|Donald Trump Jr. and his "best seller"|
The Republican National Committee's bulk purchase of Donald Trump Jr.'s new book apparently is the primary reason the author occupies the No. 1 spot on The New York Times' prestigious best-sellers list. It also points to possible fund-raising fraud and campaign-finance violations, both of which could have criminal implications -- and it suggests members of the Trump family are incapable of achieving anything in a straightforward, honest fashion. In other words, Trump Jr.'s book probably is a total piece of crap, but his cronies can help buy him the designation "best-selling author."
We have covered this issue before in numerous posts (see here, here, and here), especially as it relates to former Missouri secretary of state and U.S. Senate candidate Jason Kander -- and efforts to buy a "best-selling author" spot for his wife, Diana. Jason Kander's political career seems to have stalled after he withdrew from the Kansas City mayoral race in fall 2018, citing depression and PTSD from his stint in the military. Sources tell Legal Schnauzer the real reason for the withdrawal likely is because he had been outed, via a citizen whistle blowers' document called The Kander Memo, as having ties to various forms of fraud.
That brings us back to the subterfuge behind Donald Trump Jr.'s sudden status as a major literary figure. From a report at the International Business Times:
After strenuously denying for the past two weeks it didn't do so, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has admitted to buying thousands upon thousands of copies of Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us, written by Donald Trump Jr., and released November 5.
That's bulk sales by any standard and confirms the wisdom of The New York Times in attaching a dagger (†) to the book's title. As the Times explained, the dagger indicates its belief Don Jr.'s book made its way onto its bestseller list in a way that seems “suspicious." In this case, many of Triggered's sales appear to come from bulk purchases and not individual sales.
Triggered is the top-selling hardcover on the Times' nonfiction list this week for the second straight week. It debuted on the nonfiction list last week at number one.
The RNC's bulk buying of Triggered was revealed in a new campaign-finance filing
What does the campaign-finance filing reveal, what about the content of Trump Jr.'s book, and is the RNC's bulk purchase really fooling anyone in the book community? From a report at Business Insider:
Trump Jr.'s book Triggered, released on November 5, is partly a memoir and partly a scathing list of grievances against the left and the Democratic Party, which Trump Jr. casts as victimizing his father's presidency and his family.
Triggered debuted at the top of the next week's New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction, with an important caveat: a dagger symbol indicating a large percentage of the book's sales came from "institutional, special interest, group, or bulk purchases."
"It's known in the industry as the 'deadly dagger,'" a source told Page Six. "A rare penalty that is only called for flagrant fouls."
In a new filing with the Federal Election Commission, the RNC revealed it spent $94,800 at Books-A-Million just a few days before Triggered was released. The RNC told The New York Times' Nick Confessore that they "haven't made a large bulk purchase, but are ordering copies to keep up with demand" of Triggered.
Did RNC donors intend for their funds to be used for propping up Donald Trump Jr. on the best-sellers list? The answer probably is no, and that's how criminal charges could enter the picture.
The Kander Memo provides insight about such schemes, which are based on inside knowledge about the book-publishing industry.
In 2014, when the Kanders embarked on this scheme, they calculated that if the wife of a U.S. Senate candidate was a "New York Times Bestselling Author," then this prestige could boost her husband's political campaign and help him win a U.S. Senate seat. It is a "dirty little secret" in the U.S. book-publishing industry that a new author can buy his or her way onto America's most prestigious bestseller lists. It is a scheme that costs between $150,000 and $300,000, depending on certain circumstances. The money is used to buy the author's new book in strategic, large-bulk units -- bulk purchases timed shortly after the new book is officially released.
Some people think if you spend your own money to buy your way onto a bestseller list, then it is not illegal. That's incorrect, but it's beside the point. By seeking to fund their scheme by soliciting online public donations via their "crowd-sourcing" campaign, the Kanders scheme of 2014 clearly crosses the criminal line -- in fact, several criminal lines.
For details, we turn to an October 2016 Legal Schnauzer post:
According to The Kander Memo, the book effort likely violated solicitation-registration and felony anti-fraud statutes in every U.S. jurisdiction -- federal and state. It also likely violated statutes in all 50 states that make it a crime to commit, or attempt to commit, theft by deceit. From the memo:
[This] is not only an audacious and shameless scheme, it is a patently criminal scheme . . . a "50-state crime spree."
Word that Donald Trump Jr. is a best-selling author might best be placed under one of his father's favorite categories -- "Fake News!" From the UK Guardian:
The book is believed to have sold more than 115,000 copies, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks physical print sales in the US. The RNC said $500,000 had been raised from sales of the book. When it debuted in the bestseller list, Trump Jr tweeted: “Thanks Deplorables! You’re the best.”
