By Barry Levine
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During his 2016 presidential run, the revelation of the Access Hollywood tape and subsequent allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against Donald Trump looked like they might doom his candidacy. Trump survived, and the first two years of the real estate scion's presidency were marked not by controversy over his behavior around women but by the Mueller investigation.
Outside of being found liable for sexual abuse in a 2023 civil trial that awarded E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages, Trump has widely dodged the #MeToo bullet that has taken down so many once-powerful men. But despite the decades of tabloid fascination with his personal life, the story of Trump's relationship with women has never been fully told. Considering his bully pulpit in the White House, the reckoning is overdue.
All the President's Women offers the most detailed account yet of Trump's history with women, dating back to his childhood and high school days through his rise in real estate, reality TV, and politics. This book will show that Trump's behavior goes far beyond occasional "locker-room talk" and unwanted advances.
Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy detail more than a dozen new allegations against Trump, including a disturbing attack on a woman at Mar-a-Lago, an incident at a private Manhattan sex club involving a teenage girl, as well as Trump's behavior at fashion shows and beauty pageants–events that gave the future president a hunting ground to harass young women.
Veteran journalists Levine and El-Faizy tell the story of Trump from the point of view of the women in his orbit–wives, mistresses, playmates, and those whom the president has dated, kissed, groped, or lusted after.
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Note from Barry Levine
To find Donald Trump’s favorite bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, start by ascending the red-carpeted steps that lead inside the pink stucco landmark built in 1912. Once inside the grand lobby, walk past reception and continue toward the famed Polo Lounge, where decades ago Hollywood heavyweights like Douglas Fairbanks, Humphrey Bogart, and the Rat Pack once held court.
To the right of the lounge you’ll see an exit door, which leads to a shady path. Tropical plants and citrus trees line the walkway as it takes you away from the hotel’s main building. Nestled amid the lush greenery of the winding passage are the hotel’s most famous accommodations—the bungalows. There are twenty-three in all, and the history of their occupants could fill many a gossip column: Elizabeth Taylor spent six of her eight wedding nights in Bungalow 5; Howard Hughes lived in Bungalow 4 on and off for thirty years; and John Lennon and Yoko Ono used Bungalow 11 as their hideout.
One day in March 2019, a hotel employee guides me to Bungalow 22, the only one of the private villas without a green and white marker. It has an octagonal ceiling, a terrace fireplace, Palm Springs mid-century furnishings, and a grand piano. In addition to being Trump’s preferred rendezvous locale, it’s also rumored to have been Sinatra’s favorite.
Hotel advertising describes the bungalow as a “wonderfully private and luxurious experience, steeped in ultimate glamour.” It also teases, “If these walls could talk…”
From adult film star Stormy Daniels’s exposé about her liaisons with the future president on 60 Minutes to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal’s CNN interview to the details provided in the defamation lawsuit that ex-Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos filed against the president, we have a pretty good idea of their version of what went on inside the bungalows when Trump was staying there.
Stormy has said it was here that she watched Shark Week with Trump and ate swordfish. While their bungalow get-together was supposed to be about discussing her potential appearance on The Apprentice, she wrote in her book that Trump, feeling frisky, “started to trace his finger on my thigh.”
Karen, meanwhile, remembered that their “first date”—around the time of his June 14 birthday in 2006—ended in a bungalow here with him offering to pay her after sex.
“Did he actually try to hand you money?” Anderson Cooper asked her in their CNN interview.
“He did. He did,” McDougal responded. “And I said, I just had this look of… I don’t even know how to describe the look on my face… must have been so sad because I had never been offered money like that.”
It was also here that some of the events alleged in Summer’s lawuit against Trump took place. In her court papers, she claims a 2007 incident at a Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow began after Trump emerged from a bedroom and “immediately started kissing [her] open mouthed, pulling her towards him.”
It went downhill from there with Summer claiming Trump “grabbed her shoulder, again kissing her very aggressively, and placed his hand on her breast” before she “pulled back and walked to another part of the room.”
The documents describe his allegedly continuing advances and her continued attempts to rebuff him until “he paced around the room and seemed angry,” adding: “He told her that he did not believe that she had ever known love or been in love.”
