EAST HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, said political forces — even within the GOP — were working to undermine his father’s administration, and he urged voters in Montana to send more Republicans to Washington who can help advance the Trump White House’s agenda.
“We need more people in D.C. to help my father,” he said during a rally in East Helena, Montana, to stump for a wealthy Republican vying in a May 25 special election to become the state’s only representative in the U.S. House. The post became vacant when Ryan Zinke joined President Donald Trump’s administration as Interior secretary.
“The deck is really stacked. It’s stacked against us — by the way, even from people in our own party — we’ve all seen that,” Trump Jr. said in a red barn converted into an events center.
It was the second trip for Trump Jr. to Montana in recent weeks, as national and Montana Republicans shore up support for Gianforte, a Bozeman businessman who has campaigned to help the president drain the Washington swamp.
Two protesters were forced out of the rally after one of them, Mark Girdler of Helena, disrupted Trump Jr. while the president’s son excoriated the news media as “dishonest.”
“How about your dad’s tax returns? I’d like to see them,” the protester shouted, amid jeers from the crowd of about 300.
Trump Jr. responded saying that the president made $150 million and paid $45 million in taxes, noting the 2005 tax returns obtained and published in March by MSNBC. The tax returns obtained by “The Rachel Maddow Show” indicated the president paid $38 million in taxes on earnings of $150 million.
“I want to see all his tax returns,” Girdler said in an interview afterward. “I want to see to what extent he has foreign financial dealings. I’m especially concerned about his Russia ties.”
Girdler called himself a reluctant supporter of Democrat Rob Quist.
At times, Quist has attempted to focus the campaign on the Trump administration’s alleged ties to Russia by questioning Gianforte’s investments in index funds that include Russian firms under sanction by the U.S. government because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Gianforte’s campaign has scoffed at suggestions that he had any direct ties to the Russian government.
At their stop in East Helena, Trump and Gianforte touted their support for gun rights, which has become a central theme in the Bozeman entrepreneur’s campaign. They tried to cast Quist as out of touch with Montana’s conservative values while drawing financial support from liberals from the East and West coasts.
With two weeks left in the campaign, Gianforte and Quist are hoping to harness the star power of the country’s political elites to help draw voters to the polls and more cash into their campaign coffers. Libertarian Mark Wicks is also running for the seat.
Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak to Gianforte supporters at a 6 p.m. rally on Friday at the MetraPark pavilion in Billings. Before the campaign event, the vice president is expected to visit the Westmoreland Coal Company’s Absaloka Mine on the Crow Indian Reservation, as well as take part in a “business listening session,” his office announced.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who won Montana in last year’s Democratic primary against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, plans to visit the state in support of the Quist campaign. Details of that visit, however, have yet to be announced.