Donald Trump Didn’t Think Madonna Was ‘Disgusting’ When He Lied About Her Wanting to Date Him

After splitting from Marla Maples, the Donald posed as his own publicist—John Miller—in order to spread falsehoods to the tabloids about various famous women’s interest in him.

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

During a Thursday night “interview” with minion Sean Hannity, who’s probably compiled several Pinterest boards named ‘Things Mr. Trump Likes’ and lobbed him more softballs than a carnival milk bottle game, President Trump had some harsh words for pop legend Madonna.

“Honestly, she’s disgusting. I think she hurt herself very badly. I think she hurt the whole cause,” Trump told the Fox News host. “I thought her, and a couple of others. But I thought she was in particular—I thought what she said was disgraceful to our country.”

Trump was, of course, referring to a fiery, hyperbolic speech Madonna gave during the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. protesting the presidency of a man who was caught on tape bragging about groping women, who’s been accused of sexual assault by 11 women, and who’s hell-bent on rolling back women’s reproductive rights.

“Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything,” she said. “We cannot fall into despair. As the poet W.H. Auden wrote on the eve of World War II: ‘We must love one another or die. I choose love.’”

What Madonna said was wrong, and indeed detracted from an otherwise powerful—and peaceful— political statement. But Trump’s preoccupation with branding women “disgusting” is also inexcusable. He called Hillary Clinton’s bathroom break during a Democratic debate “too disgusting” to mention at a campaign rally, and in 2011, reportedly yelled at a female lawyer that she was “disgusting” for requesting to take a break from his deposition to pump breast milk. Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he finds the female body “disgusting,” which is perhaps why he once referred to sleeping around as “my personal Vietnam”—this despite, you know, dodging the actual Vietnam War.

But Trump didn’t always find Madonna so “disgusting.” Rather, he was once rumored to have pursued the pop star, and when she rebuffed his advances, posed as his own publicist in an effort to plant stories in the tabloids claiming it was he who’d rejected her advances.

In a January 1989 profile of Madonna in Time Out, a reporter followed the Material Girl and her husband Sean Penn to Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, where Mike Tyson was set to fight Michael Spinks. There, the writer recounted how Trump made a beeline towards Madonna, and set up two seats for her and Penn ringside. The following year, in a June 1990 chat with Interview magazine, Madonna mocked Trump’s first Oval Office flirtation.

“Donald Trump is powerful? He’s a wimp. Oh, don’t print that. I want tickets to the next Tyson fight,” she joked, adding, “But Donald Trump? Isn’t there anyone else? Couldn’t we get someone more handsome?”

On June 26, 1991, the New York Post ran a front-page story claiming that Trump had dumped his former mistress, Marla Maples, for an Italian model by the name of “Carla.” When People magazine reporter Sue Carswell rang up Trump’s office to confirm the news, she was handed over to a man by the name of “John Miller,” who claimed to be a spokesman for the Trump Organization. “John Miller” confirmed that, yes, Trump had dumped Marla for the Italian model Carla Bruni (untrue), and also alleged that “important, beautiful women call him all the time,” including Madonna and Kim Basinger (also untrue).

Last May, The Washington Post obtained the audio of this bizarre phone call between People mag’s Carswell and “John Miller,” who sounds an awful lot like Donald Trump. During the chat, “Miller” claimed that the tabloid press mischaracterized an incident wherein Trump allegedly tried to put the moves on Madonna at a charity gala—only to be rejected.

“Madonna was in the room, and so somebody from Madonna’s entourage, because she comes in with an entourage of dancers and everything else, and somebody from Madonna’s entourage came over and said, ‘Would you go over and say hello to Madonna?’ And so [Trump] went over and said hello to Madonna and he gave his autograph to the dancers. She said, ‘These are fans’ and all this. ‘Will you give them the autograph?’ So he said, ‘Best wishes’ or something. And then all of a sudden—and that was the end. And then he said goodbye to her and that was literally the end. He’s got zero interest in Madonna. It was literally the end,” said “John Miller.”

“And the next day in the newspapers, they had a story that he wanted to go out with her and everything else,” the man added. “Well, she called and wanted to go out with him, that I can tell you.”

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A few weeks later, People’s Carswell ran a story about her interaction with “John Miller,” claiming to have played the tape to people in Trump’s inner circle, all of whom concluded that “John Miller” was indeed Donald Trump.

“Said columnist Cindy Adams: ‘There is no John Miller. That’s Donald.’ Said a former close associate who also ID’d the voice: ‘Is [Trump] whacked out, or what?’” reported Carswell.

“Astoundingly, and sadly, the most telling response came from Marla Maples herself,” the People story continued. “After she listened to a fragment [of the tape] and identified Trump, she was flabbergasted. It was the first time she had heard him publicly declare the relationship over. ‘I’m shocked and devastated,’ she said. ‘I feel betrayed at the deepest level. My friends and family have been praying for me for a long time, and this may be the answer to their prayers.’ Still, she added, ‘No matter what, I came into this for love, and I hope he finds happiness.’”