Who Is Donald Trump Jr.?
Donald Trump Jr. joined the business founded by his famous father, Donald Trump, as a full-time employee in 2001. Initially tasked with the development of Trump Place and Trump Park Avenue in Manhattan, he eventually took over the direction of new project acquisition and development for the company. After helping his father's successful campaign to become U.S. president in 2016, Trump Jr. and his younger brother Eric were named directors of a trust that held the family business interests.
Donald John Trump Jr. was born on December 31, 1977, in New York City. The oldest child of real estate mogul and eventual U.S. President Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana, he spent much of his time with his maternal grandparents instead of his busy parents, spending summers with them in Czechoslovakia.
Following a messy divorce between Trump Sr. and Ivana, Trump Jr. and his younger siblings, Ivanka and Eric, were sent to boarding school. He reconnected with his dad during summertime, helping out as a dock attendant and with the renovation of the Seven Springs estate in Westchester County, New York.
Trump Jr. attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After earning his degree in finance and real estate, he moved to Aspen, Colorado, where he spent his time camping, skiing and bartending. Tiring of the lifestyle, he returned to New York in 2001 to join his dad at the Trump Organization.
Trump Organization Executive
Trump Jr. initially helped with the development of Trump Place, a 17-building complex on Manhattan's West Side. He then moved on to such projects as Trump Park Avenue, a conversion of the former Hotel Delmonico in midtown Manhattan, and the Trump International Hotel in Chicago and Las Vegas. Additionally, he also surfaced as an adviser on his dad's reality TV program, The Apprentice.
Named executive vice president of the Trump Organization, Trump Jr. was tasked with new project acquisition and development for properties around the world. In recent years, he has overseen the development of buildings in Mumbai, India, and Vancouver, Canada, and handled leasing arrangements for Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street in Manhattan.
2016 Presidential Campaign
After Trump Sr. threw his hat into the ring for the 2016 presidential race, Trump Jr. joined his siblings on the campaign trail. He delivered a well-received speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, presenting Trump Sr. as an everyman with a connection to regular, hard-working Americans. He also displayed his dad's penchant for stoking controversy via social media, particularly with a tweet that compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles. "If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you," he tweeted. "Would you take a handful? That's our Syrian refugee problem. Make America great again."
Upon Trump Sr.'s victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November, Trump Jr. joined the transition team for the new administration. In January 2017, the president-elect announced that he was placing his businesses into a trust that would be controlled by his two sons.
Russian Meeting Controversy
In July 2017, the president’s son was embroiled in controversy when the New York Times reported that he was offered compromising information about Clinton during the presidential campaign. According to the report, Trump Jr. was sent an email dated June 3, 2016, which stated that one of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a Russian government official who had offered the allegedly incriminating information about Clinton. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” the email stated, according to the New York Times.
According to the report, Trump Jr. replied: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
The email correspondence led to a June 9 meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who reportedly has ties to the Kremlin, and Trump Jr., his brother-in-law and Trump adviser Jared Kushner and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort at Trump Tower in New York City. Trump Jr. denied wrongdoing and issued a statement, which said the “short introductory meeting” was primarily focused on the issue of adoption. He later acknowledged that Veselnitskaya offered information about Clinton, and in another statement, he said: “Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”
Trump Jr. then released his statement and the email chain in question via his Twitter account. President Trump also issued a statement in which he said: "My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency."
House and Senate Testimony
In 2017, Trump Jr. testified behind closed doors to both the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees about Russian-related matters. He reportedly told the Judiciary Committee that he knew very little about then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's attempts to facilitate the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow during the presidential campaign.
Later that year, he also testified before the House Intelligence Committee about the ongoing investigations into the campaign's alleged collusion with Russia. Trump Jr. confirmed that he had a phone conversation with his father shortly after the release of the Times article over the summer, but refused to divulge details of the discussion, on the grounds it was protected under attorney-client privilege since lawyers for both men were on the call. He did elaborate on the matter of his Twitter conversations with WikiLeaks during the campaign, saying he considered WikiLeaks to be an independent news organization, not one that functioned to relay information from the Russian government.
The following summer, as he began distancing himself from his former employer, Cohen alleged that the president was well aware of the June 2016 meeting in New York between Veselnitskaya, his oldest son and others ahead of time. Additionally, Cohen later testified that he had briefed Trump family members on the Moscow Trump Tower project at least 10 times, contradicting Trump Jr.'s claim that he knew very little about it.
In May 2019, it was reported that Trump Jr. had been subpoenaed to make a return appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee to clarify some of his previous answers on the topic. After speaking with the committee the following month, he told the press, "I don't think I changed any of what I said because there was nothing to change."
In November, Trump Jr. waded into another controversy when he tweeted the name of the alleged whistleblower who first reported concerns about President Trump's attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Personal Life and Other Projects
Donald Trump Jr. met model Vanessa Haydon at a fashion show in 2003. They married at the Trump Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2005, and went on to have five children. In March 2018, Vanessa filed for divorce after 12 years of marriage.
Around that time, Trump Jr. began dating former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Along with his responsibilities for the family business, Trump Jr. has hosted the business show 21st Century Television and been involved with the medical charity Operation Smile. He has long held a love for the outdoors and counts hunting and fishing among his personal interests.
In November 2019, Trump Jr. published his first book, Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us. In September 2020, he self-published his second book, Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrats' Defense of the Indefensible.
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