In Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence US, the eldest son of the US president blasts a high-pitched rant against American liberals who he accuses of turning the country into a socialist monument to political correctness.
The US government has been infected with antisemitism, Donald Trump Jr writes in the 294-page book that will be published next week. “Angry mobs” are now in charge of major media outlets, political correctness has taken hold and “we have completely ceded control of what we can and cannot say in public to the left”.
The author dedicates Triggered to “the Deplorables”, a reference to Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated portrayal of Trump supporters during the 2016 presidential election. “I am proudly one of you,” he writes.
But a more accurate description of the book, a copy of which has been obtained ahead of publication by the Guardian, might be that it reveals its author to be every bit as devoted to partisan trolling, childish insults and grudge-holding as his father in the Oval Office. Even the title, Triggered, is designed to make the veins on the foreheads of liberals pulsate.
Playing on that idea, Trump Jr has created a website in which he invites fans to buy copies of Triggered that will be delivered automatically to their least favorite liberal. At $21 a copy, that’s an expensive ruse to upset Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Mitt Romney, the Republican senator and Trump critic who is provocatively included among the six “liberal” targets.
Trump Jr tells readers he did not set out in writing Triggered to offend anyone. Which is surprising, as he does such a good job at precisely that.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is a “feeble old fool” at the head of a “crooked investigation”; conservative commentator Bill Kristol is a rat; the Squad of four leftwing congresswomen that includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, should be renamed “Hamas caucus”; George W Bush is a loser like Romney.
As for CNN, the news channel that the US president has made his media whipping boy, its newscasters are nothing less than “full of shit”.
Historians of the Trump era are unlikely to find much solid material to mine within Triggered. Though the author follows his father’s protocol in attacking the former FBI director James Comey, he barely mentions what he calls “the infamous Trump Tower meeting … which supposedly exposed me as a Russian spy”.
In that meeting, on 9 June 2016, Trump Jr, his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and the campaign chair, Paul Manafort, met a Russian lawyer with links to the Kremlin who said she could offer dirt on Hillary Clinton. Nor does Trump Jr discuss his infamous reply to an email setting up the meeting: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
He also – like his father – appears to play a little fast and loose with the facts.
Trump Jr accuses Comey of alerting the press to the supposed importance of the Steele dossier, a file of opposition research on links between Trump and Moscow, after briefing the president-elect about it. But in doing so, he misstates the date – by a year.
“All [Comey] had to do,” he writes, “was hand the phoney dossier to the president-elect during an official visit and then leak the visit to the press. Presto chango! In that moment on January 7, 2016, the dossier went from a pile of garbage to a document in an official intelligence briefing.”
In fact, the FBI came into possession of the Steele dossier on 9 December 2016, when the Republican senator John McCain handed it to Comey. Concerned about Russia’s untroubled response to sanctions imposed by Barack Obama, and knowing the media had copies of the dossier, Comey and other officials briefed the White House about it on 5 January 2017.
Comey then briefed Trump on 6 January 2017, an encounter that would stay out of the public sphere until it was described in Comey’s own book, A Higher Loyalty. Buzzfeed, which obtained the dossier from a McCain aide in December 2016, published it in full on 10 January.
In tune with his fleeting mention of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, Trump Jr’s book is notable as much for what it doesn’t say as for what it does. He praises his father for the way he encouraged ordinary working people among his staff, but avoids referring to the dozens of Trump employees who were undocumented immigrants.
Donald Trump Jr and Kimberly Guilfoyle arrive to watch the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in Washington on 28 November 2018. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Triggered attacks Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, for his immigration policy without mentioning that Newsom’s former wife, Kimberly Guilfoyle, is now Trump Jr’s girlfriend.
One of the more striking aspects of the book is the way in which Trump Jr portrays himself as a victim of liberal political correctness. “I’m essentially not allowed to have an opinion any more, let alone express that opinion in public,” he writes.
Is that the same Donald Trump Jr who has 4 million Twitter followers? The Donald Trump Jr who was talked about 5,546 times in major US news outlets in the past year alone?
Despite having been brought up in Trump Tower, where the living room was big enough to play football in, the author insists that he is a man of the people. “I relate to people and people relate to me,” he says.
He clearly sees himself as a mini version of his father, who he describes as a “blue-collar billionaire”, both elements of which are questionable.
For his part, Trump Jr recounts how growing up he used to hang out with construction workers at Trump building sites. In Scotland for the reopening of Trump Turnberry in June 2016, he chose to mingle with Brexit supporters rather than the remainers among the metropolitan elite.
That’s something else that Trump Jr doesn’t mention. After Trump renovated the golf club, membership fees were hiked to more than £2,500 ($3,200) a year – a price many local golfers would struggle to afford.