One woman’s account of clandestine meetings, financial transactions, and legal pacts designed to hide an extramarital affair.
.. At the time of the party, Trump had been married to the Slovenian model Melania Knauss for less than two years; their son, Barron, was a few months old. Trump seemed uninhibited by his new family obligations. McDougal later wrote that Trump “immediately took a liking to me, kept talking to me – telling me how beautiful I was, etc. It was so obvious that a Playmate Promotions exec said, ‘Wow, he was all over you – I think you could be his next wife.’ ”
.. Purchasing a story in order to bury it is a practice that many in the tabloid industry call “catch and kill.” This is a favorite tactic of the C.E.O. and chairman of A.M.I., David Pecker, who describes the President as “a personal friend.”
.. Six former A.M.I. employees told me that Pecker routinely makes catch-and-kill arrangements like the one reached with McDougal. “We had stories and we bought them knowing full well they were never going to run,”
.. George said that Pecker protected Trump. “Pecker really considered him a friend,” George told me. “We never printed a word about Trump without his approval.”
.. Pecker also used the unpublished stories as “leverage” over some celebrities in order to pressure them to pose for his magazines or feed him stories. Several former employees said that these celebrities included Arnold Schwarzenegger, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, and Tiger Woods.
.. McDougal wrote that Trump impressed her. “I was so nervous! I was into his intelligence + charm. Such a polite man,” she wrote.
.. All three women say that they were escorted to a bungalow at the hotel by a Trump bodyguard, whom two of the women have identified as Keith Schiller.
.. Over the course of the affair, Trump flew McDougal to public events across the country but hid the fact that he paid for her travel. “No paper trails for him,” she wrote. “In fact, every time I flew to meet him, I booked/paid for flight + hotel + he reimbursed me.”
.. In July, 2006, McDougal joined Trump at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship, at the Edgewood Resort, on Lake Tahoe. At a party there, she and Trump sat in a booth with the New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and Trump told her that Brees had recognized her, remarking, “Baby, you’re popular.”
.. During the Lake Tahoe tournament, McDougal and Trump had sex, she wrote. He also allegedly began a sexual relationship with Clifford at the event.
.. Another adult-film actress, whose screen name is Alana Evans, claimed that Trump invited her to join them in his hotel room that weekend. A third adult-film performer, known as Jessica Drake, alleged that Trump asked her to his hotel room
.. During Trump’s relationship with McDougal, she wrote, he introduced her to members of his family and took her to his private residences. At a January, 2007, launch party in Los Angeles for Trump’s now-defunct liquor brand, Trump Vodka, McDougal, who was photographed entering the event, recalled sitting at a table with Kim Kardashian, Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Trump, Jr.,’s wife, Vanessa, who was pregnant.
.. At one point, Trump held a party for “The Apprentice” at the Playboy Mansion, and McDougal worked as a costumed Playboy bunny. “We took pics together, alone + with his family,” McDougal wrote. She recalled that Trump said he had asked his son Eric “who he thought was the most beautiful girl here + Eric pointed me. Mr. T said ‘He has great taste’ + we laughed!”
.. In Trump Tower, McDougal wrote, Trump pointed out Melania’s separate bedroom. He “said she liked her space,” McDougal wrote, “to read or be alone.”
.. McDougal’s account, like those of Clifford and other women who have described Trump’s advances, conveys a man preoccupied with his image. McDougal recalled that Trump would often send her articles about him or his daughter, as well as signed books and sun visors from his golf courses.
.. Trump also promised to buy McDougal an apartment in New York as a Christmas present. Clifford, likewise, said that Trump promised to buy her a condo in Tampa. For Trump, showing off real estate and other branded products was sometimes a prelude to sexual advances.
.. The decision was reinforced by a series of comments Trump made that McDougal found disrespectful, according to several of her friends. When she raised her concern about her mother’s disapproval to Trump, he replied, “What, that old hag?” (McDougal, hurt, pointed out that Trump and her mother were close in age.)
