Trump's ancestors originated from the German village of Kallstadt in the Palatinate on his father's side, and from the Outer Hebrides in Scotland on his mother's side. All of his grandparents and his mother were born in Europe.
Trump's paternal grandfather, Frederick Trump, first immigrated to the United States in 1885 at the age of 16 and became a citizen in 1892. He amassed a fortune operating boomtown restaurants and boarding houses in the Seattle area and the Klondike region of Canada during its gold rush. On a visit to Kallstadt, he met Elisabeth Christ and married her in 1902. The couple permanently settled in New York in 1905. Frederick died from influenza during the 1918 pandemic.
Trump as a child
Trump's father Fred was born in 1905 in the Bronx. Fred started working with his mother in real estate when he was 15, shortly after his father's death. Their company, "E. Trump & Son",[nb 2] founded in 1923, was primarily active in the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. Fred eventually built and sold thousands of houses, barracks, and apartments. In 1971, Donald Trump was made president of the company, which was later renamed the Trump Organization.
In spite of his German ancestry, "Fred Trump sought to pass himself off as Swedish amid anti-German sentiment sparked by World War II." Donald Trump propagated this story in The Art of the Deal.
Trump's mother Mary Anne MacLeod was born in Tong, Lewis, Scotland. At age 18 in 1930, she immigrated to New York, where she worked as a maid. Fred and Mary were married in 1936 and raised their family in Queens.
Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Queens, New York City, the fourth of five children. Trump grew up in Jamaica, Queens, and attended the Kew-Forest School from kindergarten through seventh grade. At age 13, he was enrolled in the New York Military Academy, a private boarding school, after his parents discovered that he had made frequent trips into Manhattan without their permission.
While in college from 1964 to 1968, Trump obtained four student deferments from serving in the military. In 1966, he was deemed fit for service based upon a medical examination and in July 1968, after graduating from college, was briefly classified as eligible to serve by a local draft board. In October 1968, he was given a medical deferment which he later attributed to spurs in both heels, and classified as 1-Y, "unqualified for duty except in the case of a national emergency." In the December 1969 draft lottery, Trump's birthday, June 14, received a high number which would have given him a low probability to be called to military service even without the 1-Y. In 1972, he was reclassified as 4-F, disqualifying him for service.
In October 1993, Maples gave birth to Trump's daughter, who was named Tiffany in honor of high-end retailer Tiffany & Company. Maples and Trump were married two months later in December 1993. They divorced in 1999, and Tiffany was raised by Marla in California.
Upon his inauguration as president, Trump delegated the management of his real estate business to his two adult sons, Eric and Don Jr. His daughter Ivanka resigned from the Trump Organization and moved to Washington, D.C., with her husband Jared Kushner. She serves as an assistant to the president, and he is a Senior Advisor in the White House.
Trump says he is a Presbyterian. His ancestors were Lutheran on his paternal grandfather's side in Germany and Presbyterian on his mother's side in Scotland. His parents married in a Manhattan Presbyterian church in 1936. As a child, he attended the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, where he had his confirmation. In the 1970s, his family joined the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan. The pastor, Norman Vincent Peale, ministered to Trump's family and mentored him until Peale's death in 1993. Trump has cited Peale and his works during interviews when asked about the role of religion in his personal life. However, the Marble Collegiate Church issued a statement noting that is not a Presbyterian church, but rather part of the Reformed Church in America, and that while Trump's family earlier had a relationship with Marble, Trump was not a member of the church.
Trump says while he's "not sure" if he's asked God for forgiveness, he takes Holy Communion as often as possible, believing it to be a form of 'cleansing'. While campaigning, Trump referred to The Art of the Deal as his second favorite book after the Bible, saying, "Nothing beats the Bible."The New York Times reported that evangelical Christians nationwide thought "that his heart was in the right place, that his intentions for the country were pure".
Trump does not drink alcohol except occasional wine, such as at communion. This decision arose in part from watching his older brother Fred Jr. suffer from alcoholism that contributed to his early death in 1981. He also said that he has never smoked cigarettes or consumed drugs, including marijuana.
In December 2015, Trump's personal physician, Harold Bornstein, released a superlative-laden letter of health praising Trump for "extraordinary physical strength and stamina". Bornstein later said that Trump himself had dictated the contents. A followup medical report showed Trump's blood pressure, liver and thyroid functions to be in normal ranges, and that he takes a statin. In January 2018, Trump was examined by White House physician Ronny Jackson, who stated that he was in excellent health, although his weight and cholesterol level were higher than recommended, and that his cardiac assessment revealed no medical issues. Several outside cardiologists commented that Trump's weight, lifestyle and LDL cholesterol ought to have raised serious concerns about his cardiac health.
Trump is the beneficiary of several trust funds set up by his father and paternal grandmother beginning in 1949. In 1976, Fred Trump set up trust funds of $1 million (equivalent to $4.3 million in 2017) for each of his five children and three grandchildren; Donald Trump received annual payments from his trust fund, for example, $90,000 in 1980 and $214,605 in 1981. By 1993, when Trump took two loans totaling $30 million from his siblings, their anticipated shares of Fred's fortune were $35 million each. Upon Fred Trump's death in 1999, his will divided $20 million after taxes (equivalent to $29.38 million in 2017) among his surviving children.
Trump said that he began his career with "a small loan of one million dollars" from his father. He appeared on the initial Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1982 with an estimated $200 million fortune shared with his father. Former Forbes reporter Jonathan Greenberg stated in 2018 that during the 1980s Trump had deceived him about his actual net worth and his share of the family assets in order to appear on the list. Trump made the Forbes World's Billionaires list for the first time in 1989, but he was dropped from the Forbes 400 from 1990 to 1995 following business losses. In 2005, Deutsche Bank loan documents pegged Trump's net worth at $788 million, while Forbes quoted $2.6 billion and journalist Tim O'Brien gave a range of $150 million to $250 million. In its 2018 billionaires ranking, Forbes estimated Trump's net worth at $3.1 billion[nb 1] (766th in the world, 248th in the U.S.) making him one of the richest politicians in American history.
When he filed mandatory financial disclosure forms with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in July 2015, Trump claimed a net worth of about $10 billion; however FEC figures cannot corroborate this estimate because they only show each of his largest buildings as being worth "over $50 million", yielding total assets worth more than $1.4 billion and debt over $265 million. Trump reported a yearly income of $362 million for 2014 and $611 million from January 2015 to May 2016.
A 2016 analysis of Trump's business career by The Economist concluded that his performance since 1985 had been "mediocre compared with the stock market and property in New York". A subsequent analysis by The Washington Post concluded that "Trump is a mix of braggadocio, business failures, and real success".
In 1968, Trump began his career at his father Fred's real estate development company, E. Trump & Son, which, among other interests, owned middle-class rental housing in New York City's outer boroughs. Trump worked for his father to revitalize the Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio, which the elder Trump had bought in 1964. The management of the property was sued for racial discrimination in 1969; the suit "was quietly settled at Fred Trump's direction." The Trumps sold the property in 1972, with vacancy on the rise.
