• The Trump Files: Donald Perfectly Explains Why He Doesn’t Have a Presidential Temperament

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on August 30, 2016.

    “I think I have the best temperament or certainly one of the best temperaments of anybody that’s ever run for the office of president. Ever,” said Donald Trump in July. “Because I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.”

    But in Trump’s second book, Surviving at the Top (released as Trump’s empire was crumbling under massive debt in 1990), he described his temperament in ways that wouldn’t seem to bode well for a leader of the free world. “I get bored too easily,” he wrote. “My attention span is short and probably my least favorite thing to do is to maintain the status quo. Instead of being content when everything is going fine, I start getting impatient and irritable.”

    He also explained how he enjoyed the thrill of the chase more than anything else. “For me, you see, the important thing is the getting…not the having,” he explained.

    It was a rare moment of introspection from the billionaire, but he clearly wasn’t the only one who noticed his blow-it-up streak. Trump also described a conversation he had with his friend Alan Greenberg, then the head of Bear Stearns, when Trump was pondering selling his over-the-top yacht to finance the construction of an even bigger one. “For you, getting these isn’t half the fun, it’s almost all the fun,” Greenberg replied, according to Trump. “You set out to achieve something, you get what you are after, and then you immediately start singing that old Peggy Lee song ‘Is That All There Is?'”

    In Donald’s mind, Greenberg had nailed him. “Alan was right about that,” he wrote. “If you have a striving personality, the challenge matters most, not the reward.”


  • The Trump Files: When Democrats Courted Donald

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on July 28, 2016.

    Democrats weren’t always bashing Donald Trump. In fact, in 1987, they were seemingly desperate to get his star power on their side.

    Even though Trump was a registered Republican, House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Texas) and other high-ranking Democrats asked Trump to host their annual Democratic congressional fundraising dinner the next year. Rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers cheered the effort on. Future presidential nominee John Kerry chimed in to invite Trump on behalf of the Senate Democrats.

    “He’s young, dynamic, successful,” gushed Rep. Beryl Anthony Jr., the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to the New York Times. He cited Trump’s wish to help negotiate nuclear arms reduction treaties as evidence Trump was in the wrong party. “The message Trump has been preaching is a Democratic message,” Anthony said.

    Trump, however, was lukewarm. “I’m honored to be asked by the Speaker, whom I hold in high esteem,” he told the Times. He said he’d consider the invitation, but probably not Anthony’s suggestion that he become a Democrat. Two days later, the Washington Post reported that Trump was indeed ready to fundraise—for Rudy Giuliani, then a potential Republican candidate for the Senate. He eventually turned the Democrats down.


  • The Trump Files: Donald Thinks Exercising Might Kill You

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on October 5, 2016.

    With Donald Trump’s nonexistent exercise regime getting some attention from Dr. Oz, it seems like a good time to point out one of the GOP nominee’s more unusual healthcare beliefs. The Washington Post‘s Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher wrote in their new book, Trump Revealed, that Trump thought exercise permanently sapped him of energy.

    After college, after Trump mostly gave up his personal athletic interests, he came to view time spent playing sports as time wasted. Trump believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted. So he didn’t work out. When he learned that John O’Donnell, one of his top casino executives, was training for an Ironman triathlon, he admonished him, “You are going to die young because of this.”

    Trump is still an avid golfer, though—and allegedly an equally avid cheater on the links. “When it comes to cheating, he’s an 11 on a scale of one to 10,” sports columnist Rick Reilly told the Post last year.

  • The Trump Files: When Donald Bought a Nightclub From an Infamous Mobster

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on June 23, 2016.

    Donald Trump’s shadowy ties to the mob have been no secret in this election cycle. And in 1982, a member of Philadelphia’s mafia was the only thing standing between him and more land for his Trump Plaza casino hotel.

    That year, Trump bought a nightclub owned by a notorious Philadelphia mafioso, Salvatore A. Testa, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Trump told the paper in 1983 that he wanted to use the space for parking facilities for his casino hotel.

    The club, called Le Bistro, had previously been purchased by Testa and a partner named Frank Narducci Jr., both of whom faced bitter fates for their involvement with the mafia. Testa would wind up shot to death in 1984 just weeks after a fight with mob boss Nicky Scarfo, according to the Inquirer. Narducci, who the Inquirer said had transferred his stake in the club to Testa in 1982, was sentenced to life in prison in 1989 for his role in a mob murder.

