Donald Trump

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Donald Trump
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg
45th President of the United States
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
Vice President Mike Pence
Preceded by Barack Obama
Personal details
Born Donald John Trump
June 14, 1946 (age 70)
New York City
Political party Republican (1987–99, 2009–11, 2012–present)
Other political
affiliations
Spouse(s)
Relations See Family of Donald Trump
Children
Residence White House
Alma mater The Wharton School (B.S. in Econ.)
Occupation
Net worth Decrease US$3.5 billion (March 2017)[1]
Signature Donald J Trump stylized autograph, in ink
Website

Trump was born and raised in Queens, New York City, and earned an economics degree from the Wharton School. He then took charge of The Trump Organization, the real estate and construction firm founded by his paternal grandmother, which he ran for 45 years until 2016. During his real estate career, Trump built, renovated, and managed numerous office towers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. Besides real estate, he started several side ventures and has licensed the use of his name for the branding of various products and properties. He owned the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants from 1996 to 2015, and he produced and hosted The Apprentice, a reality television series on NBC, from 2004 to 2015. His net worth was estimated to be $3.5 billion as of 2017, making him the 544th richest person in the world.Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is the 45th and current President of the United States. Before entering politics he was a businessman and television personality.

Trump first publicly expressed interest in running for political office in 1987. He won two Reform Party presidential primaries in 2000, but withdrew his candidacy early on. In June 2015, he launched his campaign for the 2016 presidential election and quickly emerged as the front-runner among seventeen candidates in the Republican primaries. His remaining opponents suspended their campaigns in May 2016, and in July he was formally nominated at the Republican National Convention along with Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate. Many of his campaign statements were controversial or false, generating much free media coverage.

Trump won the general election on November 8, 2016, in a surprise victory against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. He became the oldest and wealthiest person ever to assume the presidency, the first without prior military or government service, and the fifth to have won a presidential election while receiving a smaller share of the popular vote than his opponent. His political positions have been described by scholars and commentators as populist, protectionist, and nationalist.

Family and personal life

Ancestry

Trump’s ancestors originated from the village of Kallstadt, Palatinate, Germany on his father’s side, and from the Outer Hebrides isles of Scotland on his mother’s side. All his grandparents, and his mother, were born in Europe. His mother’s grandfather was also christened “Donald”.[2]

Trump’s paternal grandfather, Friedrich Trump, first emigrated to the United States in 1885 at the age of 16, and became a citizen in 1892. He amassed a fortune operating boom-town restaurants and boarding houses in the Seattle area and the Klondike region of Canada, during the gold rush.[3] On a visit to Kallstadt, he met Elisabeth Christ and married her in 1902. The couple settled in New York definitively in 1905.[4] Friedrich died from influenza during the 1918 pandemic.[5]

Trump’s father Fred was born in 1905 in the Bronx, and started working with his mother in real estate when he was 15, shortly after his father’s death. Their company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, was primarily active in the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. Fred eventually built and sold thousands of houses, barracks and apartments.[5][6] The company would later become The Trump Organization when Donald Trump took over in 1971.[7]

Donald’s mother Mary Anne was born in Tong, Lewis, Scotland. In 1930, at age 18, she emigrated to New York where she worked as a maid.[8] Fred and Mary were married in 1936 and raised their family in Queens.[8][9]

Fred’s brother John (Donald Trump’s uncle) became a notable physicist and inventor.[10]

Early life and education

Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946 at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Queens, New York City. He was the fourth of five children born to Frederick Christ “Fred” Trump (1905–1999) and Mary Anne Trump (née MacLeod, 1912–2000).[13] His siblings are Maryanne (born 1937), Fred Jr. (1938–1981), Elizabeth (born 1942), and Robert (born 1948).

Trump grew up in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens, New York. He attended the Kew-Forest School from kindergarten through seventh grade. At age 13, Trump’s parents enrolled him in the New York Military Academy, after discovering Donald made frequent trips into Manhattan without permission.[14][15] In August 1964, Trump entered Fordham University.[11][16] He transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania two years later, because it offered one of the few real estate studies departments in United States academia at the time.[17][16]

In addition to his father, Trump was inspired by Manhattan developer William Zeckendorf, vowing to be “even bigger and better”.[18] While at Wharton, he worked at the family business, Elizabeth Trump and Son,[19] graduating in May 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics.[16][20][21]

Trump was not drafted during the Vietnam War.[22] While in college from 1964 to 1968, he obtained four student deferments.[23] 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.[24] Trump has attributed his medical deferment to heel spurs.[25] In 1969, he received a high number in the draft lottery, which made him unlikely to be called.

Religion

The Trump family were Lutherans on his father’s side in Germany,[47] and Presbyterian on his mother’s side in Scotland.[48] His parents married in a Manhattan Presbyterian church in 1936.[49] As a child, he attended Sunday School at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, and had his Confirmation there.[citation needed] In the 1970s, his family joined the Marble Collegiate Church (an affiliate of the Reformed Church in America) in Manhattan.[50] The pastor at that church, Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking and The Art of Living, ministered to Trump’s family and mentored him until Peale’s death in 1993.[51][50] Trump, who is Presbyterian,[52][53] has cited Peale and his works during interviews when asked about the role of religion in his personal life.[50]

Trump participates in the Holy Communion, but usually does not ask God for forgiveness. He stated: “I think if I do something wrong, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture.”[54] On the campaign trail, Trump has referred to The Art of the Deal as his second favorite book after the Bible, saying “Nothing beats the Bible.”[55] In a 2016 speech to Liberty University, he referred to “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians“, eliciting chuckles from the audience.[56] Despite this, 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.”[57]

Trump has had relationships with a number of Christian spiritual leaders, including Florida pastor Paula White, who has been called his “closest spiritual confidant.”[58] In 2015, he received a blessing from Greek Orthodox priest Emmanuel Lemelson[59] and in 2016, he released a list of his religious advisers, including James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ralph Reed and others.[60] Referring to his daughter Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism before her marriage to Jared Kushner, Trump said: “I have a Jewish daughter; and I am very honored by that.”[61]

Health

A 2016 medical report issued by his doctor, Harold Bornstein M.D., showed that Trump’s blood pressure, liver and thyroid function were in normal ranges.[62][63] Trump says that he has never smoked cigarettes or consumed other drugs, including marijuana.[64] He also drinks no alcohol, a decision arising in part from watching his older brother Fred Jr. suffer from alcoholism until his early death in 1981.[65][66]

Wealth

Trump has said that he began his career with “a small loan of one million dollars” from his father.[67] Trump appeared on the initial Forbes List of wealthy individuals in 1982 with an estimated $200 million fortune, including an “undefined” share of the fortune belonging to his family and father.[68] During the 1980s he became a billionaire,[69] but was absent from the Forbes list from 1990 to 1995 following losses which reportedly obliged him to borrow from his siblings’ trusts in 1993.[68] After his father died in 1999, he and his surviving siblings received shares of his father’s estate which was valued at more than $20 million.[70][71]

A tall rectangular-shaped tower in Las Vegas with exterior windows reflecting a golden hue. It is a sunny day and the building is higher than many of the surrounding buildings, also towers. There are mountains in the background. This tower is called the Trump Hotel Las Vegas.