Did he meet these women in Bungalow 22, or one of the others here? Accounts aren’t clear, though Bungalow 22 was the site of a Trump casting call in 2008 for a short-lived MTV reality series called The Girls of Hedsor Hall, in which “a dozen young American women with unladylike traits would be shipped off to an English country house to learn social graces.” According to the Washington Post, Trump “held court” as a series of possible contestants presented themselves. Trump allegedly suggested trying to find more attractive participants.
As I wandered the grounds of the Beverly Hills Hotel, I couldn’t help but wonder about the influences in Donald Trump’s life, including his long association with Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine. Had the president’s long history of affairs and boorish behavior just been an exaggeration of his lifelong attempt to fulfill his inner Hugh Hefner?
As a student at New York Military Academy, the all-boys boarding school in which he enrolled in 1959, young Donald was probably no different than others his age in wanting to emulate the hedonistic Playboy founder. Trump’s five-year stint in the military academy began at age thirteen—six years after Hefner began publishing his men’s magazine, which author Carrie Pitzulo wrote after his death, “defined an airbrushed and unattainable standard of feminine attraction and availability.”
I can envision a teenage Trump and his bunkmates after lights out, passing around a dog-eared copy of Playboy, checking out that month’s centerfold by flashlight and nodding off to Hef’s philosophy of manhood and of breast-filled midnight dreams. Of Trump’s times at the military academy, David Cay Johnston, one of his biographers, told me, “Donald has been living the year he was thirteen for the last sixty years.”
It was clear Trump was channeling Hefner on the first night he was alone with Stormy Daniels at a hotel suite in Lake Tahoe. Stormy writes in her book, Full Disclosure, that “Trump came swooping in, wearing black silk pajamas and slippers. ‘Hi there,’ he said. Look at this motherfucker, I thought… ‘Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Hefner. I’m looking for Mr. Trump… What are you doing? Go put some fucking clothes on.’”
One thing separates Trump from his would-be sexual idol, however. Like Trump, Hefner was accused over the years of various acts of sexual exploitation and abuse. But unlike Trump, the Playboy founder never faced a public reckoning like Trump did during the 2016 election. In the wake of the release of the “Access Hollywood tape” numerous women shared stories about Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct.
At the time this book went to the printer, the president had publicly faced allegations from two dozen different women. In addition to placing those previously reported allegations into a narrative that attempts to show the arc of Donald Trump’s relationship with women over his life, this book will reveal another forty-three allegations, bringing the total number to sixty-seven incidents of alleged inappropriate behavior, including twenty-six examples of unwanted sexual contact.
After what I had learned a year into the reporting of this book, I came here to the Beverly Hills Hotel to walk down that path to Bungalow 22—to try for a moment to walk in Donald Trump’s footsteps and to contemplate why, again and again, he was willing to take such risks and to act with so little regard for women.
Numb from months of interviews and research covering the endless string of affairs, propositions, lies, accusations, and disparaging comments made against women by Trump, I nonetheless continued to wrestle with what Trump could possibly have been thinking. Looking at the elegant surroundings, I wondered if he ever imagined the trouble he would get himself into years later during his presidency because of his extramarital affairs with Stormy and Karen (the “hush money” mistresses, I call them).
As you will read in these pages, there are many places where Trump carried out his womanizing—places like Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, and the $100 million yacht he dubbed the Trump Princess as well as a string of exclusive nightclubs and private hotel suites. Of all these locations, however, the bungalows here, some costing as much as $17,000 a night, seemed to call out to him as a haven as he conducted his indiscretions early on in his third marriage.
Before bringing Stormy and Karen and Summer here, he even entertained the future Melania Trump on the premises. Then his girlfriend, there’s a photo of Trump and Melania outside the Beverly Hills Hotel from February 2004. The occasion was the 14th Annual Night of 100 Stars Oscar Gala. In the picture, Trump stands between Melania and Lolita actress Dominique Swain.
In the evening of my visit to the Beverly Hills Hotel, I checked out its famed Polo Lounge. Of all people, Chris Harrison, the genial host of TV’s popular reality dating show The Bachelor, was sitting across the room at a table of friends.