When his father became chairman of the board in 1971, Trump was promoted to president of the company and renamed it The Trump Organization. In 1973, he and his father drew wider attention when the Justice Department contended in a lawsuit that their company systematically discriminated against African Americans who wished to rent apartments. The Department alleged that the Trump Organization had screened out people based on race and not low income as the Trumps had stated. Under an agreement reached in 1975, the Trumps made no admission of wrongdoing and made the Urban League an intermediary for qualified minority applicants. Trump's attorney at the time was Roy Cohn, who valued both positive and negative publicity, and responded to attacks with forceful counterattacks; Trump later emulated Cohn's style.
In 1978, Trump launched his Manhattan real estate business by purchasing a 50 percent stake in the derelict Commodore Hotel, located next to Grand Central Terminal. The purchase was funded largely by a $70 million construction loan that was guaranteed jointly by Fred Trump and the Hyatt hotel chain. When the remodeling was finished, the hotel reopened in 1980 as the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The same year, Trump obtained the rights to develop Trump Tower, a 58-story, 664-foot-high (202 m) skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. To make way for the new building, a crew of undocumented Polish workers demolished the historic Bonwit Teller store, including art deco features that had initially been marked for preservation. The building was completed in 1983 and houses both the primary penthouse condominium residence of Trump and the headquarters of The Trump Organization. Architectural critic Paul Goldberger said in 1983 that he was surprised to find the tower's atrium was "the most pleasant interior public space to be completed in New York in some years".
In 1980, repairs began on Central Park's Wollman Rink, with an anticipated two-and-a-half year construction time frame. Because of flaws in the design and numerous problems during construction, the project remained unfinished by May 1986 and was estimated to require another 18 months and $2 million to $3 million to complete. Trump was awarded a contract as the general contractor in June 1986 to finish the repairs by December 15 with a cost ceiling of $3 million, with the actual costs to be reimbursed by the city. Trump hired an architect, a construction company, and a Canadian ice-rink manufacturer and completed the work in four months, $775,000 under budget. He operated the rink for a year and gave some of the profits to charity and public works projects in exchange for the rink's concession rights. Trump managed the rink from 1987 to 1995. He received another contract in 2001 which was extended until 2021. According to journalist Joyce Purnick, Trump's "Wollman success was also the stuff of a carefully crafted, self-promotional legend." While the work was in progress, Trump called numerous press conferences, for example for the completion of the laying of the pipes and the pouring of the cement. In 1987, he also unsuccessfully tried to get the city to rename the landmark after him; the Trump logo is prominently displayed on the railing encircling the rink, on the Zamboni, on the rental skates, and on the rink's website.
In 1988 Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for $407 million and appointed his wife Ivana to manage its operation. Trump invested $50 million to restore the building, which he called "the Mona Lisa". According to hotel expert Thomas McConnell, the Trumps boosted it from a three-star to a four-star ranking. They sold it in 1995, by which time Ivana was no longer involved in the hotel's day-to-day operations.
In 1996, Trump acquired the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building, which was a vacant seventy-one story skyscraper on Wall Street. After an extensive renovation, the high-rise was renamed the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street. In 1997, he began construction on Riverside South, which he dubbed Trump Place, a multi-building development along the Hudson River. He and the other investors in the project ultimately sold their interest for $1.8 billion in 2005 in what was then the biggest residential sale in the history of New York City. From 1994 to 2002, Trump owned a 50 percent share of the Empire State Building. He intended to rename it "Trump Empire State Building Tower Apartments" if he had been able to boost his share. In 2001, Trump completed Trump World Tower. In 2002, Trump acquired the former Hotel Delmonico, which was renovated and reopened in 2004 as the Trump Park Avenue; the building consisted of 35 stories of luxury condominiums.
Palm Beach estate
Mar-a-Lago in 2009
In 1985, Trump acquired the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, for $10 million, $7 million for the real estate and $3 million for the furnishings. His initial offer of $28 million had been rejected, and he was able to obtain the property for the lower price after a real-estate market "slump". The home was built in the 1920s by heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post. After her death, her heirs unsuccessfully tried to donate the property to the government before putting it up for sale. In addition to using a wing of the estate as a home, Trump turned Mar-a-Lago into a private club. In order to join, prospective members had to pay an initiation fee and annual dues. The initiation fee was $100,000 until 2016; it was doubled to $200,000 in January 2017.
Atlantic City casinos
After New Jersey legalized casino gambling in 1977, Trump went to Atlantic City to explore new business opportunities. Seven years later, he opened Harrah's at Trump Plaza hotel and casino; the project was built by Trump with financing from the Holiday Corporation who also managed its operation. It was renamed "Trump Plaza" soon after it opened. The casino's poor financial results exacerbated disagreements between Trump and Holiday Corp., which led to Trump's paying $70 million in May 1986 to buy out their interest in the property. Trump also acquired a partially completed building in Atlantic City from the Hilton Corporation for $320 million; when completed in 1985, that hotel and casino became Trump Castle, and Trump's wife Ivana managed that property until 1988.
Trump acquired his third casino in Atlantic City, the Taj Mahal, in 1988 while it was under construction, through a complex transaction with Merv Griffin and Resorts International. It was completed at a cost of $1.1 billion and opened in April 1990. The project was financed with $675 million in junk bonds and was a major gamble by Trump. The project underwent debt restructuring the following year, leaving Trump with 50 percent ownership. Facing "enormous debt", he sold his airline, Trump Shuttle, and his 282-foot (86 m) megayacht, the Trump Princess, which had been indefinitely docked in Atlantic City while leased to his casinos for use by wealthy gamblers.
In 1995, Trump founded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (THCR), which assumed ownership of Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, and the Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana. THCR purchased Taj Mahal in 1996 and underwent bankruptcy restructuring in 2004 and 2009, leaving Trump with 10 percent ownership in the Trump Taj Mahal and other Trump casino properties. Trump remained chairman of THCR until 2009.
As of December 2016, the Trump Organization owns or operates 18 golf course and golf resorts in the United States and abroad. According to Trump's FEC personal financial disclosure, his 2015 golf and resort revenue amounted to $382 million, while his three European golf courses did not show a profit.
Trump began acquiring and constructing golf courses in 1999; his first property was the Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach in Florida. By 2007, he owned four courses around the U.S. Following the financial crisis of 2007–2008, he began purchasing existing golf courses and re-designing them. His use of these courses during his presidency was controversial. Despite frequently criticizing his predecessor Barack Obama for his numerous golf outings, Trump golfed 11 times during his first eight weeks in office. According to CNN, Trump visited Trump-owned golf courses 91 times in 2017, although the White House does not disclose whether or not the president actually played on each of those visits.
The Trump Organization expanded its business into branding and management by licensing the Trump name for a large number of building projects that are owned and operated by other people and companies. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, The Trump Organization expanded its footprint beyond New York with the branding and management of various developers' hotel towers around the world. These included projects in Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Panama City, Toronto, and Vancouver. There are also Trump-branded buildings in Dubai, Honolulu, Istanbul, Manila, Mumbai, and Indonesia.
The Trump name has also been licensed for various consumer products and services, including foodstuffs, apparel, adult learning courses, and home furnishings. These ventures met with mixed success for Trump, his partners, and investors in the projects. In 2011, Forbes' financial experts estimated the value of the Trump brand at $200 million. Trump disputed this valuation, saying his brand was worth about $3 billion. According to an analysis by The Washington Post, there are more than 50 licensing or management deals involving Trump's name, which have generated at least $59 million in yearly revenue for his companies.
Lawsuits and bankruptcies
As of April 2018, Trump and his businesses had been involved in more than 4,000 state and federal legal actions, according to a running tally by USA Today. As of 2016, he or one of his companies had been the plaintiff in 1,900 cases and the defendant in 1,450. With Trump or his company as plaintiff, more than half the cases have been against gamblers at his casinos who had failed to pay off their debts. With Trump or his company as a defendant, the most common type of case involved personal injury cases at his hotels. In cases where there was a clear resolution, Trump's side won 451 times and lost 38.
After Trump took over the family real estate firm in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization, he expanded its real estate operations and ventured into other business activities. The company eventually became the umbrella organization for several hundred individual business ventures and partnerships.
In September 1983, Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals—an American football team that played in the United States Football League (USFL). After the 1985 season, the league folded largely due to Trump's strategy of moving games to a fall schedule where they competed with the NFL for audience, and trying to force a merger with the NFL by bringing an antitrust lawsuit against the organization.
From 1996 to 2015, Trump owned part or all of the Miss Universe pageants. The pageants include Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. His management of this business involved his family members—daughter Ivanka once hosted Miss Teen USA. He became dissatisfied with how CBS scheduled the pageants, and took both Miss Universe and Miss USA to NBC in 2002. In 2007, Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work as producer of Miss Universe.
Following Trump's controversial statements about illegal Mexican immigrants during his 2015 presidential campaign kickoff speech, NBC ended its business relationship with him, stating that it would no longer air the Miss Universe or Miss USA pageants on its networks. In September 2015, Trump bought NBC's share of the Miss Universe Organization and then sold the entire company to the WME/IMG talent agency.
Trump University was a for-profit education company that was founded by Trump and his associates, Michael Sexton and Jonathan Spitalny. The company ran a real estate training program and charged between $1,500 and $35,000 per course. In 2005, New York State authorities notified the operation that its use of the word "university" was misleading and violated state law. After a second such notification in 2010, the name of the company was changed to the "Trump Entrepreneurial Institute". Trump was also found personally liable for failing to obtain a business license for the operation.
Ronald Schneckenberg, a sales manager for Trump University, said in a testimony that he was reprimanded for not trying harder to sell a $35,000 real estate class to a couple who could not afford it. Schneckenberg said that he believed "Trump University was a fraudulent scheme" which "preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money."
In 2013, New York State filed a $40 million civil suit against Trump University; the suit alleged that the company made false statements and defrauded consumers. In addition, two class-action civil lawsuits were filed in federal court relating to Trump University; they named Trump personally as well as his companies. During the presidential campaign, Trump criticized presiding Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, alleging bias in his rulings because of his Mexican heritage. Shortly after Trump won the presidency, the parties agreed to a settlement of all three pending cases, whereby Trump paid a total of $25 million and denied any wrongdoing.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation is a U.S.-based private foundation that was established in 1988 for the initial purpose of giving away proceeds from the book Trump: The Art of the Deal. The foundation's funds have mostly come from donors other than Trump, who has not given personally to the charity since 2008.
In 2016, The Washington Post reported that the charity had committed several potential legal and ethical violations, including alleged self-dealing and possible tax evasion. Also in 2016, the New York State Attorney General's office notified the Trump Foundation that the foundation appeared to be in violation of New York laws regarding charities, ordering it to immediately cease its fundraising activities in New York. A Trump spokesman called the Attorney General's investigation a "partisan hit job". In response to mounting complaints, Trump's team announced in late December 2016 that the Trump Foundation would be dissolved to remove "even the appearance of any conflict with [his] role as President." According to an IRS filing in November 2017, the foundation intended to shut down and distribute its assets (about $970,000) to other charities. However, the New York Attorney General's office had to complete their ongoing investigation before the foundation could legally shut down, and in June 2018 they filed a civil suit against the foundation for $2.8 million in restitution and additional penalties. The suit names Trump himself as well as his adult children Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka.
Conflicts of interest
Before being inaugurated as president, Trump moved his businesses into a revocable trust run by his eldest sons and a business associate. According to ethics experts, as long as Trump continues to profit from his businesses, the measures taken by Trump do not help to avoid conflicts of interest. Because Trump would have knowledge of how his administration's policies would affect his businesses, ethics experts recommend that Trump sell off his businesses. Multiple lawsuits have been filed alleging that Trump is violating the emoluments clause of the United States Constitution due to his business interests; they argue that these interests allow foreign governments to influence him. Previous presidents in the modern era have either divested their holdings or put them in blind trusts, and he is the first president to be sued over the emoluments clause.
Trump has published numerous books. His first published book in 1987 was Trump: The Art of the Deal, in which Trump is credited as co-author with Tony Schwartz, who has stated that he did all the writing for the book. It reached the top of the New York Times Best Seller list, stayed there for 13 weeks, and altogether held a position on the list for 48 weeks. According to The New Yorker, "The book expanded Trump's renown far beyond New York City, promoting an image of himself as a successful dealmaker and tycoon."
Trump's published writings shifted post-2000 from stylized memoirs to financial tips and political opinion.
In 2003, Trump became the executive producer and host of the NBC reality show The Apprentice, in which contestants competed for a one-year management job with the Trump Organization; applicants were successively eliminated from the game with the catchphrase "You're fired". He went on to be co-host of The Celebrity Apprentice, in which celebrities compete to win money for their charities.
In February 2015, Trump stated that he was "not ready" to sign on for another season of the show because of the possibility of a presidential run. Despite this, NBC announced they were going ahead with production of a 15th season. In June, after widespread negative reaction stemming from Trump's campaign announcement speech, NBC released a statement saying, "Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump."
Presidential approval polls taken during the first ten months of Trump's term have shown him to be the least popular U.S. president in the history of modern opinion polls. A Pew Research Center global poll conducted in July 2017, found "a median of just 22 percent has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs". This compares to a median of 64 percent rate of confidence for his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump received a higher rating in only two countries: Russia and Israel. An August 2017 POLITICO/Morning consult poll found on some measures "that majorities of voters have low opinions of his character and competence". Trump is the only elected president who did not place first on Gallup's poll of men Americans most admired in his first year in office, coming in second behind Barack Obama.
As president, Trump has frequently made false statements in public speeches and remarks.
Trump uttered "at least one false or misleading claim per day on 91 of his first 99 days" in office according to The New York Times, and 1,318 total in his first 263 days in office according to the "Fact Checker" political analysis column of The Washington Post, which also wrote, "President Trump is the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered ... the pace and volume of the president's misstatements means that we cannot possibly keep up." After 558 days in office, the tally was at 4,229 false or misleading claims, and it had risen to an average of 7.6 per day from 4.9 during Trump's first 100 days in office. According to one study, the rate of false statements has increased, with the percentage of his words that are part of a false claim rising over the course of his presidency. In general, news organizations have been hesitant to label these statements as "lies".
