77°F
weather icon Clear

Penn Jillette says tapes exist of Trump using racially insensitive language

Updated August 14, 2018 - 5:13 pm

The oft-outspoken Penn Jillette is never one to mince his words.

He’s also rarely reckless.

“I was careful,” Jillette said today in a text message, while standing by his published assertion that tapes do exist of Donald Trump using racially insensitive language during tapings of “Celebrity Apprentice.” Jillette’s comments were tucked into a lengthy interview in Vulture, New York Magazine’s culture and entertainment website.

Interviewer David Marchese pointedly asked Jillette, who was twice a contestant on the NBC series, if producer Mark Burnett has tapes of President Trump saying “damaging” things as the show was filmed.

“Yeah, I was in the room,” Jillette answers. As Marchese followed up with, “You’ve heard him say …” Jillette cuts him off with, “Oh, yeah.” Jillette refused to delve deeper into the specifics of Trump’s comments.

“If Donald Trump had not become president, I would tell you all the stories. But the stakes are now high and I am an unreliable narrator. What I do, as much as anything, is I’m a storyteller. And storytellers are liars,” Jillette says. “So I can emotionally tell you things that happened racially, sexually, and that showed stupidity and lack of compassion when I was in the room with Donald Trump and I guarantee you that I will get details wrong. “

Jillette indicated he had not yet read the published profile. But he said he did not care to elaborate, qualify or edit any of it.

“I’ve been told it’s clear,” he said.

The issue of Trump’s reputed recorded comments has dominated entertainment and political coverage this week. Former “Apprentice” star contestant and ex-White House aide has just released her new book, “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House,” while claiming such recordings exist. Trump has posted on his Twitter feed that Burnett has told him there are no such recordings, and he didn’t use any offensive language.

Penn & Teller return to the stage at the Rio on Saturday after a 2 1/2-month layoff so Teller could undergo back surgery.

Jillette’s latest claims against Trump are the latest chapter in an ongoing saga between the headlining comic/magician and the man currently occupying the Oval Office.

Jillette finished seventh in his first appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2012, as Arsenio Hall won the competition. Jillette was invited back in the spring of 2013 for “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice,” competing with such contestants as Trace Adkins, Joan Rivers, Lil Jon, Lisa Rinna, Piers Morgan and Gary Busey.”

Competing to raise money for Las Vegas charity Opportunity Village, Jillette battled to the finals against Adkins, with whom he forged a friendship. Trump awarded Adkins (playing on behalf of the American Red Cross) the championship, though Jillette raised more money for his charity during the competition. It seemed, for that reason, Jillette was the favorite to win the $1 million top prize.

As a backdrop to the TV show, Jillette had earlier rankled Trump by making fun of the then-TV host in the 2012 book “Every Day is an Atheist’s Holiday, saying, “We’ve chosen to make this whackjob, with the cotton candy piss hair and the birther (expletive), into someone we want to please.”

That comment was in a lengthy screed in which Jillette peeled back his first experience on the show. He wrote that show was largely unpleasant, but was at least an honest representation of the staged competition: “It’s venal people clawing at stupid, soulless (expletive) in front of the modern-day Scrooge McDuck in order to stay famous.”

Before the debut of “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice,” Jillette sent Trump a note apologizing and explaining the comments. The issue seemed to be put aside as Jillette returned to the show, until Trump abruptly awarded Adkins the championship in the season finale.

Suspicions that Trump was exacting revenge on Jillette were borne out when Trump homed in on Jillette in 2015. The barrage seemingly came out of nowhere, during Penn & Teller’s run on Broadway, with Trump tweeting: “I hear @PennJillette show on Broadway is terrible. Not surprised, boring guy (Penn). Without the Apprentice, show would have died long ago.”

Trump followed up with, “I loved firing goofball atheist Penn @PennJillette on The Apprentice. He never had a chance. Wrote letter to me begging for forgiveness.”

Jillette just smirked at those posts, saying at the time, “I’ve always liked Trump for having no filter. I’m embarrassed to say I even like this. He’s never seen our show, and I think that matters.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST