Don Jr.: Trump’s problematic son
“When his eldest son was a still a boy,” Donald Trump was asked in a TV interview which of his children gave him the most trouble, said Molly Ball in TheAtlantic.com. “Trump didn’t hesitate for a moment. ‘Don,’ he shot back,” referring to the rebellious, risk-taking Donald Trump Jr. Decades later, Don Jr., 39, is still causing his father trouble, after being forced to admit he met with several Russians who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. No one in the White House is surprised that “Junior” is at the center of the Russia scandal, said Asawin Suebsaeng and Lachlan Markay in TheDailyBeast.com. Staffers snidely refer to him as “Fredo,” after the loser son in The Godfather. During the campaign, Don Jr. frequently went “off message,” likening Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles and re-tweeting white supremacists. Chronically insecure, the president’s oldest son probably took the Russian meeting to impress his father—but could end up “causing major damage to the entire family.”
Don Jr. didn’t always want to please his father, said Gwenda Blair in Politico.com. When the elder Trump made tabloid headlines by leaving the then-12-year-old boy’s mother, Ivana, for Marla Maples in 1990, a distraught Don Jr. refused to speak to his father for a year. “You don’t love us! You just love your money!” he reportedly yelled at Trump. Later, while attending the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton College, said Barbara Demick in LATimes.com, Don Jr. was frequently drunk and openly “despised” his father, his friends from the time say. During one visit, the elder Trump—enraged that his son wasn’t wearing a suit—“slapped him in the face,” a former classmate says. After graduating, Don Jr. got sober, joined the family business, and quickly rose to be executive vice president—though he “never stepped out of the shadow” of Trump’s glamorous favorite child, Ivanka.
But among the president’s hard-core supporters, Don Jr. is the favorite, said Rosie Gray in The Atlantic.com. His love of guns, hunting, and the outdoors, along with his disdain for his sister’s elite New York circle, have earned Don Jr. a “special affection” from Trump’s cheerleaders. And while Ivanka has tried to moderate her father’s views, Don Jr. has joined him in his all-out war against the “lying” media. That’s why Trump diehards are now defending Don Jr. fiercely. As one explained: “He is with us in the trenches.” ■