Trump Jr.'s Feisty 'View' Appearance Just a Preview, Associates Say
There was cake, and then there was some cake-throwing -- at least metaphorically.
After accepting congratulations on their 5,000th episode from Taylor Swift and Oprah Winfrey, the hosts of “The View” welcomed Donald Trump Jr. to the daytime talk show on Thursday. The eldest son of the president -- joined by girlfriend and former Fox News Host and current Trump campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle -- was there to discuss his new book.
Titled “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” it didn’t come up much.
Instead, the hosts pushed him on impeachment and attacked him for naming the alleged whistleblower and demanded an answer for the incivility of his father. But for 23 minutes and 48 seconds of daytime television, Trump Jr. gave as good as he got.
Aides at the White House turned away from the people’s business to watch — although if the president did likewise, he didn’t tweet. People close to the younger Trump tell RealClearPolitics that America is going to see a lot more of Don Jr. and his feistiness, not just on the campaign trail but beyond 2020.
The show, ensconced as it is in the middle of U.S. political and popular culture, provided a coming out moment for the Trump scion. With its 3.27 million daily viewers, it has become a weigh station for presidential candidates. Former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, among others, have stopped by. The hosts skew left, and Trump Jr. had an early decision to make in light of that: play polite defense or run a smash-mouth offense.
He chose the latter. “Don was prepared for the daggers they were going to throw at him,” a confidant of the first son told RCP, “but he had daggers ready to throw in their face.”
They complained that he had named the whistleblower in a tweet. “I don’t regret doing that,” Trump replied, noting that the name of the man who made public the July 25 conversation between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart had been made public by news organizations already.
Then he blasted ABC -- “The View’s” home network -- for pressuring CBS to fire the person who leaked a hot mic video of “Good Morning America” anchor Amy Robach complaining about network executives suppressing a story in 2015 about Jeffrey Epstein:
"ABC right now is chasing down a whistleblower about all of the Epstein stuff because those stories were killed,” he told co-host Sunny Hostin. “So, if we're going to have the conversation about the outrage of whistleblowers, you worked with CBS to out the whistleblower.”
They protested that his father lowered the bar for political discourse with his attacks on Gold Star families and his mocking of a disabled reporter. Here again, Trump counterpunched: He attacked Whoopi Goldberg for defending Roman Polanski, the filmmaker who admitted to a sexual assault charge involving a 13-year-old girl. And he went after Joy Behar for wearing “blackface,” which she denied, though she had admitted during an earlier episode that in her youth she had dressed as an “African queen.”
If all of this was take-no-prisoners politics in Twitter era, it was also exactly what the Trump campaign wants and expects from the eldest son of the president.
“Don Jr. is one of the most effective surrogates for President Trump,” Trump national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told RCP of the daytime television foray. “We fully expect Don Jr. to be an active and valued voice for President Trump on the campaign trail.”
He has been subject to attack and ridicule by the likes of “Saturday Night Live.” He has weathered snickers that he is one of the dumb sons, who enjoys riches derived from investments made by more clever wealth management professionals. It is a critique that allies close to Trump Jr. say is not only unfounded but also a critical error for opponents to make. The son of the president, one ally told RCP, is not an idiot. He is “an absolute savage.”
“Don is going to be a player in Republican Party politics,” the source said. “He understands culture and is going to be a player for years to come. Ask yourself a question: Why is the left attacking him so much?”
Unlike the rest of his family, Donald Trump Jr. spent his post-college years tending bar and ski-bumming and bagging big game. This sabbatical gave him the rural street-cred, associates say, needed to go into places like West Virginia and push for candidates his father has endorsed.
“He thinks quick on his feet, draws massive crowds, and understands the base better than anyone I’ve seen in the movement,” a close friend of Trump Jr. told RCP.
And his girlfriend? “An effective spokesperson for the president and adds another dimension making a powerhouse combo.”
The hosts didn’t feel the same way. It was reported the some of that cast refused to make eye contact with their guest. Some high-profile viewers were less subtle.
Amy Siskind, president of New Agenda (a pro-women nonprofit), called Trump Jr. “human trash.” Seth Abramson, professor at the University of New Hampshire and best-selling New York Times author, claimed that he “had the most bloodshot, glassy eyes,” apparently implying that he was under the influence of a controlled substance. Molly Jong-Fast of the conservative NeverTrump website the Bulwark, dismissed him as “the president’s large adult son.”
If those attacks were meant to diminish him, they didn’t work. His appearance continued to trend on Twitter throughout the day and drew the attention of political and celebrity media outlets. Meanwhile, “Triggered” remained atop Amazon’s nonfiction best-seller list.