The Clinton Presidential Library has released nearly two dozen photos of Donald Trump socializing with President Bill Clinton — including one that shows the two men with their arms around Trump’s then-girlfriend, Melania, and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Kylie Bax — images from a collection that underscores just how chummy Trump once was with the president and his wife Hillary.
The 22 pictures were taken by official White House photographers in June 2000 during a visit the president paid to Trump Tower in New York City for a political fundraiser, and in September 2000, during the U.S. Open tournament in Flushing Meadows, New York.
Some of the photos taken in a private box at the tennis tournament appear to reflect a jovial mood. Trump’s future wife, Melania, and Bax — clad in a baby blue and white Playboy bunny T-shirt — are laughing in one image, while in others Bill Clinton smiled broadly as the real estate mogul seemed to be cracking jokes.
The photos are reminiscent of the much-hyped photo of Bill and Hillary Clinton warmly laughing with Donald and Melania Trump at the Trumps’ wedding in 2005. In August of last year, as the election season heated up, Hillary Clinton explained that she had thought it would be “fun” to attend the nuptials, which was Trump’s third marriage.
“I didn’t know him that well,” Clinton said last year. “I mean, I knew him. I knew him and I happened to be planning to be in Florida, and I thought it’d be fun to go to his wedding because it’s always entertaining.”
Bax, described as Trump’s ex-girlfriend in press accounts from mid-2000, confirmed on Twitter that it’s her in the photos. She appeared to take umbrage at a POLITICO reporter’s tweet noting that she was not immediately identified.
“Unbelievable that im now a ‘random woman’, no one was random in that Tennis Suite/corp box,” Bax wrote. Later, she added she might have not been as recognizable because she has black hair in the U.S. Open photo but was blonde in most of her modeling work.
In an email exchange with POLITICO via her agent Michael Hooker, Bax said she recalled Clinton dropping by Trump’s box at Flushing Meadows. “I actually think Bill was in another box and he came by to say hello to Donald,” she said. “Melania is also a friend and we all went to tennis together and had a great day … Donald was always a good host and close friend. And his wife Melania is equally as kind. “
Bax said she’d met both Clintons before, running into Bill Clinton at a “charity event.” She also said she was “never” Trump’s girlfriend, but was a “close longtime friend” of his.
In interviews last month, the New Zealand native said she would vote for Trump if she could.
“It may be scary for people to think of him as being the President, but I think he will do an outstanding job,” Bax told Fairfax Media. “He’d take his friends to the tennis, for example, the US Open – he had a box there….When we’d go through Spanish Harlem or one of the poorer areas, if anyone recognized him they’d all yell, wave. They love him. The poorer communities are very supportive of him.”
“I did try to fix his sweepover once, but he wasn’t having a bar of it,” she told Fairfax.
The National Archives, which operates the library and handles records requests, said it located but will not release 59 photos of Hillary Clinton at a fundraiser Donald Trump apparently attended in New York City in August 1994. It’s unclear how many of the images actually show the then-first lady and Trump.
Archives officials said the 1994 photos were considered “personal records,” a term which encompasses files and photos pertaining to solely political activities not within the scope of the Presidental Records Act.
The photos were made public Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from POLITICO.
Bill Clinton’s June 16, 2000, visit to Trump Tower was for Rep. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.), who said in an interview earlier this year that he recalls Trump showing up at the event and conversing at length with Bill Clinton, even as donors grew impatient.
“I remember one thing that was very negative for me: I promised the people they’d be able to take pictures with President Clinton, and Donald Trump came and monopolized all of the time,” Towns said. “Donald had him in the corner and tied him up. I’ll never forget that moment.”
Trump eventually left but later returned and began talking with Clinton again, recalled American Urban Radio Network White House reporter April Ryan.
“Trump had [Clinton] hogtied for a while,” said Ryan, who is Towns’ cousin and was on hand for the event.
The photos from that night include three images of Trump showing Clinton a book. A contact sheet shows several other shots of Clinton apparently greeting people in the lobby of the luxury building, then Trump reappears just before Clinton departs. The library does not appear to have photos from inside the fundraiser, held in the 52nd floor Trump Tower apartment of LaDane Williamson.
Longtime Clinton friend Terry McAuliffe, now the governor of Virginia, can also be glimpsed in the background of several of the Clinton-Trump photos taken at the U.S. Open on Sept. 9, 2000. Other shots show the then-president taking in the matches next to tennis great John McEnroe and socializing with former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and men’s singles winner Marat Safin, as well as the runner-up in that match, Pete Sampras.
In April, the Clinton Library released a batch of email records, memos and social invitations involving Trump. The material showed that aides to Clinton and Vice President Al Gore tracked Trump’s flirtation with a presidential bid in the 2000 cycle.
Trump was asked at the June 2000 fundraiser whether he regretted not jumping into the presidential race, according to the New York Daily News.
“No, I’m very happy,” the real estate mogul said, according to the newspaper.
Spokespeople for the Hillary Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns did not respond to requests for comment on the photo release.