A fourth-generation businessman (following his great-grandparents Frederick and Elizabeth, grandfather Fred, and father), Trump Jr. currently serves as a trustee and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, running the company alongside his younger brother Eric. During their father's presidency, the brothers continued to do deals and investments in foreign countries, as well as collect payments in their U.S. properties from foreign governments, despite a pledge that they would not do so. Trump Jr. also served as a boardroom judge on his father's TV show The Apprentice.
Trump's parents divorced when he was 13 years old. His mother told him his father was having an extramarital affair. Trump was estranged from his father for one year after the divorce, furious at his actions which broke up the family.
On January 11, 2017, Trump's father announced that he and his brother Eric would oversee a trust that included the Trump Organization's assets while his father was president, in order to avert a conflict of interest.
Amid the Trump–Ukraine scandal – where Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden – Trump Jr. strongly criticized Hunter Biden, accusing him of nepotism and leveraging his father as a means to get financial benefits. Trump Jr. said, "When you're the father and your son's entire career is dependent on that, they own you." Trump Jr. was widely ridiculed for these remarks by Trevor Noah and others. Trump Jr. is a high-level executive in his father's business and has continued to operate and promote the family's businesses across the world during Trump's presidency. The Associated Press wrote of Trump Jr.'s, remarks that he was "showing no self-awareness that he, too, has at least in part been successful because of a famous father". According to The Washington Post fact-checker, Trump Jr.'s assertion that he and his family members had gotten out of foreign business deals after Trump became president is false.The Washington Post reported that after Trump became president, "Trump's sons have been busy selling assets to foreign individuals, expanding or adding onto their existing deals and investments in foreign countries, and collecting payments in U.S. properties from foreign governments."
In February 2018, advertisements in Indian newspapers promoted a deal whereby anyone who purchased Trump Organization apartments in Gurgaon before February 20 would be invited to have a "conversation and dinner" with Trump Jr. The ads were criticized by corruption watchdogs as unethical.
Involvement in politics
2016 presidential campaign
Trump Jr. campaigning for his father in Iowa, November 2016
Trump Jr. influenced his father's choice of Secretary of the InteriorRyan Zinke during the presidential transition. Since his father's victory in the 2016 election, Trump Jr. has developed what The Washington Post calls a "public persona as a right-wing provocateur and ardent defender of Trumpism".
Approximately a year later, Trump Jr. initially told the media that adoption of Russian children was the main subject of the meeting. On July 8, 2017, Trump Jr. tweeted his email exchange with Goldstone. It revealed that Trump Jr. had agreed to attend the meeting with the understanding he would receive information damaging to Hillary Clinton, which he considered opposition research.[better source needed] Goldstone also wrote in one of Trump Jr.'s publicly disclosed emails that the Russian government was involved.Robert Mueller, the special counsel of the Department of Justice in charge of Russia-related investigations, investigated the emails and the meeting. Although the White House lauded Trump Jr. for his transparency, he released the e-mails only after The New York Times had informed him that they had them and were going to publish a story about them.
In June 2019, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Community made a criminal referral of Trump Jr. to federal prosecutors on suspicions that he misled the committee with his testimony.
The correspondence showed that WikiLeaks actively solicited the cooperation of Trump Jr., who was a campaign surrogate and advisor in the campaign of his father. WikiLeaks urged the Trump campaign to reject the results of the 2016 presidential election at a time when it appeared the Trump campaign would lose. WikiLeaks asked Trump Jr. to share an unsubstantiated claim that Hillary Clinton had wanted to attack Assange with drones. WikiLeaks also shared a link to a website that would help people search through Clinton campaign manager John Podesta's hacked e-mails, which Wikileaks had recently made public. Trump Jr. shared both.
In September 2017, Trump Jr. asked to have his Secret Service detail removed, telling friends he wanted more privacy. The request was criticized by former Secret Service agents. Trump Jr.'s protection was restored later that month.
Views and controversies
Race and immigration
During his father's presidential campaign, Trump Jr. caused controversy in 2016 when he posted an image that compared refugees to Skittles, saying "If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem." The makers of Skittles condemned the tweet, saying "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it's an appropriate analogy." The Cato Institute reported that year that the chances "an American would be killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee was one in 3.64 billion" per year.
