Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946 in Queens, New York City. His parents were Frederick C. and Mary Anne Trump. Donald was one of five children.
He attended the Kew-Forest School from kindergarten through seventh grade. At age 13, his parents enrolled him in the New York Military Academy, hoping the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner.
Trump attended Fordham University for two years before transferring to the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
While attending Wharton, Trump worked at his father’s company, Elizabeth Trump & Son, named for his paternal grandmother. He joined the company full-time in 1968 upon graduation. In 1971, he was given control of the company and renamed it The Trump Organization.
Trump soon became involved in large building projects in Manhattan. One of his first successes was turning the bankrupt Commodore Hotel into the Grand Hyatt. Other Trump properties bearing his name include Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, Trump Plaza, and Trump Taj Mahal casino resort.
By 1989, poor business decisions left Trump unable to meet loan payments. Despite selling some properties and possessions, he was forced to ask 72 banks to forgive portions of $4 billion in personal debt. Though he regained financial stability in the 1990s through improved management practices, some of his companies eventually declared bankruptcy.
In 2003, Trump became executive producer and host of the NBC reality show The Apprentice, which featured candidates competing for a management job under Trump. The show brought newfound fame and helped restore his public image. He later hosted a spinoff show called The Celebrity Apprentice.
Net Worth Controversy
Trump has a history of exaggerating his net worth. Though he claimed his net worth was over $10 billion in years past, financial publications have estimated it to be between $2.5 and $4.5 billion as of 2019. Trump has not publicly released his tax returns, further obscuring the precise calculation of his wealth.
What Trump Has Said About His Wealth
In 1990 divorce proceedings, Trump admitted to having significantly less than claimed in interviews and promotional materials. However, he continued to use lofty estimates of his wealth when it suited his purposes. Critics allege he does this out of vanity and to secure loans more easily.
Political Career Before the Presidency
Trump considered running for president in 1988 under the Reform Party. He again floated the idea of running for president in 2000 as a member of the Republican Party. In 2011, he suggested running against President Barack Obama in 2012 and even challenged Obama to produce his birth certificate, falsely stating Obama was not born in the U.S.
Trump’s questioning of Obama’s nationality became known as the “birther” movement. Obama eventually released his birth certificate in April 2011, proving he was born in Hawaii. Despite his past political flirtations, Trump never officially campaigned for or held public office before his successful presidential run.
2016 Presidential Campaign
On June 16, 2015, Trump formally announced his bid for the presidency, delivering a populist message about restoring American greatness via economic and immigration reform, trade protectionism, and a rejection of political correctness. His campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again” and signature promise was to build a wall along the Mexico border that Mexico would pay for.
His message resonated with working-class voters who felt left behind by globalization and the decline of manufacturing jobs. Trump offered a blunt, tough-talking alternative to polished politicians. He readily spoke off-the-cuff at rallies and in interviews. His speeches were often controversial and not factually accurate, but his supporters admired his willingness to “tell it like it is.”
Notable Moments from 2016 Campaign
- Proposed ban on Muslim immigration: After a 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA carried out by Muslim extremists, Trump called for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
- Public fight with Khizr and Ghazala Khan: The Khans’ son Humayun Khan was killed while serving in Iraq. Speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan criticized Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration. Trump responded by speculating if Ghazala Khan was not allowed to speak at the convention because of her Muslim faith. His remarks were widely condemned by both political parties.
- Leaked tape with inappropriate remarks about women: In October 2016, The Washington Post published a videotape from 2005 of Trump bragging about groping women, saying “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The remarks were condemned across the political spectrum.
- Name-calling and insults of opponents: Trump frequently insulted his political rivals, giving them demeaning nicknames like “Crooked Hillary” Clinton, “Little Marco” Rubio, “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz, and “Low Energy” Jeb Bush. His abrasive campaign tactics were unprecedented in modern American political history.
Despite the controversies, Trump leveraged his celebrity status and outsider message to pull off an upset victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes but won the electoral college with 304 votes to Clinton’s 227. His win shocked political analysts who had expected a comfortable Clinton victory. At age 70, he became the oldest first-term president.
Trump Presidency (2017-2021)
Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. Upon taking office, his administration pursued large tax cuts, immigration restrictions, tariffs that sparked a trade war with China, and rollbacks of environmental and consumer protections instituted in the Obama era.
