Donald Trump was really proud of himself for not talking about former President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky when he was on the debate stage Monday night.
But it’s more than a little awkward he’d allude to an extramarital affair at all.
Trump’s attack on Bill Clinton’s affair – which Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with–is a bizarre campaign strategy for a man whose own sordid affair captivated the country in 1990. But Trump’s calling out Hillary Clinton for her husband’s actions is the way Trump has always looked at marriage. Putting the onus on women to stop their husband’s affairs is classic Trump. The way he handled his own messy personal life decades ago suggests a disdain for the wronged woman, her husband’s philandering a sign of her own shortcomings.
Donald Trump and his wife Ivana are joined by actress Melanie Griffith, second from right, and actor Don Johnson, at the Police Athletic League’s 17th Annual Superstar Dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York, Friday May 13, 1989.
“For a man to be successful he needs support at home, just like my father had from my mother, not someone who is always griping and bitching,” Trump wrote in The Art of the Comeback.
A Vanity Fair story from 1990, gives a lot of insight into how Trump saw the role of his wife and her requirements. The story paints a picture of Trump bullying Ivana for not dressing the right way or spending enough time with the children even as he was reportedly already engaged in an extramarital affair.
The tactics he used in business he now brought home. “Donald began calling Ivana and screaming all the time: ‘You don’t know what you are doing!’ ” one of Ivana’s top assistants told me. “When Ivana would hang up the phone, I would say, ‘How can you put up with this?’ and Ivana would say, ‘Because Donald is right.’ ” He began belittling her: “That dress is terrible.” “You’re showing too much cleavage.” “You never spend enough time with the children.” “Who would touch those plastic breasts?” Ivana told her friends that Donald had stopped sleeping with her. She blamed herself. “I think it was Donald’s master plan to get rid of Ivana in Atlantic City,” one of her assistants told me. “By then, Marla Maples was in a suite at the Trump Regency. Atlantic City was to be their playground.”
Around New York, Trump’s budding relationship with 26-year-old Marla Maples was everywhere.
The news of Trump’s affair was kicked off by a story he and Maples vehemently denied. “The best sex I ever had,” the New York Post headline screeched, purporting that Maples had described it that way to confidants.
A Chicago Tribune piece titled “With `Dynasty` Dead, Just Tune To The Trumps,” describes a holiday when “Ivana Trump arrived in Aspen for the Christmas holidays with 16 pieces of luggage and a new face.”
“`She was always pencil thin, but her hair was much longer this year and her face looked perky. She looked very happy. She and Donald were together 99 percent of the time,” the Tribune story from February 1990 read. “Ah, but that other one percent of the time, Donald was busy, busy, busy. He had a friend in town, actress/model Marla Maples, a minor Georgia beauty queen.”
It was the holiday and he was with his wife, but according to the Tribune, Trump wasn’t really shy about his relationship with Maples.
Maples also claimed she wasn’t responsible for the dissolution of their marriage.
“Only the two of them know what really went wrong with their marriage,” Maples said at the time. “But I’m not the reason for that marriage having problems.”
But Trump hardly seemed upset by all the attention.
“When a man leaves a woman, especially when it was perceived that he has left for a piece of ass—a good one!—there are 50 percent of the population who will love the woman who was left,” Trump told Vanity Fair around the time.
Meanwhile, Ivana was taking the news especially hard, according to acquaintances of hers from the time.
Trump had wanted a big family, according to the profile of his marriage in 1990. He wanted five kids to ensure that “one will be guaranteed to turn out like me,” he reportedly said. Vanity Fair wrote that there was speculation Trump was giving Ivana cash bonuses for each child, but yet, it was Ivana’s childbearing that Trump later blamed on her as a reason to leave her.
“She threw herself into my arms sobbing and crying and saying Donald doesn’t want me anymore. He has told me, he can’t be sexually attracted to a woman who has had children,” remembered former New York Daily News columnist Liz Smith, who spoke to PBS in a recent interview for Frontline.
“She had gone away and tried to please him and had her breasts augmented and a face lift,” Smith told Frontline.
But nothing seemed to work.
Trump had moved on.
the Holyfield-Foreman fight at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, N.J.,
April 19, 1991.