Don Jr. made his big debut tonight and some say he made a big splash and helped “humanize” his father. But he and his disgusting brother, Eric, deserve nothing but scorn for the series of wild animal kills that spread across Twitter tonight.
I was not aware of their depravity towards animals until tonight. The folks calling Don Jr. “Patrick Bateman” on Twitter were spot on.
From The Daily Beast:
Back in 2012, photos surfaced of the elder Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, proudly posing with the carcasses of dead animals they hunted while on a big-game hunting expedition in Africa. The photos showed Donald and Eric posing with a lifeless cheetah, Donald clenching a knife along with the bloody, sawed-off tail of an elephant, and the pair posing next to a crocodile hanging from a noose off of a tree.
Here are Trump’s sons holding up a dead cheetah, all smiles:
The Trump boys were hunting in Zimbabwe—the same country where Cecil was killed—and though Zimbabwean animal conservation groups looked into the incident, the hunt was deemed perfectly legal. Once the photos went viral online, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted (and then deleted): “Not a PR move I didn’t give the pics but I have no shame about them either. I HUNT & EAT game.”
Later, Donald Jr. clarified his thoughts on the big-game hunt in an interview with Deer & Hunting magazine in August 2012.
“I think what made it sort of a bigger story and kind of national and even global news was that I didn’t do what a lot of other people do, which is immediately start apologizing for what I am and that I’m a hunter and all this,” Donald Jr. told Deer & Hunter. “I kinda said, ‘No, I am what I am. I did all those things. I have no regrets about it.’”
CORRECTION: It has been noted several times in the comments that the Trump kids are holding up a dead leopard, not a cheetah. Apologies for the mistake. I relied on the news story instead of my own eyes.
First, President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pushed a health care plan that would have slashed funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that tracks farm flu outbreaks and works with the US Department of Agriculture and local authorities to “minimize any human health risk” they cause.
Given that avian flu is on the march again, one might think it prudent to keep that cash around, devoted to monitoring the 2017 outbreak.
That effort collapsed, but now Trump is taking a more direct whack at flu-tracking funding. A couple of Politico reporters got hold of a budget-cutting proposal the Trump team is circulating in Congress. The document lists $1 billion in suggested cuts to the US Department of Agriculture’s discretionary spending in 2017—which is separate from the “21 percent proposed reduction for USDA that the administration included in its 2018 budget outline released earlier this month,” Politico reports.
Among the cuts being sought for 2017, the Trump team seeks to extract funds from a USDA program funded by Congress in 2015 to address the flu problem that swept through the Midwest that year, triggering the euthanasia of 50 million birds and causing egg prices to spike. Congress had allocated $1 billion for it, of which $80 million is left. Given that avian flu is on the march again, one might think it prudent to keep that cash around, devoted to monitoring the 2017 outbreak. Trump’s budget people have other ideas—they want to take away $50 million of the $80 million left over. Politico quotes the document:
The response to the FY15 [fiscal-year 2015] outbreak is complete, and USDA should still have enough balances to respond to the two recent HPAI [high pathogenic avian influenza] outbreaks in TN [Tennessee] this year.
Of course, this year’s avian flu, albeit a less virulent strain, has broken out of Tennessee, swept into Alabama and Kentucky, and has now alighted in Georgia, the nation’s No. 1 chicken-producing state. It would be interesting to know what Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Trump’s still-pending pick to lead the USDA, thinks of that proposed money-saving measure.
While the CDC insists that the risk that people will come down with the current avian flu strain is “low,” it does work with the Department of Agriculture and state authorities on tracking outbreaks. That’s because health officials have been warningfor decades that massive livestock confinements make an ideal breeding ground for new virus strains, including potentially ones that can jump from bird to human, and then spread among humans. Meanwhile, a different strain of avian flu has swept across Japan, South Korea, and China. It has killed 140 people but has not proved capable of spreading from human to human.
Donald Trump vs. animals: The Republican nominee has a set of troubling associations for those who care about pets, cows, chickens, pigs and horses
If a presidential candidate announced that his or her administration would hurt one of your relatives, you would likely do everything possible to prevent that person from being elected. For the 95% of U.S. pet owners who describe their dog or cat as a member of the family, or the millions of other Americans who care about animals on farms and in the wild, Donald Trump presents such a threat.
