Trump’s family had a two-story mock Tudor home on Midland Parkway in Jamaica Estates, where he lived while attending The Kew-Forest School. He left the school at age 13 and was enrolled in the New York Military Academy (NYMA), in Cornwall, New York, where he finished eighth grade and high school. Trump was an energetic child; his parents hoped that the discipline at the military school would allow him to channel his energy in a positive manner. In 1983, Fred Trump told an interviewer that Donald “was a pretty rough fellow when he was small”.
Trump participated in marching drills, wore a uniform, and during his senior year attained the rank of captain. He was transferred from a student command position after the alleged hazing of a new freshman in his barracks by one of Trump’s subordinates; Trump later described the transfer as “a promotion”. In 2015, he told a biographer that NYMA gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military”.
Trump attended Fordham University in the Bronx for two years, beginning in August 1964. He then transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which offered one of the few real estate studies departments in United States academia at the time. While there, he worked at the family’s company, Elizabeth Trump & Son, named for his paternal grandmother. He graduated from Penn in May 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics.
Trump was not drafted during the Vietnam War. While in college from 1964 to 1968, he obtained four student deferments. In 1966, he was deemed fit for service based upon a military medical examination, and in 1968 was briefly classified as fit by a local draft board, but was given a 1-Y medical deferment in October 1968. In an interview for a 2015 biography, he attributed his medical deferment to heel spurs. In 1969, he received a high number in the draft lottery, which would also have likely exempted him from service.
In 1971 Trump took over the family real estate firm, Elizabeth Trump & Son, which he renamed The Trump Organization. He greatly expanded its real estate operations as well as ventures into numerous other business activities. It eventually became the umbrella organization for several hundred individual business ventures and partnerships.
When Trump was elected president in November 2016, the question arose what he would do with his business activities to avoid conflicts of interest while president. At a press conference on January 10, 2017, Trump said he and his daughter Ivanka will resign all roles with The Trump Organization, while his two oldest sons Don Jr. and Eric run the business, together with existing Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg. Trump himself will retain his financial stake in the business. His attorney Sherri Dillon said that before the January 20 inauguration Trump will put the business assets into a trust, which will hire an ethics advisor and a compliance counsel. She added that the Trump Organization will not pursue any new foreign business deals, while continuing to pursue domestic opportunities.
Prior to graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Trump began his real estate career at his father’s company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, which focused on middle-class rental housing in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. During his undergraduate study, Donald Trump and his father, Fred Trump, used a $500,000 investment to successfully reopen the foreclosed Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio.
After being promoted to president of the company in the early 1970s (while his father became chairman of the board), he renamed it to The Trump Organization. In 1973, he and his father drew wider attention when the Justice Department contended that the organization systematically discriminated against African Americans wishing to rent apartments, rather than merely screening out people based on low income as the Trumps stated. An agreement was later signed in which the Trumps made no admission of wrongdoing, and under which qualified minority applicants would be presented by the Urban League.
Early Manhattan developments
Trump’s first major real estate deal in Manhattan was the remodeling of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in 1978, located next to Grand Central Terminal. The building was remodeled from an older Commodore Hotel, and was largely funded by a $70 million construction loan jointly guaranteed by Fred Trump and the Hyatt hotel chain.
In 1978, Trump finished negotiations to develop Trump Tower, a 58-story, 202-meter (663-foot) skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, for which The New York Times attributed his “persistence” and “skills as a negotiator”. The building was completed in 1983, and houses both the primary penthouse condominium residence of Donald Trump and the headquarters of The Trump Organization. Trump Tower was the setting of the NBC television show The Apprentice, and includes a fully functional television studio set.[53
Repairs on the Wollman Rink in Central Park, built in 1955, were started in 1980 by a general contractor unconnected to Trump. Despite an expected 2 1⁄2-year construction schedule, the repairs were not completed by 1986. Trump took over the project, completed it in three months for $750,000 less than the initial budget of $1.95 million, and operated the rink for one year with all profits going to charity in exchange for the rink’s concession rights.
Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan in 1988 for $400 million, and tapped his then-wife Ivana to manage its operation and renovation.
Palm Beach estate
Trump acquired the historical Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1985 for $5 million, plus $3 million for the home’s furnishings. In addition to using the home as a winter retreat, Trump also turned it into a private club with membership fees of $150,000. At about the same time, he acquired a condominium complex in Palm Beach with Lee Iacocca that became Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches.
Atlantic City casinos
Harrah’s at Trump Plaza opened in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1984. The hotel/casino was built by Trump with financing by Holiday Corp. and operated by the Harrah’s gambling unit of Holiday Corp. The casino’s poor results exacerbated disagreements between Trump and Holiday Corp. Trump also acquired a partially completed building in Atlantic City from the Hilton Corporation for $320 million. When completed in 1985, the hotel/casino became Trump Castle. Trump’s wife, Ivana, managed the property.
Later in 1988, Trump acquired the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City in a transaction with Merv Griffin and Resorts International. The casino was opened in April 1990, and was built at a total cost of $1.1 billion, which at the time made it the most expensive casino ever built. Financed with $675 million in junk bonds at a 14% interest rate, the project entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy the following year. Banks and bondholders, facing potential losses of hundreds of millions of dollars, opted to restructure the debt.
The Taj Mahal emerged from bankruptcy on October 5, 1991, with Trump ceding 50 percent ownership in the casino to the bondholders in exchange for lowered interest rates and more time to pay off the debt. He also sold his financially challenged Trump Shuttle airline and his 282-foot (86 m) megayacht, the Trump Princess. The property was repurchased in 1996 and consolidated into Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, which filed for bankruptcy in 2004 with $1.8 billion in debt, filing again for bankruptcy five years later with $50 million in assets and $500 million in debt. The restructuring ultimately left Trump with 10% ownership in the Trump Taj Mahal and other Trump casino properties. Trump served as chairman of the organization, which was renamed Trump Entertainment Resorts, from mid-1995 until early 2009, and served as CEO from mid-2000 to mid-2005.
During the 1990s, Trump’s casino ventures faced competition from the Native-American owned Foxwoods casino in Connecticut. In 1993, Trump made controversial comments in his testimony to a Congressional committee, famously stating that the casino owners did not look like real Indians. But despite that well-publicized quote which related to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, Trump became a key investor who backed the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots who were seeking state recognition.
Trump acquired an old, vacant office building on Wall Street in Manhattan in 1996. After a complete renovation, it became the seventy-story Trump Building at 40 Wall Street. After his father died in 1999, Trump and his siblings received equal portions of his father’s estate valued at $250–300 million.
In 2001, Trump completed Trump World Tower, a 72-story residential tower across from the United Nations Headquarters. Trump also began construction on Trump Place, a multi-building development along the Hudson River. He continued to own commercial space in Trump International Hotel and Tower, a 44-story mixed-use (hotel and condominium) tower on Columbus Circle which he acquired in 1996, and also continued to own millions of square feet of other prime Manhattan real estate.
Trump acquired the former Hotel Delmonico in Manhattan in 2002. It was re-opened with 35 stories of luxury condominiums in 2004 as the Trump Park Avenue.
