Several weeks before Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy, he received a phone call from former president Bill Clinton at his office in Trump Tower in Manhattan. While Clinton reportedly did not urge Trump to run for president during the conversation, he did tell the real estate billionaire that he should take a more prominent role within the Republican party and that he was tapping into a vein of frustration among GOP voters.
That’s according to The Washington Post which cited four Trump allies and one Clinton aide who were familiar with the call, which occurred in late May.
The revelation of the call is likely to stoke further criticism from many Republicans who claim that Trump is not a true conservative. Those critics point to Trump’s past donations to the Clintons and other Democrats. The call also raises questions about why Clinton was so eager to appeal to Trump. Hillary Clinton has used the reality TV celebrity’s numerous controversial statements on the campaign trail to smear not just Trump, but the entire Republican field.
According to The Post’s sources, the phone call between Clinton and Trump was informal.
“Clinton sounded curious about Trump’s moves toward a presidential bid and told Trump that he was striking a chord with frustrated conservatives and was a rising force on the right,” The Post reported.
According to the paper, Trump and Clinton have talked numerous times over the years — whether it be about golf or Trump’s donations to the Clinton Foundation. He has contributed $100,000 to the couple’s charity.
“Mr. Trump reached out to President Clinton a few times. President Clinton returned his call in late May,” a Clinton employee told The Post. “While we don’t make it a practice to discuss the president’s private conversations, we can tell you that the presidential race was not discussed.”
Trump announced his presidential candidacy several weeks after the call in a move that surprised many observers who thought that Trump would back out at the last minute, as he did during the 2012 election cycle.
While it would seem that the phone call will damage Trump’s standing in the Republican field, he’s proven resilient so far amid similar revelations of his ties to the Clintons and other Democrats.
Though Trump has donated heavily to Republicans since 2011, prior to that most of his contributions went to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.
Trump’s supporters have overlooked those contributions — and Trump’s past liberal stances on numerous policies. They have instead latched onto Trump’s candid talk, especially on the issue of illegal immigration.