It's that time in the presidential election season when Donald Trump has to say he has never pretended to be his own spokesperson in interviews with reporters.
On Friday, Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, responded to a report from the Washington Post that in the 1970s,' 80s and '90s he allegedly called media outlets impersonating a Trump spokesperson named either "John Miller" or "John Barron" to brag about himself.
"No, and it was not me on the phone. It was not me on the phone. And it doesn't sound like me on the phone. I'll tell you that. And it was not me on the phone. And when was this, 25 years ago?" Trump said on NBC's Today when questioned about the story.
It was 25 years ago: A man that sounded like Trump, knew a lot about Trump, and spoke positively to his character would return reporters' calls in various capacities. The Post obtained a tape of one of the calls – this time speaking to Trump's personal life:
Within five minutes, [People magazine reporter Sue] Carswell got a return call from Trump’s publicist, a man named John Miller, who immediately jumped into a startlingly frank and detailed explanation of why Trump dumped Maples for the Italian model Carla Bruni. "He really didn’t want to make a commitment," Miller said. "He’s coming out of a marriage, and he’s starting to do tremendously well financially."
Miller turned out to be a remarkably forthcoming source — a spokesman with rare insight into the private thoughts and feelings of his client. "Have you met him?" Miller asked the reporter. "He’s a good guy, and he’s not going to hurt anybody. . . . He treated his wife well and . . . he will treat Marla well."
The names John Miller and John Barron (sometimes spelled "Baron") have long been in Trump's wheelhouse, speaking for the Trump empire throughout the' 80s and '90s in multiple publications. Trump even testified to "on occasion" using the name John Miller in court and would occasionally slip up in the calls, according to reporting from the Post.
But on NBC's Today, Trump said it sounded like "one of the scams."
"No, I don't think it — I don't know anything about it," Trump told NBC. "You're telling me about it for the first time, and it doesn't sound like my voice at all. I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice. You can imagine that. This sounds like one of the scams, one of the many scams. Doesn't sound like me."
One thing about Trump hasn't changed: how much he loves himself
It's a bizarre story, but not one that seems completely implausible when it comes to Trump – not much does anymore.
It's a testament to a consistent facet of Trump's character: Trump is a fan of Trump and has been that way since the beginning of his career.
The Republican Party's presumptive nominee has built a campaign on telling the American public how amazing he is: how wonderful his businesses are, how wealthy he is, how smart he is, how beautiful is wife is.
He slips in self-aggrandizing comments between rallying cries for tighter borders and call for better trade deals, all while boasting how humble he is.
"I say not in a braggadocious way. I’ve made billions and billions of dollars," Trump said in the first Republican debate.
Now imagine John Miller saying it.