Most recently, The Trump Organization has expanded its footprint beyond the United States, with the co-development and management of hotel towers in Chicago, Honolulu, Las Vegas, New York City, Washington D.C., Panama City, Rio de Janeiro, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Trump has licensed his name and image for the development of a number of real estate projects including two in Florida that have gone into foreclosure. The Turkish owner of Trump Towers Istanbul, who pays Trump for the use of his name, was reported in December 2015 to be exploring legal means to dissociate the property after the candidate’s call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
Trump also licensed his name to son-in-law Jared Kushner‘s fifty-story Trump Bay Street, a Jersey City luxury development that has raised $50 million of its $200 million capitalization largely from wealthy Chinese nationals who, after making an initial down payment of $500,000 in concert with the government’s expedited EB-5 visa program, can usually obtain United States permanent residency for themselves and their families after two years. Trump is a partner with Kushner Properties only in name licensing and not in the building’s financing.
The Trump Organization operates many golf courses and resorts in the United States and around the world. The number of golf courses that Trump owns or manages is about 18, according to Golfweek. Trump’s personal financial disclosure with the Federal Elections Commission stated that his golf and resort revenue for the year 2015 was roughly $382 million.
In 2006, Trump bought the Menie Estate in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, creating a golf resort against the wishes of some local residents on an area designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. A 2011 independent documentary, You’ve Been Trumped, by British filmmaker Anthony S. Baxter, chronicled the golf resort’s construction and the subsequent struggles between the locals and Trump. Despite Trump’s promises of 6,000 jobs, in 2016, by his own admission, the golf course has created only 200 jobs. In June 2015, Trump made an appeal objecting to an offshore windfarm being built within sight of the golf course, which was dismissed by five justices at the UK Supreme Court in December 2015.
In April 2014, Trump purchased the Turnberry hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire, Scotland, which hosted the Open Championship 4 times between 1977 and 2009. After extensive renovations and a remodeling of the course by golf architect Martin Ebert, Turnberry was re-opened on June 24, 2016.
Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy, but his hotel and casino businesses have been declared bankrupt six times between 1991 and 2009 in order to re-negotiate debt with banks and owners of stock and bonds. Because the businesses used Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they were allowed to operate while negotiations proceeded. Trump was quoted by Newsweek in 2011 saying, “I do play with the bankruptcy laws – they’re very good for me” as a tool for trimming debt.
The six bankruptcies were the result of over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009). Trump said, “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt … We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal. You know, it’s like on The Apprentice. It’s not personal. It’s just business.”
A 2016 analysis of Trump’s business career by The Economist concluded that his “… performance [from 1985 to 2016] has been mediocre compared with the stock market and property in New York”, noting both his successes and bankruptcies. A subsequent analysis by The Washington Post concluded that “Trump is a mix of braggadocio, business failures, and real success.”
In September 1983, Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals, an American Football team playing in the United States Football League (USFL), from oil magnate J. Walter Duncan. The USFL played its first three seasons during the spring and summer, but Trump convinced the majority of the owners of other USFL teams to move the USFL 1986 schedule to the fall, directly opposite the National Football League (NFL), arguing that it would eventually force a merger with the NFL, which would supposedly increase their investment significantly.
After the 1985 season, the Generals merged with the Houston Gamblers, but had continuing financial troubles. The USFL, which was down to just seven active franchises from a high of 18, was soon forced to fold, despite winning an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.
Trump remained involved with other sports after the Generals folded, operating golf courses in several countries. He also hosted several boxing matches in Atlantic City at the Trump Plaza, including Mike Tyson’s 1988 fight against Michael Spinks, and at one time, acted as a financial advisor to Tyson.
In 1989 and 1990, Trump lent his name to the Tour de Trump cycling stage race, which was an attempt to create an American equivalent of European races such as the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia. The inaugural race was controversial, and Trump withdrew his sponsorship after the second Tour de Trump in 1990, because his other business ventures were experiencing financial woes. The race continued for several more years as the Tour DuPont.
Trump submitted a stalking-horse bid on the Buffalo Bills when it came up for sale following Ralph Wilson‘s death in 2014; he was ultimately outbid, as he expected, and Kim and Terrence Pegula won the auction. During his 2016 presidential run, he was critical of the NFL’s updated concussion rules, complaining on the campaign trail that the game has been made “soft” and “weak”, saying a concussion is just “a ding on the head”. He accused referees of throwing penalty flags needlessly just to be seen on television “so their wives see them at home.”
From 1996 until 2015, Trump owned part or all of the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA beauty pageants. The Miss Universe pageant was founded in 1952 by the California clothing company Pacific Mills. Trump was dissatisfied with how CBS scheduled his pageants, and took both Miss Universe and Miss USA to NBC in 2002.
In 2006, Miss USA winner Tara Conner tested positive for cocaine, but Trump let her keep the crown, for the sake of giving her a second chance. That decision by Trump was criticized by Rosie O’Donnell, which led to a feud in which Trump and O’Donnell exchanged public criticisms. In 2012, Trump won a $5 million arbitration award against a contestant who said the show was rigged.
In 2015, NBC and Univision both ended their business relationships with the Miss Universe Organization after Trump’s controversial 2015 presidential campaign remarks about Mexican illegal immigrants. Trump subsequently filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision, alleging a breach of contract and defamation.
On September 11, 2015, Trump announced that he had become the sole owner of the Miss Universe Organization by purchasing NBC’s stake and that he had “settled” his lawsuits against the network, though it was unclear whether Trump had yet filed lawsuits against NBC. He sold his own interests in the pageant shortly afterwards to WME/IMG. The $500 million lawsuit against Univision was settled in February 2016, but terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Trump Model Management
In 1999, Trump founded a modeling company, Trump Model Management, which operates in the SoHo neighborhood of Lower Manhattan. Together with another Trump company, Trump Management Group LLC, Trump Model Management has brought nearly 250 foreign fashion models into the United States to work in the fashion industry since 2000. In 2014, the company, along with its president Corrine Nicolas and other managers, were sued by one of the agency’s former models, Alexia Palmer, alleging racketeering, breach of contract, mail fraud, and violating immigrant wage laws. Palmer alleged that Trump Model Management promised to withhold only 20% of her net pay as agency expenses, but after charging her for “obscure expenses”, ended up taking 80%. The case was dismissed from U.S. federal court in March 2016, in part because Palmer’s immigration status, via H1-B visa sponsored by Trump, required labor complaints to be filed through a separate process.
Trump University LLC was an American for-profit education company that ran a real estate training program from 2005 until at least 2010. After multiple lawsuits, it is now defunct. It was founded by Trump and his associates, Michael Sexton and Jonathan Spitalny, and offered courses, charging between $1,500 and $35,000 per course. In 2005 the operation was notified by New York State authorities that its use of the word “university” violated state law, and 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.
In 2013 the state of New York filed a $40 million civil suit claiming that Trump University made false claims 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 repeatedly criticized judge Gonzalo P. Curiel who oversaw those two cases, alleging bias because of his Mexican heritage. On June 7, 2016, Trump clarified that his concerns about Curiel’s impartiality were not based upon ethnicity alone, but also upon rulings in the case.
