Donald Trump

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Donald Trump
Official White House presidential portrait. Head shot of Trump smiling in front of the U.S. flag, wearing a dark blue suit jacket with American flag lapel pin, white shirt, and light blue necktie.
Official portrait, 2017
45th President of the United States
In office
January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021
Vice PresidentMike Pence
Preceded byBarack Obama
Succeeded byJoe Biden
Personal details
Born
Donald John Trump

(1946-06-14) June 14, 1946 (age 77)
Queens, New York City, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (1987–1999, 2009–2011, 2012–present)
Other political
affiliations
Spouses
(m. 1977; div. 1992)
(m. 1993; div. 1999)
(m. 2005)
Children
Parents
RelativesFamily of Donald Trump
ResidenceMar-a-Lago
Alma materWharton School (BS Econ.)
Occupation
AwardsList of awards and honors
SignatureDonald J. Trump stylized autograph, in ink
Website

Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is a media personality and businessman who transitioned into politics at the age of 70 to be the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and assumed leadership of his father's real estate enterprise in 1971. He renamed it The Trump Organization, and expanded the company's portfolio to include skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. Trump's television career as host and executive producer of The Apprentice (2004–2017) gave rise to his signature catchphrase "You're fired!" which became a widely recognized part of his persona. After he entered the political arena, allegations about Trump-Russia collusion, also known as "Russiagate", have been recognized as a significant factor in defining President Trump's interactions with the media from 2017 until March 2019. Trump criticized media outlets he believed were reporting fake news relative to such topics as the Steele dossier, Trump-Russia collusion, Whitehouse dysfunction, and at times, he would criticize the media in general. He initially used the term "fake news" in a tweet on December 10, 2016, posted on the social media platform Twitter.[1] Some media coverage of Trump has been described in some media reviews as a catastophic media failure, and as media's WMD.

Various opinions regarding Trump's political stances encompass a range of perspectives, including characterizations of him as a populist, protectionist, isolationist, and nationalist figure. In the 2016 United States presidential election, Trump, the Republican nominee, secured victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the Electoral college despite losing the popular vote.[a] Of note, Trump held no prior military or governmental service experience—a unique characteristic among U.S. presidents. His tenure was marked by widespread protests and controversies over his policies. The special counsel investigation conducted from 2017 to 2019 by Robert Mueller aimed to examine potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. While the Mueller Report did not establish collusion, it did indicate instances of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, and reluctantly agreed to an orderly transition of power, all the while adamantly disagreeing with the results of the election, alleging widespread and unparalleled voter fraud.[2] Many of Trump's supporters were also convinced that it was a stolen election; however, statistical arguments that cast doubt on the election have been disputed on the basis of logical flaws.[3] Trump's subsequent actions, including his refusal to acknowledge the election's legitimacy and his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, prompted an investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, resulting in state charges against Trump and 18 others for their alleged efforts to overturn the former president's 2020 electoral defeat. Criminal indictments by an Atlanta-based grand jury were handed down on August 14, 2023, including felony racketeering and numerous conspiracy counts.[4][5][6]

President Donald Trump is the only American president to have been impeached twice by the House of Representatives, and acquitted twice by the Senate in a near party-line vote. The first impeachment, which resulted in an acquittal by the Senate, was based on his interactions with Ukraine, and the second impeachment was based on his influence in the January 6th protests at the U.S. Capitol Building relative to the 2020 election of Joe Biden. Trump's second impeachment marked the "third impeachment trial of a president and the third acquittal in American history, and it ended the way it began: with Republicans and Democrats at odds."[7] As of September 2023, Trump is the first American president and Republican front-runner for the 2024 presidential election to face federal felony charges by the Department of Justice, spearheaded by independent special counsel Jack Smith; the total represents 91 criminal counts.[8] Defendants maintain their innocence on all counts.[9]

Personal life

Early life

A black-and-white photograph of Donald Trump as a teenager, smiling, wearing a dark pseudo-military uniform with various badges and a light-colored stripe crossing his right shoulder
Trump at the New York Military Academy in 1964

Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, at Jamaica Hospital in the borough of Queens in New York City,[10][11] the fourth child of Fred Trump, a Bronx-born real estate developer whose parents were German immigrants, and Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, an immigrant from Scotland. Trump grew up with older siblings Maryanne, Fred Jr., and Elizabeth, and younger brother Robert in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens, and attended the private Kew-Forest School from kindergarten through seventh grade.[12][13][14] At age 13, he was enrolled at the New York Military Academy, a private boarding school,[15] and in 1964, he enrolled at Fordham University. Two years later, he transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in May 1968 with a B.S. in economics.[16][17] In 2015, Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen threatened Trump's colleges, high school, and the College Board with legal action if they released Trump's academic records.[18]

While in college, Trump obtained four student draft deferments during the Vietnam War era.[19] In 1966, he was deemed fit for military service based upon a medical examination, and in July 1968, a local draft board classified him as eligible to serve.[20] In October 1968, he was classified 1-Y, a conditional medical deferment,[21] and in 1972, he was reclassified 4-F due to bone spurs, permanently disqualifying him from service.[22]

Family

In 1977, Trump married Czech model Ivana Zelníčková.[23] They had three children: Donald Jr. (born 1977), Ivanka (born 1981), and Eric (born 1984). Ivana became a naturalized United States citizen in 1988.[24] The couple divorced in 1992, following Trump's affair with actress Marla Maples.[25] Trump and Maples married in 1993 and divorced in 1999. They have one daughter, Tiffany (born 1993), who was raised by Marla in California.[26] In 2005, Trump married Slovenian model Melania Knauss.[27] They have one son, Barron (born 2006).[28] Melania gained U.S. citizenship in 2006.[29]

Religion

Trump went to Sunday school and was confirmed in 1959 at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens.[30][31] In the 1970s, his parents joined the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, which belongs to the Reformed Church in America.[30][32] The pastor at Marble, Norman Vincent Peale,[30] ministered to the family until his death in 1993.[32] Trump has described him as a mentor.[33] In 2015, the church stated that Trump was not an active member.[31] In 2019, he appointed his personal pastor, televangelist Paula White, to the White House Office of Public Liaison.[34] In 2020, he said he identified as a non-denominational Christian.[35]

Health habits

Trump has called golfing his "primary form of exercise" but usually does not walk the course.[36] He considers exercise a waste of energy, because exercise depletes the body's energy "like a battery, with a finite amount of energy."[37] In 2015, Trump's campaign released a letter from his longtime personal physician, Harold Bornstein, stating that Trump would "be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."[38] In 2018, Bornstein said Trump had dictated the contents of the letter, and that three Trump agents had seized his medical records in a February 2017 raid on the doctor's office.[38][39]

Wealth

Ivana Trump and King Fahd shake hands, with Ronald Reagan standing next to them smiling. All are in black formal attire.
Trump (far right) and wife Ivana in the receiving line of a state dinner for King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in 1985, with U.S. president Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan

In 1982, Trump made the initial Forbes list of wealthy people for holding a share of his family's estimated $200 million net worth. His losses in the 1980s dropped him from the list between 1990 and 1995.[40] After filing the mandatory financial disclosure report with the FEC in July 2015, he announced a net worth of about $10 billion. Records released by the FEC showed at least $1.4 billion in assets and $265 million in liabilities.[41] Forbes estimated his net worth at $4.5 billion in 2015 and $3.1 billion in 2018.[42] In its 2021 billionaires ranking, it was $2.4 billion (1,299th in the world), making him one of the wealthiest officeholders in American history.[43]

Journalist Jonathan Greenberg reported in 2018 that Trump, using the pseudonym "John Barron" and claiming to be a Trump Organization official, called him in 1984 to falsely assert that he owned "in excess of ninety percent" of the Trump family's business, to secure a higher ranking on the Forbes 400 list of wealthy Americans. Greenberg also wrote that Forbes had vastly overestimated Trump's wealth and wrongly included him on the Forbes 400 rankings of 1982, 1983, and 1984.[44]

Trump has often said he began his career with "a small loan of one million dollars" from his father, and that he had to pay it back with interest.[45] He was a millionaire by age eight, borrowed at least $60 million from his father, largely failed to repay those loans, and received another $413 million (adjusted for inflation) from his father's company.[46] His investments underperformed the stock and New York property markets.[47][48] Forbes estimated in October 2018 that his net worth declined from $4.5 billion in 2015 to $3.1 billion in 2017 and his product licensing income from $23 million to $3 million.[49]