Trump has a history of making racially controversial remarks and taking actions that are perceived as racially motivated. In 1975, he settled a 1973 Department of Justice lawsuit that alleged housing discrimination against black renters. He was accused of racism for insisting that a group of black and Latino teenagers were guilty of raping a white woman in the 1989 Central Park jogger attack, even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2002. He continued to maintain this position as late as 2016.
Starting in 2011, Trump was a major proponent of "birther" conspiracy theories alleging that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and questioned his eligibility to serve as president. Trump later took credit for pushing the White House to release the "long-form" birth certificate from Hawaii, and he stated during his presidential campaign that his stance had made him "very popular". In September 2016, he publicly acknowledged that Obama was born in the United States, and falsely claimed that the rumors had been started by Hillary Clinton during her 2008 campaign.
Trump makes a statement (begins at 07:20 into the video) on the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville published by the White House
Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech in which he stated: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ... They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people." Later, his attacks on a Mexican-American judge were criticized as racist. His comments following a 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, were seen as implying a moral equivalence between white supremacist marchers and those who protested them. In a January 2018 Oval Office meeting to discuss immigration legislation with Congressional leaders, Trump reportedly referred to El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and African countries as "shitholes". His remarks were condemned as racist worldwide, as well as by many members of Congress. Trump has denied accusations of racism multiple times, saying he is the "least racist person".
Trump's racially insensitive statements have been condemned by many observers in the U.S. and around the world, but accepted by his supporters either as a rejection of political correctness or because they harbor similar racial sentiments. Several studies and surveys have stated that racist attitudes and racial resentment have fueled Trump's political ascendance, and have become more significant than economic factors in determining party allegiance of voters. According to an October 2017 Politico/Morning Consult poll, 45 percent of American voters viewed Trump as racist and 40 percent did not.
In a June 2018 Quinnipiac University poll, 49 percent of respondents believed that Trump is racist while 47 percent believed he is not. Additionally, 55 percent said he "has emboldened people who hold racist beliefs to express those beliefs publicly."
Relationship with the press
President Trump talking to the press, March 2017
Throughout his career, Trump has sought media attention. His interactions with the press turned into what some sources called a "love-hate" relationship. Trump began promoting himself in the press in the 1970s.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump accused the press of intentionally misinterpreting his words and of being biased, although he benefited from a record amount of free media coverage, elevating his standing in the Republican primaries. After winning the election, Trump told journalist Lesley Stahl that he intentionally demeaned and discredited the media "so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you". Into his presidency, much of the press coverage of Trump and his administration was negative.
Trump has often referred to the press as "fake news media" and "the enemy of the people". He has privately and publicly mused about taking away critical reporters' White House press credentials (despite, during his campaign, promising not to do so once he became president). On his first day in office, Trump falsely accused journalists of understating the size of the crowd at his inauguration, and called the media "among the most dishonest human beings on earth".
The relationship between Trump, the media, and fake news has been studied. One study found that between October 7 and November 14, 2016, while one in four Americans visited a fake news website, "Trump supporters visited the most fake news websites, which were overwhelmingly pro-Trump" and "almost 6 in 10 visits to fake news websites came from the 10 percent of people with the most conservative online information diets".Brendan Nyhan, one of the authors of the study by researchers from Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and the University of Exeter, stated in an interview on NBC News: "People got vastly more misinformation from Donald Trump than they did from fake news websites".
Starting in the 1990s, Trump was a guest about 24 times on the nationally syndicated Howard Stern Show on talk radio. Trump also had his own daily talk radio program called Trumped!, from 2004 to 2008. Trump's wealth and lifestyle had been a fixture of hip hop lyrics since the 1980s, as he was named in hundreds of songs, most often in a positive tone. Mentions of Trump turned negative and pejorative after he ran for office in 2015.
Trump's presence on social media has attracted attention worldwide since he joined Twitter in March 2009. He communicated heavily on Twitter during the 2016 election campaign, and has continued to use this channel during his presidency. The attention on Trump's Twitter activity has significantly increased since he was sworn in as president. He uses Twitter as a direct means of communication with the public, sidelining the press. Many of the assertions he tweeted have been proven false.
Trump's political party affiliation has changed numerous times over the years. He registered as a Republican in Manhattan in 1987, switched to Independent in 1999, Democrat in 2001, and back to Republican in 2009. He made donations to both the Democratic and the Republican party, party committees, and candidates until 2010 when he stopped donating to Democrats and increased his donations to Republicans considerably.
In 1987 Trump spent almost $100,000 (equivalent to $215,407 in 2017) to place full-page advertisements in three major newspapers, proclaiming that "America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves." The advertisements also advocated for "reducing the budget deficit, working for peace in Central America, and speeding up nuclear disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union." After rumors of a presidential run, Trump was invited by Democratic senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, House SpeakerJim Wright of Texas, and Arkansas congressman Beryl Anthony Jr., to host a fundraising dinner for Democratic Congressional candidates and to switch parties. Anthony told The New York Times that "the message Trump has been preaching is a Democratic message." Asked whether the rumors were true, Trump denied being a candidate, but said, "I believe that if I did run for President, I'd win." According to a Gallup poll in December 1988, Trump was the tenth most admired man in America, behind Ted Kennedy and Bill Cosby.
Trump publicly speculated about running for president in the 2012 election, and made his first speaking appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February 2011. The speech is credited for helping kick-start his political career within the Republican Party.
On May 16, 2011, Trump announced he would not run for president in the 2012 election. In February 2012, Trump endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
Trump's presidential ambitions were generally not taken seriously at the time. Trump's moves were interpreted by some media as possible promotional tools for his reality show The Apprentice. Before the 2016 election, The New York Times speculated that Trump "accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature within the political world" after Obama lampooned him at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in April 2011.
In 2013, Trump was a featured CPAC speaker. In a sparsely-attended speech, he railed against illegal immigration while seeming to encourage immigration from Europe, bemoaned Obama's "unprecedented media protection", advised against harming Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and suggested that the government "take" Iraq's oil and use the proceeds to pay a million dollars each to families of dead soldiers. He spent over $1 million that year to research a possible 2016 candidacy.
In October 2013, New York Republicans circulated a memo suggesting Trump should run for governor of the state in 2014 against Andrew Cuomo. Trump responded that while New York had problems and its taxes were too high, he was not interested in the governorship. A February 2014 Quinnipiac poll had shown Trump losing to the more popular Cuomo by 37 points in a hypothetical election. In February 2015, Trump told NBC that he was not prepared to sign on for another season of The Apprentice, as he mulled his political future.
On June 16, 2015, Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Trump Tower in Manhattan. In the speech, Trump discussed illegal immigration, offshoring of American jobs, the U.S. national debt, and Islamic terrorism, which all remained large priorities during the campaign. He also announced his campaign slogan: "Make America Great Again". Trump said his wealth would make him immune to pressure from campaign donors. He declared that he was funding his own campaign, but according to The Atlantic, "Trump's claims of self-funding have always been dubious at best and actively misleading at worst."
In the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries, Trump entered a field of 17 major candidates who were vying for the 2016 Republican nomination; this was the largest presidential field in American history. Trump's campaign was initially not taken seriously by political analysts, but he quickly rose to the top of opinion polls.
