In 2016, I sat down with Donald Trump Jr. during the Republican primary to discuss his passion for the outdoors life on the campaign trail and his desire to be a voice for hunters and anglers on a national scale.
With the 2020 presidential election less than two weeks away, I reconnected with Trump Jr., who has been traveling across the country relentlessly campaigning for his father. Despite his busy schedule, the president’s eldest son took some time for a wide-ranging interview that covered everything from hunting to Hunter Biden.
Like his father, Trump Jr. didn’t hold back: He spoke candidly about the Biden family’s questionable deals and the consequences of the upcoming election, and he even challenged the Democratic nominee’s self-proclaimed blue-collar roots. Trump Jr. also issued a stern warning to the millions of Americans who are gun owners, hunters and anglers: Now is not the time to be complacent.
The following is a transcript of our conversation:
Tom Venesky: “Joe Biden often refers to his blue-collar roots to appeal to middle-class voters. Do you think that’s an accurate portrayal from someone who spent a lifetime as a politician?”
Donald Trump Jr.: “Joe touts those blue-collar roots, but there’s nothing blue-collar about a guy who’s been a senator for 50 years and became one when he was in his 20s. It’s all smoke and mirrors, and that’s what you would get with the Biden administration.
“Joe Biden spent 50 years pushing for [the North American Free Trade Agreement], pushing for [the Trans-Pacific Partnership] and pushing for China’s permanent status on the [World Trade Organization]. Joe Biden has done more destruction to blue-collar jobs than any politician in modern America history. You think he’s going to change that now? No. Hunter Biden today owns 10 percent of a Chinese company that’s taking jobs and American technology out of Michigan and sending them to China. It’s happening today, while Joe Biden is trying to steal Donald Trump’s platform about building in America and bringing back jobs. Donald Trump actually did those things. Joe Biden has been all talk for half a century. Nothing’s going to change now and the corruption I imagine would be much worse if he was president.
“He pretends he’s a blue-collar Joe from Scranton, but he’s been an elected senator since his 20s. Give me a break. Unlike Joe Biden and Hunter, we were actually international business people prior to getting into politics. That’s what we did. Hunter became a businessman when he could leverage his father’s office. Now we see that coming out and the media is doing a full-court press to try and suppress all that information even though they’re not denying that it’s true. We don’t get the benefit of the doubt because we don’t have the mainstream media willing to run cover for us and campaign for us while we hide in our basement in Delaware.”
Venesky: “Like Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the pivotal northeast corner of the battleground state, you also have roots in Pennsylvania.”
Trump Jr.: “I have a farm in Equinunk [in northeastern Pennsylvania]. I have a cabin on the New York side of the Delaware River, and the farmhouse is part of the place we have in Pennsylvania. That’s where I spend my weekends. I shoot long-range there. I fly fish the Delaware River system from the New York and Pennsylvania sides every weekend of the summer. It’s where I snowmobile, ride motocross and ATV. So I’m in PA almost every weekend. Joe Biden likes to tout he’s from Scranton but the reality is he left when he was 10 years old and hasn’t been back since. Joe shows up here once every couple weeks because it’s a convenient drive from Delaware where he’s been a senator for 50 years. Don’t forget, I know we talked about this in 2016, but I went to the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, for five years. I lived there. I went to the University of Pennsylvania. I lived in PA longer than Joe Biden ever did and I still spend my weekends there.”
Venesky: “For those of us who are gun owners, hunters and anglers, how much is on the line with this election?”
Trump Jr.: “Look at the attack on the Second Amendment. They made that very clear. Having Beto O’Rourke as your gun czar is not a moderate position on the Second Amendment. And it’s not just the Second Amendment. You think that these people aren’t going to go after hunting next? The liberal mob? Joe Biden — they’re using him as the camouflage to get that radical mob in there. But you’re not a moderate with Kamala Harris as your vice president, and you’re not a moderate with Beto as your gun czar and you’re not a moderate adopting Bernie Sanders’ platform.
“They’re coming for those rights and those freedoms without question.
“You see what social media does to hunters, outdoorsmen, to shooters. How they’ll suppress that kind of information, attack and try to cancel people who take part in these hobbies. That’s what the left is about right now and that should scare all of us who sportsmen. I see the hate mail I get for being a vocal hunter, for being all about that lifestyle and defending it.
“Look at the Sportsmen for Trump board — some of the biggest hunters in the world like Michael Waddell, Chuck Paddock, Ted Nugent. Look at the Sportsmen for Biden — it’s every person, government bureaucrat that’s ever belonged to a [department of environmental conservation] agency that never held a shotgun in their lives. There’s a difference between real people and government bureaucrats. Real hunters get that difference.”
Venesky: “There’s a Sportsmen for Biden group?”
Trump Jr.: “There is theoretically. It’s literally a couple of bureaucrats and people form these leftist hunting organizations that pretend they’re for hunting but don’t actually do anything for hunters.”
