Two of President Donald Trump's children recently offered defenses of family nepotism in press interviews.
Speaking from his dad's Trump Tower, Eric Trump explained to Forbes on April 4 that nepotism is part of life:
Nepotism is kind of a factor of life. We might be here because of nepotism, but we’re not still here because of nepotism. You know, if we didn’t do a good job, if we weren’t competent, believe me, we wouldn’t be in this spot.
[My dad is] a guy, no matter where it is, he expects people to perform. And if they’re not performing, he kind of encourages them to go on their way. You know the one thing, Don, Ivanka and I never let him down really in any factor of life. And I think it’s one of the reasons that we’re as innately close as we are.
Robert Jones, a nepotism expert at Missouri State University, told the magazine that it’s very common for people to underplay the impact of privilege: "For most of us who have been given privilege, to some extent we don’t even know it I mean, we’re just not even aware of the opportunities we’re given. And it kind of dawns on us over time if we’ve got our eyes open and are looking for it."
Back in New York City, Eric said that his dad only recently trusted him and his brother, Donald Trump Jr., to take over the Trump organization:
I don’t know if he could have done the presidential thing four years ago. Certainly eight years ago, he couldn’t have. I think we probably would have been too big of question marks for him.
I think in so many of the deals that we’ve done, whether it be kind of all of the golf courses or the wineries or this or that -- and the operations of them and hiring for them, the building of these buildings, the financing of these buildings and everything else that we do on a daily basis, I think hopefully we earned our stripes. And I think that’s ultimately why we’re in the seat we’re in.
Forbes asked Eric what his vision for the Trump empire was, and he explained how the family-run business works:
Where we’re a little bit different is that we’re not a public company. We’re not expected by some little board sitting somewhere to generate X return. … We operate on a different set of principles. If we like something, we’re proud of it, if it’s iconic, then we keep it forever.
So many of the guys that horse trade, it’s because, well, they have to meet their quarterly returns. So they need to put some bucks in the bank. And they need to create liquidity for a new venture that they’re doing. I mean, it’s just a different premise when you’re a family business.
During an interview with "CBS This Morning" on April 5, Ivanka, who went from retail merchandising to White House adviser, was asked how her husband, Jared Kushner, could be a White House senior adviser without any military and political experience.
Ivanka defended her husband's lack of experience -- in this important position -- by pointing to her dad's lack of experience:
So ... a lot of people would say the same about how could somebody successfully win the presidency who had never been engaged in politics? And my father did that, and Jared was instrumental in helping his campaign succeed.
So ... Jared is incredibly smart, very talented, has enormous capacity. He is humble in the recognition of what he doesn’t know, and is tremendously secure in his ability to -- to seek informed viewpoints.
He has an amazing team that my father has built at the White House and that he’s built that’s helping work on each of these initiatives. So, you know, the myth that he’s operating in a silo is -- is just that.