Government & Politics

Big White House roles ahead? Here’s the 411 on Donald Trump’s three oldest children

By many accounts, Donald Trump’s three oldest children, (from left) Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr., are down-to-earth, hard-working adults.
By many accounts, Donald Trump’s three oldest children, (from left) Ivanka, Eric and Don Jr., are down-to-earth, hard-working adults. Donald Trump Jr./Instagram

These are the words that have been used over the years to describe Donald Trump’s three oldest children — Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric — by people who know them.

Well-adjusted. Down-to-earth. Stable. “Almost disappointingly normal.”

Born Trump meant they did not have much in common with the common man.

They grew up in the rarefied air of a Trump Tower penthouse, tended to by Irish nannies named Dorothy and Bridget, kept safe by bodyguards, attending boarding schools.

They are children of divorce who were old enough to see the nasty mess between their father and mother, Ivana, in New York tabloids and bear the brunt by being hounded by paparazzi.

By most accounts, credit for their upbringing belongs to Ivana, who was given custody of the children in the divorce.

“Even I’m sort of amazed that it seems to have come together for these children,” Liz Smith once told New York magazine.

“All I can figure is, Ivana is really a nice middle-class woman at heart, despite her foolish personal style ... And the thing that always guided Donald was the influence of his father and mother, Fred and Mary, who were two really solid people.

“In spite of making their children live in this artificial palace on the top of Trump Tower with all this gilded rococo crap and jets and private boats, the children, I think, were just pretty normal.”

The three haven’t moved far from home. Today all of them are executives for the Trump Organization, headquartered in the shiny Trump Tower they used to call home.

All three — who also participated in their dad’s TV show, “The Apprentice” — campaigned for their father. Now speculation, along with some concern, is rising about what their roles in their father’s administration or White House might be.

Will Ivanka, who is house-hunting in Washington, become the nation’s “defacto” first lady? Were the sons vetting potential Cabinet members?

Here are a few things to know about the oldest children of the incoming first family.

Donald John (Don) Trump Jr., 38

Described as: A profile in the New Yorker this year noted how Don might be more mild-mannered than this father but still “has a trace of the family braggadocio.” It also referred to him as a “less bronzed but amply gelled reflection of his father.”

He speaks Czech: The oldest Trump children were close with their maternal Czech grandparents, Milos and Maria Zelnicek. They spent summers with them in Czechoslovakia — where the boys learned to hunt and fish — and at one point the grandparents lived with the family six months out of the year in Trump Tower.

Daddy dearest issues: Don, who was 12 at the time, reportedly blamed his father for the failure of his parents’ 14-year marriage and didn’t speak to him for a year after the split. According to Vanity Fair, he famously told his father: “You don’t love us! You don’t even love yourself. You just love your money.”

Worked for his money: His first job was as a dock attendant at the marina at Trump Castle — minimum wage plus tips for tying up boats. Don has said that while he was at college he “had 300 bucks a month; anything I wanted beyond that, I had to work for.”

Drunk in college: He says he doesn’t drink today, but Don has been candid about his drinking issues while studying business at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He admitted to New York magazine he had a reputation for getting into drunken fights.

Dad introduced him to his wife: Trump Sr. was the first to notice pretty model Vanessa Haydon at a fashion show in 2003.

She tells the story of how Trump approached her, Don in tow, and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Donald. I wanted to introduce you to my son Donald Trump Jr.”

Awkward chit-chat followed. Then, at intermission, “Donald comes back up to me again, ‘I don’t think you’ve met my son Donald Trump Jr.,’” she recalled.

She retorted: “Yeah, we just met, five minutes ago.”

Like father like son: Like his father, Don and his wife, whom he married in 2005, have five children — daughters Kai Madison, 9, and Chloe Sophia, 2, and sons Donald John Trump III, 7, Tristan Milos, 5, and Spencer Frederick, 4.

Outdoorsman at heart: Don is considered a big reason the National Rifle Association supported his father.

Don, who owns “dozens” of firearms, and his brother are hunters. Photos of them posing with animals they’d killed during a 2010 Africa safari —including the cut-off tail of an elephant — were denounced by PETA as “two young millionaires’ grisly photo opportunity.”

In a meeting with about 15 House Republicans in May, Don said his father is committed to making sure any future Supreme Court appointments would uphold the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Don and his family spend many weekends in the Catskills, where he likes to fish for trout and where the house they stay didn’t have internet service until recently.

“I don’t want my kids growing up to be city kids,” he told the New Yorker. “You can’t stay out all night partying if you’re waking up at 4 or 5 to head to the tree stand.”

He’s tired of: Having people in stores look at the name on his credit card and say, “Donald Trump? You don’t look like Donald Trump!”

Describing Donald Trump as a "fighter" and a leader in women's rights, Ivanka Trump introduces her father on Thursday night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Ivanka Trump, 35

Been described as: “Her restrained style, natural elegance, upper-crust diction and media savvy all qualify her as ‘classy’ by any definition,” noted Newsweek, “not just the ostentatious grotesquery of gold-plated sinks in private jets draped with supermodels implied when her father utters the word.”

Daddy’s little girl: In a 2015 interview with Barbara Walters, Don, Eric and their half-sister Tiffany admitted that Ivanka is their father’s favorite child. “Come on, daddy’s little girl!” Trump once said of his oldest daughter in an interview.

Ivanka has said she was a “spoiled little girl.” In the New York Times, friends and business associates described Ivanka’s place in the family, company and campaign as “exalted.”

Their relationship has invited description as “creepy,” mainly because of things Trump has said publicly about her, including the infamous comment on ABC’s “The View” in 2006 that “if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps, I would be dating her,” and telling Howard Stern that “she’s got the best body.”

