Who’s up? Who’s down? Who can get Dad on the phone even when John Kelly is trying to hide it in the protective camouflage of a bed of kale? Who’s earning a punitive exile to negotiate the licensing agreement of the new Trump Sewage Treatment Plant & Casino in Baku after an insufficiently vigorous Fox News appearance? And who’s angrily jabbing a fork into a mail-order-quality hunk of steak cooked to bulletproof perfection, screaming at a bank of 60-inch L.C.D. panels broadcasting the smirking face of Jake Tapper as he ruins a nice meal with yet another breaking Fake News headline?
These Power Rankings are not meant to reflect every heart-quickening blip in our ruined, supercharged news cycle. They are just an incredibly precise accounting, both exacting science and gut-checking art, of the relative fortunes of the various members of the Trump Family Extended Universe. N.B.: the world may be a different place by publication time. Buckle up, friends.
1. Donald J. Trump (“Dad”; last week: 1)
Le Emmanuel and the Donald: it’s a whirlwind bromance that will live in the annals of photo-op diplomacy. Absolutely giddy that the king of France (ssshh, don’t tell him!) would take some time out of his busy schedule of tending the topiary at Versailles (sshhh, don’t tell him!) to join him for a few days at the Off-Season White House, the president clasped his dearest and most sincere new friend by the hand and tackled every treacherous stair and vertiginous incline with sure-footed abandon, confident his continental bestie would never let him stumble. They romped through the gardens, with the president expertly deflecting every attempt to ruin their idyll with talk of climate accords or very unfair nuclear deals with high-level catting about whatever Angela Merkel’s deal is. They feasted on a state-dinner menu hand-picked by the First Lady herself, with a Washingtonian take on a Louisiana staple that received rave reviews for its unconventional flavor profile, which included some respectful, whispered-in-BFF-confidence POTUS fashion commentary on “Melania’s crazy fucking hat, what the hell is she trying to do to me with that thing?”
But alas, eventually the visit would end, and scores would need to be settled, burgeoning Special Relationship be damned. Trump exacted his dish-served-cold payback for last year’s humiliating handshake-contest defeat with both a sneak-attack yank-and-kiss rematch and a dandruff-brushing dominance display, the latter a brutally transparent attempt at a P.U.A.-style negging of his “perfect” counterpart.
And Macron, the memory of that unwelcome grooming still lingering somewhere in the back of his mind, gave a speech before Congress that took a snow blower to the unsightly heaps of Trumpist policy-flakes accumulating on America’s collective shoulders. (You know, the little stuff, like backing out of the Iran accord, destroying the planet, yada yada.) Will there be a chilling effect on the friendship? Will Trump’s late-night calls to Macron’s royal suite in the penthouse of the Eiffel Tower (sshhh, don’t tell him!) go unanswered? Will the shoulder rubs at the next meeting ebb in intensity? We shall see.
Tweets thanking Kanye West for recognizing their mutual dragon energy and/or featuring signed MAGA merch and/or having the effect of making Twitter completely unusable forever: 2
2. Melania Trump (last week: 4)
Where to start? FLOTUS’s conspicuous solo appearance at Barbara Bush’s funeral, where she was observed in humiliating rebuke of her husband’s most cherished grudge by seeming to enjoy Barack Obama’s company? (Was that—gasp—a smile? She’s maintained to Donald that she is medically incapable of smiling, even getting Dr. Ronny to write her a very official-seeming diagnostic note with a triple-underlined frowny face on it.)
How about that queasy-making, nationally televised rejection of Donald’s attempts at hand-holding, which plays in close-up like an unbearably tense Planet Earth segment on the fatal mating ritual of the ultra-rare Orange Smothering Spider?
We’re going to have to stop right there. It’s too much. You can tell by the quiver of dread in Sir David Attenborough’s voice-over that the spider’s prey never stood a chance.
3. Ivana Trump (“The First Wife”; last week: n/a)
Which of the following are actual quotes from Ivana Trump’s recent chat about the First Family with Page Six?
“It’s a long time ago now, so I think Vanessa knew it all along and maybe she just couldn’t get over the hurt to forgive him. But I honestly don’t know that many men who can keep their zippers up.”
“[Donnie Jr.] knows with Vanessa he made a mistake so I would not punish him anymore. He has enough of the problem as it is and five kids to raise.”
“Honestly, I prefer that [Melania’s] in [the White House rather than me]. I like to do what I want to do and like to go wherever I want to go with whomever I want to go.”
“I have secretly hand-picked every American president since L.B.J. No one knows it, but I guess they do now. Maybe I pick better next time, who knows?”