    Le Bistro, which had been languishing vacant for years since the owners were denied a liquor license, was purchased from the mobster for $1.1 million. Conveniently for Trump, the transaction went through a third party so his name would not be revealed. That third party? A secretary of Trump’s lawyer on the purchase, Patrick T. “Paddy” McGahn Jr. McGahn told the Inquirer that if Testa had known who was buying his nightclub, “the price they asked could conceivably have been $2 million to $3 million.” After the sale, the property was transferred to Trump, McGahn said.

    The club was “the second most expensive purchase he made on the block” in Atlantic City, New Jersey, according to journalist Wayne Barrett’s book Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention. Although Trump had redirected the sale through his lawyer’s secretary to conceal his identity, Barrett reported, he still bragged in an affidavit about his “unique contribution” in putting together the land for the parking structure. 

    The Trump Plaza closed in 2014, costing more than 1,000 people their jobs. 


  • Amy McGrath Wins Kentucky Primary to Take on Mitch McConnell

    Lexington Herald-Leader/ZUMA

    After a long primary season redefined by a pandemic and police brutality, Amy McGrath defeated her progressive challenger, Charles Booker, in the US Senate Democratic primary in Kentucky. McGrath will take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November.

    McGrath entered the race in July as the clear frontrunner, running at the behest of Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who’d been recruiting the former Marine fighter pilot since her failed attempt to unseat a Republican House member in 2018. With an early endorsement from the campaign arm of the Senate Democrats and frequent advertisements on MSNBC—an easy play for the pocketbooks of liberals nationwide eager to dethrone McConnell—McGrath had amassed $41 million by June 1, even as she slow-walked her support for impeaching President Trump. She even outraised the ever deep-pocketed McConnell in several quarters.

    Charles Booker raised nothing of the sort: He entered June having raised just $788,000 during the entire campaign. The young, Black, first-term state representative from Louisville announced his candidacy with little fanfare during a press conference on Capitol Hill last fall. He ran on a progressive platform that included support for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and universal basic income. When the primary’s originally scheduled date, May 19, rolled around, Booker seemed to stand little chance.

    That was all before 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot to death by a police officer in her Louisville home—and before David McAtee, a local Black restauranteur was killed by police at a protest against her killing. Booker attended the protests that broke out in his hometown and often addressed the crowds. As he spoke of the cousins he lost to gun violence and his longstanding commitment to police reform, he emerged as a credible voice whose message met the moment. The attention drew a big last-minute cash haul and scores of high-profile endorsements days before the primary, including nods from Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    The primary results had been delayed due to the widespread use of absentee voting in the face of the pandemic— particularly in the cities of Louisville and Lexington, the state’s bluer enclaves. While McGrath had an early lead over Booker after last Tuesday’s in-person voting, Booker closed the gap as election officials tabulated mail-in ballots. 

    As other progressive candidates of color defeated longstanding incumbents and Democratic establishment favorites in New York’s congressional primaries last week, liberals hoped Booker could also ride the wave of national outrage to a major upset victory. Even though he didn’t, the coalition he built to nearly topple a enormously resourced opponent offers a roadmap for how progressives could make headway in deep-red states: Not by relying on moderate Democrats, but on liberal populism delivered by candidates of color who can credibly speak to systemic injustice.

  • The Trump Files: The Time Andrew Dice Clay Thanked Donald for the Hookers

    Mother Jones illustration;Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on June 6, 2016.

    On June 16, 1990, the day after Donald Trump missed a $43 million payment on bonds he used to finance Trump Castle, the mogul visited his Atlantic City casino for a blowout celebrating his 44th birthday. The party capped off a day that had started with a pro-Trump rally held by casino employees—”Let’s stand behind our Donald, because he’s the father of our babies,” one worker urged the crowd. The rally featured a “professional motivator” to whip up the audience, and one worker presented the tycoon with a gift: an eight-foot-tall “rug portrait” of Trump.

    The party at the Castle’s Crystal Ballroom was an over-the-top bash with bands, confetti, and a cheering crowd. Robin Leach, the host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, walked out of a fake Trump Shuttle to act as a hype man before other celebrities showed up in person and onstage. As then-Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett described in his book, Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth:

    Dolly Parton and Elton John appeared on giant screens to wish Donald a happy birthday, with Parton asking to work the Taj instead of her regular Castle gig and promising to charge only $100,000 a show. Joe Piscopo did his Sinatra imitation on the birthday song, followed by a string of Jap gags—oblivious to the presence of several Japanese high rollers in the front rows—even cracking that Atlantic City would be owned by the Japanese if it wasn’t for Donald. A George Bush imitator declared Donald should be President…A chorus line in skintight outfits gyrated around chairs singing longingly about Donald’s dollars. Then Andrew Dice Clay appeared on another giant screen to thank Donald for the Taj hookers, saying they had stamps on their asses to show they’d had their shots.