Trump Hotel Las Vegas, with gold infused glass[72]

When he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, Trump released a one-page financial summary that stated a net worth of $8,737,540,000.[73] The following month, he filed a 92-page disclosure and put his wealth at over $10 billion.[74][75] His presidential announcement speech mentioned that “I’m really rich”, which he said would make him less reliant upon large campaign donations.[76][77] Forbes believed his net worth estimate was “a whopper”, figuring it was $4.1 billion in 2015 (405th in the world, 133d in the U.S.).[78][79] Trump also stated in the long 2015 financial disclosure that his income for the year 2014 was $362 million.[75]

After Trump made controversial remarks about illegal immigrants in 2015, he lost business contracts with several companies that summer, which Forbes estimated negatively impacted his net worth by $125 million.[80] The value of the Trump brand may have fallen further during his presidential campaign, as some consumers boycotted in response to his candidacy.[81] Bookings and foot traffic at Trump-branded properties fell off sharply in 2016,[82][83] though Trump’s 104-page financial disclosure in May 2016 still put his wealth at over $10 billion as he had done the previous July.[74][84][75] The release of the Access Hollywood tape recordings in October 2016 put further pressure on his business.[85]

In their 2017 annual billionaires’ ranking, Forbes estimated Trump’s net worth at $3.5 billion (544th in the world, 201st in the U.S.)[1] making him one of the richest politicians in American history. These estimates have fluctuated from year to year, and also depending upon who is doing the estimations; Bloomberg News pegged his wealth at $3 billion in 2016,[86] whereas Forbes said $4.5 billion that same year (324th in the world, 113th in the U.S.).[87] The discrepancies among these estimates and with Trump’s own estimates stem from the uncertain value of appraised property and of his personal brand.[86][88]

Tax returns

As required of all presidential candidates by FEC regulations, Trump published a 92-page financial disclosure form that listed all his assets, liabilities, income sources and hundreds of business positions,[74] but he declined to release his tax returns,[89] contrary to usual practice by every presidential candidate since Gerald Ford in 1976.[90] Trump’s refusal led to speculation that he was hiding something,[91] although there is no law that requires presidential candidates to release their returns.[92]

Trump explained that his tax returns are being audited and his lawyers advise against releasing them.[93][94] No law prohibits release of tax returns during an audit. Tax attorneys differ about whether such a release is wise legal strategy.[95] 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.”[96][97][98]

On October 1, 2016, three pages of Trump’s 1995 tax return were leaked to a New York Times reporter, who said the documents were received in her Times mailbox. Each of the three pages is one page from Trump’s state filings in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. They show that using allowed deductions for losses, Trump claimed a loss of $916 million that year. During the second presidential debate, Trump acknowledged using the deduction, but declined to provide details such as the specific years it was applied.[99] When asked if he used the tax code to avoid paying taxes, he said, “Of course I did. Of course I did.” He then went on to say he paid “hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes”, calling it a “simple” thing. “I pay tax, and I pay federal tax, too”, he said.[100][101][102]

On March 14, 2017 the first two pages of Trump’s 2005 federal income tax returns were leaked to MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow show. The two pages showed that Trump paid $38 million in federal taxes and had a gross adjusted income of $150 million.[103][104] The White House confirmed the authenticity of the 2005 documents and stated: “Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns.”[103][104]

Real estate business

The distinctive façade of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan

Trump started his career at his father’s real estate development company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, which focused on middle-class rental housing in the New York City boroughs outside Manhattan, but also had business elsewhere.[105] For example, during his undergraduate study, Trump joined his father Fred in successfully revitalizing the foreclosed Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio, thereby boosting the occupancy rate from 66% to 100%.[106][107]

Trump was promoted to president of the company in 1971 (while his father became chairman of the board), and renamed it The Trump Organization.[7][108] 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. Under an agreement reached in 1975, the Trumps made no admission of wrongdoing, and made the Urban League an intermediary for qualified minority applicants.[109][110] His adviser and attorney during (and after) that period was Roy Cohn, who responded to attacks by counterattacking with maximum force, and who valued both positive and negative publicity, which were attitudes that Trump appreciated.[111]

Manhattan developments

In 1978, Trump consummated his first major real estate deal in Manhattan, purchasing a half-share in the decrepit Commodore Hotel, largely funded by a $70 million construction loan jointly guaranteed by Fred Trump and the Hyatt hotel chain. Designed by architect Der Scutt, the project was able to proceed by leveraging competing interests and by taking advantage of tax breaks.[112] After remodeling, the hotel reopened as the Grand Hyatt Hotel, located next to Grand Central Terminal.[113][114]

Central Park‘s Wollman Rink, which was renovated by Trump

Also in 1978, Trump finished negotiations to develop Trump Tower, a 58-story, 202-meter (663-foot) skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, which The New York Times attributed to his “persistence” and “skills as a negotiator”.[115] To make way for the new building, a crew of undocumented Polish workers demolished an old Bonwit Teller store including art deco features that had initially been marked for preservation.[116] The building was completed in 1983, and houses both the primary penthouse condominium residence of Trump and the headquarters of The Trump Organization.[117][118] Architectural critic Paul Goldberger said in 1983 that he was surprised to find the tower’s atrium was “the most pleasant interior public space to be completed in New York in some years”.[119][120] Trump Tower was the setting of the NBC television show The Apprentice, and includes a fully functional television studio set.[121]

Repairs on the Wollman Rink (originally opened in 1949 in Central Park) were started in 1980 by a general contractor unconnected to Trump. Despite an expected 2 12-year construction schedule, the repairs were not completed by 1986. Trump took over the project, completed it in three months for $775,000 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.[122]