“I would prefer if [Ivanka] would [move back to] New York. Politics is a very dirty business.”
“Lara, I never thought she would have many children because she’s very slim and she runs in the marathons and things like that.”
Real: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
Fake: 4, probably
4. Ivanka Trump (“The Favorite”; last week: 2)
It’s nice to get a little bit of a breather. At this time last week, Ivanka was up in New Hampshire, making sure the regular, hard-working folks on Main Street were enjoying the hot bag of dimes her father’s tax cut delivers to their windowsills every payday. But now she’s been afforded the luxury of enough scheduling room to tackle one of her pet causes: eliminating the hidden economic scourge of onerous hair-stylist licensing. Free the clippers, people.
5. Jared Kushner (“The Portfolio”; last week: 3)
We’ve watched this video dozens of times. Dozens. And still, on every replay, our brain deceives us into believing the possibility that he will turn out to be a cardboard standee. That Ivanka will grab him by those slim shoulders and twist him toward the camera for the big reveal: check out my Flat Jared, suckers! You been Javank’d!
But the trick is always on us. The chamber music swells, flags flutter in the background, the bows of the string section dance in unison. We clench in anticipation of the delicious moment that never comes, and instead: boom, head turn, real live Jared. And we press play again.
Current Over/Under for Javanka’s Attempted Return to Manhattan Society Like Nothing Ever Happened: 10 weeks
6. Donald J. Trump Jr. (“Donnie Jr.”; last week: 5)
Listen to that sound. Can you hear it? That low rumbling coming from an indeterminate point in the distance? Open your window. Turn off all your devices. Listen once more. You can hear it now. It’s the Earth herself heaving out a sigh, shuddering with a tectonic disappointment that travels in bummed-out waves from core to crust.
“Donnie Junior,” she whispers, “is at it again.”
7. Scott Pruitt (“Spending Scotty”; last week: n/a)
Oh, Scotty. Scotty, Scotty. The boss loves how brazen you are, the cartoon stink-lines of corruption rising off your suit, the dollar signs twirling in your impish eyes as you gin up more “security concerns” to justify taking the space shuttle from D.C. to pick up your dry cleaning from the “safe” place you love in Bethesda. (Private cabin only; a mouthy fucking astronaut once wisecracked that he wanted to invest in real estate on Mars, but was worried you’d find a way to poison the red off it if there were a buck to be made. Never again.) There’s a style in the unapologetic way you work the grift that the big man admires. That $43,000 phone booth! He’s mad he didn’t think of that one himself. Can he tweet from inside it?
But it’s getting tougher to look the other way, what with the ethics hearings and the near-daily Times exposés of your shenanigans driving so many negative headlines. While the president is out there starting yet another “drain the swamp” chant, you’re leading the Bog Preservation Society marching band out of the burbling lake of muck behind him, tubas shooting wads of deregulation-horny lobbyist cash into the air like waterlogged confetti. The optics are, um, not the best. This can’t go on forever. Or maybe it can! Magic phone booths and below-market-rate rowhouses and Atlantis rides for everybody! Spread the blame, baby!
8. Michael Cohen (“Cousin Mikey”; last week: 9)
In the minus column, whoops, there’s a lot to unpack. Pleading the fifth in the Stormy Daniels case doesn’t look amazing when a certain someone said a certain something about a certain amendment:
Fingers crossed that they’ll be able, for the first time ever, to bear the shaming force of a well-documented contradiction.
“Trump Distances Himself from Cohen’s Legal Troubles” also probably isn’t the story he wants right now, especially the part where the bossman devoted a nice chunk of his Fox & Friends rant time to disavowing any connection to Three-Client Mikey’s businesses that aren’t related to shushing Stormy.
But on the plus side: no new raids! Not starting the week with the F.B.I. handing you a cup of coffee and telling you to kick back with a copy of the Post while they work the lock on your “Very Legitimate Deals” filing cabinet is pretty underrated.
9. Eric Trump (“Eric Trump”; last week: 7)
You know, there are worse jobs in the Trump Organization right now than making sure every new golf cart is properly emblazoned with the family crest. Such as: all of the other jobs.
10. Mr. Magoo and Mr. Peepers (“Jefferson Sessions” and “Rod Rosenstein”; last week: n/a)
Against all odds, still not fired! Stay tuned!
Not ranked:Barron Trump (off limits); Dr. Ronny Jackson; Hopey Hicks; Tiffany Trump; Vanessa Trump; John Barron; Wendy Wasserman Schultz; Recantin’ Shania Twain; Moon Landin’ Jason Miller; Sean Hannity’s secret estate empire; Melania’s birthday present.