20 people who Trump has personally known and then claimed he didn't

Reuters2020 World Economic Forum in Davos
  • Over the last few years, President Donald Trump has named many, many individuals he claims he doesn’t know when they have been embroiled in controversy.
  • There’s plenty of documented evidence suggesting he, in fact, has either come in contact or held a close relationship with each of them.
  • Each of the individuals have either scrutinised Trump or been involved in scandals, showing how quickly the president wants to disassociate himself with them.
  • From witnesses involved in the Impeachment testimonies to celebrities from his past, here is a list of people Trump has said he “doesn’t know” but actually did.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

If President Donald Trump says he “doesn’t know you,” he might be lying.

Since taking office in 2016, the president has been quick to use this defence against controversial individuals or those who have criticised his campaign.

Despite having a history of friendship or support with a majority of these individuals, Trump has consistently shown that if you do something he doesn’t like, he’ll claim he had nothing to do with you in the first place.

Here’s a list of individuals Trump has given the cold shoulder to throughout the years.


Lev Parnas

House Judiciary CommitteeTrump and Parnas.

During Trump’s impeachment inquiry, the Ukrainian-American businessman faced scrutiny for his role in seeking damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s 2020 Democratic opponents.

After Parnas came forward in a number of interviews detailing his involvement in the efforts led by Trump’s associates, the president vehemently denied ever knowing Parnas.

But a collection of photos the House Judiciary Committee released proves otherwise.

And Parnas’ lawyers released a video showing Trump and Parnas at a dinner together in 2018, which showed the president telling his associates to “take out” the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.


Gordon Sondland

Jonathan Ernst/ReutersUS Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland arrives to testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on November 20, 2019.

When Gordon Sondland became a key witness in the Trump impeachment inquiry in November, Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that he was not close to the US ambassador to the European Union.

“I don’t know him very well,” Trump said. “I have not spoken to him much. This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy though. But I don’t know him well.”

An array of photos and tweets reveal that Sondland and Trump are hardly strangers. In October, Trump tweeted that he “would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and a great American, to testify.” And in May 2018, Trump nominated Sondland for his current position. Sondland was only nominated after he donated $US1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee.


Prince Andrew

Chris Jackson/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump greets Prince Andrew at Westminster Abbey in London on June 3, 2019.

In December, Trump denied knowing Prince Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth II, after the duke became entangled in sexual abuse accusations against Jeffrey Epstein.

“I don’t know him, no,” the president told reporters in London.

But a collection of photos of the two from the last 20 years proves otherwise. And an interview with People from 2000 shows Trump describing Andrew as “a lot of fun to be with.”


Jeffrey Epstein

Davidoff Studios/Getty ImagesAmerican financier Jeffrey Epstein and real estate developer Donald Trump as they pose together at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1997.

In 2002, Trump told New York Magazine, “I’ve known Epstein for 15 years. Terrific Guy.” He even added that “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

The two partied together at Mar-a-Lago in 1992, in footage captured by NBC News.

Trump and Epstein had a falling out in 2004, and Trump says he banned him from his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach in 2007. That same year, Epstein pleaded guilty to crimes that involved soliciting minors for prostitution.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on July 9, shortly after Epstein was arrested on sex trafficking charges in New York, Trump said he knew Epstein “like everybody in Palm Beach knew him.”

“I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don’t think I have spoken with him for 15 years. I was not a fan,” he continued. “A long time ago. I’d say maybe 15 years. I was not a fan of his, that I can tell you. I was not a fan of his.”


George Conway

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/APCounselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and her husband George Conway greet guests on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington during a Halloween event in 2017.

Notorious for his criticism of Trump on social media, George Conway, husband of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, has known Trump for years.

But Trump denies it anyway.

In a March 2019 tweet, Trump wrote that Conway is “VERY jealous of his wife’s success” and that “I barely know him but just take a look, a stone cold LOSER & husband from hell!”

To solidify this point, he later retweeted his campaign manager who claimed that “POTUS doesn’t even know him!

But Trump and George’s history dates back to when the newlywed Conways moved into an apartment at Trump World Tower in Manhattan.

George argued against taking Trump’s name off the building, and the real estate developer called to thank George for what he did, offering him a spot on the condo board.

