Pseudonyms of Donald Trump

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President Trump making a phone call in 2017. He used pseudonyms during call-in interviews throughout the 1980s and 1990s

American businessman, politician, and 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, has used several pseudonyms, including "John Barron" (or "John Baron"), "John Miller" and "David Dennison". His practice of sometimes speaking to the media under the guise of a spokesperson has been described as "an open secret" at the Trump Organization and in New York media circles.[1] Some New York editors recalled that "calls from Barron were at points so common that they became a recurring joke on the city desk."[2] A writer for Fortune reported that Trump's father Fred Trump had used the pseudonym Mr. Green in business dealings.[3]

"John Barron" (1980s)[edit]

Trump has used the pseudonym "John Barron" (sometimes "John Baron") throughout the 1980s, with its earliest known usage in 1980 and its last acknowledgment in 1990.

The Washington Post said the name was a "go-to alias when [Trump] was under scrutiny, in need of a tough front man or otherwise wanting to convey a message without attaching his own name to it".[4] Barron would be introduced as a spokesperson for Trump.[5]

The pseudonym first appeared within a June 6, 1980 New York Times article about Trump's decision to destroy two sculptures he had promised to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Barron", describing himself as "a Trump Organization vice president", acted as the spokesperson for Trump for three days in that case.[6] Trump continued to pose as "Barron" on occasion for the rest of the decade. In 1983 "Barron" told the press that Trump had decided not to purchase the Cleveland Indians.[7]

In May 1984, "Barron" lied to then Forbes reporter Jonathan Greenberg about Trump's wealth and assets to get Trump on the Forbes 400 list. "Barron" stated to Greenberg that "[m]ost of the assets [of Donald’s father Fred Trump] have been consolidated to Mr. [Donald] Trump." In April 2018, Greenberg retrieved and made public the original audio recordings of his exchange with "Barron", and stated that "Trump, through this [Barron] sockpuppet, was telling me he owned 'in excess of 90 percent'" of Fred Trump’s assets. Ultimately, Greenberg included Trump at the end of the Forbes 400 list at $100 million, one fifth of the $500 million which "Barron" was claiming as Donald Trump’s net worth. According to Greenberg, Donald Trump was only ever worth just under $5 million, which was less than 5% of the net worth which was attributed to him by Forbes at the time and less than 1% of what "Barron" was claiming.[8] Greenberg has corrected the record by stating that, as revealed in court documents in proceedings years later, Donald Trump never owned any of Fred Trump’s assets until 1999 after Fred’s death, and even then, inheriting only his share of Fred’s deceased estate, with Donald Trump’s three siblings and some grandchildren beneficiaries inheriting their corresponding shares.

Also in 1984, "Barron" gave the press a positive spin on the 1984 collapse of a plan to build Trump Castle in New York.[9] In 1985, "Barron" urged fellow United States Football League team owners to partially reimburse Trump for a high-priced player.[10] In April 1985, "John Baron, a vice president in the Trump Organization," announced to the press that the Trump Organization had signed an agreement to buy an unopened Hilton Hotel in Atlantic City.[11]

Trump stopped using the pseudonym after he was compelled to testify in court proceedings that “John Barron” was one of his pseudonyms. The Washington Post suggested that Trump might have used the pseudonym longer if not for the “lawsuit in which he testified, under oath in 1990, that 'I believe on occasion I used that name.'"[4]

"John Miller" (1991)[edit]

In 1991, a reporter for People attempted to interview Trump about the end of his marriage to Ivana and his rumored association with other women. She was called back by a publicist who gave his name as "John Miller", who gave her a long interview about Trump's marital affairs ("He's a good guy, and he's not going to hurt anybody. . . . He treated his wife well and . . . he will treat Marla well."), his attractiveness to women, and his wealth. The reporter thought at the time that "Miller" sounded remarkably like Trump, and played the tape to several people who knew Trump and agreed it was Trump.[12] She says Trump later told her it was a "joke gone awry".[2]

In 2016, The Washington Post obtained a copy of the tape and reported that it was Trump using a pseudonym. Trump denied it, saying "It was not me on the phone." Later, when a reporter asked Trump if he had ever employed a spokesperson named John Miller, he hung up on them.[1]

"David Dennison" (2016)[edit]