The Low v. Trump case was set for trial in San Diego beginning November 28, 2016. Shortly after Trump won the presidency, the parties agreed to a settlement of all three pending cases. In the settlement, Trump did not admit to any wrongdoing but agreed to pay a total of $25 million. The settlement was agreed to just an hour before a hearing regarding Trump’s latest request to delay the trial until after the inauguration. Jason Forge, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said he “definitely detected a change of tone and change of approach” from the Trump representatives after the election.
Branding and licensing
Trump has marketed his name on a large number of building projects as well as commercial products and services, achieving mixed success doing so for himself, his partners, and investors in the projects.[nb 1] 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.
Many developers pay Trump to market their properties and to be the public face for their projects. For that reason, Trump does not own some buildings that display his name. According to Forbes, this portion of Trump’s empire, actually run by his children, is by far his most valuable, having a $562 million valuation, with 33 licensing projects under development including seven Trump International Hotel and Tower “condo hotels”.
Income and taxes
Pursuant to FEC regulations, Trump published a 92-page financial disclosure form listing all his assets, liabilities, income sources and hundreds of business positions. According to a July 2015 campaign press release, Trump’s income for the year 2014 was $362 million. However, Trump has repeatedly declined to publicly release any of his full tax returns, citing a pending IRS audit, despite such an audit not prohibiting him from releasing his current or past tax returns. In doing so, Trump broke nearly 45 years of precedent of candidates for the general election releasing their tax returns to the American public.
In October 2016, it was revealed that Trump had claimed a loss of $916 million on his 1995 tax returns. As net operating losses from one year can be applied to offset income from future years, this loss allowed him to reduce or eliminate his taxable income during the eighteen-year carry forward period. Trump acknowledged using the deduction but declined to provide details such as the specific years it was applied. When questioned during a presidential debate about such practices, he stated that avoiding paying income tax through such methods “makes me smart”.
The New York Times found that some accountants considered Trump’s tax deduction methods in the early 1990s “legally dubious”. Independent tax experts stated that “Whatever loophole existed was not ‘exploited’ here, but stretched beyond any recognition” and that it involved “sleight of hand”, further speculating that Trump’s casino bankruptcies were probably related to Trump’s 1995 reported loss.
Trump was listed on the initial Forbes List of wealthy individuals in 1982 as having an estimated $200 million fortune, including a share of his father’s estimated $200 million net worth. He was absent from the list from 1990 to 1995 following losses which reportedly obliged him to borrow from his siblings’ trusts in 1993. Trump told campaign audiences he began his career with “a small loan of one million dollars” from his father, which he paid back with interest.
On June 16, 2015, when announcing his candidacy, Trump released a one-page financial summary stating a net worth of $8,737,540,000. “I’m really rich”, he said. Forbes believed his suggestion of $9 billion was “a whopper”, figuring it was actually $4.1 billion. The summary statement includes $3.3 billion worth of “real estate licensing deals, brand and branded developments”, putting a figure on Trump’s estimate of his own brand value. The July 2015 FEC disclosure reports assets worth above $1.4 billion and debts above $265 million. According to Bloomberg, Trump “only reported revenue for [his] golf properties in his campaign filings even though the disclosure form asks for income”, whereas independent filings showed his European golf properties to be unprofitable.
After Trump made controversial remarks about illegal immigrants in 2015, he lost business contracts with NBCUniversal, Univision, Macy’s, Serta, PVH Corporation, and Perfumania, which Forbes estimated negatively impacted his net worth by $125 million. The value of the Trump brand may have fallen further during his presidential campaign, as some consumers boycotted Trump-branded products and services to protest his candidacy. Bookings and foot traffic at Trump-branded properties fell off sharply in 2016, and the release of the Access Hollywood tape recordings in October 2016 exacerbated this. After winning the election, however, his subjective brand value rebounded sharply.
In their 2016 annual billionaires’ rankings, Forbes estimated Trump’s net worth at $4.5 billion (113th in the United States, 324th in the world) and Bloomberg at $3 billion, making him one of the richest politicians in American history. Trump himself stated that his net worth was over $10 billion, with the discrepancy essentially stemming from the uncertain value of appraised property and of his personal brand.
Entertainment and media
Trump has twice been nominated for an Emmy Award and has made cameo appearances in 12 films and 14 television series. He has also played an oil tycoon in The Little Rascals. Trump is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and receives an annual pension of more than $110,000. He has been the subject of comedians, flash cartoon artists, and online caricature artists. Trump also had his own daily talk radio program called Trumped!
In 2003, Trump became the executive producer and host of the NBC reality show The Apprentice, in which a group of competitors battled for a high-level management job in one of Trump’s commercial enterprises. Contestants were successively “fired” and eliminated from the game. For the first year of the show, Trump earned $50,000 per episode (roughly $700,000 for the first season), but following the show’s initial success, he was paid $1 million per episode. In a July 2015 press release, Trump’s campaign manager said that NBCUniversal had paid him $213,606,575 for his 14 seasons hosting the show, although the network did not verify the statement. In 2007, Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to television on The Apprentice.
Along with British TV producer Mark Burnett, Trump was hired as host of The Celebrity Apprentice, in which celebrities compete to win money for their charities. While Trump and Burnett co-produced the show, Trump stayed in the forefront, deciding winners and “firing” losers. International versions of The Apprentice franchise were co-produced by Burnett and Trump.
On February 16, 2015, NBC announced that they would be renewing The Apprentice for a 15th season. On February 27, Trump stated that he was “not ready” to sign on for another season because of the possibility of a presidential run. Despite this, on March 18, NBC announced they were going ahead with production. On June 29, 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.”
After Trump’s election campaign and presidential win led to his departure from the program, actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced Trump as host for the fifteenth season. Trump is still credited as an executive producer.
Trump is a WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) fan, and a friend of WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon‘s. In 1988–89 he hosted WrestleMania IV and V at Boardwalk Hall (dubbed “Trump Plaza” for storyline purposes) and has been an active participant in several of the shows. Trump’s Taj Mahal in Atlantic City was host to the 1991 WBF Championship (which was owned by WWE, known at the time as the “World Wrestling Federation”). He also appeared in WrestleMania VII. He was interviewed by Jesse Ventura ringside at WrestleMania XX.
Trump appeared at WrestleMania 23 in a match called “The Battle of the Billionaires”. He was in the corner of Bobby Lashley, while Vince McMahon was in the corner of Lashley’s opponent Umaga with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee. The deal was that either Trump or McMahon would have their head shaved if their competitor lost. Lashley won the match, and so McMahon got the haircut.
On June 15, 2009, as part of a storyline, McMahon announced on Monday Night Raw that he had “sold” the show to Trump. Appearing on screen, Trump declared he would be at the following commercial-free episode in person and would give a full refund to the people who purchased tickets to the arena for that night’s show. McMahon “bought back” Raw the following week for twice the price.
Trump was inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013 at Madison Square Garden for his contributions to the promotion. He made his sixth WrestleMania appearance the next night at WrestleMania 29.
Involvement in politics, 1988–2015
Trump considered the idea of running for president in 1988, 2004, and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter those races.
2000 presidential candidacy
In 1999, Trump filed an exploratory committee to seek the presidential nomination of the Reform Party in 2000. A July 1999 poll matching him against likely Republican nominee George W. Bush and likely Democratic nominee Al Gore showed Trump with seven percent support. Trump eventually dropped out of the race due to party infighting, but still won the party’s California and Michigan primaries after doing so.
