Trump Jr.

JOHN RAOUX/AP PHOTO

In this June 18, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. throws hats to supporters at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Orlando.

The Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO — The shout of “2024!” from the crowd was unmistakable. It stopped Donald Trump Jr. cold.

President Donald Trump’s eldest son had been in the midst of a humor-laced screed in which he decried Joe Biden as too old and Elizabeth Warren as too liberal and insisted his father’s 2016 campaign was too disorganized to possibly collude with the Russians. As many in the crowd of several hundred laughed, Trump Jr. held a dramatic pause before exclaiming his response:

“Let’s worry about 2020 first!” he yelled.

The son has become the prime warmup act for the father at political rallies, often appearing more than an hour before the president speaks, another bombastic provocateur who revels in the tribal loyalty of the supporters who pack Trump rallies. It is a call to arms to a fawning crowd and Donald Jr. has become a master preacher.

The “2024” call from the audience at a San Antonio convention center room on Tuesday underscored the rising stardom of the president’s eldest son, who has become the swaggering embodiment of the “Make America Great Again” ethos.

By far the presidential scion with the closest connection to conservative voters, Trump Jr. is already playing a key role in his father reelection effort, especially in strongly Republican districts. But where he was once under the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller, now he is drawing criticism for seemingly hypocritical attacks on another son of a famous politician.

And he doesn’t seem to care at all.

By far the most outspoken of his siblings, Trump Jr. has never shied away from a political fight, even when it leads some to question his own sense of self-awareness.

He has been one of the loudest critics of Biden’s son Hunter, suggesting that Hunter Biden only had opportunities in other countries, including Ukraine, because of family connections.

“When you’re the father and your son’s entire career is dependent on that, they own you,” Trump Jr. told Fox News this past week.

Some critics could not resist noting that Donald Trump Jr. shares both the first and last names of a man who gave him his high-paying corporate job and elevated his standing during the 2016 presidential campaign. It was the president’s push for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens that prompted House Democrats to launch an impeachment investigation.

Trump Jr. has pushed back, suggesting that his criticism of Hunter Biden was not for having a famous father, but rather for trading access to his father’s office to enrich himself. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Hunter Biden told ABC this past week that while his decision to take the job was not unethical, it showed “poor judgment.” But he also made clear that “Trump Jr. is not somebody that I really care about.”

Trump Jr. declined a request for an interview for this story.

He is unbowed and unapologetic, and his approach appears to mirror his father’s combative defiance toward the controversies that swirl around the White House and the Trump family.

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