    Sadly, Barrett couldn’t attend the event. He was arrested on his third attempt to get into the ballroom and cover the party. But his research assistant managed to enter the ballroom and cover the festivities.

  • The Trump Files: Donald Filmed a Music Video. It Didn’t Go Well.

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current President—on September 8, 2016.

    National media buzzed in November 1990 when it was revealed that Donald Trump would be starring in the music video for a cover of the 1971 Jean Knight single “Mr. Big Stuff” by Precious Metal, an all-female glam metal band. The label’s press release noted that it was a “featured role” that would net Trump a $25,000 donation by the band to the charity of his choice. Trump’s appearance, it crowed, was a “giant act of generosity,” and it quoted Precious Metal’s lead vocalist, Leslie Knauer, calling Trump “a real gentleman to work with.”

    “When we were done, he said, ‘This is great! Let’s take this [song] to number one!'” Knauer told Entertainment Week. The enthusiasm may have been linked to the reported bonuses, purportedly also for charity, that Trump would get if the record went gold or platinum. “I think he wanted to keep the money for himself,” Knauer guessed.

    Still, all was well for a few months. Then things got Trumpy.

    Once the video was done, Trump decided he’d been lowballed. His claim, according to the band, was that he’d been told his appearance was a cameo. But since he appeared throughout the video, Trump allegedly wanted the band to fork over $250,000 instead. Knauer, speaking to Billboard earlier this year, said the mix-up was a lie. “Trump had the script, he played all the parts, shot them,” she said. “So later to say, ‘I thought I was only going to be in one part’—then why did you shoot all those parts? We were just a struggling band, wondering why he would do that to us. He full-on just lied.”

    He also creeped out the band’s lead guitarist, Janet Robin. “I had a moment with him where he put his hands around me, his arms around me,” Robin told the Huffington Post, “not around my shoulder but around, you know, my stomach area or whatever you want to call it. I thought that was a little strange.”

    “Oh my god, Janet, you have a tight body,” she recalled Trump saying. Knauer remembered the same thing. “He was kinda hot for Janet,” she told Billboard, “saying, ‘Oh my god, Janet, you have a tight body.’ Janet is gay and was like, ‘Yuck, whatever, gross.'”

    Precious Metal couldn’t fork over a quarter of a million bucks, so it found a Trump look-alike and reshot the video in a way that didn’t show his face. But Trump’s nonappearance meant the video, and the band, went nowhere. “It didn’t end our band, but it didn’t help,” Knauer told Billboard. “It hurt our label’s support for us.” The band never recorded another album.

  • Trump Shared a Video of a Supporter Yelling “White Power”

    Early this morning, President Donald Trump shared a video of a white man in a golf cart with Trump campaign posters yelling “white power!” The video, shot at the Villages, a retirement community in Florida, showed an expletive-filled confrontation between a line of Trump supporters riding in golf carts and protesters calling them “racists” and “Nazis.” 

    Trump tweeted the video, below, along with the text: “Thank you to the great people of The Villages. The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!” He deleted his tweet three hours later.

    In a statement, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere did not apologize for the tweet. “President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.” (The statement can be clearly heard at the beginning of the video.)

    Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) called the president’s retweet “indefensible” on CNN.

    Trump has long enjoyed support from the Villages. As my colleague Tim Murphy wrote back in 2016,

    Since the first trailers popped up in cattle country an hour north of Orlando, Florida, four decades ago, the Villages has swelled to a population of more than 114,000 people; almost all are over the age of 55, white, and drive around the community in golf carts that can be outfitted to resemble taxis, fire trucks, or tanks.

    Residents refer to the place as “Disney for adults.”

    In addition to being one of the most quintessentially Florida places on Earth, the Villages is one of the most Republican places in Florida. 

  • Why Do These Trump Campaign Ads Link to Brad Parscale’s Facebook Page?

    Brad Parscale, campaign manager for Trump's 2020 reelection campaign, walks on stage during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 28 in National Harbor, Maryland. Samuel Corum/Getty

    The Trump campaign is running Facebook ads from a page for campaign manager Brad Parscale, spending thousands of dollars to promote Parscale’s name and potentially his private business. 

    The campaign has multiple Facebook pages that it uses to run ads. Most ads come from the campaign’s official page for President Trump so that ads show the candidate’s name as their source. Users who click on the sponsoring page at the top of the ads are directed to the Facebook page the campaign set up for the president. The campaign has set up other official pages that it runs ads from, including for Vice President Mike Pence, Team Trump, Women for Trump, Latinos for Trump, and Black Voices for Trump.

