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Trump's 1991 phone call unlikely to hurt his campaign: GOP strategist

Reports that Donald Trump posed as his own spokesman in a telephone interview 25 years ago may not harm his campaign to become president.
In this April 9, 1991 file photo, Donald Trump is seen in New York. (Photo by Luiz Ribeiro/AP)
In this April 9, 1991 file photo, Donald Trump is seen in New York.

Reports that Donald Trump posed as his own spokesman in a 1991 telephone interview may not harm his campaign to become president, a senior Republican strategist said Saturday.

The presumptive GOP nominee has denied he pretended to be his own publicist, despite an audio recording with a reporter that reveals a remarkably similar voice.

A Washington Post report details how Trump posed as "John Miller" or "John Barron" throughout his career when talking to reporters to promote positive stories about himself and float dating rumors.

Kevin Sheridan, who served as Rep. Paul Ryan's communications director and an adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, told "TODAY" that the revelation was unlikely to make any difference to his bid for the White House.

"He didn't need to lie about it -- he could have just admitted it … most people already knew," Sheridan said. "It doesn't seem to matter to his voters."

He added: "This is an unforced error for him, but it remains to be seen whether or not it actually matters to [general election] voters."

The Post obtained an audio recording of a decades-old interview between Miller and People magazine reporter Sue Carswell that reveals Trump's spokesmen sounded nearly identical to the now presumptive Republican presidential nominee — from his tone to his cadence to his catchphrases.

Carswell told NBC News Friday she has no doubt that the audio is authentic and is of the interview conducted back in 1991.

"It's absolutely Donald Trump," Carswell said. "There's no doubt in my mind," she added.

On the "TODAY" show Friday, Trump denied ever posing as his own publicist. But in a court case in 1990, Trump testified under oath, "I believe on occasion I used that [John Barron] name."

And a July 13, 1990, Newsday article states: "At one point, Trump, who spends millions of dollars advertising his name, acknowledged that he has used an alias, 'John Baron.' 'I believe on occasion I used that name,' Trump said, not elaborating."

The Post released a full transcript from a 1991 interview between People reporter Sue Carswell and Miller. In it, Miller defends how Trump treated his ex-wife Ivana and links him to women like Madonna and former model Carla Bruni.

Miller said Madonna "called and wanted to go out with him, that I can tell you."

"That I can tell you" is a phrase familiar to anyone who has watched Trump during the 2016 race -- he uses it nearly every campaign stop and interview.

"It was not me on the phone. And it doesn't sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that. It was not me on the phone," Trump said on "TODAY." "Let's go on to more current subjects."

The Post reported that a New York Daily News gossip columnist claims Trump also pretended to be an "anonymous tipster" who said the businessman had been spotted with models. John Barron called New York tabloids enough it became a recurring joke to editors, according to the report.

And two weeks after Carswell's original story quoting Miller ran, she published a follow-up in which Trump described the incident as a joke gone awry.

"What I did became a good time at Marla's expense, and I'm very sorry," Trump was quoted as saying. 

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