On Super Tuesday, Trump won the plurality of the vote, and he remained the front-runner throughout the remainder of the primaries. By March 2016, Trump became poised to win the Republican nomination. After a landslide win in Indiana on May 3, 2016—which prompted the remaining candidates Cruz and John Kasich to suspend their presidential campaigns—RNC Chairman Reince Priebus declared Trump the presumptive Republican nominee.
2016 general election campaign
After becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, Trump shifted his focus to the general election. Trump began campaigning against Hillary Clinton, who became the presumptive Democratic nominee on June 6, 2016.
Clinton had established a significant lead over Trump in national polls throughout most of 2016. In early July, Clinton's lead narrowed in national polling averages following the FBI's re-opening of its investigation into her ongoing email controversy.
On July 15, 2016, Trump announced his selection of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate. Four days later on July 19, Trump and Pence were officially nominated by the Republican Party at the Republican National Convention. The list of convention speakers and attendees included former presidential nominee Bob Dole, but the other prior nominees did not attend.
Two days later, Trump officially accepted the nomination in a 76-minute speech. The historically long speech received mixed reviews, with net negative viewer reactions according to CNN and Gallup polls.
His political positions have been described as populist, and some of his views cross party lines. For example, his economic campaign plan calls for large reductions in income taxes and deregulation, consistent with Republican Party policies, along with significant infrastructure investment, usually considered a Democratic Party policy. According to political writer Jack Shafer, Trump may be a "fairly conventional American populist when it comes to his policy views", but he attracts free media attention, sometimes by making outrageous comments.
Trump has supported or leaned toward varying political positions over time.Politico has described his positions as "eclectic, improvisational and often contradictory", while NBC News counted "141 distinct shifts on 23 major issues" during his campaign.
In his campaign, Trump said that he disdained political correctness; he also stated that the media had intentionally misinterpreted his words, and he made other claims of adverse media bias. In part due to his fame, and due to his willingness to say things other candidates would not, and because a candidate who is gaining ground automatically provides a compelling news story, Trump received an unprecedented amount of free media coverage during his run for the presidency, which elevated his standing in the Republican primaries.
Fact-checking organizations have denounced Trump for making a record number of false statements compared to other candidates. At least four major publications—Politico, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times—have pointed out lies or falsehoods in his campaign statements, with the Los Angeles Times saying that "Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has".NPR said that Trump's campaign statements were often opaque or suggestive.
Trump's penchant for hyperbole is believed to have roots in the New York real estate scene, where Trump established his wealth and where puffery abounds. Trump has called his public speaking style "truthful hyperbole", an effective political tactic that may, however, backfire for overpromising.
White supremacist support
Acts of populism that proved successful for Trump included recognition of some Americans who felt "anger" towards cultural changes, sexual liberty and the potential of white Americans–especially white Protestants–becoming a minority group in the United States. According to Michael Barkun, the Trump campaign was remarkable for bringing fringe ideas, beliefs, and organizations into the mainstream.
During his presidential campaign, Trump was accused of pandering to white supremacists. He retweeted open racists, and repeatedly refused to condemn David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan or white supremacists, in an interview on CNN's State of the Union, saying that he would first need to "do research" because he knew nothing about Duke or white supremacists. After repeated questioning by reporters, Trump said that he disavowed David Duke and the KKK. Duke himself was an enthusiastic supporter of Trump throughout the 2016 primary and election, and has stated that he and like-minded people voted for Trump because of his promises to "take our country back". In a tweet he reminded Trump that "it was White Americans who put you in the presidency".
As a presidential candidate, Trump disclosed details of his companies, assets, and revenue sources to the extent required by the FEC. His 2015 report listed assets above $1.4 billion and outstanding debts of at least $265 million. The 2016 form showed little change.
Trump did not release his tax returns during his presidential campaign or afterward, contrary to usual practice by every candidate since Gerald Ford in 1976 and to his promise in 2014 to do so if he ran for office. Trump's refusal led to speculation that he was hiding something. He said that his tax returns were being audited, and his lawyers had advised him against releasing them. Trump has told the press that his tax rate was none of their business, and that he tries to pay "as little tax as possible".
In October 2016, portions of Trump's state filings for 1995 were leaked to a reporter from The New York Times. They show that Trump declared a loss of $916 million that year, which could have let him avoid taxes for up to 18 years. During the second presidential debate, Trump acknowledged using the deduction, but declined to provide details such as the specific years it was applied. He said that he did use the tax code to avoid paying taxes.
On March 14, 2017, the first two pages of Trump's 2005 federal income tax returns were leaked to Rachel Maddow and shown on MSNBC. The document states that Trump had a gross adjusted income of $150 million and paid $38 million in federal taxes. The White House confirmed the authenticity of these documents and stated: "Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns."
Sexual misconduct allegations
A total of 19 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct as of December 2017. Trump and his campaign have denied as of October 2016 all of the sexual misconduct accusations, which Trump has called "false smears", and alleged a conspiracy against him.
Two days before the second presidential debate, a 2005 recording surfaced in which Trump was heard bragging about forcibly kissing and groping women. The hot mic recording was captured on a studio bus in which Trump and Billy Bush were preparing to film an episode of Access Hollywood. In the tape, Trump said: "I just start kissing them ... I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it, you can do anything ... grab 'em by the pussy." During the recording, Trump also spoke of his efforts to seduce a married woman, saying he "moved on her very heavily".
Trump's language on the tape was described by the media as "vulgar", "sexist", and descriptive of sexual assault. The incident prompted him to make his first public apology during the campaign, and caused outrage across the political spectrum, with many Republicans withdrawing their endorsements of his candidacy and some urging him to quit the race. Subsequently, at least 15 women came forward with new accusations of sexual misconduct, including unwanted kissing and groping, resulting in widespread media coverage. In his two public statements in response to the controversy, Trump alleged that former president Bill Clinton had "abused women" and that Hillary had bullied her husband's victims.
Election to the presidency
2016 electoral vote results
On November 8, 2016, Trump received 306 pledged electoral votes versus 232 for Clinton. The official counts were 304 and 227 respectively, after defections on both sides. Trump received a smaller share of the popular vote than Clinton, which made him the fifth person to be elected president while losing the popular vote.[nb 3] Clinton was ahead nationwide by 2.1 percentage points, with 65,853,514 votes (48.18%) to 62,984,828 votes (46.09%); neither candidate reached a majority.
Trump's victory was considered a stunning political upset by most observers, as polls had consistently showed Hillary Clinton with a nationwide—though diminishing—lead, as well as a favorable advantage in most of the competitive states. Trump's support had been modestly underestimated throughout his campaign, and many observers blamed errors in polls, partially attributed to pollsters overestimating Clinton's support among well-educated and nonwhite voters, while underestimating Trump's support among white working-class voters.
Actually, the polls were relatively accurate, but media outlets and pundits alike showed overconfidence in a Clinton victory despite a large number of undecided voters and a favorable concentration of Trump's core constituencies in competitive states.