From a four-legged vantage point, a Trump administration would be a disaster. Last month, the Trump campaign floated billionaire Forrest Lucas as the potential secretary of the interior in his administration, a position that oversees vital animal-related programs at the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.
Described as “the leading anti-animal advocate in the United States” by the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Lucas has dedicated much of his time and fortune to defending some of the worst animal abuse industries in our country.
Lucas’ anti-animal front organization, Protect the Harvest, spent a quarter of a million dollars to try to block a ballot initiative in North Dakota that would have set felony-level penalties for malicious cruelty to dogs, cats and horses. That’s relevant to Lucas’ potential influence in a Trump administration, given that the Bureau of Land Management manages tens of thousands of wild horses in the West.
Lucas’ political machine has also advanced other anti-animal causes, including so-called “right to farm” legislation in states like North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana and Oklahoma. Such legislation would leave millions of animals suffering in silence on factory farms and slaughterhouses, while undermining the Bureau of Land Management’s role in humanely administering 155 million acres of grazing land for cattle and sheep.
While Interior is not directly responsible for companion animal programs, Lucas has shown callous indifference to their protection by funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to efforts to weaken and repeal tough standards to reform puppy mills in Missouri, the nation’s largest dog-breeding state. The Lucas group also helped kill a local initiative in Indiana that simply would have required proper outdoor shelters to protect dogs and cats from the elements.
Along with Lucas, the other members of Trump’s Agriculture Advisory Committee include some of the most vocal anti-animal business leaders and elected officials in our country. Former Iowa State Rep. Annette Sweeney, one member of that group, was the author of her state’s “ag gag” bill, a perverse inversion of justice in which the heroes who film cruelty on factory farms are instead charged as criminals themselves. That bill was signed into law by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, another advisor on Trump’s team.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, yet another member of Trump’s committee, is infamous for vetoing a bill that would have banned trophy hunting of mountain lions in his state, thus extending Lucas’ anti-cat efforts outlined earlier to their wild cousins as well.
But Donald Trump doesn’t need to consult his advisory board to find defenders of cruel trophy hunting practices like Heineman. He has more than enough of them in his own family.
Sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. have offended millions of wildlife lovers with their pay-to-kill hunts for some of Africa’s most magnificent creatures, including elephants, kudus, civet cats, crocodiles, waterbucks and leopards. Pictures of the Trump boys posing with the victims of their murderous vacations have drawn condemnation across the world, but a much more muted response from their father, who justified it with a casual comment that his “sons love to hunt.”
In this midst of Trump’s anti-animal tornado, it is with wistful retrospection that many Republican animal advocates remember the past leadership by our party on many of the same issues. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the first federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act into law, as well as legislation prohibiting the poisoning of wild horse and burro waterholes. President Richard Nixon expanded the scope and coverage of animal protection legislation by signing landmark animal protection laws including the Animal Welfare Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Endangered Species Act.
President Gerald Ford expanded both the Animal Welfare Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, while Republican legislative leaders like Senator Bob Dole championed the protection of farm animals throughout their careers from their seats in Congress. More recently, Representative Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) twice led Congress to ban horrific animal crush videos, and dozens of Republican representatives in both chambers have fought for legislation to protect whales, chimpanzees, horses and companion animals from cruelty and abuse.
On Election Day, those are the voices for animals that we should honor and respect. If you love your dog, cherish your cat or care about other animals on farms or in the wild, then proxy their paws in the voting booth and pull the lever for anybody but Donald Trump.
Weinstein is CEO of Ridgeback Communications. He was director of media relations for the Dole/Kemp presidential campaign and was deputy press secretary to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The order will curb the enforcement of a number of climate regulations, in an effort, the Trump administration says, to prioritize American jobs above addressing climate change.
What effects will it have?
According to Mark Lynas, a British author, journalist and environmental activist who focuses on climate change, the order “is intended to make coal competitive again in the US economy, by refossilizing the US power sector and demonstrably increasing carbon emissions.”
“This is politically symbolic, as it will show that the Obama legacy on climate can be deleted,” he added.
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant located 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh in 2013.
The order will, among other things, rescind the moratorium on coal mining on US federal lands and initiate a review of the Clean Power Plant initiative: “Without it, the country will be lacking a very important signal in decarbonizing a sector which emits a lot,” said Ajay Gambhir, a Policy Research Fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London.
