Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Politics

Crossing the line: Trump's private conduct with women

Donald Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes.

"Donald was having a pool party at Mar-a-Lago. There were about 50 models and 30 men. There were girls in the pools, splashing around. For some reason Donald seemed a little smitten with me. He just started talking to me and nobody else," Brewer Lane said.

She continued: "He suddenly took me by the hand, and he started to show me around the mansion. He asked me if I had a swimsuit with me. I said no. I hadn't intended to swim. He took me into a room and opened drawers and asked me to put on a swimsuit."

Brewer Lane, at the time a 26-year-old model, did as Trump asked. "I went into the bathroom and tried one on," she recalled. It was a bikini. "I came out, and he said, 'Wow.' "

Trump, then 44 and in the midst of his first divorce, decided to show her off to the crowd at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach. "He brought me out to the pool and said, 'That is a stunning Trump girl, isn't it?' " Brewer Lane said.

Donald Trump and women: The words evoke a familiar cascade of casual insults by the presumptive Republican nominee for president, hurled from the safe distance of a Twitter account, a radio show or a campaign podium.

But the 1990 episode at Mar-a-Lago that Brewer Lane described was different: a debasing face-to-face encounter between Trump and a young woman he hardly knew. This is the private treatment of some women by Trump, the up-close and more intimate encounters.

The New York Times interviewed dozens of women who had worked with or for Trump over the past four decades and women who had dated him or interacted with him socially. In all, more than 50 interviews were conducted.

Their accounts reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct, according to the interviews, as well as court records and written recollections.

What emerges from the interviews is a complex, at times contradictory portrait of a provocative man and the women around him, one that defies simple categorization.

Pressed on the women's claims, Trump disputed many of the details, such as asking Brewer Lane to put on a swimsuit. "A lot of things get made up over the years," he said. "I have always treated women with great respect. And women will tell you that."

But in many cases there was an unmistakable dynamic at play: Trump had the power, and the women did not.

For Brewer Lane, her introduction to Trump at Mar-a-Lago was the start of a whirlwind romance — a heady blur of helicopter rides and high-end hotel rooms and flashing cameras.

"It was intimidating," she said. "He was Donald Trump, obviously."

• • •

With his purchase of the Miss Universe Organization, Trump was in the business of young, beautiful women.

Temple Taggart, the 21-year-old Miss Utah, was startled by how forward he was with young contestants like her in 1997, his first year as the owner of Miss USA, a branch of the beauty pageant organization. As she recalls it, he introduced himself in an unusually intimate manner.

"He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, 'Oh my God, gross,' " Taggart said. "He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like, 'Wow, that's inappropriate.' "

Trump disputes this, saying he is reluctant to kiss strangers on the lips.

His level of involvement in the pageants was unexpected, and his judgments, the contestants said, could be harsh. Carrie Prejean, who was 21 when she participated in the Miss USA contest in 2009 as Miss California, was surprised to find Trump personally evaluating the women at rehearsal.

"We were told to put on our opening number outfits — they were nearly as revealing as our swimsuits — and line up for him onstage," she wrote in her memoir, Still Standing.

"Donald Trump walked out with his entourage and inspected us closer than any general ever inspected a platoon. He would stop in front of a girl, look her up and down, and say, 'Hmmm.' Then he would go on and do the same thing to the next girl. He took notes on a little pad as he went along," Prejean wrote.

She continued: "It became clear that the point of the whole exercise was for him to divide the room between girls he personally found attractive and those he did not. Many of the girls found the exercise humiliating. Some of the girls were sobbing backstage after he left, devastated to have failed even before the competition really began to impress 'The Donald.' "

Trump, in an interview, said he would "never do that." Such behavior, he said, would bruise egos and hurt feelings. "I wouldn't hurt people," he said. "That's hurtful to people."

• • •

Inside the Trump Organization, the company that manages his various businesses, Trump occasionally interrupted routine discussions of business to opine on women's figures. Barbara Res, Trump's former head of construction, remembered a meeting in which she and Trump interviewed an architect for a project in the Los Angeles area. Out of the blue, she said, Trump evaluated the fitness of women in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Years later, after she had gained a significant amount of weight, Res endured a stinging workplace observation about her own body from Trump. " 'You like your candy,' " she recalled him telling her. "It was him reminding me that I was overweight."

Her colleague Louise Sunshine experienced similar observations from Trump when she gained weight. But she saw it as friendly encouragement, not a cruel insult. "He thought I looked much better thin," she said. "He would remind me of how beautiful I was."

• • •

To build his business, Trump turned to women for a simple reason: They worked hard — often harder than men, he told them.

When Trump hired Res to oversee the construction of Trump Tower, he invited her to his apartment on Fifth Avenue and explained that he wanted her to be his "Donna Trump" on the project, she said. Few women had reached such stature in the industry.

"He said: 'I know you're a woman in a man's world. And while men tend to be better than women, a good woman is better than 10 good men,' " Res said. "He thought he was really complimenting me."

Trump entrusted several women in his company with enormous responsibility — once they had proved themselves worthy and loyal. Sunshine had little experience in real estate, but as a top campaign fundraiser for then-Gov. Hugh Carey of New York, she had fulfilled a lifelong wish for Trump: She secured him a vanity license plate with his initials, DJT, which adorned his limousine for years.

Sunshine worked for Trump for 15 years, becoming a major New York real estate figure in her own right. Res remained at the company for 12 years, left after a disagreement over a project and then returned as a consultant for six more years. Both expressed gratitude for the chances Trump had taken on them.

In a rough-and-tumble industry thoroughly dominated by men, Trump's office stood out for its diversity, recalled Alan Lapidus, an influential architect who designed the Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City."

"He is a lot more complicated than the cartoon character. The top people in his company were women, like Barbara Res," Lapidus said. "For any company to hire a woman as chief of construction was actually startling. I don't know of a single other developer who had a woman in that position. The respect for women was always there. That's why, in spite of the comments he makes now — and God knows why he says these things — when he was building his empire, the backbone was women."

Trump says the world misunderstands his relationship with women.

He sees himself as a promoter of women — a man whose business deals have given them untold opportunities for employment and advancement. "Hundreds and hundreds of women, thousands of women, are the better for it," he said.

Comments
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18
Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

DOVER, Del. — Gun rights supporters — many carrying rifles and ammunition — gathered at state capitols across the U.S. on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to be...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

President Donald Trump will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago this week in an effort to shore up their relationship amid strains in the U.S.-Japan alliance ahead of Trump’s potential summit with the leader of North Korea.Abe is...
Published: 04/14/18
Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the Security Council on Saturday that the United States is "locked and loaded," ready to launch another military strike if the Syrian government ever uses chemical weapons again."I spoke to the president...
Published: 04/14/18
Trump uses phrase that haunted Bush: ‘Mission Accomplished!’

Trump uses phrase that haunted Bush: ‘Mission Accomplished!’

WASHINGTON — As he declares the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria a success, President Donald Trump is adopting a phrase that a previous president came to regret — "mission accomplished." On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "A perfectly executed strike last ...
Published: 04/14/18
Rays stadium backers sponsor free screening of ‘Field of Dreams’ at Tampa Theatre

Rays stadium backers sponsor free screening of ‘Field of Dreams’ at Tampa Theatre

TAMPA — It would take hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, and more than a few dreams, too.So a business group advocating for a stadium in Ybor City is joining with the Tampa Theatre for a free screening of t...
Published: 04/13/18