    And then there’s the one for Parscale. This page is different from the others in one respect. While the page specifies that it is the property of the Trump campaign, the only link on its “about” section directs people not to the campaign’s website but instead to Parscale’s private consulting firm, Parscale Strategy.

    Parscale has profited immensely from his association with Trump and the campaign, not only through a salary but also by doing campaign work through his private firms. In March, Mother Jones reported that Parscale Strategy had billed the campaign, the Republican National Committee, and the pro-Trump America First Action PAC about $35 million since 2017. It’s unclear how much of that money was used to place ads and how much was retained in fees by Parscale’s firm. Another firm owned by Parscale had billed $1.7 million to the super-PAC supporting Trump. In 2018, Parscale reportedly spent millions on new homes and cars in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. According to the New York Times, media stories about Parscale’s growing wealth prompted Trump to send word that Parscale should not make more than $800,000 off the campaign. 

    In the last 30 days, the campaign has spent $47,357 to run 649 ads from Parscale’s page, according to data in Facebook’s ad library. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the campaign’s massive Facebook spending overall. In the same timeframe, the campaign spent nearly $5.5 million on Facebook ads from both the campaign’s coffers and a fund administered jointly by the campaign and the Republican National Committee. But the spending for Parscale’s page has recently exceeded spending on ads from the Latinos for Trump and Black Voices for Trump pages. The only apparent difference in the ads is which campaign page they link back to if a viewer were to click on the sponsoring account.

    It’s unclear why the campaign chose to make Parscale’s Facebook page a Trump campaign property and run ads from it. Facebook indicates that the page was created by Parscale in March 2018, around the time he became Trump’s 2020 campaign manager. As recently as last September, the page was listed as a “public figure” page—used by people, often celebrities, who want to build a public brand beyond their personal Facebook profile, according to Facebook, which often verifies these pages’ authenticity—but not owned by the Trump campaign, according to the Internet Archive.

    The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It’s possible that the campaign decided that Parscale, who has gained a certain sort of fame as the architect of Trump’s digital campaign in 2016 and as the public face of his reelection effort, was enough of a celebrity that supporters would engage with the campaign ad when they saw that it came from him. Regardless of the motive, Parscale stands to benefit, once again.

  • The Trump Files: Donald Thinks Asbestos Fears Are a Mob Conspiracy

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current President—on June 9, 2016.

    Believe Donald Trump, folks: There is an anti-asbestos conspiracy. In his 1997 book, The Art of the Comeback, Trump warned America not to buy the crusade against “the greatest fire-proofing material ever used.” He claimed the movement to remove asbestos—a known carcinogen—was actually the handiwork of the mafia:

    I believe that the movement against asbestos was led by the mob, because it was often mob-related companies that would do the asbestos removal. Great pressure was put on politicians, and as usual, the politicians relented. Millions of truckloads of this incredible fire-proofing material were taken to special “dump sites” and asbestos was replaced by materials that were supposedly safe but couldn’t hold a candle to asbestos in limiting the ravages of fire.

    Trump claimed asbestos is “100 percent safe, once applied,” and that it just “got a bad rap.” That, unsurprisingly, was a stretch. Asbestos can be safe, but only if it’s in perfect condition and not shedding any fibers, which are toxic and can cause cancer. But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the asbestos often used in fireproofing will “readily release airborne fibers if disturbed”—and that there’s “no ‘safe’ level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber.”

    This isn’t the first time Trump has been linked to unsafe work conditions and crooked contractors. Polish construction workers who worked on the construction of Trump Tower sued Trump, with some telling the New York Times that “they often worked in choking clouds of asbestos dust without protective equipment.” The contracting company used by Trump hired the Poles—undocumented immigrants who were working off the books—at only $4- to $5-an-hour, dramatically less than the wages of union members working on the same site. Some of the workers charged they were paid even less. The case was settled in 1999, but the terms are sealed.

    But Trump did know something about the mob. A recent story in Politico laid out Trump’s long-standing and unusually close ties to mob-linked figures, including his lawyer Roy Cohn and the concrete company he used to build Trump Tower. “No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks,” wrote investigative reporter David Cay Johnston.

  • Young Voters Want Elizabeth Warren as Biden’s VP

    Elizabeth Warren in Nashua, New Hampshire, on February 5, 2020.Brian Cahn/ZUMA Wire

    Joe Biden doesn’t really have any electoral weaknesses, according to the latest New York Times/Siena College poll. The results, released Wednesday, put Biden 14 points ahead of Trump, beating him across every demographic except among non-college-educated white voters. If any shortfalls were to be gleaned, it would be a lack of excitement for the former vice president’s candidacy among young voters: Only 13 percent of respondents in that group said they had a “very favorable” view of him.

