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Trump Jr. says John James is 'all for' the president's agenda

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Donald Trump Jr. said during a virtual fundraiser for Republican candidate John James on Monday that he is "all for" his father's agenda and would implement it if elected to the U.S. Senate. 

The statement contrasts with remarks by James, who says he's willing to disagree with the president when he's wrong on policy.

Donald Trump Jr., right, and Kimberly Guilfoyle hold up an "I love John James" sign during a rally in 2018.

Trump Jr., who previously campaigned in Michigan for James, warned supporters on the video conference call that the media would try to pit President Donald Trump and James against one another to make voters doubt their support for one another, according to a recording of the fundraiser obtained by The Detroit News.

"This is the nonsense that we will be living the next six months, so I can assure everyone that John is all for the agenda. He understands it. He’s going to implement it, and he’s going to be an incredible United States senator," Trump Jr. said.

James, a businessman from Farmington Hills, responded in part by saying the president's agenda "lines up closely with what’s best for Michigan." 

"That is, when you’re talking about things that benefit Michigan, when you’re talking about things that align with Michigan, like protecting religious freedom, holding China accountable, deregulation, repatriating American jobs, USMCA, and there’s a long, long list," James said. 

Then Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James speaks during a campaign rally in October 2018

He is running for U.S. Senate for a second time after losing to U.S Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, by 6.5% of the vote in 2018.

James, a U.S. Army veteran, now aims to defeat U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, in the fall. He has outraised Peters in recent fundraising quarters.

The fundraiser remarks come amid reports that James is distancing himself from Trump on certain issues after saying during his 2018 campaign that he supported Trump's agenda "2,000 percent."

A recent Politico report said James privately told black community leaders that he disagrees with the president on issues including "cutting Great Lakes funding to ‘----hole countries’ to speaking ill of the dead." 

James later told The Detroit News that he's been making similar remarks about being able to disagree with Trump for "years."

“When the president is right on what he’s doing for Michigan, I’ll support him," James told The News on May 9. "And when I disagree with him, I will let him know. It benefits the state of Michigan to have that perspective and that voice.”

Abby Walls, a spokeswoman for James, said that, "unlike Gary Peters, John James will do what is best for Michigan."

"Gary Peters votes for the liberal agenda of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer nearly 100% of the time," she said. "John James will agree with his party when they’re doing what’s best for Michigan, and will stand up to them when they aren’t.”

The Michigan Democratic Party slammed James for fundraising with the president's son, saying it was a "flip flop." 

"John James can’t stop trying to have it both ways,” party spokeswoman Elena Kuhn said. “After taking heat for talking out both sides of his mouth, James’ move to rake in campaign cash with Trump Jr. is a clear indication of where his loyalty really stands — 2,000% with Donald Trump not with Michigan families.”

During Monday's fundraiser with Trump Jr., James stressed the benefit of having a businessman in the White House because he understands that "livelihoods are at stake."

"Those are things that line up with the Motor City and with the state of Michigan that have automotive and agriculture that have been decimated by over-regulation and people who have no idea what they’re doing," James said.

"We have a president who is actually moving manufacturing plants back into the state of Michigan and has stuck up for our farmers and ranchers. So, as I’ve said before, and as Don just said here, the agenda lines up closely with what’s best for Michigan."

The James fundraiser via Zoom on Monday afternoon was advertised as a $1,000 donation for the "VIP table" and $100 for town hall attendees, according to a copy of the invitation. 

Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016 by 10,704 votes in 2016, becoming the first Republican to carry the state since 1988. 


Staff Writer Craig Mauger contributed.