HomePoliticsHow Trump's Playboy persona came back to haunt him

How Trump’s Playboy persona came back to haunt him

Details of the impeachment against former President Donald J. Trump have yet to be revealed, but the most salient details are made for headlines and screens:

Sex. Porn Star Sex. Money for your silence. Sex.

Mr. Trump maintains his innocence in a now-familiar way, framing himself as the just victim of the “thugs and monsters of the radical left”. But the salacious nature of the impeachment resurrects the Donald Trump who existed long before he became the 45th president, before his ubiquitous MAGA catchphrase, before his claims to be bigger than Washington or Lincoln, before the two impeachments and a riot at the Capitol.

That would be the Donald Trump who liked to present himself as a player, extremely confident that his wealth and good looks made him catnip to women. A man who could talk threesomes with a radio jock, walk boldly through a locker room full of pageant contestants, rate women on a scale of 1 to 10 based on their physical appearance.

It’s a part of Mr. Trump’s persona that has repeatedly come back to haunt him, most recently on Thursday, when a Manhattan grand jury forever ruled him as the first former president formally charged with a crime.

The little that is known about the case is quite scandalous. It revolves around the $130,000 that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, paid to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, well before his presidency and while his third wife stayed home with their young son.

Trump, who recently began his campaign for the 2024 presidential election, is not the first president linked to sexual misconduct. Bill Clinton had sex with the intern he infamously said he didn’t have sex with, in the Oval Office. John F. Kennedy’s many affairs included one with a woman who was also intimate with a Chicago mob boss. Warren G. Harding fathered a child with a mistress who claimed they had sex in a White House coat room. There is more.

But Trump’s long public history of ramblings, bragging and rude comments sets him apart in the presidential pantheon.

As a young man in the 1970s, Mr. Trump would hit Manhattan clubs and inform gossip columns about his love affairs, all in keeping with his effort to shed the appearance of just a working rich kid from Queens. for his father’s real estate company. .

He married Ivan Zelnickova, a Czech model, in 1977 and concentrated on making his mark in high-risk real estate. But their relationship fizzled out in 1989 when Mrs. Trump discovered what others already knew: that Mr. Trump was having an affair with a model and actress named Marla Maples.

The tit-for-tat fight that followed was the tabloid gift that kept on giving, with a highlight, or less prominent, being a 1990 New York Post cover showing Trump smiling and a headline reading: “Marla brags to her friends about Donald: ‘THE BEST SEX I EVER HAD.’”

Lou Colasuonno, the Post editor who designed that front page, recalled thinking, “He’s never They are going to sue us for this headline.”

The circumstances behind the headline are part of the contradictory journalistic tradition. But Ms Maples, whose marriage to Mr Trump ended in 1999, later denied saying those words, and Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization executive, later said that while she was concerned about the impact on the Trump children, their father “He thought it was the biggest thing.”

The perception of sexual prowess seemed central to the persona that Trump cultivated.

Linda Stasi, a novelist and former columnist for The Post and The Daily News, recalled in an email that Trump once left a message on her voicemail, pretending to be someone else, as he often did, and saying in a false voice that Donald Trump was having lunch at such a restaurant and was surrounded by beautiful models.

“You should write about this,” he recalled the informant telling him.

“His fake accent was as real as his orange tan,” Stasi wrote, adding that the first time she met Trump, he told her: “Well, you’re cute, aren’t you?”

“I think I said, ‘What? Oh really?'”

And Mr Colasuonno, former editor-in-chief of The Post and The Daily News, recalled sharing two private meals with Mr Trump in the early 1990s, at a time when the real estate developer was frantically denying his very obvious and deep financial problems.

“The conversation was 50 percent about ‘babies’ (he used that archaic term) and the other half was lies about his financial situation,” Colasuonno said.

At times it seemed as if Mr. Trump judged the world based on some frat boy attractiveness ranking system. While serving as the editor of Vanity Fair in 1993, Graydon Carter invited Mr. Trump to be a guest of the magazine at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Carter said he seated the developer next to a well-known model, who soon asked to change seats. “He’s the most vulgar human being I’ve ever met,” he recalled her saying. “He asked Me to judge whether other women’s legs and breasts are better or less than his wife’s.”

Seating was rearranged, Carter said in an interview. “She was angry.”

Another woman, journalist E. Jean Carroll, has alleged that around this time, in 1995 or 1996, she met Trump, an acquaintance, at a high-end department store in Manhattan. After he asked for help buying a gift for a woman, she said, the two ended up in a dressing room, where he raped her.

Ms. Carroll laid out her allegations in a 2019 New York magazine article. Mr. Trump denied the charges this way: “I’ll say it with a lot of respect: Number 1, she’s not my type. No. 2, never happened. It never happened, okay?

Since then, Ms. Carroll has filed two civil lawsuits against Mr. Trump, for defamation and for assault and defamation. One of those cases is scheduled to go to trial this month.

Trump did not reserve his rude comments for private conversations, as evidenced by his many appearances on Howard Stern’s radio show. Joking with his provocative host from 2005 to 2010, for example, the soon-to-be president rated women on their looks (Tiger Woods’ then-wife Elin Nordegren had “a solid 9”), suggested that he had once had a trio with women whose combined weight was 375 pounds, and recalled a particular perk of owning the Miss Universe pageant: going backstage for a supposed inspection while the contestants were dressing.

“They’re standing there with no clothes on,” he said. saying, as CNN reported in 2016. “’Is everyone okay?’ And you see these amazing looking women, so I get away with stuff like that.”

Trump’s documented penchant for misogynistic behavior was no secret to the electorate when he ran for president in 2016.

A month before the November election, The Washington Post published a 2005 video of Trump, then 59, discussing women with TV personality Billy Bush as they prepared for an episode of “Access Hollywood.” The transcript of their conversation reads like a dull script for a rejected “Animal House” sequel.

Some of Trump’s recorded comments, peppered with crude references to female anatomy, are more famous than most of his speeches as president. “Just kiss me,” he advised him at one point. “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do everything.”

After initially dismissing his comments as “locker room jokes,” Trump apologized to his family and to the American people. Within a few weeks he won the presidency; within a few months, he privately began to question the tape authenticity.

But Trump’s past as a self-described gamer continued to float on the surface of the MAGA red sea.

In early 2018, The Wall Street Journal broke the story about the $130,000 that Trump’s personal lawyer Cohen personally paid Daniels to buy his silence about his alleged one-night stand with Trump after a charity golf. event 12 years earlier.

Mr Cohen was later convicted of tax fraud and campaign finance violations after admitting that he had provided hush money to Ms Daniels and helped arrange a similar payment to another woman, a Playboy model. named Karen McDougal. He did it, he has said, at the direction of Trump, who denies it.

Mr. Trump has also denied having a sexual relationship with Ms. Daniels and has begun calling her “horseface”. He has responded by referring to the “deficiencies” of the 45th president.

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