Last night, the Trump campaign released a statement intended to refute claims made by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos, who contends that Trump groped her in a hotel in 2007. It was purportedly written by a first cousin of Zervos named John Barry. It reads:
“I am completely shocked and bewildered by my cousin, Summer Zervos, and her press conference today. Ever since she was on The Apprentice she has had nothing but glowing things to say about Mr. Trump. For almost a decade, my cousin would talk about how much she looked up to Mr. Trump and viewed him as an inspiration – a success story she wanted to copy. Summer would also talk about how kind and caring Mr. Trump was on the show, and how he would even visit children in hospitals without telling the press. She has praised the good things he’s done for her life, and in fact she converted her friends and our family to become Trump supporters even though we’ve never been active in politics before.
“That was until Summer invited Mr. Trump to her restaurant during the primary and he said no. I think Summer wishes she could still be on reality TV, and in an effort to get that back she’s saying all of these negative things about Mr. Trump. That’s not how she talked about him before. I can only imagine that Summer’s actions today are nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense, and I don’t think it reflects well.” – John Barry, Mission Viejo, CA (first cousin of Summer Zervos)
Prominent Trump supporters have pounced on the statement, holding it up as evidence that Zervos is fabricating her story.
But curiously, reporters and TV producers are having a difficult time locating a John Barry in Mission Viejo, California.
Couple this with the fact that Trump has a history of inventing fake people to plant stories and propel false narratives about himself in the press and, well, there’s probably legitimate reason for suspicion here. As you may recall, Trump would often pretend to be his own fake PR person under the names “John Miller” and “John Barron.” As the Washington Post reported earlier this year:
In the 1980s, when reporters called the Trump Organization to request an interview with the boss, they were sometimes referred to a spokesman, instead. That a busy and image-conscious executive such as Donald Trump would place a buffer between himself and the media was hardly unusual, but there was a twist: The spokesman, John Barron, was actually Trump, hiding behind a fake name.
Barron (also spelled “Baron” in some press accounts) appears to have been Trump’s go-to alias when he was under scrutiny, in need of a tough front man or otherwise wanting to convey a message without attaching his own name to it.
And as some have pointed out, “John Barry” — which was coincidentally the name of Trump’s deceased brother-in-law — sounds an awful lot like “John Barron,” and the language of the statement sounds a lot like something written by Trump and/or his campaign, right down to the repeated references to “Mr. Trump,” something Donald is apparently obsessed with.
Additionally, the Trump campaign yesterday rolled out the account of a British man who reportedly claims to have a photographic memory and that he was on the same early ’80s flight Trump shared with accuser Jessica Leeds. The man, Anthony Gilberthorpe, claims that it was Leeds who was making the moves on Trump, not the other way around, and that Leeds “wanted to marry him.”
But it appears now that Gilberthorpe may be a serial fabulist — he appears to have once planted a fake engagement in British newspapers, and has made dubious, unprovable claims about supplying deceased British politicians with young boys for sex when they were still alive.
In any other election season none of this would even begin to seem real, but in this one it seems as though anything is possible.
UPDATE: A statement released by Gloria Allred, Summer Zervos’ attorney, appears to confirm that John Barry is, in fact, a real person.