    It’s not too serious a problem: Biden is 34 points ahead of Trump among voters aged 18-to-29. Still, conventional wisdom dictates that an enthusiasm gap is worth addressing, something that a vice presidential pick could assuage. And the unenthusiastic set in swing states thinks that pick should be Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

    Those are the findings from a new Civiqs poll from Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, conducted among Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters aged 18 to 34 across 12 states Democrats hope to win in November: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 35 percent of respondents chose Warren as their first choice, 19 percent chose former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and 16 percent chose Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

    None of the other women considered earned more than 4 percent of support—including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms or Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), two Black women whose names have garnered increased attention in the wake of nationwide outcries against police brutality. This, as FiveThirtyEight’s Perry Bacon Jr. wrote, is to be expected: No one really knew their names until they’d been floated as potential VP picks a few weeks ago.

    The results track with previous polling Data for Progress conducted as part of a broader effort among liberals to demonstrate Warren’s viability as a vice presidential contender. In the eyes of many Democrats, the historic level of civil unrest over the treatment of Black Americans demands Biden choose a Black running mate. Harris has lately been billed as the “clear frontrunner” due to her experience with the criminal justice system as a federal prosecutor and California attorney general, in addition to her ability to demographically balance the ticket. A majority of Democratic primary voters who responded to a recent Monmouth survey said Harris was their top pick.

    But some progressives have argued that a vision for Black America is perhaps more important than being representative of it. Warren boosters point to the plans she launched during her presidential bid aimed at combating systemic racism. Since protests broke out over the police killing of George Floyd, Warren has reprised her courtship of Black activists, a cornerstone of her presidential run, making calls to Black leaders and appearing with them in Zoom roundtables to discuss systemic racism. Some of them have, in turn, endorsed her vice presidential prospects.

    Democrats have been particularly worried about an enthusiasm gap among younger Black voters in swing states where Hillary Clinton fell short in 2016, and progressives point to Warren’s activist support as evidence that she could bridge it. But in this survey, Warren’s support gets murkier in the racial breakdown of survey respondents. Among white respondents, Warren was the runaway favorite: 42 percent of them chose her as their top VP pick. But only 23 percent of Black respondents did, and 28 percent selected Abrams as their first choice. Though perhaps negligible given the poll’s margin of error, this finding breaks a trend Data for Progress identified in a poll conducted earlier this month across all states, which found Warren was the clear favorite among Black voters aged 18-to-34. Still, Warren beat out Harris across all demographics.

    But if Warren’s ability to gin up enthusiasm with that demographic is debatable, so too is whether the enthusiasm gap among young Black voters is Biden’s greatest weakness. According to the Time/Siena poll, he’s facing a bigger problem with their white peers: 21 percent of non-white voters aged 18-to-29 said their view of Biden is “very favorable,” but only 4 percent of white voters in that same age group held that view.

  • The Trump Files: Donald’s Recurring Sex Dreams

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on August 10, 2016.

    It’s not generally hard to ascertain what Donald Trump is thinking about—it seems as if every thought that goes through his head over the course of the day comes right out of his mouth. But what about when he’s sleeping? Timothy O’Brien, author of the 2005 book TrumpNation, asked the mogul about his “most frequent dream,” and Trump replied with his signature candor.

    “Always sexual,” he said. “It’s always fucking.”

    Does he have nightmares? “Every once in a while, you have something,” Trump said. “But basically, I don’t have those sicko deals.” And therapy? “I have found I am not a disbeliever in it. But I look at reports that psychiatrists have by far the highest rate of suicide than anybody—that means they’re pretty fucked up, and I don’t have the time for it.”

  • The Trump Files: The Time He Went Nuts on a Water Cooler

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on June 15, 2016.

    Mark Bowden, the reporter and author of the book Black Hawk Down, was “prepared to like” the aging and increasingly hefty Donald Trump when he set out to profile the mogul for Playboy in 1996. The two men took a trip down to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for a weekend, but the reality of The Donald quickly made any affection impossible.

    “Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong,” Bowden wrote last year in Vanity Fair, recalling his time profiling Trump. “He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression.” Any remaining chance of that went out the window when Trump unleashed his fury on an equipment box at the Mar-a-Lago tennis courts, as Bowden wrote in the profile:

    The Donald had his tile man—a genius! the best!—come out just a few weeks ago to lay smooth, rust-colored slate on the platforms between the burgundy clay tennis courts. It looks a lot nicer than plain concrete. Handsome stone water coolers stand at one end of the platform, and there’s enough room under a yellow-striped umbrella for four chairs and a small table. Except, today, smack in the middle of each platform there’s this…this thing…this little metal box about two feet high and a foot wide with wires and tubes sticking out of it, right where the table is supposed to go. Inspecting the courts with his tennis pro, Anthony Boulle, Donald probes the ugly box first with his foot.

