It doesn’t take a very long article in the Atlantic to make one suspect that Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump hate each other. A close observer (me) would note the fact that they never like each other’s Instagram posts and deduce that the two siblings are engaged in an epic battle that would put HBO’s Succession to shame.
Still, it’s always nice to get confirmation of what you know deep down in your bones to be true. As the Atlantic’s McKay Coppins tells it, the two siblings, long trained by their idiot father to compete for crumbs of his affection and approval, are engaged in a fierce dynastic power struggle over who will emerge as the face of the next generation of the Trump family. And tensions have grown, to put it mildly, high:
But as Don’s visibility grew, the cold war between him and Ivanka intensified. Now that each had their own teams of allies and advisers, they had grown paranoid that the other’s henchmen were planting damaging stories about them in the press. A few days before the midterms, McClatchy published a story under the headline “Trump Kids on the Campaign Trail: Don Jr. Wows, Ivanka Disappoints.” Ivanka’s camp was enraged, and suspected that Don was behind the story. Later, Don confronted Ivanka over rumors that her team was undermining him in off-the-record conversations with reporters. “Tell your people to stop trashing me to the media,” he said, according to someone familiar with the conversation. (Spokespeople for Don and Ivanka disputed this account and denied that there is a rift between them.)
Just your typical sibling rivalry!
Who will emerge victorious among the Trump spawn? Coppins notes that for a while, it appeared to be Ivanka, who was clearly their father’s favored child. (Eric is almost an afterthought in Coppin’s telling, making an appearance mostly to drive the point home that he’s running the Trump Organization into the ground; Tiffany and Barron barely warrant a mention, and honestly good for them.)
But Jared and Ivanka have fallen out of favor with the president, and Don Jr. seems to be ascendant, given his apparent talent for being extremely racist and misogynist at political rallies:
Watching Trump’s children appear on Fox News, one gets the sense that they’re still auditioning for their father’s affection. Ivanka speaks in dulcet tones about how proud, so proud, she is of her dad. Don bashes the “fake-news media” with performative force. Eric, the least camera-ready of the three, clings to talking points, lavishing praise on Trump whenever he gets stuck. (In an interview earlier this year, Eric repeated variations of “He’s the greatest guy in the world” in such reverential tones that even Sean Hannity seemed uncomfortable with the obsequiousness.)
Trump watches these segments from the West Wing and offers a running commentary to whoever is around, according to a former aide. His attitude toward each of his adult children on any given day is shaped by how they are playing on cable news. Ivanka tends to draw rave reviews, while Don’s are more mixed, with the president muttering things like “Why did he say that?” and “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Recently, though, his perspective on his two oldest children seems to have shifted.
Proof? When their dad launched his reelection campaign, it was Don Jr. on stage; Ivanka and Jared were relegated to sitting with the hoi polloi.
This was also a fun detail about how Kimberly Guilfoyle, Don Jr.’s girlfriend and a woman who matches him in his terribleness, plays into the family drama:
The family was friendly to Guilfoyle in person, but there were signs of disapproval. One source told me that after her attendance at a White House Fourth of July party sparked a round of fawning press coverage—upstaging Jared and Ivanka—Don was contacted by an official informing him that he would need to clear his guests the next time he visited. And as Thanksgiving approached, the president made it known that Guilfoyle wasn’t welcome to join the family at Mar-a-Lago, two Trump associates told me. (Spokespeople for the White House and Don denied this.)Some suspected that the president was simply fed up with the distraction the relationship posed. But according to one longtime Trump adviser, there may have been another reason for his displeasure. Over the years, Trump had frequently made suggestive comments about Guilfoyle’s attractiveness, the adviser told me, and more than once inquired about whom she was dating.
Unfortunately for us, Coppins notes that “the Trumps could remain a fixture of American life for generations.” This is, of course, an idea that the Trump campaign has attempted to push out. As Trump’s campaign manager Brad Pascale put it recently, “The Trumps will be a dynasty that lasts for decades.” Don Jr. and Ivanka, as well as Jared Kushner, have what Pascale called “amazing capabilities.” One of which, apparently, is backstabbing!