'In a while pedophile': Donald Trump Jr smears Joe Biden with series of baseless social media posts

President's election opponent has never been accused of misconduct with children

Jonathan Martin
Sunday 17 May 2020 17:08 BST
Eric Trump claims coronavirus will 'magically disappear' after the election

Donald Trump’s eldest son on Saturday posted a social media message suggesting Joe Biden was a paedophile, an incendiary and baseless charge that illustrates the tactics the president is turning to as he attempts to erase Mr Biden’s early advantage in key state polls.

Donald Trump Jr, who is one of his father’s most prominent campaign surrogates, posted a picture on Instagram of Mr Biden saying: “See you later, alligator” alongside an image of an alligator saying: “In a while, pedophile.”

When a reporter shared the Instagram post online, the younger Trump, echoing one of his father’s tactics, wrote on Twitter that he was only “joking around” and noted that he had included emojis of a laughing face.

Yet in the same Twitter post, he also reprised his original insinuation. He accused the former vice president of “unwanted touching” alongside a collage of photographs of Mr Biden showing affection for children. The misleading images were mostly taken from public swearing-in ceremonies at the Capitol, where the former vice president warmly greeted politicians and their families.

Mr Biden has been accused by some adult women of inappropriate behaviour but he has never faced any suggestion of misconduct with a child. Mr Trump himself faces roughly two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct, and in the “Access Hollywood” tape from 2005 he bragged about sexually assaulting women and grabbing them by their private parts.

Mr Trump Jr’s inflammatory and baseless claim, which he shared with his 2.8 million Instagram followers, comes as his father and the reelection campaign have sought to weaken Mr Biden and attack other perceived enemies with an onslaught of allegations and insinuations rarely seen in modern elections.

The 73-year-old president has, for example, purchased a series of Facebook ads openly accusing his 77-year-old Democratic rival of being “old and out of it”, as one of them puts it. And the president himself has said much the same, stating on Thursday that Mr Biden “doesn’t know he’s alive”.

Mr Trump’s scorched earth campaign strategy comes as little surprise — he has broken an array of norms during his three years in office. But his offensive has taken on a new urgency as the country reels from the health and economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus, and Mr Biden enjoys a modest lead in the battleground states that will decide the election.

A spokesperson for the president’s campaign did not respond to an email message asking if they condone the younger Trump’s message.

Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for Mr Biden, said: “No repulsive, manipulative tactic will change the subject from how almost 90,000 Americans have paid for Donald Trump’s coronavirus negligence with their lives and how the booming economy he inherited from the Obama-Biden administration is now suffering from Depression-level job losses.”

Mr Trump Jr is affiliated with his family’s real estate business. But he spends much of his time on his father’s political efforts and is ubiquitous on social media, where he often posts barbed memes about Democrats that can go beyond even the president’s accusations and insinuations. The eldest Trump son is also more of a dedicated conservative than his father and often gives voice to some of the more extreme elements of the right.

Further, Mr Trump Jr is something of an early warning system for Republican lines of attack. For months, he has been posting material questioning Mr Biden’s mental acuity and accusing him of being “creepy”, as he wrote again on Saturday.

In an interview with Axios earlier this year, Trump Jr acknowledged his father sometimes calls him to tell him he is being “too aggressive” in his attacks.

But the younger Trump said with a smile that he tells his father he “learned it by watching you” and claimed the president often is more jealous than irritated. “He just wanted the material. He was mad I beat him to the punch.”

The New York Times

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