It was easy money that Manhattan, New York morning. All the actors had to do for the gig was carry posters and cheer the big obnoxious guy in the Trump Tower lobby. The big day was June 16, 2015. Donald Trump and Melania rode down the now-infamous escalator at Trump Tower to a crowd of excited fans. This was the carefully choreographed announcement of his run for president.
Presidential candidate and former real estate mogul Donald Trump told us how fake he was even back then. The crowd was fake. His hair was fake. But his draconian immigration policy was not. He faced sharp criticism over his controversial anti-Mexican comment.
At the time, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show called the fakery out. Former deputy campaign manager for 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, Sarah Isgur told The Business Insider as an aspect of an oral history project:
‘I remember thinking, “Man, I’m surprised he couldn’t even get people there. That seems insane.”‘
The Hollywood Reporter published a report claiming the ex-president’s 2016 campaign paid actors $50 to crowd the lobby of Donald Trump’s Manhattan building.
Former campaign communications director for Senator Ted Cruz, Amanda Carpenter said:
‘It seemed strange. I was watching the coverage of “Oh, did they pay people to show up? Who were these people?”‘
One of Trump’s former campaign managers Corey Lewandowski told Business Insider he “unequivocally” quashed claims of a payout:
‘You know Donald Trump. There is nobody who believes that when Donald Trump goes somewhere he does not generate the biggest, largest, and most rambunctious crowds on the planet. It’s just not true, unequivocally. The Donald Trump campaign and Donald Trump did not pay anybody to attend his announcement.’
This week, however, Lewandowski said:
‘That’s a Michael Cohen special. Michael Cohen decided that he was going to go hire one of his buddies and pay his buddy without getting any campaign approval. You know, $50 for every person to come in, to stand in Trump Tower.’
Former personal attorney to the ex-president and fixer, Michael Cohen said that Trump hired a partner at the public-relations firm Gotham Government Relations & Communication David Schwartz to handle the event “professionally:”
‘Any allegation of payments to actors is an absolute lie that was promoted by Corey Lewandowski.’
Schwartz confirmed it was his job to put on the entire campaign kickoff event:
‘That event was really our brainchild: The most famous escalator ride in the history of politics was that one. Bottom line is, we had thousands of people there, and then the press accused us of hiring thousands of actors. Based on the fee that I got, that would not have been a good business decision on anyone’s part.’
Schwartz also made a two-minute video:
‘The reality is we hired 50 people, some of whom were part-time actors I found out later on. But we hired 50 people to help coordinate an event that brought in thousands of people.’
Former spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Josh Schwerin said:
‘He was not a serious person at that point. There had been debate of will-he-won’t-he for a really long time. It didn’t seem like a serious thing.’
Schwartz posted the video on June 16, 2015. In it, the publicist was shown with a bullhorn in the lobby of Trump Tower.
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