- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 10, 2021

In last year’s “Borat” sequel, the character played by Sacha Baron Cohen infiltrates CPAC 2020 in a Donald Trump suit, but American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp said he doubts the comedian was ever there.

Mr. Schlapp disputed Mr. Baron Cohen‘s claim about sneaking into CPAC, saying he believes stunt doubles were used for shots in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” showing the title character at the conference, including the scene in which he runs through the ballroom during Vice President Mike Pence’s speech.

“The fact is, I don’t believe he [Baron Cohen] came to CPAC. I’m quite confident that he didn’t. That was all a faux thing with stunt doubles,” Mr. Schlapp told The Washington Times.

So far there have been no Borat sightings at CPAC Texas, a three-day event that runs through Sunday at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas expected to draw about 4,000 attendees.

Mr. Schlapp said the Borat production team brought multiple actors dressed as Mr. Trump and Ku Klux Klansmen to the February 2020 conference at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, prompting the ACU to threaten legal action.

“The press was saying, the KKK is at CPAC. No, it was a liberal in a KKK hood. So nothing is as it appears,” Mr. Schlapp said.

In a scene from the 2020 movie, the Borat character is shown walking through a lobby in a head-covering KKK costume and entering a restroom, where Mr. Baron Cohen can then be seen changing clothes, but Mr. Schlapp said that scene was filmed in a different bathroom.

“They gave the impression in the movie that he was at CPAC. He was not,” Mr. Schlapp said. “There are so many lies that get portrayed about CPAC, including that Sacha Baron Cohen was at CPAC.”

Mr. Baron Cohen has said that he was able to get past conference security wearing a fat suit and a Trump prosthetic face and wig by styling the hair differently, then hiding out for hours in the restroom.

He said he had a close call when TSA agents wanded him and picked up a beep, but that he lied and told them he was wearing a pacemaker. 

“I’m often asked, ‘How does an actor prepare for a scene?’” he told the Los Angeles Times. “And I prepared by waking up at 1 in the morning, driving to a motel, sitting in a chair for six hours while a prosthetics team changed my face to Donald Trump‘s and then, yes, sneaking into CPAC and staying in a men’s lavatory for a number of hours.”

Mr. Baron Cohen said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he was escorted out by 15 Secret Service and police, but that they never asked for his identification.

If the comedian had sought to attend CPAC through the normal channels, Mr. Schlapp said he would have been welcome.

“Now if he had called me and said, ‘I want to come to CPAC,’ we would have said, ‘Sure you can come to CPAC,’” said Mr. Schlapp. “I don’t think it’s even lawful to put on a KKK outfit and walk through the middle of CPAC in an attempt not to express political views, but simply disrupt us. Obviously, we have a tort in that situation. So that’s probably why he didn’t call me.”

The politically charged spoof won best screenplay at the 2021 Writers Guild of America Awards, and was nominated for Oscars for best-adapted screenplay and best-supporting actress for Maria Bakalova, who played Borat’s daughter.

“If he were to win an Academy Award, I’d probably take him to court to get the statue,” said Mr. Schlapp.

Mr. Trump is slated to speak Sunday at CPAC Texas, the second major CPAC conference of the year after February’s event in Orlando.

ACU communications director Ian Walters said the group has exchanged letters with attorneys for Mr. Baron Cohen and Four by Two films, but that no lawsuit has been filed.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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