    “What’s this?” he asks, like a man with a turd on his dinner plate.

    Boulle explains that it’s the chiller for the water cooler, that he tried to tell the plumber that Mr. Trump wouldn’t be happy, but the guy said…

    Donald kicks the thing. It doesn’t budge so he bends over, pissed royally now, and gives the thing a hard shove. It flops over. Water from the ruptured main begins to spout two, three, four feet high, rapidly soaking and then puddling on the carefully combed courts. The Donald, muttering angrily, skips out of the spray and strides off, stepping around the widening pool.

    Even Donald seemed to instantly know the impromptu demolition was a bad idea, Bowden remembered:

    Catching a glimpse of me watching, Trump grimaced.

    “I guess that’ll have to be in your story,” he said.

    “Pretty much,” I told him.

  • Trump Files: When Donald Ran Afoul of Ancient Scottish Heraldry Law

    Mother Jones Illustration; Shuttershock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on September 21, 2016.

    When Donald Trump was trying to pitch the Scottish government on a new $1.2 billion golf course and coastal resort near Aberdeen in 2008, he gave away swag emblazoned with the official Trump family coat of arms—an ostentatious gold floral pattern surrounding a helmet atop a shield with three lions and two chevronels (the inverted V pattern that is a fixture on police and military uniforms).

    But there was one problem: There was no official Trump family coat of arms. His mother is Scottish, but the Trump surname is German. And that meant Trump was in violation of an ancient Scottish heraldic law dating back to 1672, which prohibits unregistered coats of arms. According to the Telegraph, a shield costs £900 to register, and you pay an additional £1,300 for special features like a crest and a helmet, both of which graced Trump’s coat of arms.

    Finally, four years after the initial brouhaha, Trump secured permission from the Scottish heraldic authorities for a new coat of arms. In an interview with the New York Post, Trump International–Scotland Vice President Sarah Malone explained the deep significance of the symbols:

    “The Lion Rampant makes reference to Scotland and the stars to America,” Malone said, describing the insignia.

    “Three chevronels are used to denote the sky, sand dunes and sea—the essential components of the [golf resort] site—and the double-sided eagle represents the dual nature and nationality of Trump’s heritage.”

    She added, “The eagle clutches golf balls, making reference to the great game of golf, and the motto ‘Numquam Concedere’ is Latin for ‘Never Give Up’—Trump’s philosophy.”

    Yup, that just about nails it.


  • K-Pop Stans and TikTok Teens Mobilized to Derail Trump’s Tulsa Rally


    If you believe President Donald Trump, nearly one million people registered for his June 20 campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But come Saturday, fewer than 6,200 people showed up, according to the Tulsa fire department. Large swaths of the 19,000-seat arena were empty,  the New York Times reported, and the outdoor overflow venue was such a ghost town that Trump and Vice President Mike Pence cancelled appearances there. 

    Maybe Trump’s popularity has fallen just that far. Maybe Tulsans were worried about catching the coronavirus. And maybe a horde of K-pop fans and TikTok users successfully pranked the president’s campaign into thinking its rally would be packed to the rafters. 

    Since June 11, when the Trump campaign asked supporters to register for the event using their phones, social media users been encouraging each other to reserve tickets (for free) to the Tulsa rally with no intention of showing up. 

    “I just registered for Trump’s rally, and I’m so excited—to not go,” one user posted on TikTok.


    GO REGISTER! And don’t forget to not show up! Take those seats away! #trump #trump2020 #2020 #trumprally #republican #tulsa JK #blm #lgbt #voteblue

    ♬ original sound – vividdreamergirl

    Others made similar announcements while dancing the Macarena.


    Duet your confirmation that you took seats to the trump rally (which I’m tOOTTTALLLY going to use wink wink)with @indiefilmprotagonist #greenscreen

    ♬ Macarena – Bass Bumpers Remix Radio Edit – Los Del Rio


    Thousands of fans reportedly joined in the effort.

    On Twitter, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) thanked the teens for their service. “KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too,” she added. 

    It’s not the first time K-pop fans have mobilized en masse for political or social causes in recent weeks. When the Dallas Police Department launched an app for users to send in videos of “illegal activity” taking place at Black Lives Matter protests, K-pop fans crashed it with videos showing their beloved stars dancing and singing. When white supremacists planned a day of action online, attempting to make the racist hashtag #WhiteLivesMatter trend on Twitter, K-pop fans flooded the hashtag with more fancams. And when K-pop boy band BTS donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter, its army of fans matched the contribution within 24 hours

    In a statement, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale blamed the rally’s poor attendance on protesters and “fake news media” warning people of the risk of catching coronavirus, which has killed nearly 120,000 people in the US.

