Donald Trump Junior, the eldest son of US President Donald Trump, was an influential advisor to his father’s 2016 presidential campaign and is known for his active presence on the social media. He serves as executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organisation, which his father owns.
Trump Junior recently announced that his first book, Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us, will be released soon. “This is the book the leftist elites don’t want you to read,” he wrote on Twitter.
Last year, the US president’s son was in India on a week-long visit to expand the Trump Organization’s real estate business in Asia’s third-largest economy.
He had described India as an important market for the organisation.
In a free-wheeling interview with CNBC-TV18's Manisha Natarajan, Trump Jr. speaks about his political views, the role of the media and his organisation’s projects and future plans in India.
Edited excerpts from the interview.
First 100 buyers of Delhi-NCR Trump project and Kolkata are all here, enjoying the Trump luxury lifestyle. Are you overwhelmed? So many Indians around you?
I have always had good time over there. I think we are having an incredible time here, it’s just an awesome thing to be able to do as its part of the Trump family and the real estate company. It has been a lot of fun.
How would you rate the progress of these 2 projects on construction and sales?
It has been great. Kolkata is going to be delivered next year, so that is finishing. Gurugram coming out of the ground, now finishing up a 4 storey, underground complex at the foundation process. So both coming along incredibly well, both are very well from sales perspective which allows us to do trips like this. It’s a market we have been very blessed with, very fortunate and we are just excited to be there and to have to them here.
India’s housing market has gone into a deeper distress since we met in October last year. . There are great deals out there in the market. You wish that you didn’t have that restriction of not being able to buy right now or do any deals in India?
Yes, as we spoke about and joked about last time, it took a long-time to learn the market place, to learn the players, to find who are the guys I can do business with. It’s a very entrepreneurial country with a lot of spirit, quite aggressive at time and so after 10 years of being in the market place, you guys are compassionate, you have partners there, so now I know it, now I can do anything with that. So there would be a lot of opportunities and we have been lucky and very fortunate to have done so well and we really are bringing in very different kind of products to the market place with our kind of expertise in understanding luxury high-end real estate for decade, it is something new. So while the market had some troubles and has suffered, I think we offer unique enough products that were still capturing the best of the best so slowdown really hasn’t had that impact on us. Yes, I would love to be in the market but there is a bigger picture and there is an important picture for us, for our country, what my father is doing for Americans. There will be time to be back in there later on and I am sure those relationships will remain.
Talking about a slowdown, everybody across the globe is quite worried about the US-China trade war. In the scheduled October meeting - what are you expecting as an outcome ? Is there something that the world can look forward to and the nerves be calmed?
I am not involved. I know my father will do very well, he will do what’s right for America and frankly I think it’s time. I do not think anyone in India would argue that it was time for someone to put their foot down with some of the manipulation that China has been able to do whether its through trade practices, whether it’s through monetary policy etc. etc., so someone had to do it. I do think there is a component of media just because the media whether it’s financial or otherwise is about 95 percent Left Wing and they hope - if I can say things are terrible, maybe they will become terrible and someone hears it every day; not people like us because we consume the news 24/7 , but the average guy. The average worker in America - they come home, they turn on the TV and its 95 percent negative. They see the strong job numbers like they have never seen before, they see an all time low unemployment rates, and they also see all that negative because it’s there and believes but these guys must be saying something.
I think the reality is, the experts on TV aren’t so expert and they haven’t got too much right. So I am not too worried about it. My father, he gets it, he has signed the front of the pay cheque before and not just talked about it in theory, he has actually done it, he has made a career doing it. He has had people, their livelihood and their families’ wellbeing dependent on his success every day and now he is doing that for America.
How would you rate your father’s chances of getting elected again?
By any reasonable measure 2020 should be over right now and he should win, but that’s not the way it works between media biased, social media influence that you have seen and everyone has read about when you have the mainstream media that’s supporting negative despite again; all time record numbers – a million new manufacturing, 6.2 million people in this country offer footsteps that means they are no longer dependent on government, they are carrying their weight, they are doing this for themselves and that’s what America is all about. Now that’s not what he Democrat Party wants; Democrat Party thrive on dependence, they need people to be dependent on the big government otherwise they don’t really offer anything. So again, by any reasonable measure it should be a no-brainer, it should be over by now but that’s not the world in which we live in. we live in a very interesting world, with a lot of powerful influence pushing for the other way. So it will always be a challenge.
Your own book ‘Triggered’ is now scheduled for a release in November which is exactly a year ahead of the Presidential elections . It has created quite a storm with its title "How the left thrives on hate and wants to silence us". Give us a glimpse of what’s in it?
It talks a little bit about some of the things that I have seen along the way throughout my life but especially over the last few years as dived into politics, not necessarily just being a businessman. I am not in the administration but created a bit of niche for myself for a conservative politics because I am willing to say some of the things that need to be said. I think one of the perhaps the great examples was with you when we were in India last time; we did an interview and we talked about the genesis of how I got to understand the market and how I knew the people and how the vibrancy and the spirit of the people. You saw me the next day after the interview, it aired and everything was great. I did agree with what I was saying or certainly understood it and by the time The Washington Post got it and The New York Times and they put their spin and their filter on it. You saw me the next day and you know what done. I didn’t love when you were talking about fake news but seeing what I saw, seeing as I was the person that interviewed you, I understand what you are saying now because it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t and so it is all about that, it is about the double standard within media, the double standard within conservative versus Left wing politics and how that plays out. The things that are okay for the Democrat side to do but if we even thought about that it would be the end of the world. I really had a front row city to that hypocrisy after my father I was probably the number two target for being a citizen just because they can’t, they can’t get away with it because there is no accountability on that, so I figured an interesting thing I can write a book about and having seen that coming at it from a businessman’s perspective, coming at it from outside of the world of politics and media because again that was all new to us. We have learnt fast and like real estate and like business, we were pretty good at anything we put our minds to but it was a real awakening and I would like the rest of the world to see that.