In 1988 Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for a record-setting $407 million, and asked his wife Ivana to manage its operation.[123] Trump invested $50 million to restore the building, which he called “the Mona Lisa”.[124] According to hotel expert Thomas McConnell, the Trumps boosted it from a three-star to a four-star ranking, and sold it in 1995, by which time Ivana was no longer involved.[125]

In 1994, Trump became involved with a building on Columbus Circle which was swaying in the wind. He began a reconstruction project that stopped the swaying and gave the building a full makeover.[126][127] Trump thereafter owned commercial space in that 44-story mixed-use tower (hotel and condominium), which he named Trump International Hotel and Tower.[128]

Lower portion of 40 Wall Street

In 1996, Trump acquired a vacant seventy-story skyscraper on Wall Street which had briefly been the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930. After an extensive renovation, the high-rise was renamed the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street.[129]

In 1997, he began construction on Trump Place, a multi-building development along the Hudson River, and encountered delays the following year because a subcontracter had to replace defective concrete.[130][131] Ultimately, he and the other investors in that project sold their interest in 2005 for $1.8 billion, in what was then the biggest residential sale in the history of New York City.[132]

From 1994 to 2002, Trump owned a 50% share of the Empire State Building. He would have renamed it to “Trump Empire State Building Tower Apartments” if he had been able to boost his share.[133][134]

In 2001, across from the headquarters of the United Nations, he completed Trump World Tower, which for a while was the tallest all-residential tower in the world.[135] Trump acquired the former Hotel Delmonico in Manhattan in 2002, which re-opened with 35 stories of luxury condominiums in 2004 as the Trump Park Avenue.[136] Meanwhile, he continued to own millions of square feet of other prime Manhattan real estate.[137]

Palm Beach estate

Mar-a-Lago in 2009
The Trumps with Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife at Mar-a-Lago in 2017

Trump acquired the historic Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida in 1985 for $5 million, plus $3 million for the home’s furnishings. It was built in the 1920s by heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, who envisioned the house as a future winter retreat for American presidents.

Trump’s initial offer of $28 million had been rejected, and he was able to get the property at the much lower price by purchasing separate beachfront property and threatening to build a house on it that would block Mar-a-Lago’s ocean view. In addition to using the estate as a home, Trump also turned it into a private club open to everyone who could afford the initiation fee of $100,000 plus annual dues.[138]

In 1986, he acquired a foreclosed, 33-story, twin-tower condominium complex in nearby West Palm Beach for $40 million, with automobile manufacturing executive Lee Iacocca investing in three of the condos.[139] Despite sprucing up its public areas, and years of heavy promotion, selling the units proved difficult, and the deal turned out to be unprofitable.[140]

Atlantic City casinos

New Jersey legalized gambling in 1977, and the following year Trump was in Atlantic City, New Jersey to explore how he might get involved. Seven years later, Harrah’s at Trump Plaza hotel and casino opened there, built by Trump with financing from Holiday Corporation which also was managing that business.[141] Renamed “Trump Plaza” soon after opening, it was then the tallest building in Atlantic City.[142] The casino’s poor results exacerbated disagreements between Trump and Holiday Corp., which led to Trump paying $70 million in May 1986 to buy out their interest in the property.[143][144] Trump also acquired a partially completed building in Atlantic City from the Hilton Corporation for $320 million; when completed in 1985, that hotel and casino became Trump Castle, and Trump’s wife, Ivana, managed that property until Trump transferred her in 1988 to run the Trump Plaza Hotel in New York.[145][146]

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

Also in 1988, Trump acquired his third casino in Atlantic City, the Taj Mahal then halfway through construction, by making a complex transaction with the television host and entertainer Merv Griffin as well as the resort and casino company Resorts International.[147] In October 1989, three of his top Atlantic City executives died in a helicopter accident, which both stymied and delayed the planned opening of the Taj Mahal.[148] The Taj finally 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.[149][150] Financed with $675 million in junk bonds,[151] it was a major gamble by Trump.[152] The project underwent debt restructuring the following year,[153] leaving Trump with 50% ownership.[154] He also sold his 282-foot (86 m) megayacht, the Trump Princess, which had been indefinitely docked in Atlantic City while leased to his casinos for use by wealthy gamblers.[155][156]

Trump founded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (THCR) in 1995, which assumed ownership of Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, and the Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana.[157] THCR purchased Taj Mahal in 1996, and underwent bankruptcy restructuring in 2004 and 2009, leaving Trump with 10% ownership in the Trump Taj Mahal and other Trump casino properties.[158] He served as chairman of the publicly-traded THCR organization, which was renamed Trump Entertainment Resorts, from mid-1995 until early 2009, and served as CEO from mid-2000 to mid-2005.[159]

During the 1990s, Trump’s casino ventures faced competition from Native American gaming at the Foxwoods casino located on an Indian reservation in Connecticut (where it was exempt from the state’s anti-gambling laws). Trump stated in 1993 that the casino owners did not look like real Indians to him or to other Indians.[160][161] Subsequent to that well-publicized remark about the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, Trump became a key investor backing the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots who were also seeking state recognition.[162]

Legal affairs and bankruptcies

As of 2016, Trump and his businesses had been involved in more than 3,500 state and federal legal actions. He or one of his companies was the plaintiff in 1,900 cases and the defendant in 1,450. With Trump or his company as plaintiff, more than half the cases have been against gamblers at his casinos who had failed to pay off their debts. With Trump or his company as a defendant, the most common type of case involved personal injury cases at his hotels. In cases where there was a clear resolution, Trump’s side won 451 times and lost 38.[163][164]

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.[165][166] 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.[167][168]

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).[169][170] 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.”[153]

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.[171] A subsequent analysis by The Washington Post concluded that “Trump is a mix of braggadocio, business failures, and real success”, calling his casino bankruptcies the “most infamous flop” of his business career.[172]

Golf courses

 A golf course. In the background is the Turnberry Hotel, a two-story hotel with white façade and a red roof. This picture was taken in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Turnberry Hotel and golf course, Ayrshire, Scotland

The Trump Organization operates many golf courses and resorts in the United States and around the world. According to Golfweek, Trump owns or manages about 18 golf courses.[173] His personal financial disclosure with the Federal Elections Commission stated that his golf and resort revenue for the year 2015 was roughly $382 million,[74][84] while his three European golf courses did not show a profit.[86]