Here are some key events, initiatives and controversies from his administration:
Events and Policies
- 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Reduced tax rates for businesses and individuals, the largest tax overhaul since the 1980s. Added an estimated $1 trillion to the national debt. Critics said the cuts disproportionately benefitted wealthy Americans.
- Trade war with China: Implemented increasing tariffs on Chinese goods over alleged unfair trade practices. China retaliated with tariffs on US goods. The trade war slowed global economic growth prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump signed a “phase one” trade agreement with China in January 2020 temporarily easing tensions.
- Virtual border wall: Redirected funding to build more than 450 miles of barriers on the Mexican border to fulfill campaign promise. Fell short of his oft-repeated promise to make Mexico pay for a wall.
- Criminal justice reform: Signed the First Step Act in 2018 which enacted certain prison reforms aimed at reducing recidivism rates among federal prisoners.
- Economy: Unemployment reached a 50-year low of 3.5% in 2019 prior to the pandemic. GDP growth also accelerated to 2.9% in 2018 but slowed again in 2019. The national debt increased 36.5% over his four-year term.
- Conservative judicial appointments: Appointed three conservative Supreme Court Justices (Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett) shifting the balance of the Court. Also appointed nearly 30% of active circuit court judges in just one term.
- Foreign policy: Imposed strict sanctions against Iran and engineered peace deals between Israel and several Arab nations. But drew criticism for cozy relationships with authoritarian leaders like Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia. Pulled the U.S out of international agreements like the Paris Climate Accord and Iran Nuclear Deal.
- Mueller investigation: Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigated Russian interference into the 2016 election, including potential obstruction of justice charges against Trump. The final report did not establish criminal conspiracy but cited 10 instances where Trump possibly obstructed justice.
- Impeachment: In December 2019, Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to withholding military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure officials to open an investigation into political rival Joe Biden’s son Hunter. He was acquitted by the Republican majority Senate in February 2020.
- Response to racial unrest: Faced backlash for how he handled civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Peaceful protests were violently dispersed to facilitate a church photo op. Trump declined calls to address systemic racism and police brutality against Black Americans.
- Election falsehoods & insurrection: Lost reelection bid to Joe Biden in 2020 but refused to concede, falsely claiming the election was stolen. His lawyers filed dozens of failed lawsuits seeking to overturn certified state results based on unsubstantiated fraud claims. His false rhetoric about a “stolen” election galvanized supporters and fomented the January 6th insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol seeking to prevent certification of election results.
Donald Trump’s political career has been one of the most unlikely and turbulent in modern history. Though he was born into wealth, his path to political stardom was far from guaranteed. His blunt communication style and penchant for controversy represented a sharp break from traditional presidential candidates.
As president, Trump operated largely as an ideological outsider, pursuing an “America First” agenda via unconventional tactics like imposing tariffs and restricting immigration. Supporters praised him for disrupting establishment politics and delivering conservative Supreme Court judges. But his administration was plagued by near constant scandals, investigations, and Legislative gridlock after losing the House in 2018.
Trump galvanized a political base with his right-leaning populism but alienated major voting blocs along the way, including college-educated whites, racial minorities, and suburban women. Upon leaving office with 34% approval ratings, he became the only president to be impeached twice and the first in over 150 years to lose re-election bid and refuse to accept the results.
As a defeated ex-president Trump continues to promote conspiracy theories about his election loss and float the idea of running again in 2024. His post-presidency troubles are perhaps only beginning as he faces numerous legal probes related to his finances and business dealings in New York. Regardless of his political future, his tenure has undoubtedly reshaped political rhetoric surrounding issues like immigration and global trade for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many times has Trump been married?
Trump has been married three times. He was married to Ivana Trump from 1977 to 1992, Marla Maples from 1993 to 1999, and Melania Trump from 2005 to the present.
Does Trump use Twitter anymore?
No, Trump was permanently banned from Twitter in 2021 after tweets related to election misinformation and the Capitol insurrection.
What is Trump’s current approval rating?
According to Gallup polling, Trump’s approval rating upon leaving office was 34%, the lowest for any departing president in modern polling history.
Is Trump currently under any criminal investigations?
Yes, Trump is under investigation by the Fulton County district attorney in Georgia regarding attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in that state. He also faces inquiries into his business practices from the New York attorney general and Manhattan district attorney.
Who is currently favored to win the 2024 Republican nomination?
Though polling is limited this far out, Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, has emerged as an early favorite, appealing to many Trump supporters. Trump has teased running again but has made no official announcement.