Venesky: “Speaking of that, talk about what your father’s administration has done for hunting, fishing and conservation.”
Trump Jr.: “When we talked in 2016, I said this is what I would be focused on, as it relates to policies that affect outdoorsmen and women.
“Donald Trump opened up 4.1 million acres since then, accessible to hunters. He funded $900 million to buy more lands to get access into landlocked public lands, $740 million to the Great Lakes to save that fishery. Almost $1 billion to save the Everglades and all of the coastal fisheries around Florida. But because Donald Trump did those things, you won’t hear about it. He’s done more for conservation and opened up more public land for access than anyone since [former President Theodore] Roosevelt.”
Venesky: “Those initiatives also benefit the environment as well. Do you feel the Democrats still have the monopoly on environmental issues?”
Trump Jr.: “They don’t have the monopoly at all. Donald Trump did incredible things for those kind of issues, and he does so without trying to destroy your livelihood or business. You can drill and utilize energy resources for Pennsylvania. You can do that responsibly and create jobs.
“Look at the disasters out West with forest management. They don’t want to touch anything, they don’t want you in there, they don’t want you walking on it. They have standing dead timber and allow it to burn. Every year they spend billions of dollars, lives are lost and homes are destroyed because they refuse to manage their forests. Standing dead timber is the worst for the flora and fauna. If you had new growth you could do wonders for all the creatures they’re supposedly trying to help. But they blame the fires on global warming. Since 1860 it’s been a 1.4 degree change in average temperature, that’s according to NASA — 1.4 degrees in 150 years. Really? That caused the fires? Or was it stupid management?
“Think of all the carbon emissions of all the wildfires in the west this year. It’s 50 times what our cars could do when you watch the West burn for three months straight. They pretend they’re the party of science but the reality is they’re not.”
Venesky: “Getting back to hunters, less than half actually vote. If more hunters turned out, could that be a key voting bloc in states like Pennsylvania?”
Trump Jr: “I think you worded that correctly because normally it should be but it never has been, historically. Hunters haven’t voted. They haven’t turned up in numbers. It’s a demographic that’s literally under attack and they don’t even know it.
“I always hear from hunters, ‘I don’t want to mix my politics with my hobby.’ You realize the other side’s hobby is trying to screw with yours? Groups like Hunt to Vote are trying to mobilize hunters to vote their values. Not choosing sides, but vote your values. It should be a big voting bloc but it hasn’t been. I hope hunters recognize that everything they hold near and dear, and the lifestyle they choose to live, is literally under attack from the left. One day they’re going to wake up and they’re not going to have it, and they’re going to be really upset they didn’t vote.”
Venesky: “You obviously have your father’s ear when it comes to hunting and outdoors issues. How important is that for those who enjoy hunting and fishing?”
Trump Jr.: “It means a lot. Hunter Biden has Joe Biden’s ears as it relates to getting shady money from corrupt, foreign countries. But I actually live the lifestyle of an outdoorsmen. It’s what I do. My vacations are spent on an elk hunt. My weekends are spent deer hunting in New York and Pennsylvania. As I told you in 2016, these issues are important to me and it’s what I was going to take part in — while I’m not in the administration, I don’t think anyone’s ever said that I wasn’t willing to be vocal. I think it’s given us the results I said would happen in ‘16. The difference is between ‘16 and now is we’ve actually delivered on those promises.”
Venesky: “With the campaign running nonstop leading up to the election, do you appreciate the time you do spend hunting and fishing even more?”
Trump Jr.: “Yes, 100 percent, but I can’t do it right now with the election. There’s too much at stake and I have to be in the game. Six weeks ago I got in a quick elk hunt out west. Shot a great elk in Colorado with the bow during bow season out there. The rest of my hunting is on hold until Nov. 4. But hunting is an important part of my life. It’s not like these politicians that talk about it once a year, do a pheasant hunt somewhere, borrow a gun and get the picture with their finger on the trigger. For me it’s real.”
Venesky: “On a final note, I heard that you hunted with the Robertson/’Duck Dynasty’ family a while back. Any good stories from that time in the duck blind?”
Trump Jr.: “One of the greatest compliments I got in my life was from Phil Robertson. I was duck hunting with Jase [Robertson] one day, and the next day the first thing Phil said was, ‘Boy, I hear you can shoot.’ If they’re talking about my shooting abilities behind my back, I guess that’s as strong a bona fides I can possibly have in the hunting world. I definitely put on a bit of a clinic for Jase and he was pretty impressed. We had a great time with those guys.
“We had three ducks come in at first light and they said when we say take them, you try and stand up and shoot. I was pretending I didn’t know what was going on. They were looking at me to see what would happen. I shot a triple and then it was all on. From then on it was a pretty solid competition. The kid from NYC can really shoot.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.