In 2006, Trump bought 1,400 acres (570 ha) including the Menie Estate in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and created a golf resort there.[174] Scottish supporters emphasized potential economic benefits, and opponents emphasized potential environmental harm to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).[175][176][177] A spokesperson for the golf course has said 95% of the SSSI is untouched.[178] A 2011 independent documentary, You’ve Been Trumped, chronicled the golf resort’s construction and struggles.[179] In 2015, an offshore windfarm being built within sight of the golf course prompted a legal challenge by Trump, which was dismissed by the U.K. Supreme Court.[180] In the wake of the 2008 recession, Trump greatly scaled back development of this property, and as of December 2016 Scottish officials were pushing for completion of the far larger development as originally approved.[181]

In April 2014, Trump purchased the Turnberry hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire, Scotland, which hosted the Open Championship four times between 1977 and 2009.[182][183] After extensive renovations and a remodeling of the course by golf architect Martin Ebert, Turnberry was re-opened in June 2016.[184]

Russian projects and investors

Trump pursued business deals in Russia starting in 1987, and in 1996 filed trademark applications for potential Russian real estate development deals, but none of those deals ever materialized.[185][186] Along with his partners and children, Trump visited Moscow several times, connecting with developers and government officials to explore joint venture opportunities that never panned out.[187][188][189][190]

Outside Russia, several of Trump’s real estate developments received a large part of their financing from private Russian investors. In 2008 his son Donald Trump Jr. said “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets” and “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”[191][185][192] Trump hosted the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, in partnership with Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov, and his Russia ties came under intense investigative reporting during and after the 2016 presidential campaign.[187][189]

Other real estate activities

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, The Trump Organization expanded its footprint in the United States beyond New York and into a few other countries, with the co-development and management of hotel towers in Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Panama City, Toronto, and Vancouver. There are also Trump-branded buildings in Dubai, Honolulu, Istanbul, Manila, Mumbai and in Indonesia.[193]

Resignation

When Trump was elected president in November 2016, questions arose over how he would avoid conflicts of interest between his work in the White House and his business activities. At a press conference on January 10, 2017, Trump said that he and his daughter Ivanka would resign all roles with The Trump Organization, while his two oldest sons Don Jr. and Eric would run the business, together with Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.[194]

Trump retained his financial stake in the business.[195] His attorney Sherri Dillon said that before the January 20 inauguration, Trump would put those business assets into a trust, which would hire an ethics advisor and a compliance counsel. She added that the Trump Organization would not pursue any new foreign business deals, while continuing to pursue domestic opportunities.[196] As of April 2017, Trump companies owned more than 400 condo units and home lots in the United States, valued at $250 million in total ($200,000 to $35 million each).[197]

Side ventures

After Trump took charge of the family real estate firm in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization, he not only greatly expanded its real estate operations, but also ventured into numerous other business activities. The company eventually became the umbrella organization for several hundred individual business ventures and partnerships.[198]

Sports events

Trump at a baseball game in 2009. He is wearing a baseball cap and sitting amid a large crowd, behind a protective net.

Trump at a New York Mets home game in 2009

In September 1983, Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals—an American Football team that played in the United States Football League—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’s 1986 schedule to the fall. He argued that the new schedule would coincide with the National Football League and would eventually force a merger with the NFL, thereby significantly increasing their investment.[199]

After the 1985 season, the Generals merged with the Houston Gamblers, but the organization experienced continuous financial difficulties. The USFL was down to just seven active franchises from a high of eighteen and was soon forced to fold, despite winning an antitrustlawsuit against the NFL.[200]

Trump remained involved with other sports after the Generals folded, operating golf courses in several countries.[200] 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.[200][201][202]

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.[203][204]

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.[205] 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.”[206]

Beauty pageants and model management

From 1996 until 2015, Trump owned part or all of the Miss Universe pageants, which were founded in 1952.[207][208] The Miss Universe Pageants include Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, and his management of this business involved his family-members; for example, daughter Ivanka once hosted Miss Teen USA. Trump hired the first female president of the Miss Universe business in 1997.[209] He became dissatisfied with how CBS scheduled the pageants, and took both Miss Universe and Miss USA to NBC in 2002.[210][211]

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.[212][213] Trump subsequently filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision, alleging a breach of contract and defamation.[214][215] The lawsuit was settled in February 2016, but terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[216] On September 11, 2015, Trump announced that he had become the sole owner of the Miss Universe Organization by purchasing NBC’s stake.[217][218] He sold his own interests in the pageant shortly afterwards to WME/IMG.[207]

In 1999, a few years after buying into Miss Universe, Trump founded a modeling company, Trump Model Management, which operates in the SoHo neighborhood of Lower Manhattan.[219] Together with another Trump company, Trump Management Group LLC, Trump Model Management has brought hundreds of foreign fashion models into the United States to work in the fashion industry since 2000.[220] This business and the beauty pageants overlapped somewhat, with various pageant contestants getting modelling contracts.[221]

Trump University

Trump University LLC was an American for-profit education company that ran a real estate training program from 2005 until at least 2010.[222] After multiple lawsuits, the business 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.[223][224] 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”.[225] Trump was also found personally liable for failing to obtain a business license for the operation.[226]

In 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million civil suit alleging that Trump University made false statements and defrauded consumers.[225][227] 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.[228] During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel who oversaw those two cases, alleging bias because of his Mexican heritage.[229][230][231] Trump later said that his concerns about Curiel’s impartiality were not based upon ethnicity alone, but also upon rulings in the case.[232][233]

The Low v. Trump case was set for trial on November 28, 2016 in San Diego.[234] 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.[235][236] The litigants agreed to the settlement 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.[237] The settlement was called into question on March 6, 2017, when Sherri Simpson, a Florida bankruptcy lawyer and former Trump University student, filed an objection.[238]

Branding and licensing

Trump has marketed his name on a large number of building projects that are owned and operated by other people and companies, as well as licensing his name for various commercial products and services. In doing so, he achieved mixed success for himself, his partners, and investors in the projects.[239] 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.[240]

Because developers pay Trump to market their properties and to be the public face for their projects, some buildings that display his name are not owned or operated by him.[241]According to Forbes, this portion of Trump’s empire, 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”.

