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Do I Look Like a Guy Who Needs Hookers?

by Bob Dreyfuss

May 20, 2024 | Politics

Gage Skidmore / K.Okawa; composition by Amber Hewitt

We’ve heard a lot during the hush-money trial in New York about Donald Trump’s treatment of and attitude toward women. And, regardless of the trial’s ultimate outcome, what we’ve heard curiously resonates with past allegations — never quite substantiated and perhaps too often simply dismissed — about a decade-old incident involving the former president and women that he allegedly encountered in a Moscow hotel in 2013.

That report first surfaced as part of the controversial, much vilified and partly discredited “Steele dossier,” a compendium of raw intelligence about Trump’s relationship to Russia. Minus that report’s more unsavory aspects — that is, the notorious “pee tape” — the question of whether or not Trump had a sexual encounter back then in Moscow lingers.

Back then, Trump’s response to the allegations was typical of his swaggering machismo. “Do I look like a guy who needs hookers?” he told then-FBI Director Jim Comey.

That same attitude was reflected in testimony in the ongoing criminal trial in New York. During it, we learned that Trump, according to Michael Cohen, his former counsel and “fixer,” bragged about his attractiveness to women, going so far as to say that even if his wife, Melania, left him over his liaison with porn actress Stormy Daniels, “How long do you think I’ll be on the market for? Not long.” And, referring to himself in the third person, Trump chortled that “women prefer Trump even over someone like Big Ben,” meaning ex-Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, said Cohen. (Earlier in the trial, Daniels testified that at the celebrity golf tournament where she met Trump, “He introduced me as his little friend Stormy to Big Ben.”)

And that same Trump-style braggadocio is highlighted in Compromised, a revelatory book by Peter Strzok, a former deputy of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division who served as the bureau’s lead investigator on the Mueller investigation.

Strzok tells us that in January 2017 Comey, in briefing the president-elect, “described how the Bureau had come into possession of the Steele reporting, including the salacious detail about prostitutes in the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow during Trump’s trip to Russia for a Miss Universe pageant.”

Trump’s response, Strzok says, was odd. At first, Trump asked Comey what year the incident allegedly occurred. Strzok adds, “Why did the year matter? … Was Trump trying to figure out the source of the allegation? What might have happened in other years?”

And even more strangely, Trump reportedly told Comey, “There were no prostitutes. There were never any prostitutes.” Trump added that he “didn’t need to go there.” (In other words, “Do I look like a guy who needs hookers?”) Comey, says Strzok, took that to mean that Trump “didn’t need to pay for sex.” Concludes Strzok, “It seemed telling that Trump was nitpicking over whether he ever paid for sex and not whether the episode took place at all in a hotel room in the heart of Russia.”

Neither the 2019 Mueller report itself — officially titled “Report on The Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election” — nor the 2020 report by the Senate Committee on Intelligence concluded that Trump did indeed engage in sex during the 2013 trip. Had he done so, of course, it might well have given Russia the ability to blackmail or hold it over President Trump, the vaunted kompromat.

But both reports contain tantalizing clues that have mostly been overlooked in accounts of Trump’s pre-2016 relationship with Russia.

On page 657 of Volume 5 of the Senate report, there’s this:

“A former executive of Marriott International, of which Ritz Carlton is a part, said that shortly after the 2013 Miss Universe contest he overheard two other Marriott executives at a small corporate gathering discussing a recording from one of the elevator security cameras at the Ritz Carlton Moscow. One of the Marriott executives who was involved in the conversation – previously a manager at the Ritz Carlton Moscow – had clearly seen the video, which allegedly showed Trump in an elevator with several women who the discussant implied to be ‘hostesses.’ The former executive said that the two discussants then left to continue the conversation in a more private location.”

The Senate report doesn’t reveal the source of this story, though it was later reported that one source was a Russian analyst, Igor Danchenko.

The Mueller report itself — whose 448 pages don’t include this story — otherwise contains a couple of other stories about 2013. In one, the report notes that Michael Cohen received a text in October 2016, just before the U.S. election, from a Russian businessman about tapes held by people associated with Russia’s Crocus Group, where the Miss Universe contest was held in 2013. The businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladze of the Silk Road Group, texted Cohen, “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know.”

Later, Trump aide Keith Schiller told House investigators a Russian man in Moscow in 2013 offered to send five prostitutes up to Trump’s suite, but Schiller politely declined.

Comey, at least, wasn’t entirely convinced by Trump’s swagger that nothing happened. “I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the President of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s possible, but I don’t know.”


Bob Dreyfuss is an award-winning investigative journalist living in northern New Jersey. 

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