George declined the offer, but Kellyanne volunteered for the position. “My laziness led her to meet Donald Trump,” George told the Washington Post in 2017.

The Post also published a 2006 letter that Trump sent to George, thanking him for helping him with the Trump Tower problem. In the postscript note, he added, “you have a truly great voice, certainly not a bad asset for a top trial lawyer!”


George Papadopoulos

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesFormer Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos arrives at a closed-door hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee October 25, 2018 at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol in Washington, DC.

George Papadopoulos was a former member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory panel in his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump lauded him as “an excellent guy” during a meeting with the Washington Post’s editorial board the same year. The two were even photographed at the same table during a national security meeting.

But Trump’s opinion quickly changed when Papadopoulos was sentenced to two weeks in prison for lying to the FBI about interactions with Russian contacts.

“I never even talked to the guy,” Trump told Fox News. “I didn’t know who he was.”


Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman

Andrew Harnik/APNational Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in November.

When the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, Alexander Vindman was set to testify on the Impeachment inquiry, Trump said that he had “never heard of him,” and referred to him as a “Never Trumper.”

But Vindman testified that he listened in on Trump’s phone call with Zelensky and reported that the president’s remarks were inappropriate, and suggested there was a “power disparity” between the two countries.

Following Trump’s phone call, Vindman said he knew without hesitation that he had to report the conversation to White House lawyers.


Matthew Whitaker

Joshua Roberts/ReutersActing U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker reacts as he arrives to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2019.

After Trump fired Jeff Sessions, he named Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general.

Trump told Fox News that Whitaker was “a great guy” and said, “I mean, I know Matt Whitaker.”

He retracted the sentiment when Whitaker’s business ties and remarks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation began to draw scrutiny.

“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Trump said just two days after handing Whitaker the promotion to attorney general.


Paul Manafort

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, FileCriminal Paul Manafort.

Despite being Trump’s campaign chairman for five months, Trump told Fox News that he “didn’t know Manafort well,” and that he “wasn’t with the campaign long.”

But these remarks only came after he was convicted and sentenced to prison for financial fraud crimes related to former counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.


Stormy Daniels

Ringo H.W. Chiu/APAdult film actress Stephanie Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels.

Stephanie Clifford, an adult film star who performs with the name Stormy Daniels, said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump immediately denied this.

“I had nothing to do with her,” Trump told The Associated Press in 2018.

But after initially stating she lied about the entire affair, Trump later admitted to repaying his former lawyer Michael Cohen $US130,000 that was made to Daniels as a part of a “hush money” agreement.


William Taylor

Reuters/Jonathan ErnstAmbassador Bill Taylor, charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, testifies during a House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry hearing into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 13, 2019.

Another person deemed by the president as a “Never Trumper” was William Taylor, the top US diplomat to Ukraine.

Trump tweeted that he didn’t know Taylor after the diplomat testified to impeachment committees that he understood the president would release military aid on the condition that the Ukrainian president was willing to announce investigations into Trump’s political rivals.

However, this claim seems unlikely, since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo personally recruited Taylor after the former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was removed from her position.


Marie Yovanovitch

AP Photo/Susan WalshFormer U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

On the same day that the House of Representatives released the transcript of Marie Yovanovitch’s first impeachment testimony, Trump said that he “really doesn’t know her.”

The former Ukraine Ambassador testified that Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, led a campaign to remove her over claims that she disrespected president Trump and was seeking to stop Ukraine from opening an investigation into Trump’s political rivals.

Though Trump claims this isn’t true, a recent audio recording appears to show the president telling associates to “get rid” of her – suggesting he knew exactly who she was.


Greta Thunberg

Anders Hellberg16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Over the past few months, Trump has been attacking the Swedish climate activist over Twitter, stating that she “must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

And this past Tuesday the president took the opportunity to take a swipe at Thunberg during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland saying “perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse” about the environment. “They are the errors of yesterday’s fortune-tellers.”

But later when asked about her after his speech, he claimed: “I don’t really know anything about her.”


Anthony Scaramucci

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderFormer White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.

Anthony Scaramucci was a financier and one of Trump’s most vocal supporters when the President named him as the White House communications director in 2017.