.. friend mentioned a relationship she had had with an African-American man. According to multiple sources, Trump remarked that the friend liked “the big black dick” and began commenting on her attractiveness and breast size. The interactions angered the friend and deeply offended McDougal.
..Crawford said, referring to Trump. “I said, ‘You know, if you had a physical relationship with him, that could be worth something about now.’ And I looked at her and she had that guilty look on her face.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer was giddy at the thought of meeting Pope Francis during President Trump’s first trip abroad, telling acquaintances that for him, a devout Catholic, the moment would fulfill a bucket-list dream.
But when the White House finalized the lucky list of staff and family members who would accompany Trump into his private audience with the pontiff at the Vatican last week, Spicer’s name was nowhere to be found.
Enduring public humiliation has become a defining characteristic of Spicer’s tenure
.. In Trump’s White House, aides serve a president who demands absolute loyalty — but who doesn’t always offer it in return. Trump prefers a management style in which even compliments can come laced with a bite, and where enduring snubs and belittling jokes, even in public, is part of the job.
.. But others consider Trump’s comments pointed reminders to those who work for him that he is in charge — barbs from the boss that keep aides on guard and off kilter, and can corrode staff morale.
.. And during the transition, Trump would make a point of noting that Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s crowds paled compared to his, teasing that even his daughter Ivanka and son Eric attracted more attention, said two people familiar with the comments, which they considered demeaning. (Pence offered a similar quip on the campaign trail.)
.. Critics say the president often demeans those in his orbit, a tendency they say reflects a broader fragility beneath his bluster.
.. “Trump is so deeply insecure that not even becoming president of the United States quenched his need to make others feel small to build himself up,” said Tim Miller, a former spokesman for an anti-Trump super PAC. “Choosing to work for him necessitates a willingness to be demeaned in order to assuage his desire to feel like a big, important person.”
.. When he decided to fire his FBI director, James B. Comey, the president did so in an especially humiliating way. Like a scene out of “The Godfather,” Trump first sent Keith Schiller, his former head of security, to deliver the message to Comey at FBI headquarters.
.. As Comey was delivering a speech to FBI field employees, he initially laughed as news flashed across the TV screens that he had been fired. “How’d you guys do that?” he asked, according to someone briefed on the moment.
.. Mark Burnett, the creator of “The Apprentice,” introduced Trump, who went on to make a few tone-deaf jokes about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had replaced him as the show’s host.
“The ratings went down the tubes,” the president said. “It’s been a total disaster and Mark will never, ever bet against Trump again. And I want to just pray for Arnold if we can, for those ratings, okay?”
.. At a private dinner shortly before he was inaugurated, Trump took aim at his incoming vice president and his incoming secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
.. “Where’s our Rex?” Trump asked. “Wow. What a job. Thank you very much, thanks, Rex. I think it’s tougher than he thought. He’s led this charmed life. He goes into a country, takes the oil, goes into another country. It’s tough dealing with these politicians, right?”
.. Trump also sometimes reminds even his senior advisers, in ways big and small, that he has the power to demote them at any time.
.. But the president soon ordered up a change, said someone who witnessed the moment, telling Bannon to give up his seat for the junior staff member and relegating his top strategist to the couch.
.. “How do you all like Nikki? ” he asked, as she looked on. “Otherwise, she can easily be replaced.”
.. The president was livid about the leak — but had no problem being viewed as a bully, believing he was simply standing up for his nation’s best interests.
.. shoved aside a Balkan prime minister to get in front for a group photo and needled his allies about the cost of a new building for the alliance.
.. During his first in-person meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump’s typically aggressive greeting became a duel of one-upmanship as the two men clenched their jaws and tightened their faces during an intense, white-knuckled handshake.
Macron, France’s newly elected 39-year-old leader, later said he wanted to show Trump that he would not be pushed around or demeaned.
“I don’t believe in diplomacy by public abuse,” he said.