I found it interesting and ironic when Donald Trump accused Mike Pence of cowardice because the Vice President refused to overturn the Electoral College vote. Back in 1984, Trump was in Cowardly Lyin’ mode.
Trump lied to me in a phone conversation related to his ownership of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals.
Too much of a coward to admit he was Trump, the President of the United States (for now) used an alias.
He was calling himself John Barron.
Barron was concocted by Trump to be his fixer long before he used a shady lawyer named Michael Cohen. Why the name John Barron? Well, John is his middle name and maybe he liked Barron’s magazine or hotelier Barron Hilton. We know this: He liked the Barron name enough to call his youngest kid that.
I was covering the Vikings for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune at the time. I knew Trump from my days covering the Generals as the New Jersey sports editor for The Associated Press. In January 1985, Doug Flutie signed with the Generals for a reported $7 million over five years — huge money in those days — and that was among the reasons I reached out to Trump.
I got Barron, Trump’s alter ego/surrogate/fixer who would say what Trump was too cowardly to do. And that was that Trump was paying Flutie too much money.
Barron was identified as an executive vice president in the Trump organization and quoted by several news organizations, including the New York Times, as saying, “When a guy goes out and spends more money than a player is worth, he expects to get partial reimbursement from the other (USFL) owners.”
Other news organizations weren’t yet onto Barron being Trump. A few years back, a writer working on a book about New York in the 1980s called me and said his research showed I was the first one to “sniff out the John Barron ruse our president used for so long.”
Give me a moment to finish patting myself on the back. Anyway, there was a bit of mystery cloaking Barron, who also appeared in news stories as Baron.
When I made the phone call to Trump Tower to talk to Trump about a bigger story involving the state of the USFL, I was routed to John Barron. This was the first time Barron and I would be chatting.
The nanosecond I heard Barron’s voice, I knew.
After he continually insisted Flutie was making more money than one owner should have to pay, I said, “You know, John, you sound an awful lot like Donald.”
No hesitancy in the response.
“Donald and I went to school together so we have a lot of the same inflections,” he said.
Our chat didn’t last much longer. After hanging up, I realized I needed to confirm how to spell Barron and get his exact title. I called back the next day and the secretary who answered gave me three different spellings: Barron, Baron and Barronne. She also asked, “What did Donald tell you yesterday?”
I said, “I wasn’t speaking to Donald. I was speaking to John Barron.”
When I asked if John Barron actually existed, she told me “Absolutely … You can come in and meet him some time. He’s been with us a long time.”
Earlier, another secretary — this was before executive assistants became the title of choice — told me Barron had been with the organization only a short time.
While both secretaries knew the truth, I had to pick one of the three spellings so I went with Baron, but noted I’d been given options. The story ran with the headline: “Is Generals’ Baron an alias for Trump?”
Trump admitted to the alias (sort of) in a 1990 lawsuit when he testified, under oath, that “I believe on occasion I used that name.”
And I believe on the occasion of Trump accusing Pence of being a coward he knew all about being one.
Bob Sansevere does a daily podcast called “The BS Show,” which can be heard on radio stations in Duluth (KDAL), Hibbing (WNMT) and St. Cloud (WHBR).