Women's March in Washington on January 21, 2017, a day after the inauguration
Some rallies during the primary season were accompanied by protests or violence, including attacks on Trump supporters and vice versa both inside and outside the venues. Trump's election victory sparked protests across the United States, in opposition to his policies and his inflammatory statements. Trump initially said on Twitter that these were "professional protesters, incited by the media", and were "unfair", but he later tweeted, "Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country."
In the weeks following Trump's inauguration, massive anti-Trump demonstrations took place, such as the Women Marches, which gathered 2,600,000 people worldwide, including 500,000 in Washington alone. Moreover, marches against his travel ban began across the country on January 29, 2017, just nine days after his inauguration.
In December 2017, Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which cut the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, lowered personal tax brackets, increased child tax credit, doubled the estate tax threshold to $11.2 million, and limited the state and local tax deduction to $10,000. The reduction in individual tax rates ends in 2025. While people would generally get a tax cut, those with higher incomes would see the most benefit. Households in the lower or middle class would also see a small tax increase after the tax cuts expire. The bill is estimated to increase deficits by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
Trump speaking to automobile workers in Michigan, March 2017
In March 2018, Trump signed an order imposing import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, with exemptions for Canada, Mexico, and possibly other countries. In response, the EU imposed retaliatory tariffs targeting $3.4 billion in U.S. exports.
In July, the United States and China imposed tariffs on $34 billion of each others' goods, expanded to $50 billion in August. In September the U.S. introduced a 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, poised to increase to 25% by the end of the year, and threatened further tariffs on an additional $267 billion if China retaliates. China countered the move with a 10% tariff on $60 billion of US imports, which combined with the previous round of tariffs, covers almost all $110 billion of U.S. imports to China.
While campaigning Trump's energy policy advocated domestic support for both fossil and renewable energy sources in order to curb reliance on Middle-Eastern oil and possibly turn the U.S. into a net energy exporter. However following his election his "America First Energy Plan" did not mention renewable energy and instead focused on fossil fuels. Environmentalists have expressed concerns because he has announced plans to make large budget cuts in programs that research renewable energy and to roll back Obama-era policies directed at curbing climate change and limiting environmental pollution.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to repeal and replace Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare"). Shortly after taking office, he urged Congress to repeal and replace it. In May of that year, the House of Representatives voted to repeal it. Over the course of several months' effort, however, the Senate was unable to pass any version of a repeal bill. Trump has expressed a desire to "let Obamacare fail", and the Trump administration has cut the ACA enrollment period in half and drastically reduced funding for advertising and other ways to encourage enrollment. The tax reform Trump signed into law at the end of his first year in office effectively repealed the individual health insurance mandate that was a major element of the Obamacare health insurance system; this repeal is scheduled to be implemented in 2019.
Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, Trump made a controversial proposal to ban Muslim foreigners from entering the United States until stronger vetting systems could be implemented. He later reframed the proposed ban to apply to countries with a "proven history of terrorism".
On January 27, 2017, Trump signed Executive Order 13769, which suspended admission of refugees for 120 days and denied entry to citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, citing security concerns. The order was imposed without warning and took effect immediately. Confusion and protests caused chaos at airports. The administration then clarified that visitors with a green card were exempt from the ban.
On January 30, Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General, directed Justice Department lawyers not to defend the executive order, which she deemed unenforceable and unconstitutional; Trump immediately dismissed her.Multiple legal challenges were filed against the order, and on February 5 a federal judge in Seattle blocked its implementation. On March 6, Trump issued a revised order, which excluded Iraq, gave specific exemptions for permanent residents, and removed priorities for Christian minorities. Again federal judges in three states blocked its implementation. On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the ban could be enforced on visitors who lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States."
The temporary order was replaced by Presidential Proclamation 9645 on September 24, 2017, which permanently restricts travel from the originally targeted countries except Iraq and Sudan, and further bans travelers from North Korea and Chad, and certain Venezuelan officials. After lower courts partially blocked the new restrictions with injunctions, the Supreme Court allowed the September version to go into full effect on December 4. In January 2018, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a challenge to the travel ban. The Court heard oral arguments on April 25, and ultimately upheld the travel ban in a June ruling.
While running for president, Trump said that he intended to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on "day one" of his presidency. The program, introduced in 2012, allowed people who had either entered or remained in the United States illegally as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and be eligible for a work permit.
In September 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DACA program would be repealed after six months. Trump argued that "top legal experts" believed that DACA was unconstitutional, and called on Congress to use the six-month delay to pass legislation solving the "Dreamers" issue permanently. As of March 2018, when the delay expired, no legislation had been agreed on DACA. Several states immediately challenged the DACA rescission in court. Two injunctions in January and February 2018 allowed renewals of applications and stopped the rolling back of DACA, and in April 2018 a federal judge ordered the acceptance of new applications; this would go into effect in 90 days.
Family separation at border
In April 2018, Trump enacted a "zero tolerance" immigration policy that took adults irregularly entering the U.S. into custody for criminal prosecution and forcibly separated children from parents, eliminating the policy of previous administrations that made exceptions for families with children. By mid-June, more than 2,300 children had been placed in shelters, including "tender age" shelters for babies and toddlers, culminating in demands from Democrats, Republicans, Trump allies, and religious groups that the policy be rescinded. Trump falsely asserted that his administration was merely following the law.
On June 20, Trump signed an executive order to end family separations at the U.S. border. On June 26 a federal judge in San Diego issued a preliminary injunction requiring the Trump administration to stop detaining immigrants parents separately from their minor children, and to reunite family groups that had been separated at the border.
President Trump together with other leaders at the 43rd G7 summit in Italy
Trump has been described as a non-interventionist and as an American Nationalist. He has repeatedly stated that he supports his foreign policy "America First". He supports increasing United States military defense spending, but favors decreasing United States spending on NATO and in the Pacific region. He says America should look inward, stop "nation building", and re-orient its resources toward domestic needs.
In order to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Trump in 2015 called for seizing the oil in ISIS-occupied areas, using U.S. air power and ground troops. In 2016, Trump advocated sending 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops to the region, a position he later retracted.
In November 2017, the Trump administration tightened the rules on trade with Cuba and individual visits to the county, undoing the Obama administration's loosening of restrictions. According to an administration official, the new rules were intended to hinder trade with businesses with ties to the Cuban military, intelligence and security services.
U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan increased from 8,500 to 14,000, as of January 2017. reversing Trump's pre-election position critical of further involvement in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said then that they aimed to "force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement"; in January 2018, however, Trump spoke against talks with the Taliban.
During the campaign Trump maintained that "Iran is now the dominant Islamic power in the Middle East and on the road to nuclear weapons." He opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or "Iran nuclear deal") that was negotiated with the United States, Iran, and five other world powers in 2015, calling it "terrible" and saying that the Obama administration negotiated the agreement "from desperation." At one point he said that despite opposing the content of the deal, he would attempt to enforce it rather than abrogate it. However, in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March 2016, Trump said that his "number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran."
Shortly after taking office, Trump put Iran 'on notice' following their ballistic missile tests on January 29, 2017. In February 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iran's 25 individuals and entities, which it said were but "initial steps", with Trump's National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn adding that "the days of turning a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over."
