DALLAS — Donald Trump Jr. said he has had virtually no contact with his father since the real estate tycoon and reality star became president and ceded control of his business empire to his oldest sons.
"I basically have zero contact with him at this point," the younger Trump said in a speech at a GOP fundraiser in Dallas on Saturday.
In January, Donald Trump Jr. and his younger brother Eric took the reins at the family's eponymous businesses, after their father resigned his position while maintaining his financial interest. At the time, government ethics officials said the president's move did not go far enough to address concerns about conflicts of interest.
Trump Jr. — who played key roles in both the campaign and the transition — admitted Saturday that he found it hard leaving politics behind, despite the pressures of his new business role.
"I thought I was out of politics after Election Day and [would] get back to my regular life and my family," Trump Jr. said. "But I couldn't."
"Deals are still exciting," he added. "But when you're the sort of guy out there every day, 24-7, fighting in this thing — it's like a great fight."
Trump spoke at the invitation of Doug Deason, a Dallas millionaire and prominent donor to wealthy conservative activists Charles and David Koch. He also served as a trustee on Trump's finance team.
Saturday was the first time that Trump Jr. had publicly dipped his toe back into politics since his father's inauguration. He spoke at the annual Reagan Day dinner in Dallas — a key fundraising event for the local Republican group.
Within 60 seconds of Trump's having left the stage, the MC of the dinner asked for donations, suggesting the group hoped to raise $25,000 just in the time period of the dinner.
The role of Trump's children in his administration has raised questions in the past. His three adult children sat in on meetings with foreign heads of state during the transition, and they remain closely involved in business deals overseas.
Also speaking at Saturday's event was Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, sharing a stage with a member of the Trump family for the first time since he clashed bitterly with candidate Trump during the GOP primaries.
"I saw on TV that [Cruz] had had dinner with my father earlier this week," Trump Jr. told the crowd. "Now, I don't even know if I have to deliver a punch line to that. But it's sort of ironic."
Speaking to an audience of Texans, Manhattan-born Trump Jr. took a swipe at his home state, which voted for Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, 59 percent to 36 percent.
"Texas gave us the funds that we needed," Trump said. "You guys get it. You understand the freedoms ... so many of which we've lost where I come from in the peoples' republic of New York. ... I can say that and mean it because I see it."
He also hailed his father's progress since coming to power.
"I'm watching more take place in two months than I saw in two terms before," he said.