At this point, we’ve all seen enough of Donald Trump the politician to know whether we like him or not. But what about Donald Trump the man? These are the most interesting non-political facts about the life of the 45th President.
Donald Trump is the first (and presumably the last) President of the United States to have appeared in a pornographic film.
He made a cameo in a 2000 Playboy production called Centrefold. In a brief (fully-clothed) appearance, he welcomed the two *ahem* leading ladies to New York City with a bottle of champagne. He has also appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine.
To complicate matters, Donald Trump was approached by an anti-porn advocacy group called Enough Is Enough in 2016, and asked to sign a pledge to “crack down on porn” if elected.
Adnan Khashoggi, who died earlier this year, was one of the worlds most infamous arms dealers. Although he was never convicted of any crime, he was linked to a number of high-profile scandals, including the Iran-Contra Affair, which blighted President Ronald Reagans second term.
In 1980, Khashoggi commissioned the building of a 280-foot superyacht for an estimated $100 million (equivalent to almost $300 million today). This obscenely lavish craft included a movie theatre, a night club, a helicopter pad, quarters for 52 guests and crew, and bathrooms done up with handcrafted onyx.
In 1988, in financial straits, Khashoggi sold his yacht to the Sultan of Brunei, who flipped it to Donald Trump for $29 million. Its unclear why Trump bought a boat, since he himself said – Im not into them… Ive been on friends boats before and couldnt get off fast enough. But he did. And then he sold it off in 1991 when his finances hit the rocks as well.
But theres another connection between Khashoggi and Trump, and for my money its the funniest, most revealing non-political fact about the President.
In 1990, the defunct satirical magazine SPY decided to play a prank. Their objective was to identify the cheapest rich person in New York. (continued…)
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The SPY writers created a fake company called National Refund Clearinghouse. They then sent refund checks for $1.11 to 58 of the most prominent New Yorkers. To their amusement, 26 of the richest people in the city took the time to cash those checks.
So SPY repeated the prank, sending ever more trifling amounts to those who continued to take the bait. Finally, they narrowed the field down to only two men.
Adnan Khashoggi and Donald Trump – the man who built a $300 million yacht, and the man who bought it used for $30 million – both cashed checks for $0.13.
Despite the fact that he’s (supposedly) a multi-billionaire who can afford to hire his own spokespeople, Trump used to moonlight as his own publicist under the pseudonyms John Miller or John Barron. Assuming one of these aliases, Trump would call up reporters and attempt to plant flattering stories about himself.
You know… kind of like how a 12-year-old impersonates his dad on the phone when the Vice-Principal calls home because he skipped school.
In 1991, a reporter from People magazine had a conversation with John Miller. In the recording of the conversation, Miller (who sounds unmistakably like Trump) claimed his boss was doing “tremendously well financially” (he wasnt) and was overburdened with famous women, who kept calling to see if they [could] go out with him.” (They werent.)
Shortly after the 1991 interview, Trump admitted John Miller and John Barron were really him, and characterized the whole thing as a joke. But when the tapes re-emerged during his Presidential bid, he inexplicably denied having anything to do with them.
Since the Charlottesville protests, we’ve heard widespread speculation about the extent to which Trump is a racist. But Trump’s questionable attitudes towards minorities actually date back to his earliest days as a public figure.
In 1989, jogger Trisha Meili was viciously sexually assaulted as she ran through New York City’s Central Park. A group of Black teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 were arrested for the crime. They came to be known as the Central Park Five.
So what does this have to do with Donald Trump? (continued…)
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Trump was so incensed by this that he took out ads in the city’s major newspapers, arguing that the death penalty should be brought back in New York specifically so that it could be applied to these kids.
In the ad, Trump said: “They should be forced to suffer! Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!”
Despite the fact that there was compelling evidence suggesting their innocence, the Central Park Five were convicted, largely on the basis of dubious (and contradictory) confessions.
But in 2001 the strength of the evidence finally cleared their names. The real culprit, by his own confession, as confirmed by DNA evidence, was serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes.
Donald Trump remains unconvinced, however. In 2015, he went on CNN and said of the exoneration: “They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.”
Of all the many people who have interviewed Trump, nobody is better at lowering his guard than Howard Stern. The iconic shock jock has consistently goaded the mogul into confessing things that no sane person would cop to in public.
In 1997, during one of his semi-regular appearances on Stern’s show, Trump was asked about his ‘relationship’ with the late Princess Diana.
“Why do people think its egotistical of you to say you couldve gotten with Lady Di?” Stern asked. “You couldve gotten her, right? You couldve nailed her.”
“I think I could have,” Trump agreed.
This was mere months after her tragic death in a car accident.
Trump again discussed his attraction to Princess Diana with Stern in a 2000 interview, saying, “She had the height, she had the beauty, she had the skin — the whole thing.” He then went on to mock her very public struggle with mental illness: “She was crazy, but these are minor details.”
Trump began building the Manhattan high-rise that bears his name in 1979. But before he could build anything, he had to tear down the old Bonwit Teller department store which occupied the site.
To accomplish this feat at minimal cost to himself, Trump turned to illegal migrant workers. (continued…)
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instead of hiring a legitimate demolition company to clear the site, Trump contracted Kaszycki & Sons – a company better known for providing window washing services. Kaszycki in turn hired about 150 Polish immigrants, most of whom were working illegally.
Trump was supposed to pay them $4-5 an hour to demolish the department store, but in fact they were paid this pittance only sporadically. These men worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, without the benefit of safety equipment, and on completely illegal terms. And on top of all that, Trump still short-changed them.