Properties to which Trump has licensed his name and image include two in Florida that have gone into foreclosure.[242] 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.[243]

Foundation

The Donald J. Trump Foundation is a U.S.-based private foundation[244] 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.[245][246] The foundation’s funds have mostly come from donors other than Trump,[247] who has not given personally to the charity since 2008.[247]

The foundation’s tax returns show that it has given to health care and sports-related charities, as well as conservative groups.[248] 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).[249][250] 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.[247] Linda McMahon later became Administrator of the Small Business Administration.[251]

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.[252] 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.[253][254][255] A Trump spokesman called the investigation a “partisan hit job”.[253] 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.”[256]

Media

Trump has twice been nominated for an Emmy Award and has made cameo appearances in 12 films and 14 television series.[257] He has also played an oil tycoon in The Little Rascals,[258] and had a singing role at the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2006.[259] Trump is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and receives an annual pension of more than $110,000.[260][261] He has been the subject of comedians, flash cartoon artists, and online caricature artists. Starting in the 1990s, he was a guest about 24 times on the nationally syndicated Howard Stern Show on talk radio.[262] Trump also had his own daily talk radio program called Trumped!, from 2004 to 2008.[263][264][265]

The Apprentice

Donald Trump posing with former basketball player Dennis Rodman in a room with paintings adorning the walls. Trump is wearing a suit with a light-colored tie and dress shirt, while Rodman is wearing a brown t-shirt with a design on it, blue jeans, and a baseball cap that also has a design on it.

Trump posing with former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman during Rodman’s 2009 participation on Celebrity Apprentice

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.[266] 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,[75] although the network did not verify the statement.[267] In 2007, Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to television on The Apprentice.[239][268]

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.[269] On February 27, Trump stated that he was “not ready” to sign on for another season because of the possibility of a presidential run.[270] Despite this, on March 18, NBC announced they were going ahead with production.[271] 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.”[272]

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.[273] Trump is still credited as an executive producer for the show.[274]

Professional wrestling appearances

Trump is a World Wrestling Entertainment fan and a friend of WWE chairman Vince McMahon. In 1988–89 Trump 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.[275] He also appeared in WrestleMania VII, and was interviewed ringside at WrestleMania XX.[276]

Trump appeared at WrestleMania 23 in a match called “The Battle of the Billionaires”.[275] He was in Bobby Lashley‘s corner, while Vince McMahon was in the corner of Lashley’s opponent Umaga, with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee.[275] The terms of the match were that either Trump or McMahon would have their head shaved if their competitor lost.[275] Lashley won the match, and so McMahon was shaved bald.[275]

On June 15, 2009, McMahon announced as part of a storyline on Monday Night Raw that he had “sold” the show to Trump.[275] Appearing on screen, Trump declared that 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.[275] McMahon “bought back” Raw the following week for twice the price.[275]

In 2013, Trump was inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame at Madison Square Garden for his contributions to the promotion. He made his sixth WrestleMania appearance the following night at WrestleMania 29.[277]

Political career

Early involvement in politics

a full-page newspaper advertisement in which Trump placed full-page advertisements critiquing U.S. defense policy

Trump’s December 1987 advertisement in The Boston Globe, criticizing U.S. defense policy

Trump first vaguely expressed interest in running for office in 1987, when he spent almost $100,000 to place full-page advertisements in several newspapers. In his view at that time, “America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves”,[278] and “should present Western Europe and Japan with a bill for America’s efforts to safeguard the passage of oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.”[279] As of December 1988, Trump was the tenth most admired person in America according to a Gallup poll.[280][281]

Trump considered running for president in 1988, 2000, 2004, and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter any of those races.[282][283] 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.”[284]

Trump publicly speculated about seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, and a Wall Street Journal / NBC News poll released in March 2011 found Trump leading among potential contenders; he was one point ahead of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.[285] A Newsweek poll conducted in February 2011 showed Trump within a few points of incumbent president Barack Obama, with many voters undecided in the November 2012 general election for president of the United States.[286] 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.[287][288] His moves were interpreted by some media as possible promotional tools for his reality show The Apprentice.[289][290][291]

Trump played a leading role in “birther” conspiracy theories that had been circulating since President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.[292][293] Beginning in March 2011, Trump publicly questioned Obama’s citizenship and eligibility to serve as President.[294][295][296]Although the Obama campaign had released a copy of the short-form birth certificate in 2008,[297] Trump demanded to see the original “long-form” certificate.[294] He mentioned having sent investigators to Hawaii to research the question, but he did not follow up with any findings.[294] He also repeated a debunked allegation that Obama’s grandmother said she had witnessed his birth in Kenya.[298][299] When the White House later released Obama’s long-form birth certificate,[300] Trump took credit for obtaining the document, saying “I hope it checks out.”[301] His official biography mentions his purported role in forcing Obama’s hand,[302] and he has defended his pursuit of the issue when prompted, later saying that his promotion of the conspiracy made him “very popular”.[303] In 2011, Trump had called for Obama to release his student records, questioning whether his grades warranted entry into an Ivy League school.[304] When asked in 2015 whether he believed Obama was born in the United States, Trump said he did not want to discuss the matter further.[305][306] In September 2016, Trump publicly acknowledged that Obama was born in the U.S., and said that the rumors had been started by Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.[295][307][308]

Donald Trump, dressed in a black suit with white shirt, and blue tie. He is facing toward the viewer and speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2011.

Trump speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011

Trump made his first speaking appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February 2011. 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. The 2011 CPAC speech Trump gave is credited for helping kick-start his political career within the Republican Party.[309][310] Christopher R. Barron, co-founder of GOProud, would later endorse Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and launch “LGBT for Trump”, a political campaign with the goal of encouraging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to support Trump.[311]

In the 2012 Republican primaries, Trump generally had polled at or below 17 percent among the crowded field of possible candidates.[312]On May 16, 2011, Trump announced he would not run for president in the 2012 election, while also saying he would have become the President of the United States, had he ran.[289]

In 2013, Trump was a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).[313] During the lightly attended early-morning speech, Trump spoke out against illegal immigration, then-President Obama’s “unprecedented media protection”, and advised against harming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.[314][315]

Additionally, Trump spent over $1 million in 2013 to research a possible run for president of the United States.[316] In October 2013, New York Republicans circulated a memo suggesting Trump should run for governor of the state in 2014 against Andrew Cuomo. In response to the memo, Trump said that while New York had problems and that its taxes were too high, running for governor was not of great interest to him.[317] In January 2014, Trump made statements denying climate change that were discordant with the opinion of the scientific community.[318] A February 2014 Quinnipiac poll had shown Trump losing to the more popular Cuomo by 37 points in a hypothetical election.[319] In February 2015, Trump told NBC that he was not prepared to sign on for another season of The Apprentice, as he mulled his political future.[320]

Political affiliations

Trump shaking hands with President Ronald Reagan in 1987. Both are standing and facing each other.