On March 1, 2016, an interview with white supremacistJames Edwards and Trump Jr. was aired. The campaign initially denied the interview had taken place; later Trump Jr. claimed it was unintentional. As a consequence of the interview, mainstream media outlets have accused Trump Jr. of being either a believer in the white genocide conspiracy theory, or pretending to be an advocate for political gain.
In September 2016, Trump Jr. cited Holocaust imagery to criticize what he perceived as the mainstream media's seemingly uncritical coverage of Hillary Clinton during her campaign, by "letting her slide on every discrepancy", while also accusing Democrats involved in the 2016 campaign of lying. Trump Jr. said if the Republicans were committing the same offences mainstream outlets would be "warming up the gas chamber right now". Also that month, Trump Jr. shared an image on Instagram depicting a cross between his father and Pepe the Frog. When asked on Good Morning America about Pepe the Frog and its associations with white supremacy, Trump Jr. said he had never heard of Pepe the Frog and thought it was just a "frog with a wig".
In March 2017, Trump Jr. criticized the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, after the 2017 Westminster attack, which in turn led British lawmakers to criticize Trump Jr. British journalists said Trump Jr. had quoted Khan out of context when he criticized him. Khan did not respond to the criticism, saying he had "far more important things" to do.
In May 2017, Trump Jr. promoted what CNN called the "long-debunked, far-right conspiracy theory" that Bill Clinton was linked to Vince Foster's death. In November, Trump Jr. again promoted the conspiracy theory that the Clintons had murdered people.
In May 2018, Trump Jr. retweeted a false and antisemitic conspiracy theory that George Soros, the Jewish Hungarian-American businessman and philanthropist, was a "nazi [sic] who turned in his fellow Jews to be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth". The tweets originated from Roseanne Barr, whose TV show was cancelled the same day after she had posted a series of racist and antisemitic tweets. A spokesperson for George Soros responded to the tweets, "George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary as a 13-year-old child by going into hiding and assuming a false identity with the help of his father, who managed to save his own family and help many other Jews survive the Holocaust."
In August 2018, Trump Jr. shared on Instagram of a doctored image which had been crudely edited to falsely state that CNN had reported President Trump's approval rating as 50%. The actual CNN report had Trump at 40%, below Obama's 45% at the same point of his presidency. Trump Jr. deleted the image two days later.
In September 2018, when Hurricane Florence was affecting the United States, Trump Jr. tweeted a picture of CNN journalist Anderson Cooper waist-deep in floodwaters when another man in the same picture was standing knee-deep a distance away. Trump Jr. then proposed a conspiracy theory that CNN was "lying to try to make [his father, President Trump] look bad". In actuality, the picture of Cooper was about ten years old, taken during 2008's Hurricane Ike before Trump became president, and Cooper was videoed talking about how the floodwaters were receding.
In May 2020, Trump Jr. falsely accused Joe Biden of being a pedophile.
In August 2020, he shared a Breitbart article about more than 800 dead people voting in Michigan which was framed to suggest that the ballots were not legitimately cast and thus evidence of extensive voter fraud. However, the voters in question died after submitting the ballots, and the ballots were rejected by Michigan authorities who knew the voters had died before the election date.
Trump Jr. was given a 12 hour restriction by Twitter in July 2020 after he promoted misinformation about COVID-19 by retweeting a video showing a Houston doctor promoting hydroxychloroquine as a cure, despite conflicting studies on this claim. The doctor also said that masks are unnecessary. Twitter later said that it did not suspend his account, but rather put some restrictions on it, such as the ability to tweet or retweet, for twelve hours for violating their COVID-19 misinformation policy.
On October 31, 2017, Trump Jr. tweeted that he would take away half his three-year-old daughter's Halloween candy because, he wrote, "it's never too early to teach her about socialism."
In November 2019, Trump Jr. tweeted the name of the alleged whistleblower who brought to light the Trump-Ukraine scandal. Whistleblower conventions are intended to protect the identity of individuals who expose wrongdoing in government. Agence France-Presse attempted to independently verify the identity that Trump Jr. tweeted, but was unable to do so.
In June 2020, Trump Jr. criticized liberals for imposing restrictive measures on businesses but supporting left-wing political rallies during the coronavirus pandemic. In New York, thousands of protesters turned out for a protest on behalf of African-American transgender people known as the "Action for Black Trans Lives" rally.
