The Trump Files: When Donald Had to Prove He Was Not the Son of an Orangutan

Mother Jones Illustration/Shuttershock

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files“—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on June 23, 2016.

Donald Trump has a well-documented tendency to file lawsuits when someone hurts his feelings. In 2013, the guilty party was Bill Maher, the late-night HBO talk show host known for his liberal leanings and biting commentary.

After Trump had insisted in 2012 that President Barack Obama release his college transcripts and passport records, Maher pushed back on the mogul’s request with a demand of his own: that Trump show proof that he is not “the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.” Maher, interviewed on Jay Leno’s The Tonight Show, cited the similarity in color between Trump’s coif and an orange orangutan’s fur, as split-screen images of Trump next to the animal were displayed. If Trump complied with the request and proved him wrong, Maher promised he would give Trump $5 million for the charity of his choice. The charities Maher suggested? “Hair Club for Men” or the “Institute for Incorrigible Douchebaggery.”

Trump took the jab personally. He filed a $5 million lawsuit against Maher for breach of contract, alleging that when he provided his birth certificate to Maher proving he is not, in fact, the son of an orangutan, Maher never came up with the $5 million. Alas, the lawsuit didn’t get very far. Trump wound up dropping it, but the threat to Maher remained.

Michael Cohen, an attorney for Trump, insisted that although the suit had been withdrawn temporarily, it could resurface in the future. “The lawsuit was temporarily withdrawn to be amended and refiled at a later date,” Cohen said.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate