The Trump Files: When Donald Couldn’t Tell the Difference Between Gorbachev and an Impersonator (Video)

Duped by a fake Soviet?

Ivylise Simones

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Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

When then-Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev visited New York City in 1988, Donald Trump saw an opportunity for an up-close-and-personal encounter with the top Russian. Unfortunately, he got the wrong Gorbachev.

After descending from his office in Trump Tower upon hearing that Gorbachev was outside, Trump shook hands with a man who appeared to be Gorbachev—but wasn’t. Impersonator Ronald Knapp, who had won a Gorbachev look-alike contest, had the pleasure of meeting Trump, who notoriously loathes handshakes.

Trump denied that he fell for the stunt. “He looked fabulous and he sounded fabulous, but I knew it couldn’t be right,” Trump said, according to the Milwaukee Journal. “For one thing, I looked into the back of his limo and saw four very attractive women…I knew that his society had not come that far yet in terms of capitalist decadence.”

But a man accompanying Knapp, Gordon Elliott, assured the New York Times that Trump had been played. “There was absolutely no question that he bought it,” Elliott said. Knapp subsequently wrote a book about his time as a Gorbachev impersonator. The title? The Guy Who Got Trump.

Read the rest of “The Trump Files”:

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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