Business career

Real estate

Exterior ground view of Trump tower, a contemporary skyscraper with a glass curtain and stepped façade
Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan

Starting in 1968, Trump was employed at his father Fred's real estate company, Trump Management, which owned middle-class rental housing in New York City's outer boroughs.[50] In 1971, he became president of the company and began using The Trump Organization as an umbrella brand.[51]

Manhattan developments

Trump attracted public attention in 1978 with the launch of his family's first Manhattan venture, the renovation of the derelict Commodore Hotel, adjacent to Grand Central Terminal. The financing was facilitated by a $400 million city property tax abatement arranged by Fred Trump[52] who also, jointly with Hyatt, guaranteed a $70 million in bank construction financing.[53] The hotel reopened in 1980 as the Grand Hyatt Hotel,[54] and that same year, Trump obtained rights to develop Trump Tower, a mixed-use skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan.[55] The building houses the headquarters of the Trump Corporation and Trump's PAC and was Trump's primary residence until 2019.[56][57]

In 1988, Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan with a loan of $425 million from a consortium of banks. Two years later, the hotel filed for bankruptcy protection, and a reorganization plan was approved in 1992.[58] In 1995, Trump sold the Plaza Hotel along with most of his properties to pay down his debts, including personally guaranteed loans, allowing him to avoid personal insolvency.[59][60]

In 1996, Trump acquired the mostly vacant 71-story skyscraper at 40 Wall Street, later rebranded as the Trump Building, and renovated it.[61] In the early 1990s, Trump won the right to develop a 70-acre (28 ha) tract in the Lincoln Square neighborhood near the Hudson River. Struggling with debt from other ventures in 1994, Trump sold most of his interest in the project to Asian investors, who were able to finance completion of the project, Riverside South.[62]

Mar-a-Lago

In 1985, Trump acquired the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.[63] In 1995, he converted the estate into a private club with an initiation fee and annual dues. He continued to use a wing of the house as a private residence.[64] In 2019, Trump declared Mar-a-Lago his primary residence.[57]

Atlantic City casinos

The entrance of the Trump Taj Mahal, a casino in Atlantic City. It has motifs evocative of the Taj Mahal in India.
Entrance of the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City

In 1984, Trump opened Harrah's at Trump Plaza, a hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with financing and management help from the Holiday Corporation.[65] It was unprofitable, and Trump paid Holiday $70 million in May 1986 to take sole control.[66] Trump had earlier bought a hotel and casino in Atlantic City from the Hilton Corporation for $320 million. On completion in 1985, it became Trump Castle. His wife Ivana managed it until 1988.[67][68]

Trump bought a third Atlantic City venue in 1988, the Trump Taj Mahal. It was financed with $675 million in junk bonds and completed for $1.1 billion, opening in April 1990.[69][70] It went bankrupt in 1989.[71] Reorganizing left him with half his initial stake and required him to personally guarantee future performance.[72] To reduce his $900 million of personal debt, he sold his failing Trump Shuttle airline, his megayacht, the Trump Princess, which had been leased to his casinos and kept docked, and other businesses.[73]

In 1995, Trump founded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (THCR), which assumed ownership of Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, and the Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana.[74] THCR purchased the Taj Mahal in 1996 and went bankrupt in 2004, 2009, and 2014, leaving Trump with 10 percent ownership.[75] He remained chairman until 2009.[76]

Golf courses

The Trump Organization began building and buying golf courses in 1999.[77] It owns fourteen and manages another three Trump-branded courses worldwide.[77][78]

Trump visited a Trump Organization property on 428 (nearly one in three) of the 1,461 days of his presidency and is estimated to have played 261 rounds of golf, one every 5.6 days.[79]

Branding and licensing

The Trump name has been licensed for various consumer products and services, including foodstuffs, apparel, adult learning courses, and home furnishings.[80][81] 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 revenue for his companies.[82] By 2018, only two consumer goods companies continued to license his name.[80]

