Culture

Newly Uncovered Audio Reveals Trump Using His ‘John Barron’ Alter Ego To Lie His Way Into The ‘Forbes’ 400 List

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Donald Trump’s use of fake names over the years is one of his worst kept secrets, as it has been heavily reported that he’s used the aliases “John Miller” and “John Barron” to speak to reporters over the phone to plant fake stories about himself — such as spreading fake rumors about dating Italian model Carla Bruni to People in 1991. Trump at the time confessed to the stunt after he got caught red-handed by his now ex-wife Marla Maples, but then denied it when the audio surfaced in 2016 (which he may have even planted himself).

Another rumored alias of Trump’s is John Barron, which he apparently liked so much that he even named his son with Melania after. Up until now the alter ego has been mostly just that, a rumor. However on Friday former Forbes reporter Jonathan Greenberg penned an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he reveals how Trump used the name as his own fake PR person to scam his way onto the Forbes 100 List in 1984. Oh, and he brought receipts.

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After recently unearthing audio tapes of phone calls he kept back in the day, Greenberg now says that he’s amazed at not having seen through the ruse. “Although Trump altered some cadences and affected a slightly stronger New York accent, it was clearly him,” he writes. During the call, “John Barron” can be heard talking up his client Mr. Trump, who at the time was included in the publication at having been worth $100 million. But now, looking back through government records, it’s clear that Trump was worth just a paltry $5 million.

That Trump once lied to get into a magazine over 30 years ago — while it does speak to his level of narcissism — is into itself not entirely newsworthy. But it does paint a troubling pattern of behavior that reveals how he may have used similar tactics to deceive about his net worth to con banks into lending him money, which resulted in his first $3.5 billion bankruptcy. Likewise, he continued to lie and embellish his way into the United States presidency, and still refuses to hand over his tax returns.

Greenberg spoke to Chris Cuomo on CNN’s New Day later Friday morning about the discovery. “You know, he is a consummate conman,” Greenberg said, when asked what made Trump successful at getting away with the scam. “He understood what I was doing, and he figured out what he had to do in order to deceive me, and get onto that list. And he did it very well.”

“Just like we weren’t prepared for him as the media, I don’t think the media was prepared for him as a politician,” Greenberg later observed. “We weren’t prepared for him as a businessman. No one is prepared for the level of his deception. I used to be proud, Chris, that I was the guy who kept him in check, he said he was worth $500 million, he was only worth $100 million. In fact, he moved the guideposts, he knows how to change the question.”

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