The name "David Dennison" was used as a pseudonym for Trump by his personal lawyer Michael Cohen in a 2016 pre-election non-disclosure agreement with pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels (born Stephanie Gregory Clifford and identified in the document as Peggy Peterson) regarding her allegation that she and Trump had an extramarital affair in 2006.[13][14] Keith Davidson acted as Stormy Daniels’s legal representative in that agreement. Her current legal representative, Michael Avenatti, now claims that Davidson was a double agent all along working for Trump and Cohen.[15]

The same pseudonyms were also later used in a similar 2016 pre-election agreement involving payment for the silence of Playboy Playmate model Shera Bechard about an alleged extramarital affair, with a consequent pregnancy and subsequent abortion, between "Dennison" and "Peterson". That agreement was also drafted by Trump's personal lawyer Cohen, while Bechard was also represented by the same Keith Davidson who had negotiated Stormy Daniels’ agreement with Trump.[16]

In Bechard’s case, sources identified "Dennison" as Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who then acknowledged in an ambiguously worded statement that he had a “relationship” (the nature of which was not specified) and that he made the $1.6 million payment to her after being made aware of her pregnancy.[17] The phrasing of his statement also omitted any assertion that he was in fact the father of the unborn child. Some legal scholars and columnists have since speculated that Donald Trump was really the person who had the affair with Bechard.[18][19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kopan, Tal; Diamond, Jeremy (May 14, 2016). "Donald Trump on recording: Not me". CNN. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Kimble, Lindsay (May 15, 2016). "Donald Trump Admitted to Posing as His Own Spokesperson to PEOPLE in 1991, Despite New Denials". People. 
  3. ^ D'Antonio, Michael (May 18, 2016). "Donald Trump's Long, Strange History of Using Fake Names". Fortune. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Borchers, Callum (May 13, 2016). "The amazing story of Donald Trump's old spokesman, John Barron – who was actually Donald Trump himself". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Taking a Bath on Madison". New York. New York Media, LLC. 13 August 1984. 
  6. ^ Surico, John (November 6, 2015). "Remembering John Barron, Donald Trump's 'Spokesman' Alter Ego". Vice. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  7. ^ Joseph, Cameron (May 13, 2016). "Donald Trump has apparently gotten away with posing as his own publicist 'John Barron' many times before". New York Daily News. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  8. ^ Greenberg, Jonathan (April 20, 2018). "Perspective Trump lied to me about his wealth to get onto the Forbes 400. Here are the tapes". The Washington Post. 
  9. ^ Surico, Jay (November 6, 2015). "Remembering John Barron, Donald Trump's 'Spokesman' Alter Ego". Vice. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  10. ^ United Press International (April 2, 1985). "Trump Asks Help in Paying Flutie". The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  11. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (April 28, 1985). "Trump Buys Hilton's Hotel in Atlantic City". The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2018. 
  12. ^ Fisher, Marc; Hobson, Will (May 13, 2016). "Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  13. ^ Fitzpatrick, Sarah (March 6, 2018). "Stormy Daniels sues Trump, says 'hush agreement' invalid because he never signed". NBC News. Archived from the original on March 7, 2018. 
  14. ^ "Trump admits to using alias "David Dennison"". NBC News. March 20, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-02. 
  15. ^ "Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti has turned up the heat on another target - his client's first lawyer". 
  16. ^ Palazzolo, Joe; Rothfeld, Michael (April 13, 2018). "Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Negotiated $1.6 Million Settlement for Top Republican Fundraiser". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 April 2018. 
  17. ^ Nashrulla, Tasreem (April 13, 2018). "A Top GOP Official Admitted He Had An Affair With A Playboy Model And Gave Her Money To Terminate Her Pregnancy". Buzzfeed. Retrieved 23 May 2018. 
  18. ^ Campos, Paul (May 8, 2018). "Theory: Playboy Model Who Got $1.6 Million Had Affair With Trump, Not Broidy". New York magazine. Retrieved May 26, 2018. 
  19. ^ Campos, Paul (May 22, 2018). "Here's More Evidence Broidy May Have Been Covering for Trump in Playmate Affair". New York magazine. Retrieved May 26, 2018. 
  20. ^ Bunch, Will (May 22, 2018). "Is this Playboy model keeping the biggest secret of the Trump presidency?". Philly.com. Retrieved May 26, 2018.