It will also weaken a number of environmental protection policies that are not strictly related to climate change, but to such things as protecting the waterways: “By removing economy-harming regulations, the door will be left open for health-harming regulations,” said Gambhir.
What does it mean for the world?
While the order focuses on domestic policies, it will likely signal a shift in the US’s global approach to climate change.
“The rest of the world will be asked to cover for the US falling behind,” said Lynas.
“It’s extremely concerning and I can only hope that the people’s response to Trump’s order will be sufficient to reverse it.”
But some experts retain an optimistic view, arguing that the momentum towards renewable energy is unstoppable: “The damage this administration can do might be less then most people think: of course it will slow things down, and that’s the last thing we need, but business leaders are smart enough to understand that they must invest in renewable energy,” said Karsten Haustein, a climate systems and policy researcher at the University of Oxford.
The order could have implications around the world.
“It might send a bad signal to some countries which may loosen their efforts seeing that the US isn’t decarbonizing, but I expect most to carry on with the plans they have been developing for some time — as innovation and cost reduction continue they will find it easier and less costly to reduce their emissions,” said Gambhir.
The effects may therefore be more ideological than practical: “The most harmful way this administration can act is by undermining people’s trust in science and scientific evidence, by putting climate change deniers in positions of power. As a scientist I’m worried about what that means for my colleagues in the US,” said Haustein.
Who will lead the charge now?
If the US will be perceived to step down from its role in combating climate change, will this create a leadership vacuum?
According to Lynas, the big question is what attitude China will adopt.
Obama’s Energy Secretary on Trump’s climate plans01:22
“As the world’s largest emitter, if China continues to fulfill the deal that was made with Obama all is not lost, but if it seizes the opportunity to abandon the Paris agreement, then we really face an extreme and terrifying future.”
Europe is unlikely to step into the driving seat, says Haustein: “Unfortunately Europe is muddled up with other political issue like Brexit, and the UK is unlikely to do anything about this in the next two years.This move will destabilize the political world to some degree. Perhaps Canada?”
But we might not have lost a leader after all, according to Gambhir: “In the run up to the Copenhagen talks in 2009 there was a degree of leadership from the EU, with China and the US falling behind. These two gave strong signals in the run up to Paris in 2015, but there was no sign of the US being an unequivocally global leader,” he said.
“There’s no need for one specific region to lead, but a requirement that many regions act multilaterally.”
Donald Trump Jr. came in for some merciless mocking when he posed in this newspaper in a grunge-era flannel shirt, sitting awkwardly atop a tree stump at the family estate, looking glum and lonely. A rejected Cialis ad was one of the kinder suggestions.
But look deeper. Buried in that profile was something — a saffron-thin thread of hope — that could keep his father from hastening the early death of the planet. The elder Trump has repeatedly indicated his intent to withdraw American cooperation from the global agreement to negate climate change, yet another middle finger from this president to the rest of the world, and to his grandchildren. His budget would let poisons flow through American rivers and be belched into the sky overhead.
The other Donald Trump, the kid with the burden of going through life with that name, may be the only person who can stop him. In the profile, junior comes across as a little boy lost, emotionally abandoned after the divorce of parents whose every hour is spent in bold face. Sent away to boarding school. Finding some solace hunting and fishing with a grandfather in Czechoslovakia. As he tries to navigate around the toxic swagger of the old man, he relishes his time in nature. It’s not, mind you, listening to yellow-rump warblers on spring days. It’s killing things. Pheasant and deer. And bigger things, elephants and leopards, creatures so magnificent that most people cringe at the thought of ending their lives in a sporting pursuit.
But there was another famous New Yorker who did much the same thing after going through a long stretch of emotional trauma — Teddy Roosevelt. And there you find the saffron-thin thread of hope. For on the desk of Donald Trump Jr. is a bronze statue of T.R. — the most muscular defender of creation in this nation’s history.
Step one is for Trump Jr. to read up on the bronze. If he hasn’t already, he should try Edmund Morris’s “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” and David McCullough’s “Mornings on Horseback” for starters.
And yes, he hunted, pretty much anything. For Roosevelt, one reason to preserve all those living things was to have an opportunity to kill them later. But his love of nature was deep and consistent. “When I hear of the destruction of a species,” he wrote a friend, “I feel as if all the works of some great writer had perished.”