It suddenly hit me. I realized that, maybe, for Trump, the bungalows here were his own twisted version of The Bachelor’s “Fantasy Suite.”
As I watched Harrison and his friends, in my mind I could hear him saying, as he often did on the show, “Should you choose to forgo your individual rooms…”
The tie-in to Hefner also began to make more sense.
After decades of beautiful women, Donald Trump—married or not—was still trying to live out his fantasies, no different than Hefner had done at his mansion, a mile down the road.
Decades before Stormy, Karen, and Summer and the bungalows at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and long before I ever thought about this book, I saw Donald Trump in person for the first time in Aspen. I was a young celebrity reporter based in Los Angeles. I had gone to the famed Colorado ski town over the 1988 Christmas holiday.
I probably wouldn’t have even recognized him had he been wearing ski attire like everybody else at the base of the mountain. But no other guy was dressed in a white Oxford shirt and V-neck red sweater under a black wool overcoat.
“Mind if I snap a photo, Mr. Trump?” I asked.
Always happy to be noticed, the forty-two-year-old real estate developer and fledgling New York celebrity stared straight into the lens of my cheap camera. The picture taken, I wished him a happy New Year.
I didn’t know it at the time, but while he was in Aspen with his family, he also had stashed his mistress nearby, Vanity Fair would later reveal.
His then wife, Ivana Trump, also had no idea at the time, and Trump and Marla Maples’s affair would carry into the new year and through all of 1989 up until the Christmas holiday, when all the parties assembled again in Colorado. Unlike the previous year, Trump got noticed plenty on the ski mountain in December 1989. He, his wife, and mistress all ended up in the same restaurant on the side of the ski slope.
One person who witnessed the infamous confrontation was my old friend Bonnie Robinson, a Los Angeles reporter who regularly holidayed in Aspen. “I remember it was a beautiful day,” she told me. “It’s what we call in skiing a ‘bluebird day’ in Aspen—sun’s out, no wind, so it’s really warm.”
All these years later, Bonnie could still recall the moment when Ivana and Marla locked eyes. “To put it mildly, it was very fucking tense,” she said. “Donald became very uncomfortable. Words were shouted. People stopped eating their lunch.”
Marla, after years of staying in the shadows, knew the inevitable confrontation had come and decided to stake her claim.
Marla told Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, “It suddenly became focused in my direction… I didn’t want to scream.” But according to onlookers, Marla did scream: “It’s out, it’s out! It’s finally out!”
Another person who was there that day, like Robinson, was an old colleague of mine—Russell Turiak, an old-school paparazzi photographer. After Marla left Trump and Ivana, the couple skied down the side of the slope into an open area and continued their argument, as Turiak snapped photos. “When they stopped, I shot off a few frames,” he said. As Turiak observed the pair, Ivana’s look of “How dare you?” was met with a shrug by her husband.
Trump’s apparent indifference that afternoon to his wife of more than a decade and the mother of his three children was striking, but a second incident on that trip really defined Trump for me. It actually occurred the following evening.
According to author Harry Hurt in his 1993 book Lost Tycoon, Trump and Ivana had gone out to dinner in Aspen that next day with a friend, a New York publicist.
Hurt wrote, “When the Trumps escort [the publicist] back to her room, Donald keeps asking about an attractive young woman who joined them at the table along with her date for the evening. ‘Is her figure as good as it looks?’ he wondered.”
Hurt wrote that the publicist blushed “in embarrassment” and couldn’t understand “how Donald could dare to talk that way in front of Ivana.”
So, the memory no doubt still fresh in his mind of standing between his wife and mistress on the slopes, Donald Trump was already thinking past them—and about yet another woman.
The idea for this book came to me in the spring of 2018, as the Stormy “hush money” scandal was exploding in the “fake news” media, as Trump calls it. Amid the headlines about Trump’s behavior with women in recent years, I wanted to go back decades earlier, and begin to try to connect the dots.
What else was there to know about Trump’s behavior with women? What influenced Trump’s views about the role of women in his life? And how would the nature of those relationships look if we cataloged them against a fuller narrative of Trump’s life? Was Trump merely a boor and a philanderer—or was he a predator? My hope is that readers will find satisfactory answers to those questions in these pages.
