Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen testified to congress that he set up a website in 2011 to explore the presidential prospects of his then boss.
That site, ShouldTrumpRun.com, was later replaced with (and appears to have redirected to) TrumpHQ.com, according to a March 2012 post that read: “TrumpHQ.com, formerly ShouldTrumpRun.com is the new home for the Trump supporters. Are you one of the many frustrated Americans sick and tired of hearing the same old mundane political campaign promises? Empty promises echo across the nation every four years; stringing us along as we wait for something good to finally happen. Well it is finally here, and it is real. It is DONALD J. TRUMP.”
Both websites are now defunct, but according to Archive.org, the latter site’s homepage included a video message from Trump that began, “President Obama is the least transparent President in the history of this country.” He went on to challenge Obama to release his school records. Ironically, Trump may very well be remembered as the least transparent President and we learned from Cohen that he threatened his alma mater not to release any grades.
Readers were allowed to comment on the site, and boy, did they. Some were enthused. The subject line from one commenter was “TRUMP WILL BRING THE LEFT & RIGHT TOGETHER.” Others were not as supportive. “I do enjoy a good laugh…. so I hope that trump does run. Maybe that thing on the top of his head can be his vice president.”
What Cohen didn’t say is that the site or sites may have been created in part by Russia, with love. As the homepage loaded, you could have spotted a telltale sign in the form of Russian text in the video embed that reads “зarpyзkи c kahaлa” (aka “channel loading”). The screenshot, which was dated November 20, 2012, was up as recently as last year, but has since been taken down.
Trump has enjoyed business relations with Russians for decades, but media accounts have never suggested political meddling prior to 2015. It’s a no-no that would send lesser candidates into a political gulag.
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