No doubt, Roosevelt would have detested Trump. “It tires me to talk to rich men,” he once said. “You expect a man of millions to be worth hearing, but as a rule, they don’t know anything outside their own business.”
But Trump Jr. certainly likes Roosevelt. If he takes away just one thing from the president who launched a century of progress, it should be his thunderous pitch for posterity in his New Nationalism speech of 1910. He said, “Of all the questions which can come before this nation there isn’t one which compares in importance with the central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.”
That seem rather obvious — everywhere but inside the Trump White House. The president’s budget blueprint would gut the core mission of the agency charged with ensuring clear air and water. It would cripple the departments that oversee parks and national forests. And, in another stab at his base, he would make it much more difficult to get in and out of the open spaces of America, eliminating the federal assistance that keeps many rural airports from closing.
Of course, at a time when Trump’s other proposals would literally mean death to poor people newly deprived of health care and would stop vital cancer research that could save millions of lives, the concerns of the natural world can seem secondary.
Still, that’s the only area where Trump Jr. could match his passions with a policy block. His tweets, including the recent hit-and-miss attack on the mayor of London, show him to be an otherwise meanspirited, incurious and accuracy-challenged chip off the old block.
Sickly as a child, heartbroken as a young man over the loss of his wife and mother on the same day, Teddy Roosevelt found his salvation in nature, the American wild. “I owe more than I can ever express to the West,” he said.
In a similar vein, young Trump, who gives the impression of somebody who knows he will never outrun his father’s shadow, said, “I owe the outdoors way too much” for keeping him out of trouble. One man repaid the debt. The other still could.
The woman was killed on Westminster Bridge as a number of pedestrians were mowed down by a grey Hyundai i40.
It is believed the man was also killed in the incident on the bridge.
Seven people are in a critical condition, and 29 have been treated in hospital.
One woman ended up in the Thames and was treated for serious injuries after being pulled from the water.
The attacker, armed with two large knives, jumped out of the car after smashing it into the railings encircling the Palace of Westminster, fatally stabbing Pc Palmer as he entered the grounds.
He was shot dead moments later by another officer.
During a speech in Parliament, Theresa May confirmed the Westminster attacker was a British citizen who was known to the police and security services, and had been investigated some years ago over violent extremism.
May told MPs he was a ‘peripheral’ figure, adding: ‘He was not part of the current intelligence picture.’
Here’s everything we know about the attacker.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said the working assumption is that the attack is linked to Islamic terrorism.
A group of French schoolchildren were among those targeted on the bridge, with three injured.
Prime Minister Theresa May later chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee, branding the attack ‘sick and depraved’.
Donald Trump Jr. is the Trump who has not always seemed at ease with being a Trump. He grew up in the penthouse of Trump Tower but was happy to escape the gilded trappings of his Manhattan childhood to spend parts of the summers hunting and fishing with his maternal grandfather in the woods of what was then Czechoslovakia.
After graduating from his father’s alma mater, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he tended bar in Aspen, Colo., rather than immediately join the family business. Several months later, on Feb. 25, 2001, during a Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans, he was arrested on charges of public drunkenness and spent 11 hours in jail.
“I think, like anyone else, I made my mistakes,” Mr. Trump said of his arrest. “We have to be honest with ourselves. I’m not good at it, moderation. You have to have the conversation, be a realist, and say, ‘I guess I’m not doing myself any favors.’”
In 2001, Mr. Trump, the eldest of the five children from Donald J. Trump’s three marriages, went to work for the Trump Organization in the same building where he had grown up. He rose to executive vice president, and his status as a family member in good standing was on display when he appeared as a boardroom adviser on “The Apprentice,” the NBC reality show that re-established his father as a celebrity mogul nearly two decades after he had captured the public’s attention with his first best seller, “The Art of the Deal.”
Now Donald Jr., 39, has completed his own apprenticeship.
Since his father was sworn in as president, he and his brother Eric, 33, have taken over management of the Trump Organization, with Donald Jr. overseeing commercial licensing and much of the international business and Eric managing the golf courses, among other duties. Donald Jr. is also a rising figure in Republican politics and a robust defender of the family name. As a public speaker who brings in an estimated $50,000 per speech, he has impressed conservatives with a rough, straightforward manner that belies his cushy upbringing.
