As President Donald Trump's first term in office creeps steadily toward its end, it's only natural to wonder what's next: not just in terms of who's fighting to beat him, but also, who's got their eyes on succeeding him. Whether or not their father scores more years in the White House, Trump's children have access to power that goes far beyond a single presidency. It's a hard battle to be the favorite heir, and the fact that Trump apparently plays favorites doesn't help. The Atlantic’s delve into the fight for their father’s empire claimed that Donald Trump called Don Jr. “not the sharpest knife," which is, well, surely not the nicest thing he's said about his children. Elite Daily reached out to the White House and representatives for Don Jr. for comment, but did not hear back.
In the publication's October 2019 cover story, The Atlantic did a deep dive into the changing relationships between Trump and his adult children, and which child is likely to follow in their father's footsteps as his successor. In the piece, journalist McKay Coppins shared a tidbit about the alleged aftermath of the now-famous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, in which Don Jr. met with a Russian lawyer who offered the campaign "dirt" on 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Don Jr. later admitted to setting up and attending the meeting, tweeting out the entire email chain arranging it.
It became a huge scandal, but reportedly Trump wasn’t angry at his son. According to the story, a former White House official recalled that the president was allegedly "resigned to his son’s idiocy." Trump allegedly sighed, "He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” in reference to Don Jr., which, harsh.
To be fair, the Trump Tower meeting was not the finest moment for Don Jr., and raised questions about the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. An investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that members of the campaign had committed a crime, though the investigation's final report alleged that the campaign had expected to benefit from Russian election meddling. The White House has consistently asserted that Mueller's report cleared Trump and his campaign from allegations of wrongdoing. Ahead of the report's conclusions, Don Jr.'s meeting raised eyebrows among critics, particularly for his response to the offer of dirt on Clinton. "If it's what you say I love it," he wrote, according to his own screenshots of the email chain.
However, whether or not Trump's alleged "sharpest knife" comment was in jest, it does perhaps indicate some larger trends in their relationship: For instance, his chances of managing the Trump presidential campaign years ago were "less than zero," according to The Atlantic.
It's not the first time the president has been called out for allegedly insulting his own children, either. On Aug. 29, Trump's personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, left the White House after allegedly spilling the beans on Trump family details, including claims that the president favors his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and unkind remarks he allegedly made about his younger daughter, Tiffany Trump. The president later commented that he found the claims "hurtful" and added that he "loves Tiffany." The White House did not respond to Elite Daily's request for comment at the time.
The president has, notably, given three of his four adult children some pretty significant responsibility. (Tiffany, the youngest adult, is still attending law school at Georgetown University.) While Ivanka has a West Wing office and serves as an adviser to her father, Don Jr. and younger brother Eric Trump are running the family company, the Trump Organization, for the duration of their dad's presidency.
So which child is the favored one? Well, family dynamics are complicated. But Trump has at least one year left in office. There's plenty of time for the younger Trumps to arm-wrestle over who gets to be called his successor — or even just the "smart kid."