In 2019, Trump Jr. released the book, Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us. The book is critical of political correctness, and argues that the American left has a victimhood complex.The Washington Post commented: "yet, in his telling, the real victim is often him, his father or another Trump family member." In the book, Trump Jr. pushes conspiracy theories about how the intelligence community has attempted to harm President Trump, comparing President Trump's experiences with the FBI harassment campaign against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Trump Jr. wrote of a visit to Arlington National Cemetery (a military cemetery), commenting that he got emotional looking at the graves and that it reminded him of "all the sacrifices" the Trump family had made, including "voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were 'profiting off of the office'". Fact-checkers have reported that Trump still owns the family business, and that the Trump family have continued to engage in international business deals since Trump became president. In a review for The Washington Post, Carlos Lozada said, "fails as memoir and as polemic: Its analysis is facile, its hypocrisy relentless, its self-awareness marginal. (The writing is wretched, even by the standards of political vanity projects.)"
The book was a New York Times best-seller. The book was purchased in bulk by at least nine Republican organizations, candidates or advocacy groups, including N.R.C.C. and the R.N.C. which bought $75,000 and $100,000 worth of the books, respectively. Turning Point USA and the National Republican Senatorial Committee purchased approximately 2,000 and 2,500 books, respectively.
Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Defense of the Indefensible
In 2020, Trump Jr. self-published the book Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Defense of the Indefensible. The book was bought in bulk by the RNC. According to a source cited in The New York Times, Trump Jr. hired three researchers to collect information about Joe Biden. The book took three months to write. Donald Trump Jr. explained to the New York Times his reasons for writing the book: "While I had no plans for a book this year, I was stuck indoors like the rest of the nation during the pandemic," he said and "I decided to highlight Biden's half century of being a swamp monster, since the media wouldn't do it". In the same New York Times article, it stated why Donald Trump Jr. decided to self publish: "Because Mr. Trump has his own platform — and the promise of bulk purchases from the R.N.C. — he doesn’t need the publicity arm of a major publisher." Although the article said the RNC would bulk purchase the book, the number of books that will be bought in bulk by the RNC hasn't been released to the public yet.
On March 15, 2018, it was announced that the couple had separated and she had filed for uncontested divorce in Manhattan Supreme Court. However, later it was revealed that the divorce was contested. The complaint was secret except for the title of the case. On February 22, 2019, they announced that they settled their divorce at the end of 2018.
Trump Jr. is an enthusiastic hunter. Controversy erupted in 2012 when the pictures he had taken of his hunting trophies in 2010 were published, including by Mia Farrow, who reposted them in 2015. Trump Jr. responded by saying "I'm not going to run and hide because the peta [sic] crazies don't like me." In one photo, Trump Jr. has his arms around a dead leopard; in another, he is holding a knife in one hand and a bloody elephant tail in the other. Although the hunt was legal, anti-hunting activists criticized him. At least one sponsor dropped his father's TV show The Celebrity Apprentice. On Earth Day in 2017, Trump Jr. legally hunted prairie dogs in Montana with GOP Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte. Controversy over Trump Jr.'s big game hunting exploits surfaced again in November 2017, following the Trump administration's decision to allow "importing elephant heads, feet and other body parts severed as trophies after the animals are shot for sport in Zimbabwe." Within hours, President Trump reversed the decision to allow elephant trophies imported from Zambia and Zimbabwe, pending further review.
^Dagnes, Alison (2019). "Negative Objectives: The Right-Wing Media Circle and Everyone Else". In Dagnes, Alison (ed.). Super Mad at Everything All the Time. Super Mad at Everything All the Time: Political Media and Our National Anger. Berlin, Germany: Springer International Publishing. p. 172. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-06131-9_5. ISBN9783030061319.
^Lima, Christiano (April 4, 2018). "Trump Jr.: Dad's ambassador to the fringe". Politico. Arlington, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Archived from the original on April 8, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2018. It was far from the first time President Donald Trump's eldest son dabbled in online conspiracy theories, using his 2.7 million Twitter followers to promote questionable or outright false information that, in many cases, even his father had refrained from spreading.
^Safi, Michael (February 18, 2018). "Indian investors offered dinner with Donald Trump Jr". The Guardian. Archived from the original on February 18, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2018. Prospective investors in a Trump Tower project near Delhi are being offered a conversation and dinner with Donald Trump Jras part of a marketing campaign that has drawn criticism from corruption watchdogs.