The campaign of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, already world-renowned for its ability to take a two-day story and turn it into a weeklong escapade of self-besmirching, is at it again. Clearly stung by his rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and her deployment of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado ― a one-time target of Trump’s angry, xenophobic harangues ― Trump surrogates are now dredging up a criminal accusation from Machado’s past, in an attempt to shade the Clinton campaign for poor vetting.
It’s a little rich, when you consider who Trump had in the spin room of Monday’s presidential debate, waxing poetic about his greatness.
But more on that in a minute. In Machado, the Clinton team found someone from Trump’s past that confirmed a great many of the existing narratives about the former reality-television host. She was one of the central figures in a May New York Times article that detailed Trump’s interactions with women. Machado, who gained weight after taking home the 1996 Miss Universe title, says she was continually derided by Trump, who referred to her as “Miss Piggy,” as well as “Miss Housekeeping” ― a slight at her Latina heritage.
However, prior to her ending up in the focus of the 2016 presidential race, Machado was briefly under investigation for being a possible accomplice in a 1998 murder attempt involving her then-boyfriend, Juan Rodriguez Reggeti. In this case, Reggeti was accused of shooting his brother-in-law, while Machado allegedly drove the getaway car. Machado had an alibi, and the judge in the case eventually declined to indict her for any wrongdoing, citing the lack of sufficient evidence tying her to the scene of the crime. Later, this judge would publicly accuse Machado of threatening his life after he indicted Reggeti.
Monday night, Machado would once again find herself as the key figure in a would-be indictment, this time of Trump’s character.
Since then, Trump backers have seized on Machado’s past with the sort of vigor that they ought to apply to Trump’s debate prep.
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York is also sippin’ on this Kool-Aid.
It is, of course, possible that the Clinton campaign did vet all of this and came to this determination: “So what?”
But this discussion of vetting inevitably returns us to the puzzling decision of the Trump campaign to deploy former boxing promoter Don King as a surrogate ― an effort that’s been ramped up in recent days, and that brought King to Trump’s side at Monday night’s debate. King’s presence on Trump’s campaign trail is an incident that defies logical understanding, since it, too, confirms a particular narrative about Trump’s life as a fraudster.
Jack Newfield’s 1995 book, The Life and Crimes of Don King, details several instances in which King was accused of defrauding boxers. More recently, King has had to settle out of court after being accused of similar acts of flimflammery by boxers Terry Norris and Mike Tyson (who is also a Trump supporter). King also unsuccessfully attempted to sue ESPN in 2005, claiming that the network’s “SportsCentury” program defamed him by, among other things, pointing out that he once threatened to break boxer Larry Holmes’ legs.
Oh, and King also killed a couple of guys.
Back in 1954, King gunned down a man named Hillary Brown after he discovered Brown robbing the illegal gambling parlor King was operating in Cleveland. A court would rule this a “justifiable homicide,” but it seems fair to say that all of the parties involved in this gunplay had made the sort of poor life choices that force words like “justifiable” to do a lot of heavy lifting.
And 12 years later, King ― well ... he straight up stomped a man to death over $600. Per Complex’s Sean Evans:
When, according to King, one of his employees “ran off with (some) money,” King pistol-whipped him and stomped him to death outside a bar in Cleveland. The employee owed $600 and his purported last words were, “I’ll give you the money, Don.”
A judge reduced the charges from second-degree murder to manslaughter and King received a pardon from the Ohio Governor after doing almost four years in prison. He’d later say of the tragic event, “His head hit the ground. Those are the things that happen.” Right, totally.
It’s enough to make you wonder if Trump is capable of the “extreme vetting” he promises to bring to America’s immigration system. Suffice it to say, however, this rather frenzied effort to tag Clinton with Machado’s past in a bid to discredit Machado’s specific and well-documented accounts of the abuse Trump foisted upon her is a dog that won’t hunt. Or rather, if it does, it will hunt down Trump buddy Don King and a pair of corpses.
Nice doggy. Good boy.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.