Donald Trump Jr. denounced the effort to impeach his father, U.S. President Donald Trump, as “nonsense” at Liberty University on Wednesday and suggested the whistleblower who helped spark the impeachment inquiry was politically motivated, just as the House of Representatives began the first in a series of high-profile impeachment hearings.
“... This is a guy that was Biden’s guest at a state dinner,” Trump said of the whistleblower, “this is a guy who was crying like a little child in the photograph with Susan Rice and her team the day after my father won the election, this is a guy who has deep ties to [former CIA Director John] Brennan and the rest of the leftists deep state that can lie to Congress and have no consequence.”
“This isn’t the humble public servant trying to do good that the media are trying to portray him as,” he added.
Trump Jr., 41, came under fire last week after sharing a Breitbart article that claimed to identify the whistleblower. U.S. officials have not publicly named the whistleblower, who is protected from retaliation under federal law.
“It wasn’t that they were upset that I outed him,” he said of the criticism of his tweet. “It’s that now that his name was in the public domain all you’ve got to do is a little bit of research.”
As Trump spoke in Lynchburg, House Democrats opened the public phase of their impeachment inquiry on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats have accused President Trump of pressuring Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals.
The younger Trump’s appearance at Liberty was the latest stop on a nationwide tour for his new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” In the book, Trump recounts his experience in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and describes his disdain for socialism, the media and political correctness.
The book tour has grabbed headlines for a series of raucous media appearances and speaking events. On Sunday, Trump’s visit to UCLA was cut short after a group of far-right protesters disrupted the event by shouting him down from the crowd.
Last week, Trump and Kimberly Guilfyole, a former Fox News host who is Trump’s girlfriend, appeared on ABC’s ”The View,” where they sparred with the show’s hosts over concerns that Trump put the whistleblower in danger with his tweet.
“Unlike everyone else who goes on 'The View,' who is afraid of being called a bad name, who needs to be invited back, I couldn't care less,” Trump said at Liberty, where he was again joined by Guilfyole and Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, an organization which promotes conservatism on college campuses.
Throughout his nearly 40-minute appearance, Trump unleashed a barrage of attacks: He criticized Michael Bloomberg, a former New York City mayor who recently took steps to enter the Democratic presidential primary; accused the mainstream media of being “the marketing arm of the Democratic Party;” and labeled former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller a “pawn.”
At the same time he offered a passionate defense of his father, calling him among the most successful presidents in American history.
“We've had politicians make us promises forever,” he said. “And even Trump's haters will say, ‘OK, he's actually doing all of the things that he said he was going to do.’ I mean, that's become the anomaly in American politics.”
Trump’s appearance at convocation marks the second time this year the president’s son has spoken at Liberty. In March, he participated in a panel discussion with Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife Becki Falwell as part of a satellite event of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
The discussion later sparked a student protest after Trump joked about the #MeToo movement and after Falwell made comments some students found to be transphobic.
On Wednesday, Trump’s comments were cheered on by a near-capacity crowd at the Vines Center, which can seat about 10,000 people.
Abigail Hicks, a Liberty freshman studying political science and strategic intelligence, said she was inspired by Trump’s willingness to fight back against impeachment, which she called a “witch hunt.”
“It's ridiculous how the left can't just fight for what they believe in, they have to fight against the right because they don't have any actual ground to stand on,” she said.
Some students were not as enthusiastic. Elizabeth Brooks, a junior studying politics and policy, said she was glad Liberty offered Trump a platform to share his perspective but was disappointed his remarks did not extend past a defense of himself and the elder Trump.
“I really don't think he’s that different than his father,” she said. “I think he embodies a lot of his father's mentality and his rhetoric. I think he's just a spokesperson for his father.”
Still, Trump was welcomed by a largely friendly audience.
Sophomore Evan Provost called Trump “brilliant” for his ability to confront political opponents in hostile environments. He said he hopes to one day vote for Trump to succeed his father as president.
“I think he will run eventually and I think he’ll have a good chance,” Provost said.