Last week, three of Donald Trump’s kids got sued.
Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump were named as co-defendants in the lawsuit that New York Attorney General Letitia James filed against the former president, alleging that Trump-owned businesses committed fraud by routinely inflating the estimated value of their properties to obtain better interest rates from banks.
The suit is civil, not criminal, so the adult children and their dad are not facing potential jail time. But if a judge rules against the Trumps, they could be slapped with a lifetime ban on serving as officers in New York corporations—a move that would essentially exile them from life in New York. They also face a five-year ban on buying New York commercial real estate and a $250 million fine.
The three adult kid co-defendants are mounting very different public responses. Ivanka is lying low—she hasn’t tweeted since James filed the suit, so her Twitter feed is mostly tweets and retweets about husband Jared Kushner’s recent memoir. On Instagram, she’s congratulated Kushner on receiving an award from the government of Hungary and posted a photo of herself and two of her children bringing food and flowers to the elderly for Rosh Hashana. No mention of the Trump Organization here.
Donald Jr. and Eric, on the other hand, are confronting the James lawsuit head-on, which is to say, publicly. On the day of James’ theatrical press conference, Donald Jr. tweeted, “The bullshit Dem witch-hunt continues!” with a video montage of James promising to investigate Trump and calling him an “illegitimate” president. (It is now his pinned tweet.)
Two days later, he headlined a rally with Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon in Muskegon, Michigan. According to a local broadcast network, most of Donald Jr.’s speech was a takedown of Joe Biden and the FBI, “but he did talk for a time about the importance of the candidacy of Tudor Dixon.” Donald Jr. has also taken issue with the possible charges his father faces for failing to hand over classified documents he kept at Mar-a-Lago, framing the issue as a corny stand-up comedy act: “The information was so dangerous and so classified that they spread it all over the floor, took a picture of it, and leaked it to the Washington Post!”
On Instagram and Twitter, it’s the usual stream of inflammatory links to queer sex-ed materials, memes about his sister’s breasts, inscrutable jokes about Amber Heard and Adam Levine, and insinuations that Joe Biden is a child molester. Interspersed with those nuggets of outrage-tainment are repeated claims that James’ investigation is a politically motivated sham designed to support her reelection campaign.
Eric Trump is likewise arguing via reposted video montage that James cannot be trusted because she has long criticized the former president. He has called her “the most corrupt Attorney General in the history of New York” who is “working for the DNC… 49 days before her election.” He also tweeted a quote from the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, which wrote that James’ investigation “looks like more evidence of the decline of America’s rule of law.”
Eric did not mention that the WSJ quote came from a piece published back in January, long before James released the results of her investigation. Or that the day after James filed the lawsuit, the WSJ editorial board admitted in another piece that “Mr. Trump has made a business and political career of getting away with whatever he can, and it’s easy to imagine he crossed a line.”
So far, none of the adult Trump children have denied the practice of overvaluing real estate holdings and lying about square footage to score a better bank deal. The closest they have come to addressing the substance of the suit came in the form of a retweet: Both Donald Jr. and Eric Trump shared a tweet from Newsmax host and disgraced former Trump appointee Carl Higbie that cast doubt on the lawsuit’s allegations based on the value of an unrelated property: “James (with all her real estate experience) asserts Mar a Lago should only be worth 75mm… But a property in the neighborhood, MUCH SMALLER went for 450mm.” Case closed!
On a completely separate note, the one adult Trump child not named in the lawsuit, Tiffany, has not commented on the allegedly fraudulent family business from which she was callously (and blessedly) excluded. But on Monday, in the comments on her most recent Instagram post—an Eiffel Tower shot posted on Feb. 1—a fan let her know she was not forgotten. “Im so glad you’re going to be safe from all this trouble you’re family are going through,” he wrote. “Be safe.”