Trump reportedly lobbied "dozens" of European officials against doing business with Iran during the May 2017 Brussels summit; this likely violated the terms of the JCPOA, under which the U.S. may not pursue "any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran." The Trump administration certified in July 2017 that Iran had upheld its end of the agreement. On May 18, 2018, Trump announced the United States' unilateral departure from the JCPOA.
Regarding the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, Trump has stated the importance of being a neutral party during potential negotiations, while also having stated that he is "a big fan of Israel". During the campaign he said he would relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from its current location, Tel Aviv. On May 22, 2017, Trump was the first U.S. president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, during his first foreign trip, which included Israel, Italy, the Vatican, and Belgium. Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, 2017, despite criticism and warnings from world leaders. Trump added that he would initiate the process of establishing a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, which was later opened on May 14, 2018. The United Nations General Assembly condemned the move, adopting a resolution that "calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem" in an emergency session on December 21, 2017.
As a candidate Trump questioned whether he, as president, would automatically extend security guarantees to NATO members, and suggested that he might leave NATO unless changes are made to the alliance. As president, he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO in March 2017. However, he has repeatedly accused fellow NATO members of paying less than their fair share of the expenses of the alliance.
During the campaign and the early months of his presidency, Trump said he hoped that China would help to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions and missile tests. However, North Korea accelerated their missile and nuclear tests leading to increased tension. In July, the country tested two long-range missiles identified by Western observers as intercontinental ballistic missiles, potentially capable of reaching Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland. In August, Trump dramatically escalated his rhetoric against North Korea, warning that further provocation against the U.S. would be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen." North Korean leader Kim Jong-un then threatened to direct the country's next missile test toward Guam.
On June 12, 2018, after several rounds of preliminary staff-level meetings, Trump and Kim held a bilateral summit in Singapore. In a joint declaration, both countries vowed to "join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula", while North Korea repeated its April 2018 promise to "work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
During his campaign and as president, Trump repeatedly said that he wants better relations with Russia, and he has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong leader. Trump had pledged to hold a summit meeting with Putin, stating that Russia could help the U.S. in fighting ISIS. According to Putin and some political experts and diplomats, the U.S.–Russian relations, which were already at the lowest level since the end of the Cold War, have further deteriorated since Trump took office in January 2017.
Trump and Putin met in a 2018 Russia–United States summit in Helsinki on July 16, 2018. Trump drew harsh bipartisan criticism in the United States for appearing to side with Putin's denial of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, rather than accepting the findings of the United States intelligence community. His comments were strongly criticized by many congressional Republicans and most media commentators, even those who normally support him.
The Trump administration has been characterized by high turnover, particularly among White House staff. By the end of Trump's first year in office, 34 percent of his original staff had resigned, been fired, or been reassigned. As of early July 2018, 61 percent of Trump's senior aides had left and 141 staffers had left in the past year. Both figures set a record for recent presidents—more change in the first 13 months than his four immediate predecessors saw in their first two years. Notable early departures included National Security Advisor Mike Flynn (after just 25 days in office), Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, replaced by retired Marine General John F. Kelly on July 28, 2017, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Close personal aides to Trump such as Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, John McEntee and Keith Schiller, have quit or been forced out.
Trump has been slow to appoint second-tier officials in the executive branch, saying that many of the positions are unnecessary. As of October 2017, there were hundreds of sub-cabinet positions vacant. At the end of his first year in office, CBS News reported that "of the roughly 600 key executive branch positions, just 241 have been filled, 135 nominated candidates await confirmation while 244 slots have no nominee at all."
Two of Trump's 15 original cabinet members were gone within 15 months: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign in September 2017 due to excessive use of private charter jets and military aircraft, and Trump replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo in March 2018 over disagreements on foreign policy. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018 amidst multiple investigations into his conduct.
In January 2017, American intelligence agencies—the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA, represented by the Director of National Intelligence—jointly stated with "high confidence" that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election to favor the election of Trump. In March 2017, FBI Director James Comey told Congress that "the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts." Later, in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, he affirmed he has "no doubt" that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, adding "they did it with purpose and sophistication".
Trump's connections to Russia have been widely reported by the press. One of Trump's campaign managers, Paul Manafort, had worked for several years to help pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovich win the Ukrainian presidency. Other Trump associates, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, have been connected to Russian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump.
Members of Trump's campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn, were in contact with Russian officials both before and after the November election. On December 29, 2016, Flynn talked with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions that had been imposed the same day; Trump later fired Flynn for falsely claiming he had not discussed the sanctions.
Dismissal of James Comey
On May 9, 2017, Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey. He first attributed this action to recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, which criticized Comey's conduct in the investigation about Hillary Clinton's emails. On May 11, Trump stated that he was concerned with the ongoing "Russia thing" and that he had intended to fire Comey earlier, regardless of DoJ advice.
According to a Comey memo of a private conversation on February 14, 2017, Trump said he "hoped" Comey would drop the investigation into Michael Flynn.
In March and April, Trump had told Comey that the ongoing suspicions formed a "cloud" impairing his presidency, and asked him to publicly state that he was not personally under investigation. He also asked intelligence chiefs Dan Coats and Michael Rogers to issue statements saying there was no evidence that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. Both refused, considering this an inappropriate request, although not illegal. Comey eventually testified on June 8 that while he was director, the FBI investigations did not target Trump himself. In a statement on Twitter Trump implied that he had "tapes" of conversations with Comey, before later stating that he did not in fact have such tapes.
The Washington Post reported that days after Comey's dismissal the special counsel started investigating whether Trump had obstructed justice. Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow stated that he had not been notified of any such investigation. ABC News later reported that the special counsel was gathering preliminary information about possible obstruction of justice but had not launched a full-scale investigation.
In January 2018, The New York Times reported that Trump had ordered Mueller to be fired in June, after learning that Mueller was investigating possible obstruction of justice, but backed down after White House Counsel Don McGahn said he would quit; Trump called the report "fake news".The New York Times reported in April 2018 that Trump had again wanted the investigation shut down in early December 2017, but stopped after learning the news reports he based his decision on were incorrect. In April 2018, following an FBI raid on the office and home of Trump's private attorney Michael Cohen, Trump mused aloud about firing Mueller.
In January 2018, The Washington Post reported that Mueller wants to interview Trump about the removal of Michael Flynn and James Comey. Trump has expressed a willingness to do the interview; according to The New York Times, some of his lawyers have warned against doing so. Mueller can subpoena Trump to testify if Trump refuses. As of March 2018, Trump is reportedly a "subject" of the investigation, meaning his conduct is being looked at, but not a "target" which would indicate the likelihood of criminal charges.
In August 2018, Trump wrote that Attorney General Jeff Sessions "should stop" the special counsel investigation "right now"; he also referred to it as a "rigged witch hunt".
