A source told John Fund a few days ago that Trump has already settled on his strategy in case his tax returns leak: Simply deny that they’re real. They’re obvious fakes, cooked up by shadowy powers who want to stop the people’s champion before he claims power in their name. His loyal fans will always believe him over an accuser, and for others who like Trump and want to vote for him, the seed of doubt planted by his denial will be reason enough to conclude “Who knows?” and shrug the whole thing away. Fast-forward to today’s WaPo story, revisiting an episode from 1991 when a reporter from People magazine spoke to a Trump spokesman named “John Miller” who sounded oddly familiar and seemed to know an awful lot about his boss.

Miller was consistent about referring to Trump as “he,” but at one point, when asked how important Bruni was in Trump’s busy love life, the spokesman said, “I think it’s somebody that — you know, she’s beautiful. I saw her once, quickly, and beautiful . . . ” and then he quickly pivoted back into talking about Trump — then a 44-year-old father of three — in the third person…

Carswell this week recalled that she immediately recognized something familiar in the Queens accent of Trump’s new publicist. She thought, “It’s so weird that Donald hired someone who sounds just like him.” After the 20-minute interview, she walked down the hall to play the tape to co-workers, who identified Trump’s voice. Carswell then called Cindy Adams, the longtime New York Post gossip columnist who had been close to Trump since the early 1970s. Adams immediately identified the voice as Trump’s…

Carswell was far from the only reporter who received calls from suspiciously Trumpian characters. Longtime New York Daily News gossip columnist Linda Stasi said Trump once left her a voice mail from an “anonymous tipster” who wanted it known that Trump had been spotted going out with models. And editors at New York tabloids said calls from [John] Barron [another Trump alias] were at points so common that they became a recurring joke on the city desk…

Miller was also impressed by his client’s social life: “I mean, he’s living with Marla and he’s got three other girlfriends . . . ” But the PR man wanted the reporter to know that Trump believed in “the marriage concept” and planned to settle down, on his own terms: “He does things for himself. When he makes a decision, that will be a very lucky woman.”

Hilarious, but also strange enough that Trump can’t cop to it and laugh it off. Or … can he? WaPo notes that Trump testified in 1990, a year before the call below was recorded, that he used the name “John Miller” on occasion. But he did more than that. Via Mediaite, he apparently admitted to People magazine itself after its 1991 story came out that “John Miller” wasn’t really a press flack named John Miller:

Just two weeks ago, though, [Trump’s then-wife Marla] Maples was not even taking The Donald’s calls. Not after a PEOPLE reporter played her a tape on June 26 of a man saying that he was a Trump publicist named John Miller. A shocked, devastated Marla identified the voice as that of Trump himself. He announced, among other things, that he’d traded in his Georgia peach for an Italian model (Carla Bruni)…

Meanwhile a penitent Don Juan-ald had come to the opposite conclusion. The John Miller fiasco he called a joke gone awry. “What I did became a good time at Marla’s expense, and I’m very sorry,” says the newly humbled tycoon.

QED, right? Why bother denying it now when the People story’s been out there for 25 years and the audio is available for anyone to listen to themselves? And yet, when the Today show asked him this morning if it’s him on the call, he replied, “I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice and you can imagine that. This sounds like one of these scams, one of the many scams. It doesn’t sound like me… It was not me on the phone. And it doesn’t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that. It was not me on the phone. Let’s go on to more current subjects.” I think he panicked when he saw the WaPo thing this morning and decided that the cumulative weirdness of what happened was simply too much. Billionaires don’t pose as lowly publicists; if they are going to pose, they certainly wouldn’t do it as hamhandedly as Trump appears to have done it; and even if they’re going to do it, and do it clumsily, they wouldn’t use their disguise for something as tawdry as whispering to reporters about what a ladies’ man they are (especially if they’re married at the time). That’s fine for a reality-show tabloid-sheet star but not for a would-be president. It reeks of neediness. Total beta move for the consummate alpha male.

But I don’t know. Anti-Trumpers have been making variations of that argument, that Trump’s behavior is unfit for a national leader, for 11 months and no one cared in the primaries. The normal rules of decorum for politicians don’t apply to him. What if he had simply said to the Today show, “Yeah, that was a prank I played on the media. They’ve always been unfair to me so sometimes when they came looking for dirt on me or my family, I’d tell them outlandish things to see if they’d publish them. You wouldn’t believe how often they fell for it!” Is there a single Trump fan who wouldn’t buy that explanation? Rush would do 10 minutes about it on today’s show, celebrating another case of Trump having pwn3d the “drive-bys.” And it would have killed the story immediately. Frankly, he could give the explanation I just gave later today and his fans would shift instantly from “He said it’s not him!” to “It’s him and it’s an awesome prank!” He might as well. It’s silly to let something this minor linger, with all of the predictable social-media memes to come, when it can be waved away.