A family friend says Trump's scientist uncle would have been 'horrified' at what the president has done

A family friend says Trump's scientist uncle would have been 'horrified' at what the president has done
President Donald J. Trump, joined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, left, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Stephan Monroe, associate director of the CDC, right, speaks with reporters during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Friday, March 6, 2020, in Atlanta. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
News & Politics

During the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has often been mocked by his critics as unscientific. But that doesn’t mean that everyone in his family fits that description: his uncle, the late John G. Trump, was an accomplished scientist who taught physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The president likes to think that he has inherited his uncle’s intellect.

"My uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT," Trump has said. "Good genes, very good genes."

Recently, while speaking at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters and discussing the coronavirus pandemic, Trump brought up his uncle again.

"You know my Uncle was a great — he was at MIT," he said. "He taught at MIT for a record number of years. He was a great super genius, Dr. John Trump."

He added: "I like this stuff.  I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, 'How do you know so much about this?' Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for President."

However, journalist Michael Kranish — in an article for the Washington Post — delves into what John G. Trump (who died in 1985) might have thought of his nephew’s assertions on medical and scientific matters.

Trump has given people in the medical community a great deal to criticize recently — from suggesting that household disinfectants could be used to treat coronavirus to aggressively hyping hydroxychloroquine as a possible COVID-19 treatment. And according to John Van de Graaff (whose father, scientist Robert Van de Graaff, was John G. Trump’s business partner), “The John Trump I knew would have been horrified.”

John Van de Graaff told the Post, “He would have been distressed by a great deal of what President Trump has done. He would have said, ‘Look at the science.’”

Edward Fenner, who spent five years working on a research paper for York University of Canada on the John G. Trump/Robert Van de Graaff partnership, commented on how little the president has in common with his uncle.

“What strikes me most is how different [President Trump] is from his uncle,” Fenner told the Washington Post. “I wish his uncle was alive to inspire the president a little bit. I think he would have been shocked and horrified at his reckless statements.”

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