. In 2014, Forbes interviewed Eric and Donald Trump Jr. at Seven Springs, and Eric said: "This is really our compound." Still, Trump has avoided paying $2.2 million in personal property taxes on the home by claiming it is a part of his business.