The Washington Post reports: Donald Trump Jr. had just posted a batch of private messages he exchanged with WikiLeaks during last year’s campaign, confirming reports that he communicated with the website that published stolen Democratic emails obtained by Russian military intelligence.
“More nothing burgers from the media and others desperately trying to create a false narrative,” the president’s oldest son wrote on Instagram. “Keep coming at me guys!!!”
Over the course of the week, Trump Jr. went on to tweet or retweet criticism of his father’s 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton; actor George Takei; Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.); and former vice president Joe Biden, sharing unsubstantiated claims about him from an anonymously sourced blog post.
Faced with deepening scrutiny of contacts he had in 2016 with people tied to Russia, the 39-year-old has adopted a provocative response: defiance.
In public appearances and on Twitter, Trump Jr. has taken an increasingly caustic tone, mocking critics and shoving himself into the scrum of the country’s most polarizing debates.
It’s an unorthodox legal strategy for someone under scrutiny by congressional investigators, whose every word could be used against him. But the approach fits with the real estate executive’s growing public persona as a right-wing provocateur and ardent defender of Trumpism.
“He’s very smart to be in the spotlight,” said Charlie Kirk, a friend and the founder of the conservative college and high school group Turning Point USA. “Would they stop the investigation if he stopped tweeting? He’s in a situation where either you defend yourself, reassure the base, reassure the supporters, or stay silent. And if you’re totally silent, it only increases suspicion.”
The Trump base is with him, Kirk added: “Most people can’t even keep up with this stuff, anyway.”
The Russia-related controversies have heightened Trump Jr.’s rising profile. Once a supporting character on his father’s reality TV show, the vice president of the family business is now an in-demand figure on the paid speaking circuit and a political player all his own.
Last month, he delivered a speech on the field of the cavernous Dallas Cowboys stadium, sounding off to a group of University of North Texas donors about “liberal imperialists,” media “vitriol” and universities that “train your children to hate our country.”
After the speech, for which Trump Jr. was paid $100,000, “he did selfies with half the people who showed up,” said G. Brint Ryan, a Republican mega-donor and Trump adviser whose tax firm co-sponsored the 800-attendee event. [Continue reading…]