The Trump Files: When Donald Couldn’t Tell the Difference Between Gorbachev and an Impersonator (Video)

Duped by a fake Soviet?

Ivylise Simones

Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

When then-Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited New York City in 1988, Donald Trump saw an opportunity for an up-close-and-personal encounter with the top Russian. Unfortunately, he got the wrong Gorbachev.

After descending from his office in Trump Tower upon hearing that Gorbachev was outside, Trump shook hands with a man who appeared to be Gorbachev—but wasn’t. Impersonator Ronald Knapp, who had won a Gorbachev look-alike contest, had the pleasure of meeting Trump, who notoriously loathes handshakes.

Trump denied that he fell for the stunt. “He looked fabulous and he sounded fabulous, but I knew it couldn’t be right,” Trump said, according to the Milwaukee Journal. “For one thing, I looked into the back of his limo and saw four very attractive women…I knew that his society had not come that far yet in terms of capitalist decadence.”

But a man accompanying Knapp, Gordon Elliott, assured the New York Times that Trump had been played. “There was absolutely no question that he bought it,” Elliott said. Knapp subsequently wrote a book about his time as a Gorbachev impersonator. The title? The Guy Who Got Trump.

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