Side ventures

Trump, Doug Flutie, and an unnamed official standing behind a lectern with big, round New Jersey Generals sign, with members of the press seated in the background
Trump and New Jersey Generals quarterback Doug Flutie at a 1985 press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower

In September 1983, Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals, a team in the United States Football League. 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 suit against the organization.[83][84]

Trump's businesses have hosted several boxing matches at the Atlantic City Convention Hall adjacent to and promoted as taking place at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.[85][86] 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.[87]

From 1986 to 1988, Trump purchased significant blocks of shares in various public companies while suggesting that he intended to take over the company and then sold his shares for a profit,[88] leading some observers to think he was engaged in greenmail.[89] The New York Times found that Trump initially made millions of dollars in such stock transactions, but later "lost most, if not all, of those gains after investors stopped taking his takeover talk seriously".[88]

In 1988, Trump purchased the Eastern Air Lines Shuttle, with 21 planes and landing rights in New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. He financed the purchase with $380 million from 22 banks, rebranded the operation the Trump Shuttle, and operated it until 1992. Trump failed to earn a profit with the airline and sold it to USAir.[90]

In 1992, Trump, his siblings Maryanne, Elizabeth, and Robert, and his cousin John W. Walter, each with a 20 percent share, formed All County Building Supply & Maintenance Corp. The company had no offices and is alleged to have been a shell company for paying the vendors providing services and supplies for Trump's rental units, then billing those services and supplies to Trump Management with markups of 20–50 percent and more. The owners shared the proceeds generated by the markups.[91][92] The increased costs were used as justification to get state approval for increasing the rents of Trump's rent-stabilized units.[91]

A red star with a bronze outline and "Donald Trump" and a TV icon written on it in bronze, embedded in a black terrazzo sidewalk
Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

From 1996 to 2015, Trump owned all or part of the Miss Universe pageants, including Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.[93][94] Due to disagreements with CBS about scheduling, he took both pageants to NBC in 2002.[95][96] In 2007, Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work as producer of Miss Universe.[97] NBC and Univision dropped the pageants from their broadcasting lineups in June 2015.[98]

Trump University

In 2004, Trump co-founded Trump University, a company that sold real estate training courses priced from $1,500 to $35,000.[99] After New York State authorities notified the company that its use of the word "university" violated state law (as it was not an academic institution), its name was changed to Trump Entrepreneur Initiative in 2010.[100]

In 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million civil suit against Trump University, alleging that the company made false statements and defrauded consumers.[101] In addition, two class actions were filed in federal court against Trump and his companies. Internal documents revealed that employees were instructed to use a hard-sell approach, and former employees testified that Trump University had defrauded or lied to its students.[102][103][104] Shortly after he won the 2016 presidential election, Trump agreed to pay a total of $25 million to settle the three cases.[105]

Foundation

The Donald J. Trump Foundation was a private foundation established in 1988.[106][107] In the foundation's final years its funds mostly came from donors other than Trump, who did not donate any personal funds to the charity from 2009 until 2014.[108] The foundation gave to health care and sports-related charities, as well as conservative groups.[109]

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.[110] Also in 2016, the New York State attorney general's office said the foundation appeared to be in violation of New York laws regarding charities and ordered it to immediately cease its fundraising activities in New York.[111][112] Trump's team announced in December 2016 that the foundation would be dissolved.[113]

In June 2018, the New York attorney general's office filed a civil suit against the foundation, Trump, and his adult children, seeking $2.8 million in restitution and additional penalties.[114][115] In December 2018, the foundation ceased operation and disbursed all its assets to other charities.[116] In November 2019, a New York state judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million to a group of charities for misusing the foundation's funds, in part to finance his presidential campaign.[117][118]

Media career

Books

Using ghostwriters, Trump has produced up to 19 books on business, financial, or political topics under his name.[119] His first book, The Art of the Deal (1987), was a New York Times Best Seller. While Trump was credited as co-author, the entire book was written by Tony Schwartz.[120] According to The New Yorker, "The book expanded Trump's renown far beyond New York City, making him an emblem of the successful tycoon."[120] Trump has called the volume his second favorite book, after the Bible.[121]

Film and television

Trump made cameo appearances in many films and television shows from 1985 to 2001.[122]

