As the Trump family mourns the death of Robert Trump, Twitter is erupting with petty political squabbles.
US President Donald Trump’s younger brother Robert Trump died Saturday night at age 71, the Trump family has confirmed.
“It is with a heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight. He was not just my brother, he was my best friend. He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again. His memory will live on in my heart forever. Robert, I love you. Rest in peace,” President Trump said in a statement.
White House officials announced on Friday before his passing that Robert had become “seriously ill.” He was reportedly hospitalized in the intensive care unit of a New York hospital for several days in June, according to the Guardian. However, the official cause of Robert’s death has not been confirmed.
The ‘nice Trump’
Like his older brother, Robert Trump was a businessman with an active role in the Trump family empire. The youngest of the five Trump children, Robert began his career on Wall Street before joining the Trump Organization as a top executive.
Gwenda Blair, a Trump family biographer, told the Associated Press that Robert was known as the “nice Trump.” She explained that “Robert was the one people would try to get to intervene if there was a problem.”
The US president, 74, was close with his younger brother. He once described Robert as “much quieter and easygoing than I am” and “the only guy in my life whom I ever call ‘honey,’” according to the Guardian.
The same source added that in his 1987 bestselling book, “The Art of the Deal,” Donald Trump extolled his brother’s loyalty and laid-back demeanor.
“I think it must be hard to have me for a brother but he’s never said anything about it and we’re very close,” President Trump wrote in the book. “Robert gets along with almost everyone, which is great for me since I sometimes have to be the bad guy.”
Robert was bold in his loyalty to his family until the end of his life. In June, he filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family to stop publication of a tell-all book by Mary Trump, the president’s niece.
Though unsuccessful, this attempted lawsuit inspired the headline of the Washington Post’s obituary for Robert Trump.
The right reacts to the Washington Post
The Washington Post stirred controversy with the headline of its report on Robert Trump’s passing. The article is titled “Robert Trump, younger brother of President Trump who filed lawsuit against niece, dies at 71” and categorized as an obituary.
Republican senator Ted Cruz tweeted out his disgust: “This headline, on an “obituary” no less, is sick. WaPo should be ashamed of itself.”
This headline, on an “obituary” no less, is sick. WaPo should be ashamed of itself.
Robert Trump, RIP. pic.twitter.com/5iG4EmmK9D
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 16, 2020
Director and producer Robby Starbuck chimed in, pointing out that the Washington Post called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former leader of ISIS, an “austere religious scholar” when reporting on his death.
“I thought this must be fake. No way they’d run a headline reducing Robert Trump’s life to filing a lawsuit. I was wrong. It’s real,” he tweeted. “They show more respect to a brutal terrorist than our President’s brother. Vile.”
I thought this must be fake. No way they’d run a headline reducing Robert Trump’s life to filing a lawsuit. I was wrong. It’s real. Wash Post called the head of ISIS an “Austere Religious Scholar”. They show more respect to a brutal terrorist than our President’s brother. Vile. pic.twitter.com/fE0evOasIF
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) August 16, 2020
Trump family grieves, Twitter reacts
Donald Trump’s son, Eric Trump, tweeted out his grief. “Robert Trump was an incredible man – strong, kind and loyal to the core. Anyone who encountered him felt his warmth immediately. He will be deeply missed by our entire family,” he wrote.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, also shared a message on Twitter: “Uncle Robert, we love you. You are in our hearts and prayers, always.”
While thousands of users sent prayers to the family and expressed their condolences, others raised suspicion at the fact that Robert’s cause of death has not been publicized.
Some are speculating that the businessman died of COVID-19, which President Trump has notoriously failed to bring under control in the US.
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) August 16, 2020
I think we all know why they aren’t releasing how Robert Trump died.
— The Resistance ?? (@NightlyPolitics) August 16, 2020
What did Robert Trump die from?
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) August 16, 2020
Adding insult to injury, Twitter users and media outlets are also reporting that as Robert lay on his deathbed, Donald golfed with American football player Jay Feely.
Donald Trump was golfing on the day his younger brother Robert Trump died today, and went to the movies when his older brother Fred Trump Jr. died alone. You know, I really don’t want to play politics over this, but my condolences to Robert and Fred for having a horrible brother.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 16, 2020
The President’s brother, Robert Trump, died Saturday in a New York hospital.
Meanwhile in New Jersey, Trump himself was all smiles, golfing with Jay Feely as America’s #COVID19 death toll surged past 172,000 with more than 1,000 new deaths from the virus on Saturday alone. pic.twitter.com/DLGUundEBx
— The Daily Edge (@TheDailyEdge) August 16, 2020
As the Trump family mourns the passing of Robert, US news outlets and social media have unsurprisingly managed to make his death political.
Robert Trump himself is not the target of the mainstream and social media storm. In fact, “#wrongTrump” became a trending hashtag in the US as some social media users used Robert’s death to attack the president.
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) August 16, 2020
— Pauley Teeks (@PauleyTeeks) August 16, 2020
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) August 16, 2020
In response, right-wing Twitter users and politicians have used the #wrongTrump hashtag to hit back at the left.
This is the far left.
They aren’t hiding their extreme views.
— Early Voting Cernovich (@Cernovich) August 16, 2020
I see that #wrongtrump is trending.
Liberalism is a mental disorder.
— Shekinah (@supitsshekinah) August 16, 2020
When our opponents have family die, we send condolences and prayers.
When we have family die, Democrat activists trend #wrongtrump to say that they wish our President had died.
Sadly Leftists have no lines they won’t cross and they prefer us dead. Work hard & win in November!
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) August 16, 2020
I didn’t like Obama, either. He’s a pure traitor to the country. Still…never wished death on him the day one of his family member died. But you keep thinking you’re the party of “love and tolerance” lefties. ?? #wrongtrump
— Mindy Robinson ?? (@iheartmindy) August 16, 2020
Remember how I keep telling you that liberals want you dead?
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) August 16, 2020
The Left is abhorrent.
They praise the death of Robert Trump, only wishing it was the President himself.
We are at war to save our country from them.
Don’t let them win.
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) August 16, 2020
Tellingly, no Democratic politicians have engaged with the #wrongTrump hashtag, instead sending messages of sympathy and condolences. The #wrongTrump tweeters appear to be limited to a fringe group of younger users, but include media figures with substantial followings such as Bill Palmer and David Leavitt, who likely contributed to the hashtag’s momentum.
What appears to have originated as a meme from a subset of anti-Trump netizens with a cruel sense of humor that is all too common in today’s Twittersphere has sadly become cannon fodder for the war of words between right and left.
With the presidential elections mere months away, however, Sunday’s spotlight on the depths of the US political divide is unfortunately not surprising.