As I embark on this column, I am all too conscious that I am writing for an audience of readers that might include children. Although the subject matter is for adults, I will make an effort to be discreet and occasionally cryptic in my references.
Donald Trump married his third and current wife, model Melania Knavs in 2005. By even the most lax of social standards, he has not proven to be a model husband.
Trump and Billy Bush, cohost of the show Access Hollywood, were recorded in a conversation that proved to be a disgrace to both of them when it was unearthed October 2016.
On tape, Trump spoke crudely about attempts he had made to seduce one of Bush’s cohosts, Nancy O’Dell, who was married at the time. Trump also remarked that he had better take Tic Tacs as he prepared to meet another of Bush’s on air co-workers, explaining, “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful (women) –– I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
Shortly after the release of the tape, 19 women came forward publicly making various allegations against Trump. The ages of the accusers and allegations spanned decades. Trump brazenly denied them all.
One of the accusers was Rachel Crooks, who claims to have been a somewhat starstruck receptionist at Trump Towers when she introduced herself to the famous man outside an elevator in 2006.
According to Crooks’ account, as he initially shook her hand, Trump continued to hold it and then began kissing her on the cheeks and ultimately on the mouth.
Crooks claims the whole kissing incident went on for what seemed like two minutes, and that day, she sent emails to her mother and sister back in Ohio describing how shaken she felt.
Her story has resurfaced recently because Crooks is now running for a seat in the Ohio state legislature. Trump has gone on Twitter to blast the Washington Post for this story, tweeting, “Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security cameras running?”
But, according to Trump’s own boasts to Billy Bush, Trump would, actually.
And it also appears from recently resurrected accounts that Mr. Trump was very active sexually with other women besides his new wife Melania in 2006, including adult film star Stormy Daniels.
In October 2016, Daniels was prepared to dish dirt about her brief affair with Trump, but Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen got wind of the scheduled interviews and set up a special LLC for the purpose of securing a confidentiality agreement with Ms. Daniels in exchange for her denial and silence.
After the Wall Street Journal recently unearthed details of Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels and the New York Times continued to press Cohen further, Trump’s former attorney eventually admitted the arrangement, while still maintaining that the affair never happened and that the confidentiality agreement was not authorized or funded by Trump or his campaign and that the money came from Cohen’s own pocket.
Gee, what a pal!
Another episode of journalistic suffocation (or altruism) also occurred in October 2016 when the publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, who is another long-term friend of Trump, bought the exclusive rights to the story told by Karen McDougal, a centerfold model whom Trump met at a pool party at the Playboy Mansion, again in the summer of 2006.
Pecker chose to engage in what is known as a “catch-and-kill” strategy, by purchasing the story precisely so that no one else could tell it and he could snuff it out. But recently, Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker dug up and divulged the same story in considerable detail.
Some readers might wonder why Trump’s alleged womanizing, especially in consensual relationships or in one-night-stands, should even matter to us as citizens. But consider that in addition to the sheer immorality of cheating on his wife or lying about it, or of paying or authorizing people to buy silence via confidentiality agreements, there remains the specter of one of the most salacious allegations in the notorious Steele dossier.
Allegations included an incident that at the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow in 2013, Trump was offered five Russian women for an evening at his hotel. No one knows what happened in Trump’s hotel room that evening.
Vladimir Putin, whom Trump referred to in a 2013 tweet as “his new best friend,” has dismissed all allegations of a sexual romp by Trump at the pageant as ridiculous. But, Putin added coyly, “We do have the best “female proletariat” –– my translation.
Given Mr. Trump’s well-established personal history before and since 2013, is it possible, and perhaps even likely, in light of all these recent revelations, that Putin might have discovered Trump’s Achilles heel? And if he did, what price might we all be paying for Putin’s coup?
John McColgan writes from his home in Joseph.