    He also implied that the real purpose of collecting sign-ups for the rally was to harvest the contact information of people who may later be spammed with fundraising requests and targeted political advertising. 

    Campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh echoed this in an interview with Bloomberg: “Leftists always fool themselves into thinking they’re being clever,” he said. “Registering for a rally only means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number. Every rally is general admission and entry is first-come-first served. But we thank them for their contact information.”

    I wonder how well Team Trump’s data specialists are dealing with their new spreadsheets of minors and BTS fangirls.

  • Trump Reboots His Campaign With Some Racist Crap

    Sue Ogrocki/AP

    The man who kicked off his first presidential campaign with racism about Mexicans rebooted his second one on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a racist fantasia to explain why the police shouldn’t be defunded.  

    At his first rally since the coronavirus shutdown—originally scheduled for Juneteenth but moved on the counsel of unnamed Black “friends” of Donald Trump—the president asked the crowd to imagine a “tough hombre” breaking the “window of a young woman” at 1 a.m.. Her husband, “a traveling salesman or whatever he may do,” is away.

    “And you call 9-1-1,” Trump said, “and they say, ‘I’m sorry, this number is no longer working,'” apparently because emergency dispatch centers have also been defunded in this copless dystopia. Having thus traded Kathryn Steinle for a more generalized racist panic scenario, Trump rounded into his conclusion: “If you want to save that beautiful heritage of ours—we have a great heritage, we’re a great country—you are so lucky I’m president, that’s all I can tell you.” 

    Later he maundered on about “rioters, looters, and criminal aliens” of “Joe Biden’s America,” counterposing them against “law-abiding citizens.”

    Wait, you want more? He also said that COVID-19 could be called “Kung-Flu.”

  • Trump Campaign Did Not Reach Out to Tulsa Health Officials Before Potential “Super Spreader” Event

    Attendees of President Donald Trump's June 20 rally, without masks on, cheer Eric Trump.Sue Ogrocki/AP

    President Donald Trump’s rally tonight could be, health officials warned, a “super spreader” event—risking a rise in hospitalizations in the community. In light of that potential spread, local health officials in Tulsa have cautioned against the gathering. Still, Trump decided to go ahead with it.

    In theory, if someone did test positive for COVID-19 after attending the rally, there would be a need to conduct contact tracing to mitigate the spread. I was curious if the Trump campaign had reached out to local officials to put a plan in place in the event someone does get the virus. You could imagine the campaign potentially helping Tulsa’s 60 public health officials trace to stop the spread of the virus after a mass event, that, after all, they didn’t want in the first place. Resources like the campaign’s databases of tickets could be helpful, for example.

    But, nope, the Trump campaign has not talked to city officials about combating any outbreak.

    “The Tulsa Health Department has not been contacted by any representatives from the Trump campaign,” the city’s health department told me in a statement.

    This is even more worrying considering that, this morning, it was revealed six Trump staffers doing logistics for the rally tested positive for COVID-19.  When it was revealed, Trump just got mad that it went public.

  • Six Members of Trump’s Tulsa Team Test Positive for COVID-19


    Six people working on logistics for President Trump’s Tulsa rally have tested positive for COVID-19, according to NBC News. Twenty-thousand people, none of whom will be required to wear masks, are expected at the rally, which will be held inside.  

    “Quarantine procedures were immediately implemented,” said a Trump spokesperson, adding: “No COVID-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials.”

    The top health official in Tulsa warned against President Donald Trump’s first rally since the coronavirus pandemic, saying it could cause havoc, including a surge in hospitalizations. Even the president, the official warned, was at risk.

    “A large indoor rally with 19-20,000 people is a huge risk factor today in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” he said, as we reported earlier. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”

    Health officials have worried that this could be a “super spreader” event. But as we’ve documented in timeline form, the president’s self-regard always comes first, even at the expense of other people’s lives.

  • As Trump Struggles with Seniors, His Campaign Mocks Biden’s Age

    Preston Ehrler//SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

    President Donald Trump’s campaign ran an ad on Facebook Friday illustrating the campaign’s struggle with how to tarnish his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, while also energizing its base. In this case, can it attack the presumptive Democratic nominee for being 77-years-old without alienating senior voters who are crucial to the Trump campaign’s coalition? 

    It looks like they may be trying to find out. The ad, which was first posted last month, features an unflattering, black-and-white image of Biden surrounded by question marks. The text reads: “He’s How Old?”

