Donald Trump denied a report by the Washington Post that claimed he masqueraded “as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself” under the name “John Miller” in a phone interview to People magazine in 1991.
On May 13, when the interview was played back for the presumptive Republican nominee on NBC’s “Today Show”—minutes after the article was published—Trump denied the claim, saying it was an imitator and “one of the many scams.
“No, I don’t think it—I don’t know anything about it. You’re telling me about it for the first time, and it doesn’t sound like my voice at all. I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice. You can imagine that. This sounds like one of the scams, one of the many scams. Doesn’t sound like me.”
Trump said later in the interview. “Wow, you mean you are going so low as to talk about something that took place 25 years ago, about whether or not I made a phone call? I guess you’re saying under a presumed name.
“OK. The answer is no. Let’s get on to more current subjects. I know it’s wonderful for your listeners, but we have more important things to discuss,” he said.
The 1991 interview was with People magazine reporter Sue Carswell, who was covering the drama surrounding Trump’s first wife Ivana Zelníčková and the beginning of Trump’s relationship with his second wife, Marla Maples.
The interviewee, who identified himself as “John Miller,” said he was Trump’s personal public relations man, but sounds distinctly like Trump himself.
Miller seemed to have personal knowledge of Trump, giving insight into Trump’s various affairs, boasting about the real estate mogul’s “three other girlfriends” and that actresses and superstars like Madonna wanted to go out with him.
He also had detailed insight as to how Trump felt about his relationships:
Well, it just that he really decided that he wasn’t, you know, he didn’t want to make any commitment. He really 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.
Throughout the interview, Miller referred to Trump in the third person, but at one point slipped into the first person perspective when talking about Italian-French singer-songwriter and former model Carla Bruni:
I think it’s somebody that—you know, she’s beautiful. I saw her once quickly and she’s beautiful and all, but I think that he’s got a whole open field really. A lot of the people that you write about, and you people do a great job, by the way, but a lot of the people that you write about really are—I mean, they call. They just call.
According to the Post’s report, Trump regularly used code names when talking to reporters, particularly the name “Baron” or “Barron.” Some reporters found the calls “disturbing or even creepy” and others thought they were “just examples of Trump being playful.”
As early as 1980, a “John Baron” was quoted as “vice-president of the Trump organization.” While Trump was seeing his future second wife Marla Maples, he used the name “the Baron.” His fascination with the name persisted and his only son with Melania Trump is named Barron.