Trump had a sporadic relationship with the professional wrestling promotion WWE since the late 1980s.[123] He appeared at WrestleMania 23 in 2007 and was inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2013.[124]

Trump, in a suit, sits in a crowded baseball stadium
Trump at a New York Mets baseball game in 2009

Starting in the 1990s, Trump was a guest about 24 times on the nationally syndicated Howard Stern Show.[125] He also had his own short-form talk radio program called Trumped! (one to two minutes on weekdays) from 2004 to 2008.[126][127] From 2011 until 2015, he was a weekly unpaid guest commentator on Fox & Friends.[128][129]

From 2004 to 2015, Trump was co-producer and host of reality shows The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice. On The Apprentice, Trump played the role of a chief executive, and contestants competed for a year of employment at the Trump Organization. On The Celebrity Apprentice, celebrities competed to win money for charities. On both shows, Trump eliminated contestants with the catchphrase "You're fired."[130]

Trump, who had been a member since 1989, resigned from the Screen Actors Guild in February 2021 rather than face a disciplinary committee hearing for inciting the January 6, 2021, mob attack on the U.S. Capitol and for his "reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists."[131] Two days later, the union permanently barred him from readmission.[132]

Post-presidency (2021–present)

Trump speaks at the "Rally to Protect Our Elections" in Phoenix, Arizona, July 2021.

At the end of his term, Trump went to live at his Mar-a-Lago club.[133] As provided for by the Former Presidents Act,[134] he established an office there to handle his post-presidential activities.[134][135]

Trump's false claims concerning the 2020 election were commonly referred to as the "big lie" in the press and by his critics. In May 2021, Trump and his supporters attempted to co-opt the term, using it to refer to the election itself.[136][137] The Republican Party used Trump's false election narrative to justify the imposition of new voting restrictions in its favor.[137][138] As late as July 2022, Trump was still pressuring state legislators to overturn the 2020 election by rescinding the state's electoral votes for Biden.[139]

Trump resumed his campaign-style rallies with an 85-minute speech at the annual North Carolina Republican Party convention on June 6, 2021.[140][141] On June 26, he held his first public rally since the January 6 rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol.[142]

Unlike other former presidents, Trump continued to dominate his party; he has been compared to a modern-day party boss. He continued fundraising, raising more than twice as much as the Republican Party itself, hinted at a third candidacy, and profited from fundraisers many Republican candidates held at Mar-a-Lago. Much of his focus was on the people in charge of elections and how elections are run. In the 2022 midterm elections he endorsed over 200 candidates for various offices, most of whom support his claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.[143][144][145] Though there are exceptions, Trump's endorsement has been seen as important for candidates in Republican primary elections.[144]

Trump registered a new company in February 2021. Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) was formed for providing "social networking services" to "customers in the United States".[146][147] In October 2021, Trump announced the planned merger of TMTG with Digital World Acquisition,[148] a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). A main backer of the SPAC is China-based financier ARC Group, who was reportedly involved in setting up the proposed merger. The transaction is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.[149][150] In February 2022, TMTG launched Truth Social, a Twitter-like social media platform.[151]

Post-presidential investigations

Trump is the subject of several probes into his business dealings and his actions both before and during the presidency.[152] In February 2021, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, announced a criminal probe into Trump's phone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.[153] The New York State Attorney General's Office is conducting criminal investigations into Trump's business activities in conjunction with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.[154] By May 2021, a special grand jury was considering indictments.[155][156] In July 2021, New York prosecutors charged the Trump Organization with a "15 year 'scheme to defraud' the government". The organization's chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, was arraigned on grand larceny, tax fraud, and other charges.[157][158]

In December 2021, the New York State Attorney General's office subpoenaed Trump to produce documents related to the business.[159] On April 25, 2022, New York state judge Arthur Engoron held Trump in contempt of court for failing to comply with the subpoena. He imposed a fine of $10,000 per day until he complies.[160] Trump was deposed in August and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 400 times.[161] In September 2022, the Attorney General of New York filed a civil fraud case against Trump, his three oldest children, and the Trump Organization.[162]

