Before the Clintons and Donald Trump were at each other’s throats in the 2016 election, they were pals who exchanged holiday cards and autographed books.
A series of documents released by The William J. Clinton Presidential Library on Tuesday highlighted the sometimes chummy relationship between the New York political royals and the real estate mogul.
On April 2, 1993, a man named Tony August sent a letter to then-President Bill Clinton imploring him to come to an Atlantic City event with Donald Trump and suggested the two of them might get along swimmingly.
There’s a note scribbled on the page by presumably a member of Clinton’s staff with the words “past due invite,” so it’s unclear if Bubba ended up attending.
“I’m also not a matchmaker, but if you two don’t know each other you should,” August, who said his family voted for Clinton, wrote of the would-be bros. “You have much in common, age, broad vision for the future and most importantly, the resources and desire to make America bigger and better than it already is.”
Or in 2016 terms, making America great again.
Clinton was asked about Trump’s first flirtation with a presidential bid in 1999 during an interview with Bryant Gumbel on Oct. 31. Gumbel, according to the documents, asked whether Clinton’s “demeaning of the office” (i.e. his sex scandal) contributed to the rise of candidates from the entertainment sphere like the New York real estate magnate.
“I don’t think what I’ve done has anything to do with such political developments,” Clinton responded. “It’s a free country, people can chart their own course, and the political process will sort out the wheat from the chaff. I’m not concerned about it.”
Despite scoffing at the prospects of Trump as a presidential candidate—now a likely Republican nominee—the two were on good enough terms that the candy corn-hued bloviator sent Clinton’s Chief of Staff Mark Middleton a signed copy of his classic book The Art of the Deal.
“To Mark, Best Wishes. Your mom is the best,” Trump wrote above his signature.
Clinton at one point was also told to “offer neutral commentary, advice or a suggestion” to a concerned citizen he met in Billings, Montana, who wrote to a member of his staff about the danger of a potential Trump run.
“If the Reform Party goes into office, it will be an end of hard working americans [sic],” Jeff Rhodes wrote referring to Trump.
There’s another email between Congressman Sean Maloney with a veiled reference to a “Georgetown Summer Sublet” in the subject line. It was sent to then-special assistant to deputy chief of staff Andrew Mayock on April 26, 1999. The text simply reads: “donald trump, maybe.”
And then there was Birthday-ghazi in 1996.
Karen L. Hancox, a former deputy White House political director, received an email from Betty Currie, the former personal secretary for Clinton, with the subject line “Birthday Letter” on June 10, 1996. The text read: “What are your thoughts on sending a birthday letter to Donald Trump—who turns 50 on June 14. Please forward response to Maureen Lewis who will prepare letter—if you approve. Thanks.”
Then just three days later, Currie sent another email, this time only to Lewis—who handled Clinton’s personal correspondence at the time—nixing the letter entirely.
“Cancel letter to Donald Trump. Let me know.”
There is no further information in the documents about the sudden change of heart.
Nevertheless, a year after that, Clinton paid a visit to Trump Tower on June, 16, 2000, for a photo opportunity for his on-again off-again pal.
Trump had also sent holiday cards to the Clintons from 1995 to 2000, according to one of the released documents.
It does not seem likely that one of these cards would land on the White House doorstep in 2016.