Like his father, he uses Twitter to thrash liberals and lend support to those who are friendly to the president’s populist agenda. Given that he is a skilled outdoorsman and a member of the National Rifle Association who owns dozens of firearms, among them a Benelli Super Black Eagle II (for hunting waterfowl) and an AR-platform semiautomatic rifle (for marksmanship competitions), Mr. Trump also connects with heartland voters in a way that his more refined sister Ivanka may not.
While Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have lately elevated their social profile in Washington and Palm Beach, Fla., while keeping close contact with the president, her oldest brother has largely avoided the balls and benefits, preferring to hunker down in Midtown during the workweek and spend weekends in the Catskills with his wife, Vanessa, and their five children.
“Don is the more chill version of any of the kids,” said Dee Dee Sides, who has known him since the early 2000s.
He came into his own as a public figure during the presidential campaign. On the stump he was equally at ease before crowds in both Mississippi and Michigan, and television pundits gushed about his political future after his bluntly effective speech at the Republican National Convention, with some mentioning him as a potential mayoral candidate in New York City.
“I don’t know if I could go all-in at that,” Mr. Trump said of a political career. “There is a part that is incredibly enticing. But it’s not human most of the time.”
Even as he embraces his new status in business and politics, Mr. Trump sounds, at times, as if it is some kind of anomaly.
“If I could miracle myself away,” he said, “I would live out West.”
Into the Woods
Mr. Trump’s friendships are rooted, for the most part, in hunting and fishing, sports that do not appeal to the golf-loving patriarch of the Trump family. He said he decided early on not to measure himself against his father.
“I think people are often surprised, but I never defined myself as, ‘I’m the business guy who has to supersede what my father has done,’” he said. “He’s a totally unique individual. Somehow having to top his accomplishments is never the way I perceived things.”
He developed a distaste for living in public at an early age. In 1990, his father separated from his mother, Ivana Zelnickova, a Czech model and skier, after having an affair with the model and sometime actress Marla Maples. Donald Jr. was 12 at a time when gossip columnists, someencouraged by his father, chronicled the family soap opera. During this time, Donald Jr. did not speak to his father for a year, New York magazine reported in 2004 in an article about the Trump children.
Before the divorce, Mr. Trump found a role model in someone quite different from his father: his maternal grandfather, Milos Zelnicek, an electrician who was an avid outdoorsman. In the summers, he stayed at the Zelniceks’ home in a town near Prague for six to eight weeks at a time, and his grandfather schooled him in camping, fishing, hunting and the Czech language.
“He needed a father figure,” his mother said in a telephone interview. “Donald was not around that much. They would have to go to his office to say hello to him before going to school.”
Mr. Zelnicek, who died in 1990, allowed his grandson a freedom not readily available to a child of Fifth Avenue. As Mr. Trump put it: “He said: ‘There is the woods. See you at dark.’ I think I felt a little trapped in New York City.”
Despite the advantages of wealth, Mr. Trump said his life at home was not always easy. “In our family, if you weren’t competitive you didn’t eat,” he said. “You had to fight for what you wanted.”
His mother recalled walking into the breakfast room one morning and noticing that the chandelier was broken: “Ivanka said it was Don Jr. So I put him over my knee and spanked him. He said, ‘Mom, it wasn’t me!’”
It turned out that Ivanka lied, the former Mrs. Trump said.
The divorce was made final in 1992, and Mr. Trump’s father married Ms. Maples the next year. Donald Jr. went to boarding school, the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., where he practiced skeet shooting, and then it was on to Wharton, where he rowed crew and joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. People who knew him then saw him as distinct from his parents.
“He wasn’t into the gold,” said Jennifer Ireland Kubis, a New York real estate agent who dated one of Mr. Trump’s college friends. “He was trying to escape it.”
The young Mr. Trump also earned a reputation for hard partying, which seems to have continued until the Mardi Gras arrest. He no longer drinks, and he has suggested that the discipline of the sporting life kept him from going over the edge: “I know that the benefits I got from being in the woods, from being in a duck blind, from being in a tree stand at 5 o’clock in the morning, kept me out of so much other trouble I would have gotten into in my life,” he said in a speech at a fund-raising banquet for the 2016 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City.
During his first year in the family business, he spent weekends at the Mashomack Preserve Club in Pine Plains, N.Y., where he ran into Gentry Beach, an acquaintance from college who was working at a Manhattan investment firm.
