With controversy continuing to swirl around accusations by a pair of contestants that the 2012 Miss USA pageant might have been rigged, The Daily’s west coast bureau chief Richard Johnson has decided to chime in about his related Trump-tastic experiences.

Granted, Johnson’s stints as a judge were some time ago, and for a sister franchise. Nevertheless, he writes that he saw no signs of meddling at the Miss Universe pageants in Hawaii (1998), Puerto Rico (2001) and Panama (2003). NBC had a monitor present (as it did again at the 2012 Miss USA contest); judges were housed at a separate hotel; and though Trump was omnipresent during the broadcast, that was about the extent of it:

Just in case a judge was indecisive, Trump was sitting right behind us in the front row, close enough to chat with us during commercial breaks, letting us know his preferences. Was he just making small talk, or trying to influence our votes? Did his voice carry more weight than any other fan who was applauding and shouting for their favorite? Probably.

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