Third Wife Club Hits the White House With Trump and His Aides

Donald Trump’s long and tangled history with the opposite sex was a main theme of the election campaign, as reporters dug into accusations of sexual misconduct, details of past liaisons and the candidate’s messy series of three marriages.

As Trump, Inc. veers toward the White House — with the expected accidents and skids — it’s worth pointing out the administration could have its own “third wife” club among its inner circle. The president-elect, incoming chief strategist Steve Bannon, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani all have married three times.

For Trump, Gingrich and Giuliani, three might be a charm, as those bonds remain intact. The same can’t be said for Bannon, who has already divorced from his third spouse. Here’s a rundown of the thorny marital history of Gingrich, Giuliani and Bannon (we know enough about Trump’s).

Newt Gingrich

The former Speaker of the House (and future Cabinet official?) has moved down a strange marital path. The Washington Post might have put it best in a profile, written in 2012 when he mounted a presidential run. His first wife was “a women who mothered him,” his second was “a woman who was broken by him” and his third and current spouse is “a woman who accessorized him.”

Growing up in Georgia, Gingrich married his high school geometry teacher Jackie Battley shortly finishing at the place where they met. She financially supported him during his college and graduate studies. “He was her little boy,” his actual mother Kit Gingrich told the Post. Another friend told the paper that she “finished raising him.”

Jackie Gingrich helped the aspiring conservative make it to the Congress in the late ‘70’s, and the couple had two daughters together. But he couldn’t stop cheating her, and decided to end it in 1980, as she lay in a hospital bed recovering from cancer surgery.

“It came as a complete surprise,” Jackie Gingrich recalled to the Post. “He walked out in the spring,” she continued. As she recovered from the operation, her daughters told her that “Daddy is downstairs.” When he came up, she remembered, “he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was recovering.”

Next was Marianne Ginther, who lasted almost two decades, until the marriage broke apart around the same time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. At the same time that Gingrich was castigating the president for carrying on with an intern, he was shacking up with young staffer and soon-to-be No. 3 Callista Bisek. News came out of the affair in 1999, and he was forced to resign from Congress, afterward wedding Callista.

Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani is a colorful figure. Mentioned as a possible Secretary of State, he ran for mayor of New York City in 1993 against the town’s first black leader in a campaign that included a racist street demonstration. While in office, he tried to evict the Brooklyn Museum from its home in the Park Slope neighborhood after it exhibited art he didn’t like. His marriages keep with that theme of mania and disorder.

Giuliani’s first wife was his second cousin Regina Peruggi — a family link that he claimed not to know at the time of the marriage. They married in 1968 and their marriage failed in the late ‘70’s, with two divorcing and then getting an annulment from the Catholic Church.

Then came Donna Hanover, a television personality that he wed during his tenure as a prosecutor in the Reagan administration. Their was a stormy union whose troubles were on public view as Giuliani served as New York City Mayor from 1994 to 2002.

He started dating No. 3, Judith Nathan, while still in the mayor’s office, and famously announced his divorce from Hanover at a press conference held in 2000 — before he informed Hanover himself. She refused to leave Gracie Mansion, the city leader’s residence, and the episode became the stuff of tabloid front pages.

During this presidential campaign, Giuliani showed uncommon (or common for him) chutzpah in attacking the Clintons’ marriage, criticizing Bill Clinton for charges of sexual misconduct and Hillary Clinton for defending her husband from his accusers. He and Nathan are still married a decade and a half on.

Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon, the incoming chief White House strategist, has faced an onslaught of charges of anti-Semitism and racism due to his connection to the ‘alt-right’ Breitbart News, the white nationalist Web site that he used to run. Little is known about his first wife Cathleen Houff Jordan or his third wife Diane Clohesy, a Tea Party activist.

But much of the evidence for his true sentiments about minorities come from his second wife Mary Louise Piccard, a former investment banker who alleged that he made anti-Semitic remarks and committed domestic abuse against her.

She attested in court statements that he refused to send their children to a certain private school because there were too many Jews there. “The biggest problem he had with Archer is the number of Jews that attend,” said in the documents, published by the news site Mediaite. “He said that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews,” she wrote.

Piccard told police in 1997 that Bannon grabbed at her neck and wrist after a fight, and then smashed the phone when she attempted to call the police, according to a report in Politico. The cop who responded to the call noticed red marks on her neck during the visit. Charges were ultimately dropped when Piccard failed to show up to court.

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at solomon@forward.com or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

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