Trump meets with President Ronald Reagan at a 1987 White House reception, 30 years before taking office

Trump’s political party affiliation has changed numerous times over the years. Trump was a Democrat prior to 1987.[321] In 1987, Trump registered as a Republican in Manhattan.[322]

In 1999, Trump switched to the Reform Party and ran a presidential exploratory campaign for its nomination. After his run, Trump left the party in 2001, ostensibly due to the involvement of David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and Lenora Fulani.[323]

From 2001 to 2008, Trump identified as a Democrat, but in 2008, he endorsed Republican John McCain for President. In 2009, he officially changed his party registration to Republican.[324] In December 2011, Trump became an independent for five months before returning to the Republican Party, where he later pledged to stay.[325][326]

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.[327] After 2011, his campaign contributions were more favorable to Republicans than to Democrats.[328] In February 2012, Trump openly endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for President.[329] When asked in 2015 which recent president he prefers, Trump picked Democrat Bill Clinton over the Republican Bushes.[330][331]

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.[332][333] Trump told investigators he did so on the advice of his lawyers. He also said the contributions were not to gain favor with business-friendly candidates, but simply to satisfy requests from friends.[332][334]

2000 presidential campaign

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign of 2000 for the nomination of the Reform Party began when real estate magnate and long-time President/CEO of the Trump Organization Donald Trump of New York announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee on the October 7, 1999 edition of Larry King Live. Though Trump had never held elected office, he was well known for his frequent comments on public affairs and business exploits as head of The Trump Organization. He had previously considered a presidential run in 1988 as a Republican, but chose not to run. For 2000, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura persuaded Trump to seek the presidential nomination of the Reform Party, which was fracturing despite achieving ballot access and qualifying for matching funds as a result of the 1996 presidential campaign of businessman Ross Perot. Trump’s entrance into the Reform Party race coincided with that of paleoconservative commentator Pat Buchanan, whom Trump attacked throughout the campaign as a “Hitler-lover.”

Trump focused his campaign on the issues of fair trade, eliminating the national debt, and achieving universal healthcare as outlined in the campaign companion piece The America We Deserve, released in January 2000. He named media proprietor Oprah Winfrey as his ideal running mate and said he would instantly marry his girlfriend, Melania Knauss, to make her First Lady. Critics questioned the seriousness of Trump’s campaign and speculated that it was a tactic to strengthen his brand and sell books. Trump defended his candidacy as a serious endeavor and proclaimed that he had a chance to win the election. Though he never expanded the campaign beyond the exploratory phase, Trump made numerous media appearances as a candidate, traveled to campaign events in Florida, California, and Minnesota, and qualified for two presidential primaries. Veteran campaign strategist and longtime Trump aide Roger Stone was hired as director of the exploratory committee.

Internal conflict caused Ventura to exit the Reform Party in February 2000, removing Trump’s most vocal proponent. Trump officially ended his campaign on the February 14, 2000 airing of The Today Show. Though he believed he could still win the Reform Party presidential nomination, he felt the party was too dysfunctional to support his campaign and enable a win in the general election. A poll matching Trump against likely Republican nominee George W. Bush and likely Democratic nominee Al Gore showed Trump with seven percent support. Despite his withdrawal, Trump won both primaries for which he qualified. Buchanan would go on to win the nomination.

After the election, Trump gained greater fame as the host of The Apprentice. He seriously considered running as a Republican in the 2012 presidential election but decided against it. Four years later, he initiated a full-scale presidential campaign, became the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee and was elected the 45th President of the United States.

Background[edit source]

Donald Trump with President Ronald Reagan in 1987, when Trump first considered running for president.

Real estate magnate Donald Trump, head of The Trump Organization since 1971, first dabbled in presidential politics in the early summer of 1987. Republican political organizer Mike Dunbar, unimpressed with the candidates for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination, founded the “Draft Trump for President” organization. Believing Trump had the makings of a president, Dunbar pitched Trump the idea of speaking at an event for Republican candidates in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire. According to Dunbar in a later interview, Trump was receptive to this idea.[1] Then a registered Democrat, Trump officially changed his registration to Republican in July 1987.[2] Speculation that he would actually run for president intensified two months later,[3] when he purchased $94,801 worth of full-page advertisements in The New York Times, Boston Globe, and The Washington Post with the heading “There’s nothing wrong with America’s Foreign Defense Policy that a little backbone can’t cure.” The advertisements reflected Trump’s concerns that Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait were taking advantage of American money and protection without providing any benefit to the United States.[4] The next month, as Dunbar had proposed, Trump appeared at a Rotary Club luncheon in New Hampshire. There, he delivered what The New York Times described as an “impassioned speech,” in which he expressed concern about the United States being “pushed around” by its allies and proposed that “these countries that are ripping us off pay off the $200 billion deficit.” In the audience, college students held placards reading “Trump for President.” Nevertheless, Trump proclaimed, “I’m not here because I’m running for President. I’m here because I’m tired of our country being kicked around and I want to get my ideas across.”[5] Later, Trump appeared on the Phil Donahue Show. After the appearance, he received a letter from former President Richard Nixon in which Nixon explained that his wife Pat, “an expert on politics,” had seen Trump on the show and “predicts that whenever you decide to run for office you will be a winner!”[6] In November 1987, Trump released The Art of the Deal, which became a New York Times bestseller.[7]

Months later, during an April 1988 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show,[8] Trump discussed his displeasure with the United States’ status as a “debtor nation” and its seeming inability to compete with Japan. Winfrey asked Trump if he would ever run for president. He replied, “Probably not, but I do get tired of seeing the country get ripped off … I just don’t think I have the inclination to do it.” Furthermore, he asserted that if he ever did run, he would win the election.[9] He later appeared at the 1988 Republican National Convention. In an interview on the floor, NBC News reporter Chris Wallace asked whether Trump’s visit to his first national convention would induce him to “take the plunge” into a presidential campaign. In response, Trump downplayed his prior exploration into presidential politics, though repeated that he would win if he ever ran, and praised then-presumptive Republican presidential nominee George H. W. Bush.[10] During another convention interview on Larry King Live, Trump dismissed the speculation that he had considered running for president and commented, “I doubt I’ll ever be involved in politics beyond what I do right now.”[3] Talk of a potential Trump candidacy grew silent for much of the next decade.

