Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any weirder, it turns out Donald Trump likely masqueraded as his own publicist, during phone calls with reporters — proving he probably belongs in a shrink’s office, instead of the Oval Office.
It sounds like the kind of thing a not-very-bright high school student would attempt; impersonating someone else on the phone, in an attempt to stay out of, or get out of trouble. The only difference is that a high school student might be smart enough to do a better job of it, or at least come clean when they’re caught.
But there’s smart and then there’s Donald Trump. This week transcripts and recordings surfaced of a 1991 phone call between People magazine Sue Carswell reporter and a man identified as Donald Trump’s publicist, John Miller. The recording raised eyebrows, because everything about Miller — from the tone of his voice, to his speech patterns, and his over-the-top praise of Trump — points to him actually being Trump.
Interviewer: What kind of comment is coming from, you know, your agency or from Donald?
John Miller: Well, it just that he really decided that he wasn’t, you know, he didn’t want to make any commitment. He didn’t want to make a commitment. He really thought it was too soon. He’s coming out of a marriage, and he’s starting to do tremendously well financially. As you saw, he got his licenses five to nothing the other day and totally unanimous. And he’s really been working hard and doing well. And probably, as you know, there’s a real estate depression in the United States and he’s probably doing as well as anybody there is. And frankly, he wants to keep it that way. And he just thought it was too soon to make any commitment to anybody.
Interviewer: So what is going to happen when – is she being asked to leave or is she going to be allowed to stay?
John Miller: Well, he treats everybody well. You know, you don’t know him, but he’s a –
Interviewer: No, I have met him.
John Miller: Have you met him? He’s a good guy and he’s not going to hurt anybody. The one article said he was going to throw her out of the apartment is total nonsense. He is going to always treat her well as he treated his wife well. I mean, he paid his wife a great deal of money. He did it in a very bad period of time and, ultimately, that was settled. There were those that say that that was even put that way. I don’t know if you heard that but that Trump became poor until he got his divorce. And then all of a sudden, he’s been doing very well and I guess you probably heard that, too.
But he treated his wife well and he treated – and he will treat Marla well. He’s somebody that has a lot of options, and, frankly, he gets called by everybody. He gets called by everybody in the book, in terms of women.
In 1991, Trump’s affair with model Marla Maples and the collapse of his 12-year marriage wife Ivana was all over the tabloids. Carswell called Trump’s office seeking to interview Trump about the ensuing soap opera. What she got was 15 minutes of a very Trump-esque sounding “John Miller,” bragging about his boss’s money and women. In addition to living with Maples, and dumping her future French first lady Carla Bruni, Miller boasted that Trump had “three other girlfriends,” with what sounds like an unusual degree of personal of personal pride for a publicist. Miller even gave a lengthy account of an encounter with Madonna, assuring Carswell that nothing happened.
The modern day term for this is catfishing: a kind of deceptive activity in which someone creates a fake identity for nefarious purposes. These days it’s mainly used in romance scams, but proto-catfisher Trump was looking to scam reporters. In addition to Carswell, several other reporters have described receiving calls from men who sounded like Trump, claiming to be publicist named John Miller or John Barron.
Regarding John Miller, Trump testified in a 1990 court case that “I believe on occasion I have used that name.” He also admitted to using the name John Barron when calling reporters early on in his career. cDescribed as a “vice president of the Trump organization,” Barron appeared in a front-page New York Times article as early as 1980. While carrying on the affair with Maples, Trump sometimes used the code name “the Baron” when he left phone messages for her. In 2004, when he commissioned a television drama based on his life, Trump’s only request was that the main character be named “Barron.” Barron also happens to be the name of Trump’s youngest son.
It’s all terribly amusing, for a candidate that media talking heads actually describe as authentic, with straight faces. But as Eugene Robinson writes in the Washington Post, the whole things points to a “bizarre, dangerous neediness,” that’s rather pathetic in such a man, but dangerous traits in anyone who would be president of the United States.