    The ad was part of a larger digital push to lure people to fill out an online survey, an aspect of the campaign’s strategy to keep supporters engaged, capture their contact information, and grow its lists. The image about Biden’s age on Friday was used in at least 38 Facebook ads nationwide. Some iterations targeted older people. In one, the image was sent to women over 65 in Florida and West Virginia. Another sent the image to only 18-24 year-old men in Florida.

    The Trump campaign’s legendary 2016 digital operation was known for throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck; they boasted about how many variants of ads they ran on Facebook to test which message, which text, or which image engaged supporters most. It’s possible this is part of a similar test designed to see whether attacks on Biden’s age work, and with which demographics. But the attack on Biden could backfire and remind voters that Trump himself is no spring chicken, having just celebrated his 74th birthday this month. It also comes as Trump’s support among seniors is dropping, perhaps the greatest threat to his re-election.

    That erosion of support among a once solid demographic goes a long way to explaining why, with less than six months until the November elections, polls consistently show Trump losing to Biden. People over 65 were a key voting block for Trump four years ago when he won them by nine points, according to the Pew Research Center. But polling from as early as April showed those numbers had essentially flipped, with support from seniors shifting to Biden. Florida presents a stark example of the problem: in a must-win state where senior citizens are a powerful voting block, Trump won them by 17 points in 2016. A late April Quinnipiac poll showed Biden leading seniors in Florida by 10 points. In May, Quinnipiac polling showed women over 65 supporting Biden over Trump by 22 points. In the first week of June, a CNN poll found seniors supporting Biden over Trump 51 percent to 47 percent, a split within the polls margin of error but far below what Trump will need to win in November.

    While polls were picking up on Trump’s struggles to hold his support among senior voters—particularly senior women—before the coronavirus, the pandemic has made the problem much worse. From mid-March to mid-April, the Morning Consult tracking poll showed seniors going from the age group most supportive of Trump’s handling of the crisis to the most critical. In early June, the same poll showed seniors’ net support for Trump’s handling of the crisis had ticked up just two percentage points, even as other age groups had more favorable views of Trump’s reaction to the virus. These voters are among the most at risk from the virus, and many of them may believe the president has been cavalier with their safety. In March, Trump toyed with the idea that the country should reopen, even if that meant seniors would sacrifice themselves for the economy. Since then, he encouraged protest movements pushing for reopening, in defiance of policies put in place largely to protect older Americans. He refuses to wear a mask. By mid-June, virus cases were growing particularly high in states with large numbers of seniors, including Florida and Arizona. The boomer generation remains the most concerned about the pandemic.

    This is the situation in which the Trump campaign seeks out the best strategy to tarnish Biden and win back older voters. According to the Washington Post, the campaign spent much of April debating how to go after Biden as Kellyanne Conway warned that relentlessly mocking Biden’s mental acuity risked further alienating seniors. 

    Perhaps this ad is meant to test senior voters’ sensitivity to the age issue. But surely a better strategy would be a more conscientious handling of the pandemic that has put their lives at risk.

  • The Trump Files: Donald’s Near-Death Experience (That He Invented)

    Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

    This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current President—on July 15, 2016.

    After a chartered helicopter crashed and killed three of Donald Trump’s top executives in October 1989, the real estate mogul was distraught. “These were three fabulous young men in the prime of their lives,” he said in a statement. “No better human beings ever existed. We are deeply saddened by this devastating tragedy, and our hearts go out to their families.” A few months later, Trump told New York magazine that the crash had shocked him, showing him “how short and fragile life is.” The event, he said, helped convince him he should leave his wife Ivana.

    But did Trump cheat death that day? “Sources said Trump himself was scheduled to be on the flight but decided at the last minute he was too busy to leave New York,” United Press International reported the day following the tragedy. Other outlets reported the same claim from the Trump camp, including Long Island’s Newsday and the New York Daily News, which slapped the report on its cover.

    At least one biographer, former Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, believed the claim was a PR stunt. In his book, Trump: The Greatest Show On Earth, Barrett wrote that Trump “did not hesitate to use [the crash] for personal advantage. He planted stories suggesting that he had almost boarded the chartered copter himself, though he’d never ridden to Atlantic City on one, trusting only his [personal] Puma [helicopter].”

    And after the Daily News story about Trump’s close call appeared, one of his executives told the Associated Press it was false. “Trump had definitely never planned to be on it,” said Bernie Dillon, vice president of Trump Sports and Entertainment.

    As BuzzFeed noted last year, Trump later walked back his claim that he was supposed to be on the flight. He described it instead as a fleeting idea he had as the executives left his office. “As quickly as the idea had popped into my mind, I decided not to go,” he said in Surviving at the Top, his 1990 book.