On one occasion, Thomas Macari, an employee of Trump’s, was ambushed by the disgruntled workers. They took him to one of the higher floors of the half-demolished department store and threatened to hang him over the side if he didn’t secure their pay checks.
In response, Trump called Daniel Sullivan, a mob-affiliated union organizer, FBI informant, and labor fixer. Sullivan was taken aback when he learned that his friend was using illegal workers. He later testified that he told Trump to “fire them promptly if [you have] any brains.”
Sullivan also testified to the perilous conditions in which these mistreated migrant workers were forced to toil. “Men were stripping electric wires with their bare hands,” he said.
Trump managed to avoid trouble with the unions over this debacle because the unions in question were under the thumb of his lawyer, Roy Cohn. Which brings us to…
Roy Cohn was best known as the right-hand man of the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, the anti-communist crusader who spearheaded the Second Red Scare in the late 40s and 50s. Cohn was McCarthys chief counsel, helping him to scour the government and society at large for suspected communists, spies, and homosexuals.
After the public soured on his masters methods, Cohn left politics and became the most feared lawyer in New York. Thats where he met the 27-year-old Donald Trump in 1973 at a members-only establishment called Le Club. Trump and his father eventually hired Cohn to defend their real estate business against the charge of racial discrimination.
Trump and Cohn remained close for the next 13 years. Cohn was a lawyer, friend, and consigliere to the real estate mogul, but their relationship ended in 1986 when Trump learned that Cohn was dying from complications of AIDS. (Ironically, since he made his name working for a virulent homophobe, Cohn was gay.)
Cohn was a huge influence on Trump, according to those familiar with their relationship. Cohns former lover, Peter Fraser said, I hear Roy in the things [Trump] says quite clearly… That bravado, and if you say it aggressively and loudly enough, its the truth — thats the way Roy used to operate to a degree, and Donald was certainly his apprentice.
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Donald Trumps charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, has been the subject of much scorn.
For one thing, the name is a little bit misleading, since Trump isnt even the principal donor. Between 1990 and 2009, Trump gave just $3.7 million of his own money to his foundation, while World Wrestling Entertainment (the WWE) gave $5 million.
In total, the foundation dispensed a mere $6.7 million in that same time period. Thats obviously a considerable sum for most people, but by the standards of billionaire philanthropists, its fairly pathetic. For example, in 2008, Michael Bloomberg (who is admittedly far wealthier than Trump) gave away an estimated $235 million.
Trump has also faced scrutiny for using charitable donations to make questionable purchases. In 2007, Melania Trump purchased a 6-foot portrait of her husband for $20,000. While $10,000 of that did indeed go to a worthy cause, organizers were nonetheless surprised when the Trumps paid for this purchase with money from their own charity.
Trump also spent $258,000 of his foundation’s money to pay off fines levied against his private businesses – which is deeply immoral, if not illegal. And he apparently spent another $12,000 of donor money in order to buy a football helmet signed by Tim Tebow.
But here’s the weirdest little anecdote about Trump’s ‘charitable’ activities. There’s no record of him giving any money in the wake of 9/11. However, in 2006 he did make a $1,000 donation to an initiative aimed at helping firefighters.
The lucky recipient was the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. It’s a Scientologist program that provides rescue workers with free access to the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. It was co-founed by Tom Cruise.
Donald Trump is a self-professed germaphobe who dislikes shaking hands, or even pushing the ground floor button in the elevator (because thats the one everybody uses).
He apparently has a particular aversion to shaking hands with teachers, because theyve most likely been in touch with unsanitary children.
In his recent book Devils Bargain, journalist Joshua Green details how Trumps germaphobia is actually one of the reasons why he had a falling out with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who supported him vociferously during the campaign. (continued…)
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On election night, Trumps aides gave him a wide berth, even when despair gave way to euphoria as it became obvious that he was about to win the presidency.
The one exception was Chris Christie, who made the mistake of invading Trumps personal space in a quiet moment. Christie, who was clearly trying to ingratiate himself, offered to act as an intermediary between Trump and Obama.
If you win, [Obama] is going to call my phone, and Ill pass it over to you, Christie said.
This prompted a blistering response. Hey Chris, you know my [expletive] phone number, Trump exploded. Just give it to the President. I dont want your [expletive] phone.
A source from inside the campaign explained that Christie had committed a cardinal sin by offering Trump his phone. Not only did he annoy the president by trying to insert himself into matters that were none of his business, but Christie ought to have known that Trump would never put his face that close to someone elses face germs.
Donald Trump isnt just a phoney real estate mogul, he isnt just a washed-up reality TV star, and he isnt just President of the United States. Hes also an incredibly prolific maker of cameos.
Youve probably seen Trumps brief appearance in Home Alone 2, but he has also made an inordinate number of appearances in TV commercials over the course of his life.
Some of them are actually pretty funny. Heres just a small sampling.
In 1995, Donald and Ivana Trump appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial promoting the new cheese-stuffed crust. At the end of the spot, as Ivana reaches for the last slice, Donald tells her, Actually, youre only entitled to half. (The pair had divorced in 1992.)
In 2000, Trump came off the bench for Pizza Hut yet again, this time promoting their New York pizza. The opening line of the commercial is: Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Donald Trump: were all cut from the same cloth. (The megalomaniac cloth, presumably.)
In 2002, Trump appeared in a McDonalds commercial along with Grimace. As the two fictional cartoon villains stare out at the New York skyline, Trump says, “Together, Grimace, we could own this town.”
For the record, there is no substantive evidence that Trump has ever colluded with Grimace to steal milkshakes, elections, or anything else.