Just in case you thought Donald Trump was insufficiently awful: He repeatedly called a deaf actress “retarded,” three sources tell The Daily Beast.
Trump, who was accused on Wednesday of making sexual comments to Marlee Matlin, an Oscar-winning actress who once competed on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, also apparently had a habit of insulting, mimicking, and demeaning as mentally handicapped his star female contestant—all because she was deaf.
In 2011, Matlin, who is still the only deaf actor or actress to win an Academy Award for best actress, appeared on Trump’s NBC reality-TV series. By the end of the season, she had come in second place and earned her fair share of compliments from Trump in the aired footage. But according to three longtime staffers who worked on Matlin’s season of Celebrity Apprentice, Trump would regularly disrespect the actress and would even treat her as if she were mentally disabled.
Sometimes the insults would be behind her back; other times they would be right in front of her.
Due to extensive non-disclosure agreements signed by members involved with the production, every one of the sources asked to be quoted anonymously for fear of legal retribution.
“[Trump] would often equate that she was mentally retarded,” said one source, who described how kind Matlin and her interpreter Jack Jason were.
During the taping of the show, Trump would often scribble down notes while sitting at the table of “the boardroom”—the show’s primary set. A person familiar with the notes who helped clean up after tapings said that on one of the pieces of paper, Trump wrote: “Marlee, is she retarded??”
“He would write notes on his blotter, his papers in front of him, and he would scribble notes in it,” a source described. “It was usually just asinine things on them.”
During breaks, Trump would often remain mic’d up and engage in chit-chat with Donald Trump Jr. or other people in the boardroom for tapings.
“[Trump] would make fun of her voice. It actually sounded a lot like what he did [to] the New York Times guy,” another person who worked on The Apprentice for years told The Daily Beast, referring to when Trump mocked a disabled reporter last year. The source said this incident occurred outside the boardroom, during a break from filming. “Like, to make it seem like she was mentally not there? [It] sounded like he got a real kick out of it. It was really upsetting.”