This is not the first time claims have been made about sales of Trump Jr’s book being inflated. The New York Times bestseller list marks books with a dagger if retailers report there have been bulk sales, which it did for Triggered. When it topped the chart, it was the only book in the top 10 list to feature the dagger.
The Hachette imprint Center Street, which published the book, has previously said that it did not “have knowledge of third-party book purchases”. The book’s launch was marred when Trump Jr was heckled at one of his own events for refusing to take part in a Q and A session.
Is Triggered anything more than glorified -- and expensive -- toilet paper? A couple of reviewers have dubbed junior's work as "a litany of trolling and insults worthy of his father":
In Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence US, the eldest son of the US president blasts a high-pitched rant against American liberals who he accuses of turning the country into a socialist monument to political correctness.
The US government has been infected with antisemitism, Donald Trump Jr writes in the 294-page book . . . “Angry mobs” are now in charge of major media outlets, political correctness has taken hold and “we have completely ceded control of what we can and cannot say in public to the left”.
The author dedicates Triggered to “the Deplorables”, a reference to Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated portrayal of Trump supporters during the 2016 presidential election. “I am proudly one of you,” he writes.
But a more accurate description of the book, a copy of which has been obtained ahead of publication by the Guardian, might be that it reveals its author to be every bit as devoted to partisan trolling, childish insults and grudge-holding as his father in the Oval Office. Even the title, Triggered, is designed to make the veins on the foreheads of liberals pulsate.
No one should be surprised that Trump Jr., like his father, has problems with facts, but he fires insults left and right. Write the Guardian reviewers:
Trump Jr tells readers he did not set out in writing Triggered to offend anyone. Which is surprising, as he does such a good job at precisely that.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is a “feeble old fool” at the head of a “crooked investigation”; conservative commentator Bill Kristol is a rat; the Squad of four left-wing congresswomen that includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, should be renamed “Hamas caucus”; George W Bush is a loser like Romney.
As for CNN, the news channel that the US president has made his media whipping boy, its newscasters are nothing less than “full of shit”.
Historians of the Trump era are unlikely to find much solid material to mine within Triggered. Though the author follows his father’s protocol in attacking the former FBI director James Comey, he barely mentions what he calls “the infamous Trump Tower meeting … which supposedly exposed me as a Russian spy”.
In that meeting, on 9 June 2016, Trump Jr, his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and the campaign chair, Paul Manafort, met a Russian lawyer with links to the Kremlin who said she could offer dirt on Hillary Clinton. Nor does Trump Jr discuss his infamous reply to an email setting up the meeting: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
He also – like his father – appears to play a little fast and loose with the facts.
Trump Jr accuses Comey of alerting the press to the supposed importance of the Steele dossier, a file of opposition research on links between Trump and Moscow, after briefing the president-elect about it. But in doing so, he misstates the date – by a year.
“All [Comey] had to do,” he writes, “was hand the phoney dossier to the president-elect during an official visit and then leak the visit to the press. Presto chango! In that moment on January 7, 2016, the dossier went from a pile of garbage to a document in an official intelligence briefing.”
In fact, the FBI came into possession of the Steele dossier on 9 December 2016, when the Republican senator John McCain handed it to Comey. Concerned about Russia’s untroubled response to sanctions imposed by Barack Obama, and knowing the media had copies of the dossier, Comey and other officials briefed the White House about it on 5 January 2017.
Comey then briefed Trump on 6 January 2017, an encounter that would stay out of the public sphere until it was described in Comey’s own book, A Higher Loyalty. Buzzfeed, which obtained the dossier from a McCain aide in December 2016, published it in full on 10 January.
We will give the final word to Jezebel, which does a splendid job of skewering Trump Jr.'s literary efforts:
Don Jr. is many things—a hunter, a lover of big fish, a failson, and now... a New York Times best-selling author. Triggered, his useless paean to uselessness, has wiggled its way to the top of the much-vaunted Times bestseller list, but there’s a big ole caveat—according to the Times, a lot of the book’s sales were from bulk orders, which indicates that “the author or someone associated with the author bought a substantial number of copies.”
Color me extremely shocked that a man from an extremely scam-happy, corrupt family is in all likelihood gaming an easily gamed system! As Electric Literature wrote in 2018, the Times is well aware that authors often find ways to juice their sales, and in particular, authors of books with a more conservative bent. And a book that’s made it to the Times list largely through bulk sales is marked with a dagger, what one book industry source told Page Six is called the “the deadly dagger” and a “rare penalty that is only called for flagrant fouls.”