In 2015, President Trump’s business relationship with the Miss Universe Pageant, which he bought in 1996, ended after Trump made racist comments about Mexican immigrants, calling them thieves, rapists and murderers. Now in a new book about Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, it appears that Trump’s racism was already a present factor in the Miss Universe Pageant long before the famous beauty pageant parted ways with the businessman.
In the new book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, the details of Trump’s relationship with Putin, as well as his dealings with the Miss Universe Pageant, have come to light. Released in March and written by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones, Russian Roulette includes disturbing statements by Miss Universe staffers chronicling Trump’s influence on the pageant and his dismissal of finalists because of their race.
In an excerpt from Russian Roulette published on Mother Jones, the authors talk about Trump visiting Crocus City Hall, the 7,000-seat venue where the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant was held in Moscow. No woman made it to the finals of the Miss Universe Pageant without Trump approving their physical appearance first. Trump would review videos of the finalists in his private dressing room backstage, watching the portion of the competition that included gowns and bikinis. Trump would then give his final approval on the judges’ picks or in some cases, overrule the judges and replace their chosen finalists with his own.
According to the book, one Miss Universe staffer said, “If there were too many women of colour, he would make changes.” Said another staffer, “He often thought a woman was too ethnic or too dark-skinned. He had a particular type of woman he thought was a winner. Others were too ethnic. He liked a type. There was Olivia Culpo, Dayanara Torres [the 1993 winner], and, no surprise, East European women.” This staffer also revealed that Trump would sometimes dismiss a contestant who had rejected his advances.
The team at the Miss Universe pageant would often try to find a way around Trump substituting finalists for his own selections, especially in the cases when he would dismiss women of colour because of their race. “If he didn’t like a woman because she looked too ethnic, you could sometimes persuade him by telling him she was a princess and married to a football player,” a staffer later explained.
This isn’t the first time Trump’s dealings with the Miss Universe Pageant have been a cause for concern. In a 2005 interview with Howard Stern, the former reality star told Stern “Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump said. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.”
“You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’” said Trump. “And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.”
Trump later said in the interview that after buying the pageant, he began steering the competition away from educated contestants to those who were ‘hot.’
We wish we were surprised by any of this, but sadly, we’re not.