Donald J. Trump, Private Eye

Created by River Clegg

“It was late, folks, let me tell you. The kind of late where I knew only trouble could find me. It was late like you’ve never seen. And rainy. So rainy. So I’m sitting in my office, and in walks this dame. A solid nine. Ten if I’m being generous.”
the opening paragraph

How on Earth did I miss this one? DONALD J. TRUMP a private eye?

For those P.I. fans who never drank the MAGA Kool-Aid, you’ll probably get a kick out of River Clegg’s audacious “Donald Trump, Private Eye,” which appeared in the October 18, 2016 issue of The New Yorker, just a couple of weeks before La Grand Orange’s election as the 45th president of the United States. It’s a delicious send-up of the time, a snapshot taken just as the pre-election Access Hollywood video hit the fan.

Sure, it takes some amiable pokes at the shamus game’s most familiar tropes, but the real treat is its razor-sharp pre-election skewering of Mr. Bone Spurs. He’s here in all of his tawdry glory–the ego, the paranoia, the vanity, the verbal tics, the general boorishness, the short-attention span, the adolescent insecurities, the casual racism, the pettiness and the child-like devotion to self.

Many people are saying this.

As the brief piece kicks in, Trump’s sitting in his office on a suitably rainy night when a woman walks in. He kisses her on the face, because “when you’re a star detective, they let you do it.”

And so it goes. She explains that she has information on how “the Clintons, along with Paul Ryan, the New York Times, the banks, and at least one federal judge of Mexican descent” are out “to rig the election and destroy the country.” There’s a midnight meeting on the waterfront. Chris Christie drives the car. Billy Bush pops up.

And that’s about it. It’s just a short, hit-and-run piece, but tone-perfect, concluding with a suitably Trumpian blast of verbal bravado.

That story’s all true, folks, and here’s proof: a note a dame wrote, verifying it all. You’ll notice her handwriting does not look like my handwriting. It’s someone else’s handwriting, O.K.?

The story happened.

Or it’s all just fake news. Take your pick.


River Clegg is a comedy writer living in Brooklyn. He’s written for McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, The Onion, ClickHole, and others.

Oh, and a lot of people don’t know this, but Donald Trump lost his re-election bid in 2020.



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  • August 13, 2021
    THE BOTTOM LINE: On what we were assured was going to be Re-Coronation Day, the choice was obvious. The Once and Future King is our #DickOfTheDay. A fierce lampooning, courtesy of River Clegg and The New Yorker from 2016.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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