Donald Trump Jr. is back.
Trump’s eldest son was almost entirely absent from cable news interviews following his bungled attempt last summer to cover up his central role in the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals who promised him dirt on Hillary Clinton. The eldest Trump son, ostensibly focused on running his father’s business — and walled off from the business of government — is now back to being a regular fixture on Fox News programs, where he functions as a White House surrogate.
What prompted the change? One thing that appears to have captured his attention is the memo by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) that was supposed to provide proof of a grand conspiracy against Donald Trump in the FBI but turned out to be a dud. Nevertheless, much of Don Jr.’s social media activity and cable news discussion has been focused on the memo and how it vindicates his father.
Much like he has done since the inauguration, Don Jr. tweets almost entirely about the political priorities of his father’s administration, and almost never about his own actual job. A ThinkProgress investigation last year found that Don Jr. posted about his dad’s political priorities at an average rate of three times per day from the day after the election through Halloween. He has significantly increased this rate in recent weeks, routinely tweeting a dozen times per day about the Trump administration, his father’s political enemies, and the travails of Democrats attacking his father. This doesn’t include many more retweets of similar content, often from far-right blogs. Hundreds of his tweets and retweets were about the memo.
Don Jr. has also appeared on Fox News four times in recent days — once on Tucker Carlson’s show right as the push to release the memo gained steam, once on Hannity after the State of the Union, once on Jesse Watters’ show and again on Carlson’s show right after the memo was released.
Here are the highlights from Don Jr.’s resurgence:
Don Jr. accidentally admitted that Trump fired the Deputy Director of the FBI
Two days after his father’s press secretary told reporters that the White House was not involved in FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s decision to retire, Don Jr. let slip that the memo caused McCabe to be fired. It is still not clear why McCabe decided to retire so abruptly, but President Trump had been personally attacking him for months.
This begged the question of which narrative was correct: was McCabe fired over the Nunes memo, or did he decide to retire for personal reasons? We still don’t have an answer. And Don Jr. continued to joke about it. Don Jr.’s tweet also appears to conflate the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server with the current investigation into his father’s campaign’s ties to Russia.
Don Jr. said moderate Democrats are “left of commie”
In a discussion on Watters World about the dilemma facing Democratic senators in red states who nevertheless oppose Trump administration priorities they believe are bad, Don Jr. found a novel conclusion. He said moderate Democrats are “left of commie right now.”
Don Jr. called the Nunes memo a “little bit of sweet revenge” for Trump family
Don Jr. appeared as a guest on Jesse Watters’ Fox News weekend show, where he was a bit too candid about the political purpose of the memo. Trump Jr. said “there is a little bit of sweet revenge in it for me and certainly, probably, the family” in the memo’s release.
Don Jr. promoted a fraudulent Fox News story about an FBI text message
Last week, Fox News ran an article that alleged that President Obama tried to get an update about the Hillary Clinton email investigation, based on a text from FBI agent Peter Strzok. In fact, that investigation had wrapped up and the FBI was looking at Russian interference in the election — an entirely appropriate request. Presidents steer clear of the FBI’s criminal investigations, but have an obligation to stay up-to-date on counterintelligence efforts.
Don Jr. called the Russia probe the greatest “witch hunt… since Salem”
On an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, Don Jr. said the Russia probe is a “witch hunt, probably the greatest since Salem” and concluded that “the only collusion” discovered is actually that of the Obama administration. He said that what he learned over the last few months was “bordering on disgusting” and concluded, “this isn’t the America I thought would happen — this is the stuff you read about from banana republics.” He compared Republicans and Democrats on the Russia collusion issue and concluded “we’re a little bit more honorable than them” — “we” meaning Republicans, the Trump administration, or the Trump political operation.
Don Jr. said that “deranged” Democrats wanted to stand and applaud for Trump during the State of the Union
On an appearance on Fox News’ Hannity, he praised his father’s speech before Congress as “phenomenal” but refocused on an attempt to ridicule the Democrats in the chamber — “you could see them all wanting to stand, Sean, looking around, ‘you almost have to stand for this,’ but the derangement is real.”
Later in that interview, Hannity asked him why he didn’t go to Washington with his dad. Trump Jr. replied, “I can do more on the side, I can be very vocal.”
Don Jr. lost a $100 bet about the memos
Don Jr. tweeted that he bet a friend that the Democratic memo would leak before anyone saw the GOP memo. The GOP memo is public, and the president refused to release the Democratic memo — which has not leaked at all.
Don Jr. repeatedly tweeted far-right conspiracy websites
Trump Jr. has regularly shared links to stories on right-wing blogs like Gateway Pundit, True Pundit. In Don Jr.’s world, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is a secret Russian spy, Sen. John Warner (D-VA) is the one colluding with Russia, there was a conspiracy by six U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on then-candidate Trump, and James Comey only told Congress about Anthony Weiner’s emails because he was forced to by a Obama Justice Department official.
He also retweeted an alt-right media figure, Jack Posobiec, who has pushed the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory.
Don Jr. said his dad wasn’t a racist because he’s taken photos with “all the rappers”
In an interview with Ginni Thomas on the Daily Caller released last week, Trump Jr. made the case against those who say his father is racist. “You know it’s amazing — all the rappers, all his African American friends, from Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, have pictures with him,” he said. Thomas had asked him about “the left’s efforts to frame [his] dad and anyone who supports [the president] as a hater, as a racist, as a fascist.”