But the president fired him just two weeks later when Scaramucci went on a verbal tirade to a New Yorker reporter about his perceived enemies within the administration. Trump’s response? He tweeted that “the Mooch” was a “highly unstable ‘nut job’ and that he “barely knew him.”


Lil Jon

Slaven Vlasic/Getty ImagesDonald Trump and Lil Jon pose together at an ‘All-Star Celebrity Apprentice’ event at Trump Tower on May 16, 2013

In 2016 the rapper Lil Jon confirmed that during a previous taping of “Celebrity Apprentice,” now-President Trump called him an “Uncle Tom,” a slur that refers to black people deemed overly servile to white people.

When asked about this during a White House press conference in November 2018, Trump denied ever knowing the rapper.

“I don’t know who Lil Jon is. I don’t – I really don’t,” he said.

But Trump’s Twitter proves the contrary. Lil Jon was a two-time contender on “Celebrity Apprentice”, and the president previously referred to him as an “amazing and wonderful guy,” a “terrific guy” and a “great friend.”


Kim Darroch

Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty ImagesKim Darroch speaking at an event in Washington, DC.

The former UK ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch was forced out of his position after a series of remarks insulting the Trump administration were leaked.

After Darroch called the Trump adminstration “inept” and “uniquely dysfunctional,” the president denied knowing Darroch and issued a statement showing that he would no longer be tolerated.

“I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S.,” Trump said. “We will no longer deal with him.”

However, the president’s opinion quickly changed when he found out that Darroch compared him to the “terminator.” Rather than denying he knew who he was, Trump said that Darroch had “said some good things about me,” and even claimed to “wish the ambassador well.”


Rachel Crooks

Monica Schipper/Getty ImagesRachel Crooks.

A former Trump Tower receptionist, Rachel Crooks told the Washington Post that Trump forcibly kissed her “repeatedly on the cheeks and then ‘directly on the mouth'” when they first met in 2005.

Trump immediately denied this, tweeting that it “Never happened!” and citing the Washington Post as “Fake News.”

But Crooks fired back with evidence saying, “Please, by all means, share the footage from the hallway outside the 24th floor residential elevator bank on the morning of January 11, 2006. Let’s clear this up for everyone. It’s liars like you in politics that have prompted me to run for office myself.”


Serge F. Kovaleski

Screengrab/Right Side BroadcastingTrump imitates reporter Serge Kovaleski at a rally in South Carolina on November 24, 2015.

President Trump faced scrutiny after mocking a New York Times reporter, Serge F. Kovaleski, for having a physical disability.

This incident happened at South Carolina political rally, during which Trump falsely accused Kovaleski of pulling back on a controversial story he wrote about 9/11.

After receiving backlash for mocking Kovaleski, Trump claimed that “Despite having one of the all-time great memories, I certainly do not remember him.”

But Kovaleski, who covered Trump’s business dealings for six years, told the New York Times that “Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years,” and even added, “I’ve interviewed him in his office.”


Bob Casey

Associated Press/Alex BrandonSen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speaks about President Donald Trump’s first 100 days, during a media availability on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in Washington.

During a 2018 campaign rally, Trump attacked his Democratic Senat candidate Bob Casey, and then followed up by telling the audience, “I’m not sure I ever met Bob Casey, I never met him.”

But a moment later, he contradicted himself in the same breath.

“And I’m sure I did, I shook his hand. His father was a good man, a totally different person. I don’t think, I don’t know this man. He’s a senator, there’s 100 senators, I don’t know him,” Trump said.


Vladimir Putin

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated PressTrump and Vladimir Putin.

Since 2013, Trump’s relationship status with Putin has been… rocky.

The president has contracted himself countless times, claiming to either have a close relationship with the Russian president or saying he doesn’t know him at all.

Between 2013 and 2015, Trump has told reporters things like “I do have a relationship with Putin,” and “I got to know Putin very well,” and even “Putin got me a present.”

But when 2016 rolled around, Trump took it all back.

As the general election progressed and new attention focused on Trump’s unconventional relationship to the Russian president, he went as far as saying “I never met Putin, I don’t know who Putin is.”

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