Why do you think the world is getting so binary or so polarised between what you say is the Left liberal media and the Right conservationist view?
That is right, I think the reality is whether it is through academia or whether that the Left wing culture has been very pervasive saying those things. I tend to think of myself as rather live and let live. People could do whatever they want but if you disagree with me, I am okay with that dialogue. Today many are not even okay with having a dialogue. You can’t even think that anymore, you are not allowed to that any more, if you do that and you do think that way, they are triggered and they will do whatever they can - hashtag, cancel you and it is a shame in that culture. I think the reality is my father has been one of the few people in conservativism who has actually pushed back. I think the Right wing ideology has been forever and people have been there and they still are but they have been put in a corner, they have been boxed at, and haven’t been able to say those kind of things.
If you say them, you are considered a racist.
Yes. You could talk monetary policy. We saw over the last two months how many articles have you read about that math - it’s now racist because it somehow magically is not mathematics. I am not saying that racism doesn’t exist, I am not saying that that is not the real problem. Here, around the world it is, it is just not the answer to every problem that you face. When you can’t win an argument with facts or numbers (bangs the chair arm) – racists, it has become the easy button of certainly Left wing politics and because my father is sort of viewing this to take that on. I talk about this in the book. -- when we went down the elevator with him right there onJune 16, 2015 – he looks at me, makes eye contact and says now we find out who our real friends are and he was right. He didn’t do this to make money, he didn’t do this for business, he did it because it was the right thing to do. Because he was sick of seeing failed policies and he is one of the few people who have the guts to stand up to the mob. The mob is very powerful, it is very easy way out to just the take the easy route and not do it. He didn’t need do this and he knew exactly how brutal it would be or maybe not exactly.
Do you think it's made worse by the outpour on social media?
A: I think its combination of everything. Social media allowed him to have a platform to come back but you see what they are doing in terms of censorship, when I have people reaching out to me -- Donald I tried liking your post and I am locked out of Instagram for 24 hours. It wasn’t so controversial a post. It was like a picture of my kids and my father at the Whitehouse or wherever it might be, this is not something of those political message but you can see that they are already trying to influence the way people think. You see that time and time again, you see complains. Have you ever heard about Left Wing organisation complain about this, doesn’t exist, you never even heard them complain. So we are in a sort of battle with one hand behind our back but I believe we have a chance and once they see – wait a minute – you can actually fight that, you just don’t have to accept that they call you racists or you can actually push back the facts and figure and if you do you actually win the argument. I think the Left has really hurt themselves a lot and in the long run by really overplayed their hand by trying to get away with murder each and every time.
What about your own political ambitions?
Honestly, my only focus contrary to what so many people say out there, is getting him elected again. As an American, father of five young children I saw the country going down the wrong track, incompetent people making decisions that our children and grandchildren will be beholden to. They had no business making those decisions, some of our decision makers over the last ten years, these are people you wouldn’t negotiate with car deals for you and they are negotiating trillion dollars, I am not even joking, I am serious—you wouldn’t let John Kerry negotiating anything, yet he is negotiating with Iran, not smart but it doesn’t matter when you have a media that can cover any error, any judgment flaw or any whatever it is when they are running cover for you, it is little bit hard. We don’t have that problem, we actually have to do it the hard way and actually earn those votes and win and I think we have done it. My only focus is getting my father re-elected because I want to get this this country on the right track again. I think this country being on the right track benefits everyone, benefits all of our allies like India and abroad because you need a strong leader.
But politics is on the cards?
I have always said, I never want to take it off the table because the way it works you say "no" now and then in twenty five years maybe you decide to do something they will say – Oh! You are a liar. Remember what you said in 2019 on TV in India, you said this. So, I never want to rule anything off but the reality is I am not doing it anytime soon. My only focus is to get him re-elected. I believe in what he is doing, I believe it’s good for this country and frankly it is going to be good for the world.
On your personal life – we are seeing a lot of insta pictures of your outdoor activities with your children. Is the balancing act a tough one?
It is very tough trying to have little personal time, obviously work time, kids- five of them, it is a lot and obviously the new mix of being outdoors, being a political commentator, it has taken a lot of time. The realty is you to make time for all of it and so I try to find that happy mix. I don’t know anyone that has ever been on their death bed saying I wish I had one more deal but that one more experience with your kids or whatever it is that you are passionate about, is important. I have always been pretty good about striking that work-life balance, I have got it down pretty well right now but you are right if there is one thing I could ask for more is would be more time in the day - that I can’t make happen but we can just work a little hard, sleep a little bit less and try to get it all in.
You think you will be able to squeeze in another visit to India soon?
Oh I am sure I will, like I said India of all the places in international markets, its worth---(not sure) so many relationships. It started off as a creating a book of business for the company, that is little limited but the reality is that will be back and also throughout that whole process, I actually made real friends, I have people that I truly enjoy and so will definitely will make that happen.