In February 2009, Trump appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, and spoke about the automotive industry crisis of 2008–10. He said that “instead of asking for money”, General Motors “should go into bankruptcy and work that stuff out in a deal”.
As Trump publicly speculated about seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in March 2011 found Trump leading among potential contenders, one point ahead of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. A Newsweek poll conducted in February 2011 showed Trump within a few points of Barack Obama, with many voters undecided in the November 2012 general election for president of the United States. A poll released in April 2011 by Public Policy Polling showed Trump having a nine-point lead in a potential contest for the Republican nomination for president while he was still actively considering a run. His moves were interpreted by some media as possible promotional tools for his reality show The Apprentice.
Trump played a leading role in “birther” conspiracy theories that had been circulating since President Barack Obama‘s 2008 presidential campaign. Beginning in March 2011, Trump publicly questioned Obama’s citizenship and eligibility to serve as President. Although the Obama campaign had released a copy of the short-form birth certificate in 2008, Trump demanded to see the original “long-form” certificate. He mentioned having sent investigators to Hawaii to research the question, but he did not follow up with any findings. He also repeated a debunked allegation that Obama’s grandmother said she had witnessed his birth in Kenya. When the White House later released Obama’s long-form birth certificate, Trump took credit for obtaining the document, saying “I hope it checks out.” His official biography mentions his purported role in forcing Obama’s hand, and he has defended his pursuit of the issue when prompted. In 2013 he said, “I don’t think I went overboard. Actually, I think it made me very popular.” When asked in 2015 whether Obama was born in the United States, Trump said he did not want to discuss it further. Earlier, Trump had also called for Obama to release his student records, questioning whether his grades warranted entry into an Ivy League school. In September 2016, Trump publicly acknowledged that Obama was born in the U.S., and claimed that the rumors had been started by Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.
In February 2011, Trump made his first speaking appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). His appearance at CPAC was organized by GOProud, an LGBT conservative organization, in conjunction with GOProud supporter Roger Stone, who was close with Trump. GOProud pushed for a write-in campaign for Trump at CPAC’s presidential straw poll. Christopher R. Barron, co-founder of GOProud who would later not only endorse Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but also launch LGBT for Trump, said he “would love to see Mr. Trump run for president.” The 2011 CPAC speech Trump gave is credited for helping kick-start his political career within the Republican Party.
In the 2012 Republican primaries, Trump generally had polled at or below 17 percent among the crowded field of possible candidates. On May 16, 2011, Trump announced he would not run for president in the 2012 election, while also saying he would have won.
In 2013, Trump was a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). During the lightly attended early-morning speech, Trump said that President Obama gets “unprecedented media protection”, spoke against illegal immigration, and advised against harming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Also in 2013, he spent over $1 million to research a possible run for president of the United States. In October 2013, New York Republicans circulated a memo suggesting Trump should run for governor of the state in 2014, against Andrew Cuomo; Trump said in response that while New York had problems and taxes were too high, running for governor was not of great interest to him. A February 2014 Quinnipiac poll had shown Trump losing to the popular Cuomo by 37 points in a hypothetical election. He also made statements denying climate change that were discordant with the opinion of the scientific community. In February 2015, Trump said he told NBC that he was not prepared to sign on for another season of The Apprentice at that time, as he mulled his political future.
Trump’s party affiliation has changed over the years. Although his party affiliation prior to 1987 is unclear, Trump was an early supporter of Republican Ronald Reagan for United States President in the late 1970s. By 1987, he identified as a Republican.
In 1999, Trump switched to the Reform Party for three years and ran a presidential exploratory campaign for its nomination. After his run, Trump left the party in 2001 due to the involvement of David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and Lenora Fulani within the party.
From 2001 to 2008 he was a Democrat, but in 2008 he endorsed Republican John McCain for President. In 2009, he officially changed his party registration to Republican. In December 2011, Trump became an independent for five months before returning to the Republican Party, where he has pledged to stay.
Trump has made contributions to campaigns of both Republican Party and Democratic Party candidates, with the top ten recipients of his political contributions being six Democrats and four Republicans. After 2011, his campaign contributions were more favorable to Republicans than to Democrats. In February 2012, Trump endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for President. When asked in 2015 which recent president he prefers, Trump picked Democrat Bill Clinton over the Republican Bushes.
According to a New York state report, Trump circumvented corporate and personal campaign donation limits in the 1980s—although no laws were broken—by donating money to candidates from 18 different business subsidiaries, rather than donating primarily in his own name. Trump told investigators he did so on the advice of his lawyers. He also said the contributions were not to curry favor with business-friendly candidates, but simply to satisfy requests from friends.
Presidential campaign, 2016
On June 16, 2015, Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Trump Tower in New York City. In the speech, Trump drew attention to domestic issues such as illegal immigration, offshoring of American jobs, the U.S. national debt, and Islamic terrorism, which all remained large themes during the campaign. He also announced his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again“.
In his campaign, Trump said that he disdained political correctness, stated that the media has intentionally misinterpreted his words, and made other claims of adverse media bias. In part due to his fame, Trump’s run for president received an unprecedented amount of unpaid coverage from the media that elevated his standing in the Republican primaries.
Republican leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan were hesitant to support him early on. They doubted his chances of winning the general election and feared he could harm the image of the Republican Party.
The alt-right movement coalesced around Trump’s candidacy, due in part to its opposition to multiculturalism and immigration. Trump was accused of pandering to white nationalists. In August he appointed as his campaign CEO Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, described by Bannon as “the platform for the alt-right”.
Some rallies during the primary season were accompanied by protests or violence, including attacks on protesters inside the rallies, and clashes between protesters and Trump supporters outside the venues.
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 – pointed out lies or falsehoods in his campaign statements. Trump’s penchant for exaggerating may have roots in the world of New York real estate where he made his fortune, and where hyperbole is a way of life; Trump calls it “truthful hyperbole”. Lucas Graves, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication, says that Trump often speaks in a suggestive way that makes it unclear what exactly he meant, so that fact-checkers “have to be really careful when you pick claims to check to pick things … that reflect what the speaker was clearly trying to communicate”. Other sources, such as NPR, also observed that Trump’s statements during the campaign were often opaque or suggestive.
Trump entered a large field of candidates against 16 other Republicans campaigning for the nomination, the largest presidential field in American history. Trump participated in eleven of the twelve Republican debates, skipping only the seventh debate on January 28 (that was the last debate before primary voting began on February 1). The debates received historically high viewership, increasing the visibility of Trump’s campaign.
By early 2016, the race had mostly centered on Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. On Super Tuesday, Trump won the plurality of the vote and remained the front-runner throughout 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 Ted Cruz and John Kasich to suspend their presidential campaigns, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus declared Trump the presumptive Republican nominee. With nearly 14 million votes, Trump broke the all-time record for winning the most primary votes in the history of the Republican Party. He also set the record for the largest number of votes against the front runner.
General election campaign
After becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, Trump’s focus shifted to the general election, urging remaining primary voters to “save [their] vote for the general election.” Trump began targeting Hillary Clinton, who became the presumptive Democratic nominee on June 6, 2016, and continued to campaign across the country. One month before the Republican National Convention, Secret Service agents thwarted an assassination attempt on Trump by a 20-year-old British man illegally residing in the U.S. during one of his rallies in Las Vegas.
