One theory for Donald Trump’s recent surge in the polls is that the Republican nominee has gotten better at staying on message. But sometimes the apple does far fall from the tree, because Donald Trump Jr. has not proven quite so deft.
Trump Jr. has committed a pair of notable gaffes in the last 24 hours. First, during a meeting with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he delivered a perfect example of a Kinsley gaffe—when a politician or surrogate accidentally tells the truth. There has been a steady and growing drumbeat of questions about why Donald Trump won’t release his tax returns, and Trump Jr. explained it this way: “Because he's got a 12,000-page tax return that would create … financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from (his father's) main message.”
In other words, in the face of suggestions that Donald Trump won’t release his tax returns because something in them could be politically damaging, his son admitted that Trump won’t release his tax returns because something in them could be politically damaging.
The second is perhaps less meaningful but more surprising. Speaking to a Philadelphia-area talk radio station, Donald Jr. said:
The media has been her number one surrogate in this. Without the media, this wouldn’t even be a contest, but the media has built her up. They’ve let her slide on every indiscrepancy, on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing. If Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now.
It was that last phrase—“warming up the gas chamber”—that immediately caught attention, since it comes across as a casual Holocaust joke. Such humor is stunning territory, even for a campaign that has dulled the nation’s sense with a deluge of such comments. Donald Jr. might get more benefit of the doubt if not for his track record: appearing on a white-supremacist radio show in May (he said he was unaware of the host’s views), retweeting white supremacists, and passing along their Pepe memes.