Twitter’s ‘John Barron’ passport jokes explained amid Trump’s FBI claims

Bruno Cooke August 16, 2022
Twitter’s ‘John Barron’ passport jokes explained amid Trump’s FBI claims
Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images


Former POTUS Donald Trump has accused the FBI of “stealing” three of his passports – one of which he says has expired – sparking jokes among the Twitterati that one of them has the name “John Barron” on it.

Despite the fact news outlets have been reporting on Trump’s use of alter egos for decades, many people are likely unfamiliar with the phenomenon. 

And those, in turn, will likely be more than a little confused by jokes that suggest a man by the name of Barron might show up at a Florida FBI office demanding his passports back.

As of Monday night, the FBI has said it is no longer in possession of Trump’s passports. Nevertheless, here’s a primer on the debacle, and some of the jokes to emerge from it.

Trump’s use of pseudonyms to manage PR is well documented

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“John Barron” was the pseudonym Trump used most in the 1980s. After that, he moved on to “John Miller,” “Carolin Gallego,” and “David Dennison.”

According to a Frontline video co-produced by PBS and CPB in 2016 and titled Trump’s Alter Ego, the first time he used a fake name was after he demolished two art deco sculptures affixed to the outer wall of a building he was planning on replacing with Trump Tower.

“It was kind of a landmark building,” former Trump Organization vice-president Louise Sunshine says in the mini documentary. “It was next door to Tiffany’s. He loved it.” 

Trump had vowed to preserve the sculptures – the Metropolitan Museum was going to house them. But Trump destroyed them and, to assuage the angry press in the days that followed, invented a vice-president character by the name of John Barron to speak for him. Trump has since both admitted to, and denied, using the name. Watch the video below:

Why are people joking about Trump having a ‘John Barron’ passport now?

Trump claimed on his social media platform Truth Social the FBI had taken three of his passports during what he alleged was an “assault on a political opponent.”

“Wow,” he wrote. “In the raid by the FBI of Mar-A-Lago, they stole my three passports (one expired), along with everything else.”

The post raised questions regarding why Trump had three passports in the first place. Although he did note one had expired.

But “why does he have a third passport?” asks one Twitter user, conceding he would have a “regular passport” and a diplomatic one. “And is the name on that [third] one John Barron?” they joked.

According to the The Independent, the FBI has said it is no longer in possession of Trump’s passports.

The Bureau said in a statement on Monday night: “In executing search warrants, the FBI follows search and seizure procedures ordered by courts then returns items that do not need to be retained for law enforcement purposes.”

Donald’s father used the fake name Mr Green

Original Caption

Fortune claimed in 2016 that Donald’s father, Fred Trump, used the pseudonym “Mr Green” to conduct “business that he wanted to keep secret.”

His father, incidentally, would come up in 1984 – four years after the Trump Tower incident – in another of Trump’s “John Barron” escapades.

In May 1984, wrote the New Yorker in 2018, Trump claimed to be Barron in a phone call with Forbes researcher Jonathan Greenberg. Greenberg was working on the magazine’s annual rich list.

He claimed to have inherited his father’s real estate fortune – 15 years before Fred died in 1999 – and that his personal wealth was $900 million rather than $100 million. 

“Most of the assets have been consolidated to Mr Trump,” the New Yorker quotes Barron as saying to Greenberg. “You have down Fred Trump, but I think you can really use Donald Trump now.”

Chad and JT Go Deep | Official Trailer | Netflix

Chad and JT Go Deep | Official Trailer | Netflix

Twitter can’t get enough of the idea of Donald Trump having a ‘John Barron’ passport

It might be worth stressing that none of those taking to Twitter in the wake of the FBI’s execution of a search warrant on Trump’s residence is talking about John Baron, Conservative MP for the UK constituency of Basildon and Billericay.

No photos of Donald Trump’s passports have emerged online, and there’s no reason for them to. There is therefore zero evidence he has a passport bearing the name “John Barron.”

But that hasn’t stopped the comedians of the internet from making their quips: 

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.