RNC Spent Nearly $100,000 on Copies of Donald Trump Jr.'s Book

Alexandra Alter and Nicholas Confessore
Donald Trump Jr. disembarks Air Force One upon arrival to General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, July 12, 2019. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

When Donald Trump Jr.’s new book “Triggered” appeared at the top of the New York Times bestseller list this month, a debate erupted over how and why it had claimed the No. 1 spot.

The book, a broad attack on his critics, Democrats and the news media, was published on Nov. 5. The following week, it topped the list. But some skeptics noted that Trump had gotten a boost from his father’s Twitter feed and from the Republican National Committee, which emailed supporters the day the book came out, asking them to purchase signed copies and touting it as the book the “left doesn’t want you to read.”

Others noted a tiny dagger symbol that appeared next to the title on the list, indicating that bulk purchases of the book had boosted its ranking. (Of the 10 nonfiction hardcover titles currently on The Times’ bestseller list, “Triggered” is the only one featuring that symbol.) Some of Trump’s supporters pushed back on social media and anonymously to Fox News, saying that even without bulk sales, “Triggered” would still top the list.

“We haven’t made a large bulk purchase, but are ordering copies to keep up with demand,” Mike Reed, an RNC spokesman, said two days after the fundraising email promoting “Triggered” was sent. “Each book is sold to an individual who supports the Republican Party.”

But a financial disclosure form filed to the Federal Election Commission showed that the RNC paid $94,800 to the bookseller chain Books-A-Million on Oct. 29, a week before the book went on sale. Disclosures filed by the RNC indicate that the payment was for “donor mementos.”

When asked about the disclosure Thursday, Reed confirmed that the money went toward “Triggered” orders, and added that the party committee made additional purchases in November. “The book has been hugely popular,” he said.

Asked about the discrepancy, since the committee previously said it was only ordering copies as supporters requested them, Reed said via email: “We stand by our statement.”

It is difficult to know for sure how many copies of Trump’s book were sold through bulk orders, whether to the RNC or other groups. The Times does not disclose the methodology behind its bestseller lists, and the dagger symbol only indicates that at least some bookstores reported bulk sales.

According to NPD BookScan, which tracks print book sales, “Triggered” has sold more than 115,000 copies as of Nov. 16. Patsy S. Jones, the vice president of marketing for Hachette Book Group Nashville, which published “Triggered” through its imprint Center Street, said that the publisher hasn’t sold in bulk to the RNC and that the company isn’t aware of any third-party purchases.

While it’s not uncommon for books to be sold for fundraising purposes by Republican and Democratic committees, the RNC’s “Triggered” purchase is unusual in that the committee is promoting a book written by a candidate’s son who isn’t a politician and isn’t running for office.

According to a report last month by The Independent Florida Alligator, a student newspaper of the University of Florida, a fundraising consultant working for the RNC and President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign also helped arrange a paid speaking engagement on campus in early October for Trump Jr. (The consultant told The Alligator that she had been helping the president’s son in a “personal capacity.”)

The RNC said that it has raised more than $500,000 from sales of the book, which the younger Trump has been promoting through a nationwide book tour, with stops at Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble stores and the Trump International Hotel. In the 287-page book, which bears the subtitle “How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” he rails against Democrats, saying that their goal was to “make my father and me cower in a corner, curl up in a ball, and die.”

“Triggered” is one of several books by conservatives to land on the bestseller lists recently, along with the “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade’s book “Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers” and Nikki Haley’s “With All Due Respect.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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