Trump with President Bill Clinton at Trump Tower in 2000

In 1995, industrialist Ross Perot, who had received 18.9 percent of the vote during his Independent 1992 run for president, formed the Reform Party of the United States of America[11] Though Perot won the party’s 1996 nomination and garnered 8.4 percent of the popular vote, rifts had begun forming within the party. Former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm, who unsuccessfully challenged Perot for the 1996 presidential nomination, accused Perot of using the party as a personal vehicle, and broke off with his supporters to form a new party.[12] In 1998, former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota as a member of the Reform Party—the party’s most significant victory—but Perot and his followers were not receptive to Ventura and his political allies.[13] The Perot faction adamantly, though unsuccessfully, attempted to prevent the election of Ventura supporter Jack Gargan as party chairman in 1999 when Perot backer Russ Verney chose not to stand for re-election for his term ending January 1, 2000.[14] Opting not to run for president himself in 2000,[13] Ventura searched for candidates.[15] Initially, he courted WWF Board Member and former Connecticut governor Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.. He then turned to friend and wrestling aficionado Donald Trump.

Early stages[edit source]

In 1999, The New York Times reported that Jesse Ventura first approached Trump about a possible 2000 presidential run while both were in attendance at a wrestling event in Atlantic City.[16] Trump’s ambitions may have spawned earlier. The America We Deserve co-writer Dave Shiflett said Trump first thought about running in late 1998, when he looked at his political advantages in money and name recognition, and concluded that he was “at least as competent” as then President Bill Clinton.[17] According to Shiflett, this prompted Trump to ask top aide Roger Stone to find the “most eminent hack writer in America” to put Trump’s political ideas into a book. Stone reached out to Shiflett, a contributor to The American Spectator. In Spring 1999, Shiflett met with Trump about the project that would later become The America We Deserve. During the initial meeting, Shiflett claims Trump raised concerns about a suitcase bomb destroying Manhattan.[17]

Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura privately encouraged Trump to run.

In July 1999, the Democratic[18] polling firm Schroth and Associates conducted a poll of 400 Reform Party leaders[19] and found Trump tied for third place for the Reform Party presidential nomination.[18] Both the Reform Party and Trump denied having commissioned the poll.[19] Days later, Newsweek raised speculation[19] when it cited an unnamed “close friend” of Trump who said Trump was “toying” with the idea of a presidential campaign, allegedly in response to rumors of Ventura’s courting of Weicker for a run. Trump purportedly held a grudge against Weicker for blocking his plans to build a casino in Bridgeport[20] in 1994. The two had an exchange of insults in which Weicker labeled Trump a “dirt bag” and Trump referred to Weicker as “a fat slob who couldn’t get elected dog catcher.”[18] In response to the Newsweek report, Trump sent out a press release in which he criticized the two party system, praised the Reform Party, and stated “If the Reform Party nominated me, I would probably run and probably win.” However, he added that if the party nominated him, he would ask for “an immediate recount.”[18] In an interview, he told The New York Times, “I’m honored and I’m flattered [by the speculation], but the fact is I’ve never had more fun than I’m having right now, building the most spectacular buildings in New York.”[18] Chairman Verney denied that the Reform Party had any interest in Trump, explaining that party members had “never spent one second thinking about him.” [19] A CNN-Time poll conducted later in July showed Trump with seven percent support nationally in a match up against Republican candidate George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore.[21]

Two months later, amid reports that paleoconservative political commentator and adviser Pat Buchanan was about to join the Reform Party to seek the nomination, Trump announced that he would consider running as a sign of respect for Ventura. He labeled the views of Buchanan as “prehistoric”,[22] and commented that even though he liked Pat, “I’m on the conservative side, but Buchanan is Attila the Hun.”[23] He expected that a primary battle between the two would be “nasty.”[24] According to columnist Robert Novak, Bush operatives concerned about a third party run by Buchanan contacted Ventura indirectly about preventing Buchanan’s nomination. Novak argued that Trump “seems a bad match with Perot’s party, but he may be the GOP’s last hope to stop Buchanan.”[25]When Weicker decided not to seek the party’s nomination due to internal bickering, Ventura reportedly went all in for Trump.[26] The media capitalized on a potential Trump versus Buchanan challenge,[24] and Saturday Night Live satirized it with a skit in which Darrell Hammond portraying Trump and Chris Parnell as Buchanan pitched their candidacies to Ross Perot, played by Cheri Oteri. The segment also featured an appearance by Will Ferrell as Ventura.[27][28]

Trump further increased speculation of a full-scale campaign when his publisher Renaissance Books announced a January 2000 release date for The America We Deserve. The publisher’s press release announced a book tour and teased, “Donald Trump for President? Run or not, Donald Trump’s ideas will have a major impact on the next presidential election.”[29] Trump set January also as the month on which he would decide whether to run. He expressed, “I’m not interested in being the [third-party] candidate who gets the most votes in the history of the world outside of the Democratic and Republican parties, I would only consider this if I thought I could win.”[30] On September 30, Trump wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal titled, “America Needs a President Like Me” in which he argued that he would be “the kind of president America needs in the new millennium.” He cited the “repugnant” comments of Buchanan and Ventura’s personal encouragement as factors contributing to his decision.[31] In an October 6 interview on Dateline NBC, Trump affirmed that he was “very serious” about his run.[32]

Announcement[edit source]

Melania Knauss was touted as Trump’s potential First Lady.