“We loved being outdoors,” said Mr. Beach, who grew up in Dallas.
Mr. Beach, 41, introduced Mr. Trump to Thomas Hicks Jr., 39, a Dallas friend whose father, an equity investor, once owned the Texas Rangers. Through the years, the three have hunted white-tailed deer in Texas, birds in Scotland and pheasant in Hungary.
“For some people — you see that in New York a lot — they go hunting once every other year and they talk about it at a cocktail party for the next two years until they do it again,” Mr. Trump said in an interview. “For me, it is the way I choose to live my life.”
Being friends with Donny, as his closest friends call him, can be tricky, given the divisiveness of his father’s politics. Ms. Sides, for one, said she did not discuss politics with her friend. “Our views are different,” she said. “Don has never asked me, and he would not ask.”
It was his father who introduced Mr. Trump to Vanessa Haydon, the woman who would become his wife, at a fashion show in 2003. A onetime model with the Wilhelmina agency who once dated Leonardo DiCaprio, she had grown up on the Upper East Side. At the time of their engagement, Mr. Trump accepted a ring from the Bailey Banks & Biddle jewelry store in Short Hills, N.J., in exchange for publicity, recreating his proposal at its Short Hills Mall location in New Jersey. Soon afterward came an unflattering headline in The New York Post: “Trump Jr. Is the Cheapest Gazillionaire: Heirhead Proposes With Free 100G Ring.” Even his father joined in the criticism, saying on the CNN talk show “Larry King Live,” “You have a name that is hot as a pistol, you have to be very careful with things like this.”
Business and Politics
Although Mr. Trump has been charged with holding down the family business without input from his father — who resigned his position in the company without relinquishing his financial stake — he took advantage of his new standing within the Republican Party to dine last Saturday with a group of political heavyweights that included Senator Ted Cruz of Texas at the annual Reagan Day fund-raising dinner, where he delivered a speech.
He told the crowd that he had had virtually “zero contact” with the president since the election, but added that he had found it difficult to resist the pull of politics. “I thought I was out of politics after Election Day,” he said, adding that he had thought he would “get back to my regular life and my family.
“But I couldn’t,” he said.
Two weeks before the Dallas speech, Mr. Trump found himself in the role of real estate tycoon during a stop in Vancouver, British Columbia, for the opening of a Trump International Hotel and Tower. Although the building unveiled that day was, at 63 stories, the city’s second highest, the city’s mayor, Gregor Robertson, skipped the event after demanding for two years that the Trump name be stripped from the building’s facade.
The president’s son began his talk with a poke at the news media: “I’d like to thank the press,” he said. “Just kidding.” Outside, about 100 protesters waved signs and shouted “Love Trumps Hate.”
To a large degree, his public image has been shaped by photographs that surfaced online in 2012 and re-emerged last year. They were taken during a hunting trip in 2010 arranged by Hunting Legends International, a safari company based in Pretoria, South Africa. A licensed guide accompanied Donald Jr. and Eric, along with a ranger from the Zimbabwe national parks department, who monitored the hunt.
One photograph shows the Trump brothers taking a helicopter to the Matetsi, a region of Zimbabwe abundant with elephants and endangered leopards. Another shows Eric with his arms wrapped around the limp body of a dead leopard. Perhaps most disturbing to nonhunters and to those who do not hunt endangered or vulnerable species was the picture of Donald Jr., knife in one hand, the bloody tail of an elephant in the other.
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Animal rights advocates, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, cried foul after Hunting Legends posted the photos, and a sponsor dropped the show “The Celebrity Apprentice,” which Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric appeared on as advisers, along with their father. Donald Jr. took to Twitter to defend himself, writing to one detractor, “I’m not going to run and hide because the PETA crazies don’t like me.”
He argues that the economic benefit of such safaris to African communities is often overlooked. Further, he said, the controversy allowed him to connect with other sportsmen. “There were people who I didn’t know who were hunters,” he said. “And, from that perspective, I get invited a lot.”
What is lost on nonhunters, he said, is the sense of community that is part of hunting trips. “Too much of hunting has turned into the notion of the kill,” he said. “It’s a component, the meat. But so much is experiential, so much is relationships. It is sitting in a duck blind with seven people, cooking breakfast. For me, it’s been a great way to see the world. The least interesting part is the three seconds it takes to pull the trigger.”