FBI investigation

Classified intelligence material found during search of Mar-a-Lago

When Trump left the White House in January 2021, he took government documents and material with him to Mar-a-Lago. By May 2021, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the federal agency that preserves government records, realized that important documents had not been turned over to them at the end of Trump's term and asked his office to locate them. In January 2022, they retrieved 15 boxes of White House records from Mar-a-Lago. NARA later informed the Department of Justice that some of the retrieved documents were classified material.[163] The Justice Department began an investigation in April 2022 and convened a grand jury.[164] The Justice Department sent Trump a subpoena for additional material on May 11.[163] On June 3, Justice Department officials visited Mar-a-Lago and received some classified documents from Trump's lawyers.[163] One of the lawyers signed a statement affirming that all material marked as classified had been returned to the government.[165] Later that month an additional subpoena was sent requesting surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago, which was provided.[163][166][167]

On August 8, 2022, FBI agents searched Trump's residence, office, and storage areas at Mar-a-Lago to recover government documents and material Trump had taken with him when he left office in violation of the Presidential Records Act,[168][169] reportedly including some related to nuclear weapons.[167] The search warrant, authorized by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and approved by a federal magistrate judge, and the written inventory of the seized items were made public on August 12. The text of the search warrant indicates an investigation of potential violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice laws.[170] The items taken in the search included 11 sets of classified documents, four of them tagged as "top secret" and one as "top secret/SCI", the highest level of classification.[168][169]

Public profile

Approval ratings and scholar surveys

Trump was the only president to never reach a 50% approval rating in the Gallup poll dating to 1938. The approval ratings showed a record partisan gap: 88 percent among Republicans, 7 percent among Democrats.[171] Until September 2020, the ratings were unusually stable, reaching a high of 49 percent and a low of 35 percent.[172] Trump finished his term with a record-low approval rating of between 29 percent and 34 percent (the lowest of any president since modern polling began) and a record-low average of 41 percent throughout his presidency.[171][173]

In Gallup's annual poll asking Americans to name the man they admire the most, Trump placed second to Obama in 2017 and 2018, tied with Obama for most admired man in 2019, and was named most admired in 2020.[174][175] Since Gallup started conducting the poll in 1948, Trump is the first elected president not to be named most admired in his first year in office.[176]

A Gallup poll in 134 countries comparing the approval ratings of U.S. leadership between the years 2016 and 2017 found that Trump led Obama in job approval in only 29, most of them non-democracies,[177] with approval of U.S. leadership plummeting among allies and G7 countries. Overall ratings were similar to those in the last two years of the George W. Bush presidency.[178] By mid-2020, only 16% of international respondents to a 13-nation Pew Research poll expressed confidence in Trump, a lower score than those historically accorded to Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping.[179]

C-SPAN, which has surveyed presidential historians on presidential leadership each time the administration changed since 2000,[180] ranked Trump fourth–lowest overall in their Presidential Historians Survey 2021, with Trump rated lowest in the leadership characteristics categories for moral authority and administrative skills.[181][182][183] The Siena College Research Institute (SCRI) has surveyed presidential scholars during the second year of the first term of each president since 1982. For the second time, SCRI ranked Trump third-lowest overall. He was ranked last on background, integrity, intelligence, foreign policy accomplishments, and executive appointments, and second to last on ability to compromise, executive ability, and present overall view. He was ranked near the bottom in all categories except for luck, willingness to take risks, and party leadership.[184]

Social media

Trump's social media presence attracted attention worldwide since he joined Twitter in 2009. He frequently tweeted during the 2016 election campaign and as president, until his ban in the final days of his term.[185] Over twelve years, Trump posted around 57,000 tweets, often using Twitter as a direct means of communication with the public and sidelining the press.[186] In June 2017, a White House press secretary said that Trump's tweets were official presidential statements.[187] Trump often announced terminations of administration officials and cabinet members over Twitter.[188]