Clinton had established a significant lead in national polls over Trump throughout most of 2016. In early July, Clinton’s lead narrowed in national polling averages following the FBI‘s conclusion of its investigation into her ongoing email controversy. FBI Director James Comey concluded Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified government material.
One study argues that it was in fact Trump’s grandiosity that attracted voters. A test was carried out by blind raters in which Trump scored highest on grandiosity ratings, use of first person pronouns, greater pitch dynamics and informal communication.
After Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, historians Fredrik Logevall and Kenneth Osgood noted that, “Hardly a day passes without some columnist comparing Donald J. Trump to Huey Long, Father Coughlin or George Wallace.”
On July 15, 2016, Trump announced Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate. Trump and Pence were officially nominated by the Republican Party on July 19, 2016, 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, though John McCain endorsed Trump prior to the convention.
Two days later, Trump officially accepted the nomination in a 76-minute speech inspired by Richard Nixon‘s 1968 acceptance speech. The historically long speech was watched by nearly 35 million people and received mixed reviews, with net negative viewer reactions according to CNN and Gallup polls.
In late July, Trump came close to Clinton in national polls following a 3 to 4 percentage point convention bounce, in line with the average bounce in conventions since 2004, although it was toward the small side by historical standards. Following Clinton’s 7 percent convention bounce, she extended her lead significantly in national polls at the start of August.
Trump has declined to publicly release any of his full tax returns, which led to speculation about whether he was hiding something. Trump said that his tax returns are being audited and his lawyers advise against release. High-income individuals are audited more frequently than the average taxpayer, but it is unusual for an individual to be audited for several consecutive years. Trump has told the news media that his tax rate was “none of your business”, but added, “I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible.” Every candidate since Gerald Ford in 1976 released their taxes before the election. Although no law prohibits release of tax returns during an audit, tax attorneys differ about whether such a release is wise legal strategy.
On September 26, 2016, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Lester Holt, an anchor with NBC News, was the moderator. This was the most watched presidential debate in United States history. The second presidential debate was held at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. The beginning narrative of that debate was dominated by a leaked tape of Trump making lewd comments (see below), and counter-accusations by Trump of sexual misconduct by Bill Clinton. Trump had invited four women who had accused Clinton of impropriety to a press conference prior to the debate. The final presidential debate was held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on October 19. Trump’s refusal to say whether he would accept the result of the election drew particular press attention.
Sexual misconduct allegations
Two days before the second presidential debate, a 2005 recording surfaced, made on a studio bus while preparing to film an episode of Access Hollywood. On the tape, Trump is heard bragging about forcibly kissing and groping women with the show’s then-cohost Billy Bush. “I just start kissing them,” he says, “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything … grab them by the pussy.” He also speaks of his efforts to seduce a married woman, saying he “moved on her very heavily.” These statements were recorded several months after Trump married his third wife, Melania, who was also pregnant at the time.
Trump’s language 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.
Trump and his campaign have denied all of these accusations. He has called them “false smears” and alleged a conspiracy against him. In his two public statements in response to the controversy, Trump responded by alleging that Bill Clinton, former President of the United States and husband of Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, had “abused women” and that Hillary had bullied her husband’s victims.
Prior to the general election in November 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other American intelligence agencies publicly blamed Russia for cyberespionage that was intended to affect the U.S. presidential election, and U.S. officials decided that any countermeasures against Russia would come after election day instead of before. On December 9, 2016, senior Obama administration officials indicated that Russia provided Wikileaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta with the goal of influencing the outcome of the election. The FBI later affirmed this assessment.
Trump’s transition team initially dismissed the allegations with a statement which said: “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” Wikileaks denied any involvement of Russian authorities. A January 2017 U.S. intelligence report concluded that Russian president Vladimir Putin sought to help Trump in the election. The report did not attempt to assess whether the Russian hacking actually helped to elect Trump or made any difference in the election outcome. Trump acknowledged during a January 11, 2017 press conference that Russia was behind cyberattacks aimed at influencing the election, and mentioned that Putin “shouldn’t have done it.”
Election to the presidency
On November 8, 2016, Trump won the presidency with 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232 votes. Trump received a smaller share of the popular vote than Clinton, and he is the fifth person to become president without winning the popular vote. The final popular vote difference between Clinton and Trump is that Clinton finished ahead by 2.86 million or 2.1 percentage points, 48.04% to 45.95%, with neither candidate reaching a majority. The last time the Electoral College winner lost the nationwide popular vote by over two percentage points was the election of 1876.
Trump became the first president without prior governmental or military experience. Of the 44 previous presidents, 39 had held prior elective office; 2 had not held elective office but had served in the Cabinet; and 3 had never held public office but had been commanding generals. Trump lost his home state of New York, becoming only the fourth candidate to win the presidency without his home state. The others were James Polk (Tennessee) in 1844, Woodrow Wilson (New Jersey) in 1916, and Richard Nixon (New York) in 1968.
Trump’s victory was considered a big political upset, as nearly all national polls at the time showed Hillary Clinton with a modest lead over Trump, and state polls showed her with a modest lead to win the Electoral College. The errors in some state polls were later partially attributed to pollsters overestimating Clinton’s support among well-educated and nonwhite voters, while underestimating Trump’s support among white working-class voters. Trump’s victory marked the first time that Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress since the period from 2003 to 2007.
In the early hours of November 9, 2016, Trump received a phone call in which Clinton conceded the presidency to him. Trump then delivered his victory speech before hundreds of supporters in the Hilton Hotel in New York City. The speech was in contrast with some of his previous rhetoric, with Trump promising to heal the division caused by the election, thanking Clinton for her service to the country, and promising to be a president to all Americans.
Trump’s victory sparked protests across the United States. Democrats, in alignment with other Trump opponents, took to the streets to amplify their opposition to Trump’s views and denounce his inflammatory statements. They argued that Clinton’s popular vote victory meant Trump was not actually the democratically-elected president and should be considered illegitimate. Trump initially said on Twitter that the protests consisted of “professional protesters, incited by the media”, and were “unfair”, but he later stated that he loves their passion for the country. In contrast, after Obama’s re-election in 2012, Trump had tweeted “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”
On November 10, President-elect Trump had his first meeting with President Obama to discuss plans for a peaceful transition of power. The New York Times stated that “It was an extraordinary show of cordiality and respect between two men who have been political enemies and are stylistic opposites.” The BBC stated that “their antipathy was barely concealed” in “awkward photos” of the meeting.
Trump’s transition team was led by Chris Christie until November 11, 2016, when Vice President-elect Mike Pence took over. Since then, Trump has chosen RNC chairman Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff and businessman and media executive Steve Bannon as Counselor to the President. He has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor, education reform activist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Representative Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, former campaign rival Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, financier Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce, Marine Corps General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, Marine Corps General John F. Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security, businessman Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor, CEO of ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, former Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy, U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior, and Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
On November 22, in a video posted at YouTube, Trump outlined his plan for his first 100 days in office. The plan included the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and asking the Department of Defense to develop a plan to protect the United States from cyber-attack.
On December 7, Time named Trump as its “Person of the Year“. In an interview on The Today Show, he said he was honored by the award, but he took issue with the magazine for referring to him as the “President of the Divided States of America”. On December 13 he was named Financial Times Person of the Year. In December 2016, Forbes ranked Trump the second most powerful person in the world, after Vladimir Putin and before Angela Merkel.