In July 2019, I made multiple attempts to seek Trump’s comment on the allegations contained in this book. Despite sending emails and FedEx requests to White House press staff, as well as placing phone calls to Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham and Hogan Gidley, neither Trump nor his representatives responded to our requests for comment by the given deadline. The closest we came to a comment was on July 9, 2019, when I managed to reach Gidley on his White House office number. Gidley claimed he had not seen my emailed request for comment, which I had sent nine days earlier to both his White House email and a personal email address he had been known to use. He seemed very eager to get me off the phone. He was polite but said: “I didn’t see it, but I’m writing this down and I will look for it. I’m going into a meeting.” He then hung up, and we heard nothing from the White House by the time the book’s text was finalized.
I am proud of what I accomplished with the collaboration of three fellow journalists:
My coauthor, Monique El-Faizy, carefully and painstakingly wrote the narrative while I reported and chased down sources. A brilliant journalist and writer, she made me see the larger picture of why Trump’s actions helped catalyze the #MeToo movement and helped revitalize women’s activism.
Whitney Clegg joined our project after working for the CNN investigative unit and reporting on child abuse for NPR. She brought Trump’s accusers into sharp focus through terrific and insightful reporting and I appreciated her challenging me every day to do better.
Finally, Lucy Osborne, whose work came to my attention through a BBC Panorama documentary she had produced on Trump and women, ended up unearthing important new disclosures for this book through her indefatigable reporting and spirit.
My extreme gratitude goes out to all.
WOMEN AND THE PRESIDENT’S BULLY PULPIT
Note from Monique El-Faizy
When I was first approached to be part of this project, my initial impulse was to turn it down. Immersing myself in accounts of Donald Trump’s sexual misconduct was not something I was particularly interested in doing. I had read the headlines with the same dismayed disbelief that many women had but hadn’t paid much attention to them beyond that. My natural inclination was to look at his policies, not his personal life.
But the prospect of working on this book spurred me to think more carefully about the way Trump has treated women in his life and to realize that the impact that, as president, his words and behavior have had resonates far beyond the encounters themselves. As president, Trump is supposed to personify the values of a nation that for many is still an exemplar of tolerance and equality. That anyone would speak about women in the objectifying terms that he does—let alone brag about being able to sexually assault them—is offensive. When it is a man who holds the most visible and powerful position in the world, it becomes something else entirely.
When the man with the largest bully pulpit in the world espouses the idea that women are objects that can be grabbed or kissed or insulted at whim, he is sending a signal to men everywhere that such attitudes and behavior are acceptable. And when we as citizens stop being shocked, we normalize it, not just for Trump but for all men. As unpleasant or as inconsequential as they may be, depending on one’s perspective, we have an obligation to listen to the stories of the women who have accused Trump of sexual impropriety and to carefully consider them, not out of prurient interest or voyeuristic instinct, but because if we don’t, we legitimize his behavior and tacitly endorse the denigration of women.
Of course, policy is important, but policies are a reflection of the society they spring out of. We cannot let even the slightest hint of sexism or misogyny go unchallenged if we have any hope of creating a world that values women and men equally. Since we cannot confront what we cannot see, revealing and carefully considering these alleged incidents of sexual misconduct is essential.
All too often, women who come forward with stories about harassment, assault, and verbal, emotional, and physical abuse are shunted aside, brushed off, dismissed, or disbelieved. As a result, women keep their experiences to themselves far more frequently than they make them public. And when they do report them, the repercussions are often so unpleasant that they regret having done so. Victims get revictimized.
It is essential, then, that those who came forward with allegations against Trump are given the fair hearing they are so often denied—especially given the efforts made by Trump and other powerful people to discredit them. Having carefully considered all the evidence we found, we believe the stories of the women whom we included in this book.
I also had a more personal reason for deciding that it was important to give greater scrutiny to Trump’s behavior. I am the mother of two boys. Not only do I deeply care about the attitudes they have toward women and the example that prominent men set for them, but I have spent their lifetimes trying to impress upon them the importance of standing up and calling out what is wrong, even when doing so is uncomfortable, because not to do so is to be complicit. I knew if I wanted them to absorb that lesson, I would have to live it myself.
