Like Father, Like Son: Eric Trump's Bizarre Interview on 'CBS This Morning'

Eric Trump, left, spoke on his father's behalf on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday. Carlo Allegri

It is impossible to trump Donald Trump when it comes to the interview as performance art, but the Republican presidential candidate's second son, Eric, came awfully close Tuesday on CBS This Morning. In any other campaign it would have been the most surreal moment of the day, but who knew that Pop would be given a Purple Heart from a veteran later that same morning and quip, "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart; this was much easier."

Eric Trump, 32, appeared in studio in the morning show's opening hour with co-hosts Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell. You should watch the video for yourself, but allow me to provide detailed analysis of what may best be described as "acute Trumpism."


Eric Trump notes that "presidential politics" are "absolutely ruthless," which prompts Rose to interject that "Gold Star families [such as the parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq] are not ruthless." Trump concurs, saying, "By the way, there's no question, you see anyone who dies for their nation, dies for the three of us at this table, made the ultimate sacrifice.…"

Trump is staring directly at Rose and O'Donnell as he says "the three of us," but King is clearly seated at the large, circular table. Perhaps his peripheral vision is off? (In an earlier generation, this could have prevented him from serving in the armed forces.) We'll just let that sit there for a few minutes.


Trump: "For my father, in terms of the Khan family, it's not about a soldier who's an amazing guy; my father even said that during the interview: 'It sounds like he's an amazing guy.'" We hate to go all on this, but in interviews with both George Stephanopoulos on ABC and Sean Hannity of Fox News, Donald Trump never described Khan in those terms. The closest he came was to say that Khan's father, Khizr, "probably looked like a nice guy to me."


King breaks into the interview, asking, "Eric, is there no one on team Trump that says...maybe we should apologize, maybe we should tone it down?" Trump replies, "Gayle, my father called him a hero on so many, on so many different occasions." Did he, though?

Trump called Captain Khan a "hero" in a written statement released Saturday evening, but in rallies in both Columbus, Ohio, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Monday, he never mentioned Khan once.

2:44— 3:24

Trump: "I also find it ironic that you have Pat Smith, who is the mother of one of the Benghazi...soldiers that died in Benghazi, who spoke at our convention...between all the news networks, she got 70 seconds of airtime. The Khan family has gotten hours and hours of airtime, and what's ironic about that is that Hillary left them on the roof in Benghazi. It was Hillary's policy that crippled Syria and Libya and Iraq...."

At this point, O'Donnell joins the fray: "Eric, Eric, one of the things is that when Pat Smith actually spoke at the Republican Convention, your dad actually called in to Bill O'Reilly, and so the channel switched to your dad calling in to Bill O'Reilly, so it wasn't even covered on Fox because of that."


O'Donnell asks Trump, "Would your father be willing to apologize [to the Khans] and move on?" Trump replies, "That's a great question for him, and I think he has [apologized] by calling them a hero." Again, Donald Trump has yet to mouth the words hero and Khan in the same sentence since Khizr Khan unleashed his invective against him on the last night of the Democratic Convention. Even if he had, Eric Trump appears here to understand the meaning of "apology" no better than his father does the word "sacrifice."


Trump continues: "In terms of the one question, whether we've made a sacrifice, I think my father has. Now that's certainly not the ultimate sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice is a soldier dying for this nation and dying to protect the three of us; there's no question about it."

Once again, "the three of us." Is Eric Trump simply poor at addition here, or is he excluding one of the four people seated at the table? Is he omitting himself or is he omitting one of the CBS show's co-hosts, and if so, which one and why? Is this bad math or something more insidious?


"Who tells your father he's wrong?" Rose asks, interrupting Trump in the midst of a dissertation on politics. King chuckles. "Who tells him he's wrong?"

"We can tell him he's wrong," Trump answers.

"When is the last time you told him he was wrong?" Rose presses.

"Oh, listen, we do it respectfully," Trump says, "and we go back and forth as a family. And I think that's actually the benefit of having kind of children be part of this process—"

"Do you think he's wrong on this?" King asks.

"I think this is something that, honestly, was blown hugely out of proportion," Trump replies, "because he first of all said that the Khan family looked like amazing people in that interview, for which whatever reason nobody wants to get reported. He called him a hero on so many different times."

Once more, Donald Trump never said that, nor did he attribute any traits to the family as a whole. He said that Khizr Khan "probably looked like a nice guy to me." And as for Captain Khan being called a "hero," it is only "so many different times" if you read the written statement multiple times.


Rose notes that producers are telling him to wrap it up, so he asks one last question: "With respect to, um, Roger Ailes question and with respect to Ivana [sic; he meant Ivanka] and what he would advise her, um, does your father stick by what he said or does he think that perhaps a better answer would be that it ought to be brought to the attention of Human Resources and other things that we could do with respect to sexual harassment in the workplace?"

"There is no question," replies Trump. "There is no question that obviously it should be addressed and it should be addressed strongly, and hey, listen, we all run a company. My father runs a company. You know, we take this—that is an absolute no-go anywhere, and that's very much the case."

Good. Stop there.

"I think what he was saying is, you know, Ivanka is a strong, you know, powerful woman," Trump continues.

No. Don't. Please don't.

"She wouldn't allow herself to be, you know, objected [sic] to it," Trump says. "And by the way, you should certainly take it up with Human Resources, and I think she definitely would as a strong person. At the same time, I don't think she would allow herself to be subjected to that."

Ivanka Trump, 34, does in every way seem to be a role model and a woman of fortitude. Of course, what her younger brother failed to acknowledge is that few women in the workplace have either the luxury of working at their father's company or of knowing that they could quit a job where they were being harassed and afford to never have to work again.