In January 2017, Trump was briefed on unproven allegations that Russia had “potentially compromising personal and financial information” about him. He has denied these claims.
The inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th President was held on Friday, January 20, 2017. Within his first hour as president, he signed numerous executive orders, including an order to minimize “the economic burden” of Obamacare.
Media have described Trump’s political positions 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 liberal (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 has a revolutionary ability to attract free media attention, sometimes by making outrageous comments.
Trump has supported varying political leanings and 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. He has listed several different party affiliations over the years and has also run as a Reform Party candidate.
Economy and trade
Trump’s campaign tax plan called for levelling the corporate tax rate to 15%, eliminating various business loopholes and deductions, and reducing the number of brackets for personal income tax: the top rate would be reduced from 39.6% to 25%, a large “zero bracket” would be created, and the alternative minimum tax and estate tax (which currently applies to individual estates over $5.45 million or $10.9 million per married couple) would both be eliminated. His comments about the minimum wage have been inconsistent.
Many economists have been critical of Trump’s economic policies, with several reports assessing that his campaign plan would increase tax rates for families earning between $20,000 to $200,000 a year, cause long-term job losses and recession, and significantly increase the federal debt.
Trump identifies as a “free trader“, but says that trade must be “reasonably fair”. He has often been called a “protectionist“, because of his criticism of NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and his proposal to raise tariffs on Chinese and Mexican exports to the United States significantly. He has also been critical of the World Trade Organization, threatening to leave unless his proposed tariffs are accepted.
Energy and climate
Trump’s energy policy advocates domestic industrial 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. His appointed advisers favor a less regulated energy market and, because they do not consider climate change a threat, see no need for immediate action.
Trump does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change. In 2012 he said that global warming was a hoax invented by the Chinese, but later said that he was joking. He has called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a “disgrace” and has threatened to cut its budget. Bob Walker, a senior campaign adviser, has announced plans to eliminate funding for the NASA Earth Science program. Trump has pledged to eliminate the Clean Power Plan and withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, which calls for reductions in carbon emissions in more than 170 countries.
However, after winning the presidency, Trump admitted “some connectivity” between human activity and climate variability and said he has an “open mind” towards the Paris agreement. On December 5, 2016, Donald and Ivanka Trump invited prominent climate change activist Al Gore to a private meeting. On January 13, 2017, Trump met with Princeton physics professor William Happer, who believes that global warming is “good for mankind” and has stated that benefits of climate change outweigh any harm.
Trump has been described as non-interventionist and nationalist. Trump has repeatedly stated that he supports “America First” foreign policy, though he is not linked to the historical isolationist America First Party (1944) or the defunct paleoconservative America First Party (2002). 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. He questions whether he, as president, would automatically extend security guarantees to NATO members, and suggests that he might leave NATO unless changes are made to the alliance. Trump has called for Japan to pay for the costs of American troops stationed there and that it might need to develop nuclear weapons in order to protect itself from North Korea.
In order to confront 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 retracted. Also in 2016, when asked how he would handle ISIS using human shields, Trump responded with “you have to take out their families.” He has since argued that regional allies of the U.S., such as Saudi Arabia should provide troops in the fight. He also believes that oil fields in ISIS-controlled areas should be bombed. He supports the use of waterboarding, a form of torture, and has said he would “bring back a hell of a lot worse”. Trump has also said he will dismantle the international nuclear agreement with Iran as president. 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”. He supports Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.
During his 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said that he opposed the Iraq War even before it was launched, although his public position had been unclear at the time. In 2002, when asked whether he supported invading Iraq, Trump responded, “Yeah, I guess so” and added “I wish the first time it was done correctly” in reference to the Gulf War of 1990–1991. Shortly before the 2003 invasion, he said: “Well, [Bush’s] either got to do something—or not do something, perhaps. […] And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.” Trump publicly referred to the war as a “mess” within a week after it began, and by 2004 he said he was opposed to it. Since 2004, he has repeatedly criticized the war, especially during the primary debates with Jeb Bush.
Trump has at times during his presidential campaign stated that the Afghanistan War was a mistake, and at other times stated that it was necessary. He supports keeping a limited number of United States troops there. Trump was a supporter of the 2011 military intervention in Libya at the time, stating in February 2011 “We should go in, we should stop [Gaddafi], which would be very easy and very quick, we could do it surgically.” He has since then reversed his position, stating in February 2016 that “We would be so much better off if Gaddafi would be in charge right now.”
Trump would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting sanctions on Russia. He added that Russia could help the U.S. in fighting ISIS militants.
Trump’s immigration policies were intensely discussed during the campaign. Some of his proposals came under scrutiny by several experts on immigration who have questioned the effectiveness and affordability of his plans. Trump vows to build a more substantial wall on the Mexico–United States border to keep out illegal immigrants, a wall which Trump promises Mexico will pay for. He pledged to massively deport illegal immigrants residing in the United States, and criticized birthright citizenship as it creates “anchor babies“.
Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, Trump made a controversial proposal to completely ban Muslims from entering the United States until proper filtering could be implemented. He later clarified that this proposal would only apply to Muslim noncitizens. He changed his position in 2016 by stating that the temporary ban would apply only to people originating from countries with a “proven history of terrorism against the United States or its allies”, or countries “compromised by terrorism”. Trump characterized this as an expansion, not rollback, of his original proposal.
In August 2016, Trump hinted he might soften his position calling for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants. On August 31, 2016, he visited Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, saying he wanted to build relations with the country. However, in a major speech later that night, Trump laid out a 10-point plan reaffirming his hardline positions, including building a wall along the Mexican border to be paid for by Mexico, potentially deporting “anyone who has entered the United States illegally”, denying legal status to such people unless they leave the country and apply for re-entry, and creating a deportation task force. He said the focus of the task force would be criminals, those who have overstayed their visas, and other “security threats”.
Trump describes himself as pro-life and generally opposes abortion with some exceptions: rape, incest, and circumstances endangering the health of the mother, and said he is committed to appointing justices who would try to overturn the ruling in Roe v. Wade. He personally supports “traditional marriage” but considers the nationwide legality of same-sex marriage a “settled” issue.
Trump supports a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and says he is opposed to gun control in general, although his views have shifted over time. Trump opposes legalizing recreational marijuana but supports legalizing medical marijuana. He favors capital punishment, as well as the use of waterboarding, which is a form of torture.
Trump has repeatedly vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). His 2000 book, The America We Deserve, argued strongly for a single-payer healthcare system based on the Canadian model. Remarks from Trump as recently as January 2015 seem to hold up foreign single-payer healthcare systems as models to emulate and his September 2015 remarks indicate support for government-funded universal healthcare. During the 2016 campaign, Trump distanced himself from a single-payer system without providing clarity about his present proposals. In March 2016, Trump’s campaign released a platform summary which included a variety of free-market reforms including provisions to allow health insurance to be sold across state lines, enable individuals to deduct health insurance premiums, expand health savings accounts, and give more control of Medicaid to the states.
Trump aims to streamline the Department of Veterans Affairs, getting rid of backlogs and waitlists, and upgrading relevant facilities.
