Eric Trump is looking me right in the eye when he says he may require the tape recording of our interview. But it’s not for the reason you might think. He wasn’t trying to hold my feet to the fire about facts; he simply wanted to be able to remind his wife, Lara, that she said she’d consider having more than two children.
“I might need that,” he explains with a laugh, gesturing to my digital recorder before adding: “She was always set on just one more. But you heard her; you’ve got the comments on tape — she said ‘at least two kids!’” Lara responds to her husband’s quip with a smile of her own, declaring: “I’m not making any promises,” but based on how she gushes over their infant son, Luke (born last September), it’s a safe bet that their family will continue to grow.
The exchange illustrates the nature of my time with Westchester residents Eric Trump, second son of President Donald Trump, and his spouse. The two are open and kind (even with a reporter who doesn’t share their politics and told them so). They greet me with outstretched hands and warm, friendly smiles, Lara sporting slim pants and a pretty sweater over flats, while Eric dons a business suit to complement his signature Wall Street-esque slicked-back blond hair. Not only handsomer in person than in pictures, Eric is tall, even taller than his father. Both he and Lara are eager to share details of their lives, including what it’s like to be part of the current and controversial first family.
They were married in 2014, following a 10-year courtship, yet the couple still act like newlyweds. They frequently hold hands during the interview, especially after one compliments the other, which happened often, sprinkled in-between good-natured volleys of gentle ribbing. Saccharine? Perhaps, but there wasn’t a hint of contrivance. And while they are quick to say that Westchester has come to represent a sanctuary for them, realistically, there is no corner of the globe where they can completely escape the glare of their family’s polarizing spotlight. While Lara does say there was a time, years ago, when she and Eric easily flew under the radar within the county, Eric’s father becoming the 45th POTUS essentially ended the era of anonymity.
Eric says that overall, the people of Westchester have been very supportive of his family, with he and his spouse the frequent targets of impromptu selfies with locals. Yet, the Westchester Trumps find themselves at the epicenter of the most divisive political climate in modern history nonetheless. And whether one feels this climate began prior to his father’s ascendancy or directly because of it, Eric remains philosophical. “Every day, you get abused by somebody,” he says, referring to certain segments of the media, “and the next thing you know, you’re being parodied on Saturday Night Live. It comes with the territory. We stood center stage with my father during the campaign and beyond.” That said, he insists that he, Ivanka and Donald Jr. are fair game but that 12-year-old Barron and 24-year-old Tiffany are not. “We are adults; we’ve developed a bit of an armor,” he says, “but Barron and Tiffany should be 100 percent off-limits.”
So, then, the question becomes: Is it ever too much? To this, Lara confesses, there are times when some of her family members “pine for the old days” (though Lara did leave her associate producer job at TV’s Inside Edition to join the president’s 2020 re-election campaign). Eric, meanwhile, is quick to say that “there would be far fewer headaches if it weren’t for politics,” but it’s all worth it “when you know you’re in it for the right reasons,” he adds, adopting a more measured conversational tone. “My father’s life became exponentially worse the minute he decided to run for president. He didn’t need to do this, but he was immensely frustrated with where the country was going.”
From the glass-half-full department, Eric adds that any upheaval that resulted from his father’s election came, for him, at a “perfect turning point.” His secure private life provides a stable base, allowing him to focus both on his job with The Trump Organization and being with his nuclear family. When Eric says, “Family is what matters to me,” one can easily detect the sincerity. He scrolls through his phone to find his “favorite video in the world,” which is customarily adorable footage of his son in some sort of “bouncy” swing.
“Eric is a great dad,” Lara says, “and I always knew he would be because — I know it may sound crazy — but I saw how he was with our dogs and how much he cared about them.” Lara, meanwhile, was originally content with just a menagerie concept, “turning our house into a zoo,” as she puts it, but Eric says she “fell in love with Luke immediately,” to which Lara replies, plainly, “How could you not?” The two find the quiet Westchester lifestyle the perfect antidote to careers in the city, not to mention the political cacophony that surrounds them. While North Carolinian Lara is comparatively new to the area, Eric spent much of his childhood near Byram Lake at Seven Springs, the 230-acre estate his father purchased in 1995 (situated where North Castle, New Castle, and Bedford meet).