Other legal affairs
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels has alleged that she and Trump had an affair in 2006, which Trump denied. In January 2018, it was reported that just before the 2016 presidential election Daniels was paid $130,000 by Trump's attorney Michael Cohen as part of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA); Cohen later said he paid her with his own money. In February 2018, Daniels sued Cohen's company asking to be released from the NDA and be allowed to tell her story. Cohen obtained a restraining order to keep her from discussing the case. In March, Daniels claimed in court that the NDA never came into effect because Trump did not sign it personally. In April, Trump said that he did not know about Cohen paying Daniels, why Cohen had made the payment or where Cohen got the money from. In May, Trump's annual financial disclosure revealed that he reimbursed Cohen in 2017 for payments related to Daniels. In August 2018, in a case brought by the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to breaking campaign finance laws, admitting to paying hush money of $130,000 to Daniels and $150,000 indirectly to Playboy model Karen McDougal, and said that he did it at the direction of Trump, with the aim of influencing the presidential election. In response, Trump said that he only knew about the payments "later on", and that he paid back Cohen personally, not out of campaign funds. Cohen also said he would cooperate fully with the Special Counsel investigation into collusion with Russia.
Serious proposals to impeach Trump for obstruction of justice were made in May 2017, after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and allegations surfaced that Trump had asked Comey to drop the investigation against Michael Flynn. A December 2017 resolution of impeachment failed in the House by a 58–364 margin. Since the Republicans control both the House and the Senate, the likelihood of impeachment during the 2017–2019 115th Congress is considered remote.
Trump has argued against his own impeachment because "I don't think they can impeach somebody that's doing a great job".
Trump signaled his intention to run for a second term by filing with the FEC within hours of assuming the presidency. This transformed his 2016 election committee into a 2020 reelection one. Trump marked the official start of the campaign with a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on February 18, 2017, less than a month after taking office. By January 2018, Trump's reelection committee had $22 million in hand and it had raised a total amount exceeding $50 million towards the 2020 campaign as of July 2018.
^Some modern sources, including Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal, refer to the company as "Elizabeth Trump & Son." Contemporary sources, however, refer to it as "E. Trump & Son."
^Records on this matter date from the year 1824. The number "five" includes the elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016. Despite their similarities, some of these five elections had peculiar results; e.g. John Quincy Adams trailed in both the national popular vote and the electoral college in 1824 (since no-one had a majority in the electoral college, Adams was chosen by the House of Representatives), and Samuel Tilden in 1876 remains the only losing candidate to win an actual majority of the popular vote (rather than just a plurality).
^Brenner, Marie (September 1990). "After The Gold Rush". Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 10, 2016. "They were married in New York during Easter of 1977. Mayor Beame attended the wedding at Marble Collegiate Church. Donald had already made his alliance with Roy Cohn, who would become his lawyer and mentor.
^Mattera, Jason (March 14, 2011). "Trump Unplugged". Human Events. Archived from the original on March 16, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2011. I am a Protestant. I am a Presbyterian within the Protestant group and I go to Church as much as I can.
^"Part 2: Donald Trump on 'Watters' World'". Watters' World. Fox News Channel. February 6, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2016. WATTERS: "Have you ever smoked weed?" TRUMP: "No, I have not. I have not. I would tell you 100 percent because everyone else seems to admit it nowadays, so I would actually tell you. This is almost like, it's almost like 'Hey, it's a sign'. No, I have never. I have never smoked a cigarette, either."
^Dunlap, David (July 30, 2015). "1973: Meet Donald Trump". The New York Times. Trump Management ... was also to allow the league to present qualified applicants for every fifth vacancy ... Trump himself said he was satisfied that the agreement did not 'compel the Trump Organization to accept persons on welfare as tenants unless as qualified as any other tenant.'
^Penzenstadler, Nick; Page, Susan (June 2, 2016). "Exclusive: Trump's 3,500 lawsuits unprecedented for a presidential nominee". USA Today. Retrieved June 2, 2016. About 100 additional disputes centered on other issues at the casinos. Trump and his enterprises have been named in almost 700 personal-injury claims and about 165 court disputes with government agencies ... Due to his branding value, Trump is determined to defend his name and reputation.
^ abBradner, Eric; Frehse, Rob (September 14, 2016). "NY attorney general is investigating Trump Foundation practices". CNN. Retrieved September 25, 2016. The Post had reported that the recipients of five charitable contributions listed by the Trump Foundation had no record of receiving those donations. But the newspaper updated its report after CNN questioned the accuracy of three of the five donations it had cited.
^"Donald J. Trump – Biography". The Trump Organization. Archived from the original on August 28, 2016. Retrieved August 27, 2016. In 2011, after failed attempts by both Senator McCain and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump single handedly forced President Obama to release his birth certificate, which was lauded by large segments of the political community.
^Koppel, Ted (July 24, 2016). "Trump: "I feel I'm an honest person"". CBS News. 'Well, I think that I'm an honest person,' Trump said. 'I feel I'm an honest person. And I don't mind being criticized at all by the media, but I do wanna – you know, I do want them to be straight about it.'
^McCammon, Sarah (August 10, 2016). "Donald Trump's controversial speech often walks the line". NPR. Many of Trump's opaque statements seem to rely on suggestion and innuendo.
^ abFlitter, Emily; Oliphant, James (August 28, 2015). "Best president ever! How Trump's love of hyperbole could backfire". Reuters. Trump's penchant for exaggeration could backfire – he risks promising voters more than he can deliver ... Optimistic exaggeration ... is a hallmark of the cutthroat New York real estate world where many developers, accustomed to ramming their way into deals, puff up their portfolios. 'A little hyperbole never hurts,' he wrote ... For Trump, exaggerating has always been a frequent impulse, especially when the value of his Trump brand is disputed.
^Jan, Tracy (October 14, 2016). "More women accuse Trump of aggressive sexual behavior". Boston Globe. Trump has been confronted with a slew of allegations of sexual misconduct over the past week, starting with a report in The Washington Post of a 2005 tape featuring him bragging about forcibly kissing women and grabbing them by the genitals.
^ abYoder, Eric (February 16, 2017). "Hiring freeze could add to government's risk, GAO chief warns". The Washington Post. 'We've looked at hiring freezes in the past by prior administrations and they haven't proven to be effective in reducing costs and they cause some problems if they're in effect for a long period of time,' Comptroller General Gene Dodaro told a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.
^Calabresi, Massimo (March 9, 2017). "Inside Donald Trump's War against the State". Time. Staffed by experts who oversee an open governmental process, they say, the federal bureaucracy exists to protect those who would otherwise be at the mercy of better-organized, better-funded interests.
^"Second Amendment Rights". Donald J. Trump for President. Archived from the original on January 7, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2017. There has been a national background check system in place since 1998 ... Too many states are failing to put criminal and mental health records into the system ... What we need to do is fix the system we have and make it work as intended.
^"Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking". The New York Times. January 6, 2017. p. ii. Retrieved January 8, 2017. We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.
^Thomas, Pierre (June 19, 2017). "Where things stand with special counsel Mueller's Russia probe". ABC News. According to sources familiar with the process ... [a]n assessment of evidence and circumstances will be completed before a final decision is made to launch an investigation of the president of the United States regarding potential obstruction of justice.
^Carter, Brandon (March 6, 2018). "Stormy Daniels files lawsuit against Trump". The Hill. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, claims in her suit filed Tuesday that the nondisclosure agreement is not valid because Trump never signed the deal, according to documents revealed publicly by her attorney, Michael Avenatti.
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