Ever since former President Donald Trump was uniformly and permanently banned from social media following his involvement and subsequent reaction following the Jan. 6, 2021, right-wing insurrection at the Capitol Building, his son Donald Trump Jr. has by all appearances taken on the mantle of being his father’s de facto mouthpiece on the internet. 

While the Trump scion had previously aided his father in his past Internet feuds and attacks against Democrats and detractors — as well as his own misinformation campaigns — the younger Trump has ratcheted it up his efforts considerably, which some might speculate could be in purported anticipation of his own foray into politics. Regardless of whether or not this is the case, Don Jr.’s latest target of vitriol is more likely than not linked specifically to the twice-impeached president’s White House legacy, which Don Jr. himself made clear by using an epithet of his own making — one that indicates the ever-growing schism between Trump loyalists and the rest of the Republican party. So who is the latest target of Don Jr., and possibly Donald Trump himself by proxy? And most importantly, why?

Paul Ryan and Liz Cheney were the subject of Donald Trump Jr.'s latest vitriol

In a tweet sent from Donald Trump, Jr.’s account on March 6, 2021, the eldest son of the Trump brood alerted his followers to the latest in the line of Republicans who have opted not to keep with the rank-and-file: retired Republican politician and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The reason? His decision to both unofficially endorse and help fundraise for Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, one of the few Republican House lawmakers who not only voted to impeach Trump during his second House trial in January 2021, but spoke publicly on the matter to the press. 

In his March 6 tweet, Don Jr. lambasted Ryan less than 24 hours after his decision to host a virtual fundraising event for Cheney later this month went public, calling Ryan a “RINO,” an acronym for “Republican in Name Only” and one of the Trump son’s favorite insults to lob against those who he deems are GOP defectors from his father’s overall MAGA-centric political ideology. “You mean to tell me that a pro-war and pro-amnesty RINO who is hated by Republican voters is supporting another pro-war and pro-amnesty RINO who is also hated by Republican voters? I’m shocked!” tweeted Trump, adding that “Liz Cheney and Paul Ryan are a match made in swamp heaven!!!”

Paul Ryan's history with Donald Trump makes his support of Liz Cheney unsurprising

Considering Paul Ryan’s storied history with Donald Trump, the Republican’s move to ally himself with Liz Cheney is unsurprising at best. Despite Ryan tepidly endorsing Trump in 2016 following his GOP primary win in 2016, the then-Speaker of the House quickly distanced himself from the soon-to-be commander-in-chief, albeit quietly, by disinviting Trump from an October 2016 rally in Wisconsin following the infamous Access Hollywood tape leak, in which Trump boasted about groping women, uttering the phrase “grab ’em by the p**sy.”

After stepping down as Speaker of the House in 2018, Ryan finally began to speak publicly and candidly against Trump’s leadership, which, per Ryan, he had tried and failed to course-correct throughout the final two years of his political career, per Vanity Fair. Following Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden in November 2020, Ryan once again took the spotlight after he became one of the first prominent Republicans to denounce Trump’s baseless accusations of voter fraud, which he blamed for Biden’s win.

In a seemingly prophetic statement Ryan made during a 2019 interview with Politico correspondent Tim Alberta, Ryan offered his own prediction on the lasting effects of Trumpism, and how they were more than, at best, diagnostic. “Trumpism is a moment, a populist moment we’re in, that’s going to be here after Trump is gone,” Ryan told Alberta at the time. “And that’s something that we’re going to have to learn how to deal with.”

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