“Westchester had a major impact on my life,” Eric says. “I went to school in the city, but I was in Westchester on the weekends and over the summers. It was my place to go to get away from everything.” Hours spent restoring and maintaining the sprawling estate, which includes a 60-room mansion originally built in 1919 by Washington Post publisher Eugene Meyer, “taught me the building blocks of what I do now,” says the 34-year-old, who, along with brother Donald Jr., runs the Trump Organization in his capacity as executive vice president. The lessons that came from those summers, working all day (often with Don Jr. by his side), “kept us away from the less-than-healthy nonsense that so many of our friends and acquaintances got into,” says Eric. The physical labor also imparted a skill set that took his wife by surprise.
“She came home one day to find me doing some electrical work in my closet, which needed more light… and she was looking at me like I was going to kill myself,” Eric says, laughing, “and suggested I call an electrician.” He gently reminded her: “This is what I do. I am a builder.” These days, Lara is totally onboard with her handyman husband. “Eric can fix anything,” she says. “He’s much handier than anyone I’ve ever dated!”
Not exactly the stuff of scandalous headlines. On the contrary, Eric and Lara readily confess to leading a relatively “calm” life. The pair is happy to hole up in their Briarcliff Manor home on the weekends, with Luke and their dogs, Charlie and Ben (a recent rescue). “It’s our favorite place to be,” Lara explains. “Our friends make fun of us because we love simply spending time at our house by ourselves. They are always asking us to join them on trips here and there, and we just say we’re going to stay home. We love it.” Lara describes their house as “comfortable,” adding that they don’t like anything that’s “too ornate and fancy.”
Active and outdoorsy, Lara took to Westchester immediately, although it initially took some convincing for Eric to lure her here early in their courtship. “Eric said that I had to come up to Westchester with him, but I was so new to New York, I didn’t know what it was all about,” she explains. “I quickly realized, though, how important the place was to him, and it’s the greatest thing for me, too.” So important, in fact, that Eric actually proposed to Lara on the grounds of Seven Springs, during a hike. The two kept a home on that property for nearly five years before relocating to their current residence, closer to the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor. Eric makes time for golf as recreation but also to keep a keen eye on Trump National. Club GM Brian Lynch says he’s thrilled to have his boss nearby and welcomes Eric’s input. The club has become “quite family-oriented,” as Lynch points out, even adding a large playground. Lara notes that the plans for the kid-friendly addition were in place before she found out she was expecting. “It’s not just for us!” she insists with a laugh.
Conspicuously athletic, Lara is a dedicated equestrian who rides at a barn in Northern Westchester, though she doesn’t own her own horse — yet. “I’m out there riding every chance I get; it’s one of my favorite things to do,” she says, undaunted even by a bad fall that resulted in two broken wrists and one surgery. The incident occurred four years ago, just weeks before her wedding day, but Lara took the hit with grace, concealing her casts at the wedding with pretty satin covers that resembled elegant gloves. “I don’t think anyone could really tell she was injured,” Eric says. “You couldn’t have told me that day that I had broken wrists,” Lara adds. “We had the best wedding ever.”
Lara is also extremely comfortable competing under her own power. She participates in triathlons (including the Westchester Triathlon in Rye), most recently finishing fifth in her age group in Florida’s Las Olas Triathlon in March. Last year, she completed that race while pregnant, a fact that prompts Eric to affectionately point out that “she is nutty,” adding that, technically, he’s the only one of his three-member family who hasn’t completed a triathlon.
Some of Lara and Eric’s favorite county haunts include Guadalajara and 105-Ten restaurants in Briarcliff Manor, Turco’s grocery in Yorktown Heights, DeCicco & Sons in Millwood for baked goods (Lara is a pastry chef with a pedigree from the French Culinary Institute). The couple, thought to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, even gives an enthusiastic shout-out to the Mt. Kisco Diner.
Both Eric and Lara Trump look forward to a larger family — though how large is apparently still up for negotiation. But where they will raise their brood seems set in stone. “I love the idea of raising our son, or hopefully our children, in a place like Westchester. Great people, great schools, so many activities,” Lara says before Eric adds: “When we think of home, we think of Westchester.”
A former editor at Harper’s Bazaar, Gale Ritterhoff is a frequent contributor to Westchester Magazine.