Weeks before announcing his candidacy, Donald Trump chatted on the phone with Bill Clinton

Donald Trump.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just a few weeks before Donald Trump announced he was joining the GOP presidential race, former president Bill Clinton called him on the telephone and encouraged him to play a more substantial role in the Republican Party, according to associates of both men.

The call took place in late May, not long after Hillary Clinton officially announced she was running for president, The Washington Post reports. One Clinton aide says that while the phone call did take place, it was personal and the pair did not talk about the 2016 race, and another said Clinton called Trump after Trump "reached out to President Clinton a few times." The Trump sources, who asked to remain anonymous, said the call came when Trump was deciding whether to run, and that he was honest about his ambitions. They say Clinton did not urge Trump to run, but was interested in what he had to say and told him he was striking a chord with the conservative base.

Trump is now the Republican frontrunner, and he has been criticized by party members for his ties to Democrats and financial donations to Hillary Clinton's New York Senate campaigns and the Clinton Foundation, the Post reports. The sources said Trump and Bill Clinton have often chatted on the phone, usually about golf and donations to the Clinton Foundation. Both Clintons also attended Trump's 2005 wedding to his third wife.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.