Now prescient, a decade old Politico piece on the “grating” Philippe Reines is a sort of Karmic punch. Or today, as Reines recuperates following a Twitter trouncing for his contentious tweet he now regrets but is out there nonetheless, maybe it’s more pot-and-kettle.
Reines, longtime Hillary Clinton adviser with a reputation for being outspoken and a bit of a brow-beater, went after Donald J. Trump Jr. invoking his soon-to-be former wife’s love affair as a teenager in the late 1990s with Valentin Rivera, a reputed Latin King member with a criminal history of violent felonies. The same age as Vanessa, classmates then lovers from when she was 15 until almost 20, as he did jail and prison bids, she stuck with him, wrote letters, which he kept and shared with Page Six. Rivera claims he ended their relationship when he learned she’d been cheating on him with Leonardo DiCaprio, Page Six reported.
Reines pounced and went right after Don Jr. in what has been described as a bridge too far, “hateful,” “gross” and even “sexist and racist” tweet.
Here’s what you need to know about the Tweetstorm, Reines and the Vanessa and Valentin romance:
1. Reinnes Tweeted & Twitter Went Bananas
“Vanessa being with a Latin King must’ve driven you insanely jealous. The machismo, the passion. Tough act to follow. Did you wonder if she fantasized about Valentin Rivera when intimate with you? She did. Every time,” Reines tweeted tagging Don Jr.
The tweet was ‘liked’ and shared, but mostly, it was filled with thousands of comments. The first came from an apparent friend, Lizzie O’Leary of Marketplace Weekend.
Most commenters were appalled. Including Chelsea Clinton.
But an equal or greater number responded to the political optics the tweet represented.
Another said the tweet was “too far, too much, too gross,” to which Reines replied, “Fair.”
And there were some who were okay with it.
But while Reines said he has regrets about the tweet, “…I was only going for one jugular and I’m not apologizing for that. Or stopping. I just won’t reference soon-to-be-ex-wives and their ex-boyfriends.”
2. Admitting it was a Mistake, Reines Apologized to Vanessa Trump & Valentin Rivera But Said he’s Not Done With Don Jr. or MAGA Trolls
With time to think:
• I regret the Tweet. But I wrote it, I own it. So leaving it.
• Friendlies: I’m sorry to disappoint. It’s a learning moment.
• Vanessa/Valentin: Wrong to include you
• MAGATs: Take your vitriolic hypocrisy & shove it
• Jr: You ain’t seen nothing yet
But his regret tweet and not-so-thinly-veiled threat to continue to drag Don Jr., didn’t go over well for plenty of folks who questioned his ethics and intent.
Chelsea Clinton called Reines’ tweet “vile.”
3. Reines, Not One to Hold Back, Has a Contentious History With the Media While Hillary Clinton Press Secretary, Spokesperson, & Adviser
A penetrating 2005 New York Times portrait of the “master ruminator” is at once an accurate and stinging biography. Reines grew up with a single mother, but on the Upper West Side, and was determined but aimless, trying everything and at 30, gets his degree (no shame in that), considered the Peace Corps but landed as an Al Gore volunteer in Nashville which led to a gig as a teaching assistant for Gore who was lecturing at Colombia. He was a staffer for Golden State Democrat Jane Harman when he got an invite to interview with Hillary Clinton. He was a Clinton fan and it must have shown; she hired him in 2002 to be her press secretary. Clinton said she found him bright, and importantly, funny. At the time, Clinton told Politico Reines had a “pitch-perfect voice on my behalf and an increasingly close adviser whom I have grown to trust and depend on for the unvarnished truth — dispensed with his trademark humor every single day.”
In 2008, still Clinton press secretary, he was also Chelsea Clinton’s spokesperson, and worked on the ’08 presidential campaign. When Clinton was named Secretary of State by Pres. Barack Obama, Reines stayed on, then as then senior adviser and by 2010, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategic Communications. Throughout his time with Clinton, and especially from 2008 to 2012, Reines clashed with the media and was described as a fixer. Though there were a number of high-profile run-ins between Reines and reporters, it was, as reported by Politico, the “harsh, detailed statement” he provided as spokesperson for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton where he accused CNN of the “‘indefensible’ invasion of the privacy of Christopher Stevens, the late U.S. ambassador to Libya, after finding his seven-page journal in the consulate where he was killed.” CNN claimed the State Department, through Reines, was “attacking the messenger” and questioned why more was not done “to protect Ambassador Stevens.”
There’s any number of incidents where Reines was accused of being “controlling,” “power-hungry, a little too big for his britches, and he almost tries to browbeat you if he isn’t happy with a story.”
Following one where he did battle with reporter David Shuster, after a decidedly nasty and then online throw-down, Reines would later say, “Sometimes you really need to make a big deal about something like that, because if you don’t, those moments keep happening,” he said. “We could either say, ‘Oh well, that’s the media,’ or we could say, ‘Enough is enough.’”
In the 2016 presidential race, Reines stood in as Donald Trump in debate preparation, it was noted because the two shared personality traits, namely caustic frankness.
4. When Valentin & Vanessa Were a Couple, The Two Were Teenagers Having Met in Elementary School But When he Got Caught up in a Gang & Landed in Jail, She Stuck With Him
They met at PS 158, the Bayard Taylor School on York Avenue on the Upper East Side, just a couple of dozen blocks south of Spanish Harlem. They became sweethearts in 1993 when both were about 15. The relationship lasted for nearly five years albeit he was incarcerated a portion of that time.
Rivera told the Post he’s turned his back on crime and his criminal gangland past and has a steady job and a family. New York State Department of Corrections records show he just maxed out on his parole violations’ sentence on April 13. In other words, he’s completed his sentences including parole violations and conditions for all the crimes he’d been convicted of including weapons possession, attempted assault and criminally negligent homicide.
And the timing of the Page Six report, Rivera coming forward with the letters and information about his relationship with Vanessa Trump, may coincide with his parole ending.
A spokeswoman told Page Six the story is “nothing more than an attempt to sensationalize over 20-year-old ‘stories’ from high school for clickbait.”
5. Vanessa & Don Jr. Met in 2003, Married in 2005 & She Filed For Divorce in March
After high school, Vanessa attended Marymount College, and was a model beginning with her mother’s agency, Kay Models. According to her IMDb page, Vanessa appeared in ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ in 2003, ‘Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It,’ in 2010 and appeared on ‘The Apprentice’ in 2004.
She met Don Jr. in 2003 and they married at Mar-A-Lago in 2005. The couple have five children; Kai, Donald III, Tristan, Spencer, Fredrick and Chloe.
In March, she filed for divorce. It was reported there was trouble in the marriage and though at the time not officially separated were leading separate lives.
In April it was revealed that Don Jr had an affair with Danity Kane singer Aubrey O’Day in 2011.