Donald Trump Jr. is still exerting influence at the Interior Department and has tapped a hunting buddy to serve as a go-between for the agency, sportmen’s groups and his father’s White House.
President Donald Trump’s eldest son is an avid hunter and played a key role in picking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is also a hunter and fisherman. And now Donald Trump Jr. has asked Jason Hairston, a former San Francisco 49ers linebacker and founder of hunting gear company Kuiu, to serve as a liaison among himself, Zinke, sportsmen’s groups and the White House on conservation and public lands issues, Hairston said on Thursday.
“I’m absolutely going to take the position,” Hairston told POLITICO, but the job won’t come with a salary, and he plans on staying in California where he lives and managing his business.
But an official with the Interior Department said there had “been no discussion of creating of a new role like this” and White House deputy press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email there were no new personnel announcements.
Hairston said Donald Trump Jr. had hoped to play the liaison role between Interior and the White House himself, but his decision to stick with running his father’s business empire with his brother, Eric Trump, put a kink in that plan.
“It’s really a role he was hoping to fill, but he can’t because of conflict of interest,” Hairston said.
Hairston and Donald Trump Jr. have been hunting buddies for at least two years — and Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out his congratulations last year after Hairston’s company was featured in a Bloomberg news article. The two have tracked game together in mountain ranges in the West and Canada, and Hairston helped to organize meetings between sportsman groups and Donald Trump during his campaign, including a February 2016 gathering in Las Vegas, Hairston said.
The president “knows that it’s not just a sport, that it really is something that’s more meaningful to hunters and how important wildlife and conservation are because of everything Don and Eric have experienced and shared with him,” Hairston said. “So he’s not just pacifying his kids over this. He understands it and gets it.”
Outdoor recreation groups have recently stepped up their fight against efforts by some Western Republican lawmakers to force the Interior Department to transfer more of the vast amounts of public lands it controls in the West to states — a move the groups say would cut them off from prime hunting and fishing ground. And having Hairston as their advocate would give them a direct line to the White House.
While he said his position hasn’t been given a formal starting day, Hairston said he has “already started with the work on it,” including “meeting with different organizations to determine what challenges and issues we’re facing and really just what we should be working on — what’s important.”
Hairston has met with Zinke twice: once before Zinke was confirmed as secretary and again on March 7 when Hairston traveled to Washington and talked with the heads of conservation and hunting organizations. Those included the National Rifle Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Shooting Sports Foundation and Safari Club International.
The column you’re reading began its life last week with an unsavory, if relatively straightforward, goal: Explore the disastrous environmental ramifications of president-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Oklahoma’s attorney general—and oil-and-gas industry bestie—Scott Pruitt as the next head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
No sooner had I gotten started when news broke of another Trump pick: Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, for secretary of state, the government’s top diplomatic post. This Cabinet selection was so mind-blowing in its utter wrongness, on almost every imaginable level, that I instantly rethought the original structure of my piece. These two peas in a petrochemical pod definitely needed to be sharing the spotlight.
Then rumors began filtering in that Trump was nearing his final decision on our nation’s next secretary of energy. I had to rub my eyes to make sure I wasn’t misreading the headlines. Alas, it really was true: Trump was picking former Texas governor Rick Perry—late of one of the most woebegone presidential campaigns in modern history, not to mention Dancing with the Stars. That our next president wants his energy secretary to be the guy who once bragged about how he’d abolish the agency (or would have bragged about it, if he’d remembered its name) says a lot about the future of our national energy policy. Once again, my column was thrown into structural turmoil.
Just this morning, I was back on track, cruising right along, ready to frame these three picks as a new high-water mark in Cabinet-making depravity, the trifecta of environmental nihilism. And then I heard that sources were reporting Trump had settled on U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke for secretary of the interior. In support of the nomination, a Trump spokesperson had this to say: “Congressman Zinke believes we need to find a way to cut through bureaucracy to ensure our nation’s parks, forests, and other public areas are properly maintained and used effectively.” (The italics are mine. The nervousness they elicit, on the other hand, is—or ought to be—everyone’s.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Four Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse.