Writing this book has made me rethink many of my own attitudes and assumptions. There is a fine line between salacious exposé and legitimate investigation. While Trump’s presidency has rendered that boundary almost indiscernible, writing about him prompted me to reconsider the behavior of previous presidents and other men through the lens of the #MeToo movement. It is impossible not to see that there were many women who made accusations against powerful men over the past several decades who did not get a fair hearing. My coauthor, Barry Levine, helped me see the importance of listening carefully to each and every woman with a story to tell.
In these pages, we tried to amplify the voices of women who have been silenced, diminished, and dismissed, and to show why what they have to say about Donald Trump matters, not just for them, but for all of us. My hope is that in reading their stories and seeing the power in the collective action that they helped unleash by coming forward, women everywhere will feel emboldened to make their own voices heard.
On January 21, 2017, the day after Donald J. Trump was inaugurated the forty-fifth president of the United States of America, hundreds of thousands of women wearing pink cat-eared “pussy hats” flooded the streets of Washington, D.C. They did so to champion a panoply of issues, but mainly to rally against the elevation to the presidency of a man who had advocated, on tape, sexual assault. The women in Washington were joined by millions of women in other U.S. cities and around the world. In D.C. alone, the gathering represented the largest single-day march in U.S. history.
The hats, an allusion to Trump’s now-infamous boast on the so-called Access Hollywood tape that he could “grab ’em by the pussy,” were symbols of the anger and fear that had prompted these women to climb onto buses, board trains, and pile into cars to make the trip to the nation’s capital and to other march sites around the world. Many of the women who took to the streets that day were in a state of despair at Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Trump. They had gone to the polls on November 8, 2016, believing that they were casting their ballots for the first female president of the United States. Instead, they wound up with a president who they felt had shown himself on many occasions to be a misogynist.
During his campaign, Trump had mocked and insulted numerous women, from his opponent Hillary Clinton to media figures like Megyn Kelly. When the Access Hollywood tape emerged, Trump dismissed it as “locker-room talk,” but then, one after the other, a wave of women came forward alleging that Trump had inappropriately touched them. He was elected anyway, leaving many stunned that such discourse and behavior had not been disqualifying. What did Trump’s victory say about the state of women in America?
In this book, we seek to take a comprehensive look at the subject of Trump and women—his attitudes about them, his history with them, their views of him, and the impact of his presidency on them. Where did Trump’s sexist sense of male supremacy come from? To answer that question, we trace Trump’s transformation from a kid from Queens to high school “ladies’ man” into a womanizing, model-chasing, porn-star-frequenting philanderer.
We look at his early days on the dating scene in college and as a young adult in New York, his emergence as a prominent businessman, then as a television personality, and, finally, as a politician. We examine the things he has said about women, the language he has used to describe them, and the insults with which he has tarred them.
We spoke with dozens of women who had encounters with Trump, some positive but more negative. We explore his dealings with women who worked for him and those who were in relationships with him. In these pages, we have compiled the stories of women who have already come forward publicly with an allegation of sexual misconduct by Trump and placed them in a narrative alongside many new allegations revealed for the first time in this book. By June 2019, news organizations had documented as many as twenty-four women who have accused Donald Trump of varying degrees of inappropriate behavior, including sexual harassment or sexual assault. Our investigation found at least sixty-seven separate accusations of inappropriate behavior, including twenty-six instances of unwanted sexual contact.
On the basis of that evidence, this book will show that Trump repeatedly and systematically engaged in aggressive sexual pursuit of women over the course of many decades. It will show that his behavior was neither random nor occasional nor casual. Our investigation found that Trump’s sexual misconduct, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, was far more frequent than has previously been reported publicly—though it was widely known about in certain circles during that time—and followed patterns. It will show that he was not simply sexist, nor misogynistic, nor even a harasser. The behavior he has admitted to—grabbing women by the “pussy”—and many of the credible accusations he denies, were they to be proven in a court of law, would qualify as crimes, some of them serious ones. The accounts of the women and men who encountered Trump documented in the book should dispel any doubt that the president is merely boorish. After considering all the evidence, one cannot but conclude that Donald Trump is, and has been for some time, a full-blown sexual predator. So what does this all mean for our nation? Multiple allegations of sexual assault against any man must be taken seriously; all the more so when that man holds a position of power.