Trump has stated his support for school choice and local control for primary and secondary schools. He opposes the Common Core State Standards Initiative for primary and secondary schools, and has called Common Core “a disaster” that must be ended. He has stated he would abolish all or part of the Department of Education.
Trump has five children by three marriages, and has eight grandchildren. His first two marriages ended in divorces that were publicized in the tabloid media.
Trump married his first wife, Czech model Ivana Zelníčková, on April 7, 1977, at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan in a ceremony performed by one of America’s most famous ministers, the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale. They had three children: son Donald Jr. (born December 31, 1977), daughter Ivanka (born October 30, 1981), and son Eric (born January 6, 1984). Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric now serve as executive vice presidents of The Trump Organization. Ivana became a naturalized United States citizen in 1988.
Trump has been nicknamed “The Donald” since Ivana referred to him as such in a 1989 Spy magazine cover story. By early 1990, Trump’s troubled marriage to Ivana and affair with actress Marla Maples had been reported in the tabloid press. Ivana Trump was granted an uncontested divorce in 1990, on the grounds that Trump’s treatment of her, such as his affair with Maples, had been “cruel and inhuman”. In 1992, he successfully sued Ivana for violating a gag clause in their divorce agreement by disclosing facts about him in her book. In 2015, Ivana said that she and Donald “are the best of friends”.
Maples gave birth to their daughter Tiffany, named after Tiffany & Company (Trump’s purchase of the air rights above the store in the 1980s allowed him to build Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue), on October 13, 1993. They married two months later on December 20, 1993. The couple formally separated in May 1997, with their divorce finalized in June 1999. Maples raised Tiffany as a single mother in Calabasas, California, where they lived until Tiffany’s graduation from Viewpoint School. In 1998, Trump began a relationship with Slovene model Melania Knauss, who became his third wife. They were engaged in April 2004 and were married on January 22, 2005, at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, on the island of Palm Beach, Florida, followed by a reception at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. In 2006, Melania became a naturalized United States citizen. On March 20, 2006, she gave birth to their son, whom they named Barron Trump. Having heard the language since his birth, Barron is fluent in Slovene. In a February 2009 interview on ABC’s news program Nightline, Trump commented that his love for his business had made it difficult for his first two wives to compete with his affection for work.
Trump’s brother, Fred Jr., predeceased their father Fred. Shortly after the latter died in 1999, the wife of Fred Jr.’s son gave birth to a son with serious medical problems. Trump and his family offered to pay the medical bills through Fred Sr.’s company (Fred Sr. had freely provided medical coverage to his family through his company for decades). Fred III then sued the family for allegedly having used “undue influence” on a dementia-stricken Fred Sr. to get Fred III and his sister Mary a reduced share from their grandfather’s will, but Trump attributed the reduced share to his father’s dislike of Fred III’s mother, and Trump stopped the aid for Fred III’s son. The aid was resumed by court order pending outcome of the lawsuit, which was then settled.
Trump identifies as Presbyterian. As a child, he began going to church at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens. He attended Sunday school and had his confirmation at that church. Trump said in 2015 that he attends Reformed Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, where he married his first wife Ivana in 1977, although he is not an “active member”. He is also loosely affiliated with Lakeside Presbyterian Church in West Palm Beach, Florida, near his Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump said that although he participates in Holy Communion, he has not asked God for forgiveness for his sins, stating: “I think if I do something wrong, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture.”
In December 2016, Donald Trump visited Bethesda-by-the-Sea, an Episcopal church for Christmas services.
Trump calls his own book The Art of the Deal “my second favorite book of all time, after the Bible. Nothing beats the Bible”. In a speech to Liberty University, he referred to Second Corinthians as “Two Corinthians”, eliciting chuckles from the audience. Still, 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”.
Outside of his church affiliations, Trump has relationships with a number of Christian spiritual leaders, including Florida pastor Paula White, who has been described as his “closest spiritual confidant.” In 2015, he asked for and received a blessing from Greek Orthodox priest Emmanuel Lemelson and, in 2016, released a list of his religious advisers, including James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ralph Reed and others.
Referring to his daughter Ivanka‘s conversion to Judaism before her marriage to Jared Kushner, Trump said in 2015: “I have a Jewish daughter; and I am very honored by that […] it wasn’t in the plan but I am very glad it happened.”
A medical report by his doctor, Harold Bornstein M.D., showed that Trump’s blood pressure, liver and thyroid function were in normal range. Trump says that he has never smoked cigarettes or consumed other drugs, including marijuana. He also does not drink alcohol, a decision stemming from his brother’s death caused by alcoholism. His BMI, according to his December 2016 visit on Doctor Oz, is just under 30, which is “high”.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation is a U.S.-based private foundation established in 1988 for the initial purpose of giving away proceeds from the book Trump: The Art of the Deal by Trump and Tony Schwartz. The foundation’s funds have mostly come from donors other than Trump, who has not given personally to the charity since 2008. In 2016, investigations by The Washington Post uncovered several potential legal and ethical violations conducted by the charity, including alleged self-dealing and possible tax evasion. After beginning an investigation into the foundation, the New York State Attorney General‘s office notified the Trump Foundation that it was allegedly in violation of New York laws regarding charities, and ordered it to immediately cease its fundraising activities in New York. A Trump spokesman called the investigation a “partisan hit job”.
The foundation’s tax returns show that it has given to health care and sports-related charities, as well as conservative groups. In 2009, for example, the foundation gave $926,750 to about 40 groups, with the biggest donations going to the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation ($100,000), the New York–Presbyterian Hospital ($125,000), the Police Athletic League ($156,000), and the Clinton Foundation ($100,000). From 2004 to 2014, the top donors to the foundation were Vince and Linda McMahon of WWE, who donated $5 million to the foundation after Trump appeared at WrestleMania in 2007. After winning the presidency, Trump announced his intention to give Linda McMahon a cabinet-level position in his administration, as Administrator of the Small Business Administration. 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”.
An analysis by USA Today, published in June 2016, found that over the previous three decades, Trump and his businesses had been involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. federal courts and state courts, an unprecedented number for a U.S. presidential candidate. Of the 3,500 suits, mostly in the casino industry, Trump or one of his companies was the plaintiff in 1,900; defendant in 1,450; and third party, filer of bankruptcy, or other in 150. Trump was named in at least 169 suits in federal court. Although litigation over contract disputes and other matters is common in the real estate industry, USA Today found that Trump had been involved in more legal disputes than Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., Donald Bren, Stephen M. Ross, Sam Zell, and Larry Silverstein combined. In about 500 cases, judges dismissed plaintiffs’ claims against Trump. Hundreds of cases have ended with the available public record unclear about the resolution, but where there was a clear resolution, he has won 451 times and lost 38.
In 1985, Trump was sued by both the State of New York and the City of New York for allegedly trying to force out tenants to enable demolition. The matter was settled and the demolition canceled. In 1988, Trump paid $750,000 to settle the civil penalties in an antitrust lawsuit stemming from stock purchases.
