It was an ironic place to find oneself, post-Watergate: getting stories confirmed by a confirmed crook. But Nixon was apparently more honest than the guy he was meeting with. Making the lie more ridiculous, Mulcahy recalled, was the fact that the meeting was, by all reports, relatively innocuous – Nixon was looking for an apartment and thought Trump might help.
“Why lie about that? What difference does it make?” she asked of Trump’s denial.
“He has become so used to getting away with everything that the fact that he lies about everything clearly doesn’t bother him: he knows it’s going to roll off his back,” she said.
Another time, when she and a colleague went to Trump Tower to interview Trump, he told her nothing was happening with a real estate deal she had been writing about. The next morning, the New York Times ran a big story about the Lincoln West development, citing a conversation with Trump the same day he told Mulcahy there was no story.
“‘I had a deal with the Times,’” she recalled Trump telling her in her book. “‘I was going to call you today and tell you about it.’”
Even now, some 30 years later, Mulcahy is still stunned by the audacity of the lie.
“People skirt the truth, they play games, they don’t call you back, but the way he lied I had never experienced before,” she said. “It was so over the top and it was so arrogant. He’s a narcissist beyond description. Every day I get up, look at the paper and can’t believe he’s president. It is such a joke to me.”
But given his background and training from the late Roy Cohn – the reviled but highly successful defense attorney who rose to political prominence as a legal adviser to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy – perhaps she shouldn’t have been surprised.
Mulcahy frequently interacted with Cohn at Page Six and though she didn’t exactly relish the relationship, next to Trump, he seemed like a paragon of truth-telling.
With Trump, “you had to double and triple check everything”, she said. “If it was a good story, it was worth doing the extra work, but half the time it would turn out to be a lie. Roy didn’t lie like that.”
Even before 2016, Mulcahy assumed Trump was running in much the same way he’d run or threatened to run before: as a publicity stunt to promote his new casino or circus act du jour. She had plenty of company in being surprised by the outcome. “I think he’s shocked he won,” she said.
Faster-moving news cycles haven’t curbed Trump’s propensity for lying, either.
“Everything he says has to be checked and it’s very difficult in the age of the internet,” Mulcahy said. “When I was writing you could have an hour or two before your deadline. Now you’ve got to publish it immediately, if he says something outrageous. But everything still has to be checked – everything.
“A lot of people, particularly Trump supporters, they’re not reading their local newspaper – they’re watching Fox News, where instead of Roy Moore you’ll just see Al Franken and a jokey photoshoot he did with Arianna Huffington,” she said. “If you’re a person who supports Trump, you’re paying attention to that. You’re not looking at CNN.”
But Mulcahy, who gleaned her insights into reporting on Trump the hard way, does have some thoughts for those charged with covering the president today.
“Donald Trump should be treated like a very, very bad child in a preschool. Like the kid in preschool who really wants attention, so he throws his excrement against the wall? That’s Trump on Twitter.