After years of criticism for allowing Trump to post misinformation and falsehoods, Twitter began to tag some of his tweets with fact-checking warnings in May 2020.[189] In response, Trump tweeted that "Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives [sic] voices" and that he would "strongly regulate, or close them down".[190] In the days after the storming of the United States Capitol, Trump was banned from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms.[191] Twitter blocked attempts by Trump and his staff to circumvent the ban through the use of others' accounts.[192] The loss of Trump's social media megaphone, including his 88.7 million Twitter followers, diminished his ability to shape events,[193][194] and prompted a dramatic decrease in the volume of misinformation shared on Twitter.[195] In May 2021, an advisory group to Facebook evaluated that site's indefinite ban of Trump and concluded that it had been justified at the time but should be re-evaluated in six months.[196] In June 2021, Facebook suspended the account for two years.[197] Later in June, Trump joined the video platform Rumble[198] and began to post the messages of his website blog on the Twitter account of a spokesperson.[199] Trump's attempts to re-establish a social media presence were unsuccessful. In May 2021 he launched a blog that had low readership and was closed after less than a month.[200]

Relationship with the press

Seven and a half years ago, journalism began a tortured dance with Donald Trump, the man who would be the country’s forty-fifth president—first dismissing him, then embracing him as a source of ratings and clicks, then going all in on efforts to catalogue Trump as a threat to the country (also a great source of ratings and clicks). ~Kyle Pope, January 30, 2023[201]

Trump, seated at the Resolute Desk in the White House, speaking to a crowd of reporters with boom microphones in front of him and public officials behind him
Trump's first 100 days, surrounded by media, March 2017

Trump sought media attention throughout his career, sustaining a "love–hate" relationship with the press.[202] In the 2016 campaign, Trump benefited from a record amount of free media coverage, elevating his standing in the Republican primaries.[203] The New York Times writer Amy Chozick wrote in 2018 that Trump's media dominance enthralled the public and created "must-see TV."[204]

As a candidate and as president, Trump frequently accused the press of bias, calling it the "fake news media" and "the enemy of the people".[205] In 2018, journalist Lesley Stahl recounted Trump's saying he intentionally demeaned and discredited the media "so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you".[206]

As president, Trump privately and publicly mused about revoking the press credentials of journalists he viewed as critical.[207] His administration moved to revoke the press passes of two White House reporters, which were restored by the courts.[208] In 2019, a member of the foreign press reported many of the same concerns as those of media in the U.S., expressing concern that a normalization process by reporters and media results in an inaccurate characterization of Trump.[209] The Trump White House held about a hundred formal press briefings in 2017, declining by half during 2018 and to two in 2019.[208]

Trump also deployed the legal system to intimidate the press.[210] In early 2020, the Trump campaign sued The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN for defamation in opinion pieces about Russian election interference.[211][212] Legal experts said that the lawsuits lacked merit and were not likely to succeed.[210][213] By March 2021, the lawsuits against The New York Times and CNN had been dismissed.[214][215]

Loss of trust

Before and throughout his presidency, Trump has promoted numerous conspiracy theories, including Obama birtherism, the Clinton Body Count theory, QAnon, the Global warming hoax theory, Trump Tower wiretapping allegations, a John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory involving Rafael Cruz, linking talk show host Joe Scarborough to the death of a staffer,[216] alleged foul-play in the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, alleged Ukrainian interference in U.S. elections, and that Osama bin Laden was alive and Obama and Biden had members of Navy SEAL Team 6 killed.[216][217][218][219][220][221] In at least two instances, Trump clarified to press that he also believed the conspiracy theory in question.[218]

During and since the 2020 presidential election, Trump has promoted various conspiracy theories for his defeat including dead people voting,[222] voting machines changing or deleting Trump votes, fraudulent mail-in voting, throwing out Trump votes, and "finding" suitcases full of Biden votes.[223][224]

Allegations of racism and the partisan divide

Some of Trump's comments and actions have been labeled racist primarily by his political opponents, left-leaning media, and the new generation of WOKE Americans.[225] Trump denies the allegations, and considers himself "the least racist person you have ever met."[226] The partisan divide has become unambiguously clear when considering major cultural issues, particularly the acceptance of LGBTQ people, use of the term “woke,” racism, and the basic goals of American society. Quoting an NBC poll: "Three in four Republicans say the country should promote traditional social and moral values, while 67% of Democrats want greater tolerance of diverse lifestyles and backgrounds. Independents are split, with 49% picking traditional values and 41% siding with greater tolerance."[227]