Of course, not all women opposed Trump—without the backing of white women, 47 percent of whom voted for him, he wouldn’t have been elected in the first place. Along with chronicling the accusations of sexual impropriety against Trump, we speak to the women who stand by him. While some polls suggest their support is eroding, the president still largely enjoys the backing of white, evangelical women. What is it they like about him and how do they continue to stand by him given his misdeeds? Why aren’t they bothered by his unarguably sexist comments? This book looks not only at the women who abhor him but at those who adore him as well.
The divisions within the country on the issue of sexual conduct were never more evident than during the confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexually assaulting a young woman when he was in high school. The proceedings not only laid bare the fault lines in American society, particularly among women, but also starkly highlighted the impact of having an accused sexual predator with chauvinistic views occupying the highest office in the land.
"Barry Levine... and Monique el-Faizy are well placed to write this alarming book....Their book is lurid [and] informative....All the President's Women is breezy but heavy."
- "What emerges from this compendium of reporting are disturbing patterns of predatory behavior from a man who uses wealth and power to abuse women, as well as deep insight to the cultural forces that have allowed such predators to operate free of consequences."—Esquire.com
- "An in-depth exploration of Trump's tendency to objectify the women who cross his path....Explosive....The most powerful element of the book, however, is the index included at its conclusion: a list of the many, many women who have come forward to claim that Trump mistreated them. The accounts vary; the theme does not....The book also offers damning evidence, collectively, of Trump's lifelong treatment of women as playthings; it could operate just as readily as a textbook on the workings of rape culture."—TheAtlantic.com
- "A thorough... history of Trump's behavior toward women...[All the President's Women] elicits disgust and anger...assembl[ing] Trump's cruelties and transgressions into one neat volume."—The Washington Post
- "A searing account....An incredible tale and a necessary...volume of [Trump's] improprieties."—AOL Build
- "It is [the] narration, combined with a stunning 43 new allegations of Trump's sexual misconduct, that makes All the President's Women such an impactful read. Levine and El-Faizy painstakingly document Trump's decades-long history of treating women as objects and accessories."—HuffPost
- "All the President's Women shows the most powerful rapist in the world should be seen as a predator first, and a president second....Maybe this is the book that will change everything....Compelling."—Jessica Valenti, Medium.com
- "Perhaps for some readers, seeing every public and alleged instance of Trump's sexism laid out in one place will be the jolt they need to reignite a healthy sense of outrage. But All the President's Women also makes the case that a lot of Trump's behavior is already normalized, which is how he's gotten away with it for so long....Worthwhile reporting."—Slate.com
- "An exhaustive... compendium....With so many horrific anecdotes one after the other, the through line of the story is... the unrepentant predator."—Rawstory.com
- "Perhaps the power of All the President's Women may best be summed up on page 250. In an appendix titled 'All the President's Women A to Z,' the authors list, one by one, each accusation of improper behavior against Trump. It's 56 pages long."—The Wrap
- "A deep dive into the sordid sociopathy of the current occupant of the Oval Office."—The Village Sun
"[One] of the best books to come out of the Me Too Movement."
- "[The book] pulls no punches.... [All the President's Women] in broader terms, also looks at the effect of Trump's presidency on America. He has both regressed the country and galvanized it."—RawStory
- "A thorough and disturbing rundown of President Trump's attitudes toward and interactions with women....This somber narrative makes a strong case that Trump's history of sexual misconduct goes far beyond 'locker room talk.'"—Publishers Weekly
"A comprehensive, yet thoroughly disturbing look at the president's history and pattern of sexual misconduct....The significant new material and the book's usefulness as a single-volume source on the topic make this not only a critical current read but one likely to become even more important in the future."
—Library Journal (starred review)
- On Sale
- Oct 22, 2019
- Page Count
- 384 pages
- Hachette Books