Trumps Play Rough, Don’t They?

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Not long ago, Donald Trump Jr. and his wife Vanessa Trump announced they were divorcing. The divorce appears to be getting acrimonious. For decades Donald Trump used The New York Post as a press tool to pump up his brand and attack enemies. The New York press world and the high octane real estate families who are fodder and enablers of it are all notoriously corrupt. And now – surprise, surprise! – The Post appears to be in the lead with dramatic dirt on Trump’s estranged wife – specifically, that in high school she dated and had a years-long relationship with a member of the Latin Kings, a notoriously violent Latino street gang which is the bigger brother, as it were, of MS-13, the street gang with roots in Central America and among Central American immigrants which Donald Trump endlessly cites as an example of the need for his draconian immigration policies.

As a narrow factual matter, the claim appears to be true. Vanessa Haydon (her maiden name) met Valentin Rivera when she was fifteen. She was from an extremely wealthy New York City family and frequented all the society haunts that go with that. But for five years she carried on a relationship with Rivera as he became more and more deeply involved in the Latin Kings gang and had various run-ins with the law. According to Rivera’s account, she was at least well acquainted with his gang life and even drove him to gang meetings.

Here’s a flavor of the reporting …

At Dwight — where Rivera could frequently be seen at the school gates waiting to pick her up — he gave her a dangerous mystique. Asked what appealed to Vanessa about the gang lifestyle, Rivera said, “Maybe it was the attention she was getting. From her classmates,” he said, “from everybody.” (A Dwight classmate once described Vanessa to New York magazine as “an ill thug.”)

While Vanessa blended in with the Upper East Side set, Rivera told us that after spending time around gang members, she became a little more “rugged” and even “a little cocky.”

“She got into a couple of little catfights,” Rivera told us. “She was pretty jealous,” he said, “as far as other girls and stuff, she let it be known that I was her man.”

You can read the rest here. The relationship ended in 1998 when the Post of all places published a story that Vanessa was dating Leonardo DiCaprio. Yes, that Leonardo DiCaprio. Needless to say, that was 20 years ago. For three of the five years in question, Vanessa Trump was a minor.  She has been married to Donald Trump Jr. for years and they have five children. I don’t want to paint her as a victim here. She’s been part of the Trump viper clan for years. But this is hardball and it’s no accident the Post is coming up with this stuff.

This is the latest in a string of attack pieces the Post has written about Vanessa Trump. It is almost certainly the case that these stories are being pitched to the Post as part of the Trump’s divorce strategy, either as payback or to make her seem like a bad mother or just to leverage the settlement. The Trumps play very rough. They have a longstanding relationship with the Post and its owner Rupert Murdoch. They play rough.