One of the stranger stories about Donald Trump to emerge this election cycle is that, on occasions in the past, he posed as his own publicist using the alias "John Baron" when speaking with the press.
Author Jerome Tuccille, who wrote a biography on Trump in the 1980s, had a run in with Baron when conducting research for the book — and told BuzzFeed News he only realized it was Trump when it was revealed this election cycle in press reports.
Tuccille wrote about his interaction with Baron in 1985 book, Trump: The Sage of America’s Most Powerful Real Estate Baron.
“This is John Baron of the Trump Organization, I understand you’ve been calling people all over town harassing them and misrepresenting yourself," Tuccille recounts Baron saying in the book.
“Nonsense,” replied Tuccille. “I’ve kept Donald informed every step of the way about the book. I still hope to see him.”
Tuccille told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview this week he now realizes that “Holy shit, it was the Donald.”
“It was just a revelation to me,” Tuccille said. “That the man is duplicitous and that’s how he operates. It’s just the way he does business.”
The author said Baron issued a threat, not mentioned in his book, which caused him to shift all of his assets to his wife’s bank account.
“It was chilling,” Tuccille told BuzzFeed News. “It was chilling because I assumed that John Baron was a higher-up in his organization and that he was threatening me.”
“I think it was so-called John Baron who said I wouldn’t have a pair of socks left to my name if I went ahead with the book,” Tuccille said.
He continued, “I was spooked enough to go home and put all my assets in my wife’s name at the time, praying that she wouldn’t want to divorce me. I figured it was safer in her hands with Trump’s lawyers coming at me.”
Tuccille said that he was informed by Trump, acting as Baron, that Roy Cohn, the businessman’s longtime ally and the notorious ex-aide to Joseph McCarthy, would be in touch.
“Roy Cohn actually got me on the phone and said, ‘Do you know who I am?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I know who you are.’ And he said, ‘Do you know what I do for a living?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ ‘I make people get down on their hands and knees and beg for mercy.’ That sent a chill up my spine at the time,” Tuccille said.
Tuccille writes in the book that, at the end of the conversation with “Baron,” the disguised real estate developer told him to send along a copy of his previous book and that he’d try to get him an interview with Trump. Tuccille said, however, that his conversation with Baron was the only time he ever talked to Donald Trump, though he heard from him after the book came out.
“To show you how he does business, after my book was published, I get a letter from Donald Trump thanking me for the professional manner that I approached his family and all this nonsense,” Tuccille said.
“And I’m thinking to myself, ‘You son of a bitch, this is just your way of doing business, threatening to sue people,” he said. “They gotta go out and hire a lawyer, maybe bankrupt themselves. And for him, it’s just a manner of doing business. It meant nothing to him. The real reason he was trying to head me off at the pass was, he had his own book coming out, The Art of the Deal, and he didn’t want me scooping him with my book. But you know, it worked in my favor in the end because I piggy-backed on sales of his book, which became a bestseller, so my book did well.”
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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