A family friend once said that while she was at boarding school, Ivanka would check in on her father nearly every day, calling collect from a pay phone in the janitor’s office. Today, when they are not together, they are said to speak as often as five times a day.

She is Jewish: She converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner in 2009. “We’re pretty observant, more than some, less than others. I just feel like it’s such an intimate thing for us,” she told Vogue last year. They observe the Sabbath by turning off their phones for 25 hours over the weekend.

“From Friday to Saturday we don’t do anything but hang out with one another,” she told Vogue. “It’s an amazing thing when you’re so connected to really sign off.”

She and her husband have three children: Arabella Rose, 5, Joseph Frederick, 3, and Theodore James, almost 9 months.

Like her stepmother, she modeled: Ivanka modeled for designers brands, including Versace, when she was a teenager. She can still nail that over-the-shoulder model pose.

 

date night

A photo posted by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on

She was in a documentary: Ivanka showed off her childhood bedroom, with a view of Central Park, in the 2003 documentary “Born Rich.” The film, directed by Jamie Johnson of the Johnson & Johnson family, offered a peek into the lives of wealthy children.

Reviewers agreed that Ivanka came across much better than her rich contemporaries. Translation: less privileged-sounding and less bitter.

She once told GQ that “I look at my brothers and myself and I’m, like, really proud of the fact that nobody’s, like, totally f***ed-up. Nobody’s a drug addict, nobody’s driving around chasing women, snorting coke. There’s something amazing about that. And you know, this isn’t to pat myself on the back, but I could be a lot worse.”

She was a Hoya: Ivanka spent her first two years of college at Georgetown University, then transferred to Wharton, where her father and brother Don both studied. She graduated in 2004 with a degree in economics.

Boardroom boss: She has handled some of the Trump Organization’s biggest deals — including the conversion of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., into a luxury hotel, The New York Times reports.

Champion for working women: Two years ago she founded the #WomenWhoWork initiative, a video campaign spotlighting working women. A “Women Who Work” book is due next spring, according to Cosmopolitan.

No-so-hot on her heels: Ivanka’s fashion collection of jewelry, clothing, shoes, handbags and perfume continues to be boycotted by women who do not like her father’s politics. Retailers who sell Ivanka’s collection — including Nordstrom, Amazon, Zappos and Macy’s — have been targeted, too.

Made in China: Her father tells supporters that he will create jobs by making “Made in the USA” mean something again. Meanwhile, Bloomberg points out, Ivanka’s $100 million apparel line is sewn in Asian countries.

She once dated Lance Armstrong: In 2006, she and the cycling star went on “several dates,” sources told People magazine. She was 24, he was 35 and they met at a charity event in Los Angeles when she was in town filming “The Apprentice.”

Eric Trump, 32

Been described as: “Eric has Trump genes, but he doesn’t have the Trump brand,” school friend Clare Fieseler told the Washington Post this year. “I’ve always admired that he is uniquely his own in that way. Less bombastic, more thoughtful. Less self-aggrandizing, more humble. Less Trump. More Eric.”

Donnie was his “father”: “In a way he raised me,” Eric once said of his older brother, whom he calls “Donnie.” “My father, I love and I appreciate. But he always worked 24 hours a day.”

The Trump boys are close. They served as best man at each other’s weddings, and they often start their work days having breakfast together at Trump Tower.

Went his own way: Unlike his father and older brother who attended Wharton, Eric went to Georgetown and earned a degree in finance and management.

Married to an “Inside Edition” producer: After six years of dating, Eric married Lara Yunaska in 2014 at the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. It was an all-out family affair: Don was best man, Ivanka was a bridesmaid and Ivanka’s husband officiated.

The bride’s “massive emerald cut diamond platinum ring with side stoles” came from the Ivanka Trump jewelry collection.

Lara, an avid equestrian, broke both of her wrists in a horse-riding accident just weeks before her wedding and wore casts on the big day.

 

#tbt #FirstDance #WeddingCasts

A photo posted by Lara Trump (@laraleatrump) on

They have no children but have a beagle named Charlie.

 

We took #CharlieDog to see the #WhiteHouse today

A photo posted by Eric F. Trump (@erictrump) on

Started a charitable foundation when he was 23: The Eric Trump Foundation raises money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Over the last few days it made headlines when Eric tried to auction off a coffee meeting with his sister, Ivanka, to raise money for the foundation.

After the online auction raised eyebrows over concerns of influence-peddling, Trump pulled the plug on the auction with four days to go, according to The New York Times. The bidding had exceeded $72,000.

Rookie mistakes: During the campaign, Eric took flak after agreeing with a Denver radio host that former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke deserved a bullet to the head.

“Ross, it’s disgusting, and by the way, if I said exactly what you said, I’d get killed for it, but I think I’ll say it anyway,” Eric said. “The guy does deserve a bullet. I mean, these aren’t good people. These are horrible people.”

He also posted a photo of his ballot on Election Day but later deleted it. Ballot selfies are illegal in New York state.

Wine, wine, wine: Eric launched Trump Winery in Virginia in 2011 and since then has “been racking up awards including the 2013 Rising Star of the Year award from Wine Enthusiast,” according to Town & Country magazine.

Reviews of the wines are mixed, ranging from “competently crafted” to “like cheap perfume” and “Botox-y.”

General manager Kerry Woolard describes Eric as “one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. Eric asks a million questions, but he will never tell you that he’s an expert, and he never overrules what Jonathan (Wheeler, the long-term winemaker) and I decide.”

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