In a video of a 2005 lecture at the Library of Congress recently rediscovered by Buzzfeed, Donald Trump biographer Robert Slater said that an unflattering anecdote about Trump was removed from the final version of the book at the businessman's request.
Slater, who wrote “No Such Thing as Over-Exposure: Inside the Life and Celebrity of Donald Trump,” said that Trump “informed his second wife that he was going to divorce her by announcing it first to the New York Post.”
“Greatest anecdote anybody has ever told me,” Slater said. “He put the newspaper down in front of her door that said, ‘Donald Is Divorcing Marla.’ That’s how she learned about the divorce."
Donald Trump and his then-fiancee Marla Maples watch second round action at the U.S. Open tennis tournament Aug. 28, 1991. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
In the video, Slater explained that he removed the anecdote because when Trump promised to buy a significant number of copies of his biography if he liked it, his publisher agreed to show him the book prior to its release.
Slater said that, since the publisher granted the real-estate mogul access to the manuscript prior to printing, Trump had changes that he wanted to see made — specifically the story about how Marla learned of the impending divorce.
"He said, 'That episode has to be taken out of the book,'" Slater recalled. "I said, ‘Why? It’s the greatest anecdote’s anybody ever told me.’ He said, ‘Because I still have good relations with her. You know, we had a daughter together. Please take it out of the book.’ So I did. But I learned the hard way, you pay a very heavy price when you show him the book.”
“Now, the real hazard of writing a book about Donald Trump, after you remove the threat of the lawsuit, is when he says to you, ‘Bob, if I like this book, I’m going to buy a huge number of them,’” Slater said.
“I took this back to my publisher and I said, ‘We have a problem. Donald Trump wants to buy a lot of our books, if he likes it,’” Slater continued. “The publisher said, ‘Oh, that’s great. How do we get him to do that?’ I said, ‘Well, you know, he’s not going to buy the books unless he likes the book. And he’s not going to know whether he likes the book unless he reads the book. And we’re not supposed to do that, are we? Show the book to the subject beforehand.’”
Slater also said that Trump requested a different picture of himself on the book because his friends told him the original picture made him look fat.
“He called me; the first day of his honeymoon,” Slater said. “He said, ‘Hi, Bob,’ he said, ‘I’m on the first day of my honeymoon, here at Mar-A-Lago, and I just wanted to tell you things. I wanted to let you know that I heard reports about the book at the wedding and I wanted to tell you, they all loved the book, but they hated the picture on the cover.’ I said, ‘What’s wrong with the picture, Donald?’ He said, ‘They tell me it makes me look fat.’ I said, ‘That wasn’t our intention.’ He said, ‘I know, I know. But you’ve got to change the picture.’”
Slater said that Trump did like the biography and changed "maybe .1 percent of the book."
“Now, all of you who know Donald Trump know that the last thing you want to do is to make him look fat,” Slater said. “I went to my publisher. It was very, very last minute. We were about to print the book, and I said, ‘Look. Donald wants to change the picture.’ And again, these are the hazards of writing a book about a person like Trump, and getting his cooperation, and being sucked into his world. And the publisher said, ‘It’s going to cost me money, but I guess we have to do it.’ And we did it. We changed the picture. We changed some of the texts. And then the book came out. And true to his word, Donald Trump helped with the promotion of the book. He actually was the one who got me on the Don Imus program.”
Slater died in 2014.
Follow Kate Scanlon (@kgscanlon) on Twitter