In 1991, a business analyst predicted that the Trump Taj Mahal would soon fail, and he then lost his job; the analyst sued Trump for allegedly having an unlawful role in the firing, and that matter was settled confidentially out of court. After a helicopter crashed, killing three executives of his New Jersey hotel casino business, Trump sued the manufacturers. That case was dismissed. Trump Plaza was fined $200,000 by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for moving African-American and female employees away from a racist and sexist gambler to accommodate him, but Trump was not evidently investigated, nor held personally liable, and said he would not even recognize that gambler. In 1991, Trump’s father, Fred Trump, made an unlawful loan to Trump’s Castle to help it make a mortgage payment, and the casino was required to pay a $30,000 fine, but his son was not penalized.
In 1993, Trump sued his business partner Jay Pritzker for allegedly collecting excessive fees, and the matter was settled. Boarding house owner Vera Coking sued for damage during construction of an adjacent casino, and later dropped the suit against Trump while settling with his contractor; she also prevailed against Trump and other developers in an eminent domain case.
In 1997, Trump and rival Atlantic City casino owner Stephen Wynn engaged in an extended legal conflict during the planning phase of new casinos Wynn had proposed to build, and the cases were settled.
In 2000, Trump was charged with lobbying for government rejection of proposed casinos that would compete with his casinos, and he paid $250,000 to settle resulting fines. The charges related to a proposed Native American-run casino in the Catskills, New York, which would have competed with three of Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City.
When the Securities and Exchange Commission charged one of his companies with poor financial reporting, Trump’s attorney said the culprit had been dismissed, and that Trump had personally been unaware of the matter. Following litigation with Leona Helmsley that started in the 1990s regarding control of the Empire State Building, Trump in 2002 sold his share in that building to rivals of Helmsley’s.
In 2004 Trump sued former business partner Richard Fields for allegedly saying he still consulted for Trump. Fields counter-sued, and the lawsuit was dismissed.
The town of Palm Beach, Florida fined Trump for building an 80-foot (24-meter) pole for the American flag at his Mar-a-Lago property. Trump then sued, and a settlement required him to donate $100,000 to veterans’ charities, while the town agreed to let him enroll out-of-towners in his social club and permitted a 10-foot shorter flagpole elsewhere on his lawn.
When the California city of Rancho Palos Verdes thwarted luxury home development on a landslide-prone area owned by Trump, he sued, and the city agreed to permit extensions for 20 more proposed luxury homes.
Trump sued a law firm he had used, Morrison Cohen, for using his name, for providing news links at its website, and for charging excessive fees, after which the firm halved the fees, and the court ruled that the links were allowable.
In 2009, Trump was sued by investors in the canceled Trump Ocean Resort Baja Mexico; Trump said he had merely been a spokesperson, and he settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.
In 2004, the Trump Organization licensed the Trump brand to a hotel and condo project in Fort Lauderdale scheduled to open in 2007, but delays in construction and the bursting of the U.S. real estate bubble led Trump to withdraw his name from the deal in 2009, after which the project defaulted, investors sued, and Trump was caught in the ongoing lawsuits because he had participated in advertising.
Trump personally guaranteed $40 million to secure a $640 million loan for Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. When Deutsche Bank tried to collect it, Trump sued the bank for harming the project and his reputation, and the bank then agreed to extend the loan term by five years.
In 2015, Trump’s claim that the Scottish Government improperly approved a wind-farm project near his golf course and planned hotel was rejected by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, following a lengthy legal battle.
In July 2015, Trump sued the former Miss Pennsylvania, Sheena Monnin, after she alleged that the Miss USA 2012 pageant was rigged. A federal judge upheld the settlement, obliging her to pay Trump $5 million.
Trump sued Palm Beach County, alleging that the county had pressured the FAA to direct air traffic over Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and estate. He also sued chefs Geoffrey Zakarian and José Andrés; the latter said there was no merit in Trump’s allegation that the chef backed out of a deal at the Old Post Office Pavilion.
Trump sued the town of Ossining, New York, over the property tax valuation on his golf course there, after separately being sued for modifying a drainage system that allegedly damaged a library, public pool, and park facilities.
Summer Zervos who is one of the women complaining that Trump groped her is suing for defamation.
Awards, honors, and distinctions
- The Jewish National Fund‘s Tree of Life Award for outstanding contributions to Israel–United States relations. (1983)
- The Ellis Island Medal of Honor in celebration of “patriotism, tolerance, brotherhood and diversity”. (1986)
- Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor for his role in Ghosts Can’t Do It (1990)
- Gaming Hall of Fame (1995)
- Street in Kalispell, Montana named Trump Drive (Montana real estate developer Hubert Turner named the streets on his Empire Estates properties after famous NYC business moguls).
- Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2007)
- Muhammad Ali Entrepreneur Award (2007)
- Trump was awarded an honorary doctorate of business administration by Scotland’s Robert Gordon University in 2010. The degree was revoked on December 9, 2015, because Trump had made statements that the university deemed “wholly incompatible” with its “ethos and values”.
- NY Ride of Fame (2010)
- Honorary doctorate of business, Liberty University (2012)
- WWE Hall of Fame (2013)
- The Algemeiner Liberty Award for contributions to Israel–United States relations. (2015)
- New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame (2015)
- Marine Corps–Law Enforcement Foundation Commandant’s Leadership Award (2015) Trump received the award for pledging to donate $100,000 to the charity, and later claimed he was “given the biggest award by the Marines”. The charity is not legally affiliated with the Marine Corps, though the award was presented by Marine Commandant General Joseph Dunford.
- Key to the City of Doral, Florida (2015)
- Time Person of the Year (2016)
- Financial Times Person of the Year (2016)
Republican Party presidential primaries, 2016
- His external entrepreneurial and investment ventures include Trump Financial (a mortgage firm), Trump Sales and Leasing (residential sales), Trump International Realty (a residential and commercial real estate brokerage firm), The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative (a for profit business education company, formerly called the Trump University), Trump Restaurants (located in Trump Tower and consisting of Trump Buffet, Trump Catering, Trump Ice Cream Parlor, and Trump Bar), GoTrump (an online travel search engine), Select By Trump (a line of coffee drinks), Trump Drinks (an energy drink for the Israeli and Palestinian markets), Donald J. Trump Signature Collection (a line of menswear, men’s accessories, and watches), Donald Trump The Fragrance (2004), SUCCESS by Donald Trump (a second fragrance launched by The Trump Organization and the Five Star Fragrance Company released in March 2012), Trump Ice bottled water, the former Trump Magazine, Trump Golf, Trump Chocolate, Trump Home (home furnishings), Trump Productions (a television production company), Trump Institute, Trump: The Game (1989 board game with a 2005 re-release version tied to The Apprentice), Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon (a business simulation game), Trump Books, Trump Model Management, Trump Shuttle, Trump Mortgage, Trump Network (a multi-level vitamin, cosmetic, and urinalysis marketing company), Trump Vodka, Trump Steakhouse and Trump Steaks. In addition, Trump reportedly received $1.5 million for each one-hour presentation he did for The Learning Annex. Trump also endorsed ACN Inc., a multi-level marketing telecommunications company. He has spoken at ACN International Training Events at which he praised the company’s founders, business model and video phone. He earned a total $1.35 million for three speeches given for the company, amounting to $450,000 per speech.
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He called his company Elizabeth Trump & Son …
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I do not intend to comment on this matter any further
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If you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.
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Donald J. Trump’s proposal to bar Muslim noncitizens from entering the United States…
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