Few would deny that the effects of historical inequalities, such as racism and sexism and homophobia, still linger in American society, or that strides toward equity often run into a reactionary backlash. But “woke” activism takes worthy ideas to absurd extremes. ~Cathy Young, Cato Institute

In 1975, he settled a 1973 Department of Justice lawsuit that alleged housing discrimination against black renters.[50] He has also been accused of racism for insisting a group of black and Latino teenagers were guilty of raping a white woman in the 1989 Central Park jogger case, even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2002. As of 2019, he maintained this position.[228]

Trump relaunched his political career in 2011 as a leading proponent of "birther" conspiracy theories alleging that Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, was not born in the United States.[229][230] In April 2011, Trump claimed credit for pressuring the White House to publish the "long-form" birth certificate, which he considered fraudulent, and later saying this made him "very popular".[231][232] In September 2016, amid pressure, he acknowledged that Obama was born in the U.S. and falsely claimed the rumors had been started by Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.[233] In 2017, he reportedly still expressed birther views in private.[234]

According to an analysis in Political Science Quarterly, Trump made "explicitly racist appeals to whites" during his 2016 presidential campaign.[235] In particular, his campaign launch speech drew widespread criticism for claiming Mexican immigrants were "bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists".[236][237] His later comments about a Mexican-American judge presiding over a civil suit regarding Trump University were also criticized as racist.[238]

Trump answers questions from reporters about the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

Trump's comments on the 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, condemning "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides" and stating that there were "very fine people on both sides", were widely criticized as implying a moral equivalence between the white supremacist demonstrators and the counter-protesters.[239][240][241][242]

In a January 2018 Oval Office meeting to discuss immigration legislation, Trump reportedly referred to El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and African nations as "shithole countries".[243] His remarks were condemned as racist.[244][245]

In July 2019, Trump tweeted that four Democratic congresswomen—all minorities, three of whom are native-born Americans—should "go back" to the countries they "came from".[246] Two days later the House of Representatives voted 240–187, mostly along party lines, to condemn his "racist comments".[247] White nationalist publications and social media sites praised his remarks, which continued over the following days.[248] Trump continued to make similar remarks during his 2020 campaign.[249]

Misogyny and allegations of sexual misconduct

Trump has a history of insulting and belittling women when speaking to media and on social media.[250][251] He made lewd comments, demeaned women's looks, and called them names, such as 'dog', 'crazed, 'crying lowlife', 'face of a pig', or 'horseface'.[251][252][253]

In October 2016, two days before the second presidential debate, a 2005 "hot mic" recording surfaced in which Trump is heard bragging about kissing and groping women without their consent, saying "when you're a star, they let you do it, you can do anything... grab 'em by the pussy."[254] The incident's widespread media exposure led to Trump's first public apology during the campaign[255] and caused outrage across the political spectrum.[256]

At least 26 women have publicly accused Trump of rape, kissing and groping without consent, looking under women's skirts, or walking in on naked teenage pageant contestants.[257][258][259] In 2016, he denied all accusations, calling them "false smears" and alleging a conspiracy against him and the American people.[260]

Incitement of violence

Research suggests Trump's rhetoric caused an increased incidence of hate crimes.[261][262] During his 2016 campaign, he urged or praised physical attacks against protesters or reporters.[263][264] Numerous defendants investigated or prosecuted for violent acts and hate crimes, including participants of the January 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol, cited Trump's rhetoric in arguing that they were not culpable or should receive a lighter sentence.[265][266] A nationwide review by ABC News in May 2020 identified at least 54 criminal cases from August 2015 to April 2020 in which Trump was invoked in direct connection with violence or threats of violence mostly by white men and primarily against members of minority groups.[267]

Popular culture

Trump has been the subject of parody, comedy, and caricature on television, in movies, and in comics. Trump was named in hundreds of hip hop songs since the 1980s, mostly positive. Mentions turned largely negative and pejorative after he began running for office in 2015.[268]

Notes

  1. ^ Presidential elections in the U.S. are decided by the Electoral College. Each state names a number of electors equal to its representation in Congress and (in most states) all electors vote for the winner of their state's popular vote.

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Works cited

External links