That I kept having to rework this column—three do-overs in less than a week!—is itself a bone-chilling sign of just how eager president-elect Trump is to give the oil and gas industry everything it could ever ask for, and more. Taken together, these appointments constitute a preinaugural Christmas present to all those climate deniers and fossil fuel dead-enders who helped nudge him over the electoral finish line. He may be willing to take the occasional meeting with Al Gore, and his high-profile daughter may even publicly flirt with reasonableness on climate change from time to time, but make no mistake: These appointments are the signal buried within any semi-hopeful noise that you may have heard.
And here’s the signal’s message: The lands and waters of the United States of America are once again open for business, assuming your business happens to be sucking massive amounts of hydrocarbon out of the ground for the purposes of burning and emitting our way toward an uninhabitable planet.
As I type, more rumors are circulating—although these reports, I’m happy to say, offer some small glimmer of hope. One of them is that a number of Republican senators are privately grumbling about the Tillerson appointment, citing his bromance with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his acceptance of the Russian Order of Friendship award in 2013. In case you haven’t heard, the incoming administration isn’t exactly looking for more coverage of the many, um, surprising links between the Kremlin and the newly ascendant GOP. The mere fact that Tillerson is experiencing any intraparty turbulence at all, as opposed to a perfectly smooth ride into Foggy Bottom, may be a sign that he’s not a shoo-in.
The other rumor is that President Obama is preparing, as in right now, to wield his executive power in order to permanently ban drilling in U.S. waters off the Atlantic and Arctic coasts. Thanks to a somewhat obscure clause embedded deep within the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act—you are familiar with the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, aren’t you?—a sitting president has the authority to prohibit the leasing of offshore areas in such a way that future presidents cannot rescind it. If he chooses to avail himself of this option, it will be the best thing—and perhaps the only thing—that Obama can do to save these vulnerable areas from the rapaciousness of the Four Horsemen and their oil industry minions.
Were that to happen—and were the Senate to also say nyet to a Russia-backed oil executive becoming our top diplomat—it just might buy environmentalists enough time to take a deep breath, collect our energy, and gear up for the next fight. Because rest assured, there will be a next fight. And a next one. And a next one.
These four men could make for a very busy four years.
onEarth provides reporting and analysis about environmental science, policy, and culture. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of NRDC. Learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
by Tom Murphy
Now that the nightmare of a Trump presidency is a reality, bold action must be taken to protect our most valued institutions and freedoms. To do this, it must be acknowledged that Trump’s victory was not legitimate. Civil rights icon John Lewis was correct in stating this truth, and we must stand with him and the 60 Democratic members of Congress who boycotted the inauguration to underscore this fact. Hillary Clinton received 3 million more popular votes than Trump and would have also won the electoral vote had not the Russians and the FBI intervened on behalf of Trump.
Trump is an unstable, dangerous thug whose positions on many issues parallel those of the Nazis in the 1930’s and 40’s. We must recognize that he means what he said, and that he and his cronies will work tirelessly to implement his alt right agenda. A clear indication of this are his cabinet picks. A cabinet comprised of generals, greedy billionaires, Putin supporters, and individuals set to destroy the agencies they lead should be of grave concern to all Americans. Also, his “America First” inaugural address was chilling in the extreme to those who believe in diversity and freedom. After Obama’s election in 2008, those opposed to him formed the Tea Party to counter his progressive policies. And, it worked. The alt right policies of the Republican Congress and Trump go far beyond the wildest dreams of those early Tea Party members.
Like the Tea Party in 2008, Progressives must now work to start a movement that I call the Progressive Peoples Party that must be much stronger than the Tea Party ever was.First, we must work with Congressional Democrats to block, by any means possible, Trump’s legislative agenda, and, of course, work with Senate Democrats to block Trump’s nominees for the Supreme Court. More important, Progressives must unite to increase the number of Democrats elected to Congress in 2018. This will require hard work, new strategies and massive fund raising to fuel this effort. It is doubtful that current Democratic leaders are up to this task. Thus, new leaders must be identified and supported to carry this movement forward.
Progressives must also work to ensure that Trump has only one term. It is probable that Trump’s Presidency will implode long before his term is up. Nevertheless, the damage he can inflict on the nation while he is in office has the potential to be catastrophic. A strong Progressive Peoples Party can do much to minimize this damage, but it will take dedication and courage to make it happen.
As Martin Luther King said “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Let’s let trump know that we will not be silent and that we will prevail starting now.