On October 7, Trump announced on Larry King Live that he formed an exploratory committee to explore a Reform Party presidential bid. Trump planned to use the committee, not to raise money—he would personally fund his campaign—but to advise him on political matters in preparation for a run. In the interview with Larry King, Trump was optimistic about his chances indicating a “very strong possibility” of victory.[33] He referenced a non-scientific National Enquirer poll of 100 individuals, showing him in first place against his Democratic and Republican counterparts.[21] When pressed, Trump identified Oprah Winfrey as his ideal choice for a running mate,[34] describing her as “somebody that is very special,” and that if she agreed to run, “she’d be fantastic . . . she’s popular, she’s brilliant, she’s a wonderful woman.”[35] Oprah’s spokesperson later responded “at this point in time . . . Oprah is not running.”[36] Trump labeled Rudy Giuliani the greatest Mayor of New York and spoke admirably of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, saying that Reagan had a demeanor that contributed to a phenomenal spirit in the nation. Trump argued that President Bill Clinton could have been a great president, but destroyed his legacy with the Lewinsky scandal. As for the Reform Party, Trump offered praise for both Perot and Ventura, and attacked potential primary opponent Buchanan as someone “enamored” with Adolf Hitler, based on Buchanan’s thesis that Hitler presented no military threat to the United States ahead of World War II.[35]

On the issues, Trump labeled himself “very conservative,” but described his views on healthcare as “quite liberal” and “getting much more liberal,” explaining “I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better . . . . [I]t’s an entitlement to this country if we’re going to have a great country.” He expressed opposition to NAFTA, gun control, and said he would like to see alcohol corporations sued in the same manner as tobacco corporations. For his first presidential term, he proclaimed, “I want to do the right job: straighten out Social Security, get the trade deficits in order, and lower taxes.”[35] As for the lack of a first lady, Trump said he could solve the issue “in 24 hours” by marrying his 29-year-old girlfriend, model Melania Knauss. In a later interview, Knauss said she would marry Trump under such notice.[37] In the role, she said, “I would be very traditional. Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy. I would support him.”[38] Trump described Knauss as “a woman of great style and elegance . . . very poised and gracious and able to get along with everyone.”[37]

After the announcement, Trump and Knauss had dinner with Ventura and were joined by actor Woody Harrelson.[36] Ventura later commented that Trump’s chances of success depended on his impression of the Reform Party.[21] Onlookers questioned Trump’s motive in running. Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman expressed doubts about the authenticity of Trump’s campaign, saying “It’s all marketing of his name.”[36] Matt Bai of Newsweek commented “Most serious-minded people think Trump’s flirtation with the Reform Party’s presidential nomination is just a publicity stunt.”[39] Ex-wife Ivana Trump doubted he would actually run.[40] Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch commented that people would likely not flock to Trump’s campaign, suggesting that Trump was merchandising his brand.[41] Trump disagreed with the critics, arguing that even though his sales had increased as a result of media coverage, he was serious about the campaign.[39] Roger Stone was hired as director of the exploratory committee.[42]

Primary campaign[edit source]

October 1999[edit source]

Pat Buchanan, Trump’s main rival for the Reform Party nomination

Trump’s announcement made way for the anticipated Buchanan–Trump primary contest with Buchanan himself moving closer to mounting a Reform Party bid. Buchanan announced he would decide whether to join the race by late October. A Schroth and Associates poll of 500 people who voted for Perot in 1996, showed Buchanan with a slight edge over Trump, 32 percent to 29 percent.[41] Though Ventura wished to prevent a Buchanan nomination, he did not publicly endorse Trump. Some of Ventura’s advisers were skeptical of Trump’s campaign and wanted Ventura to leave the party if a Buchanan nomination appeared imminent.[39] Ventura’s place in the party had become a subject of controversy. Chairman Verney asked Ventura to leave the party in early October after Ventura commented in a Playboy interview that “organized religion is a sham and a crutch.”[43] Perot also decided not to make an endorsement during the primary campaign, despite Buchanan’s plea that Perot publicly support his entrance into the race.[41]

Before Trump could venture out on the campaign trail, he had to tend to some personal matters. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Marla Maples, Trump’s second ex-wife, threatened to reveal what Trump “is really like” if he chose to run for president in the general election. In response, Trump withheld $1.5 million in alimony he owed Maples, claiming she was in violation of the confidentiality agreement in the couple’s divorce decree. After a Manhattan judge refused to hear the matter, a brief conference was held, wherein the judge’s law secretary advised Trump to pay the alimony and advised Maples that further incidents would be cause for the judge to reconsider hearing the matter.[44] Trump’s attorneys were satisfied that the meeting would cause Maples to rethink making any public statements on her marriage to Trump.[45]

On October 24, Trump appeared on Meet the Press, where he announced that he would officially join the Reform Party. During the interview, Trump questioned why a politician was better suited to be president than him, commenting “I understand this stuff.” He said that the Republican Party has become “too crazy right.” Notably, he identified Buchanan as a “Hitler-lover” and mused, “I guess he’s an anti-Semite . . . He doesn’t like the blacks, he doesn’t like the gays. It’s just incredible that anybody could embrace this guy.”[46] As for his reputation as a womanizer, Trump said he would not run if he believed it would be an impediment.[46] The next day, Trump formally joined the Reform Party, changing his voter registration from Republican to Independence Party, the New York affiliate of the Reform Party. On the same day, Buchanan announced that he too would leave the Republican Party to join with the Reform Party and attempt to obtain its presidential nomination.[47] Buchanan said he refused to engage in a “name-calling” contest with Trump but made a thinly veiled attack against Trump’s wealth, arguing, “I don’t believe the Reform Party nomination can be bought, and I don’t believe the Presidency can be bought.”[46] On Face the Nation, Pat Choate, the Reform Party’s 1996 vice presidential nominee, said Trump would “make a good candidate,” but argued that Buchanan could challenge Trump “on the merits” and that Trump and the media were misrepresenting Buchanan’s views through “hate politics.” Other party members expressed reservations about Trump’s comments and personal life.[46][48] Verney wondered “what the compelling reason is for him to seek the presidency.”[49] Trump acknowledged himself as “certainly controversial” but labeled himself as “a great businessman,” who would “make the greatest treaties that this country’s seen in a long time.”[50] On Fox News Sunday, he criticized U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and said that as president he himself would fill the position and negotiate trade deals with other countries. He identified France, Japan, Germany, and Saudi Arabia as nations taking advantage of badly negotiated trade deals with the United States.[51]

November 1999[edit source]

In an effort speculated to implore the media to view the campaign more seriously,[52] Trump rolled out a tax proposal that became the subject of attention. In a series of telephone interviews in early November,[52] Trump proposed a one-time 14.25 percent “net worth tax” that would apply to individuals and trusts with assets greater than $10 million. The plan was meant to raise $5.7 trillion in revenue to wipe out the national debt, estimated at the time to be $5.66 trillion. The plan exempted one’s homestead from the calculation. Trump estimated that the tax would only apply to one percent of the population and that the remaining 99 percent would receive a federal income tax cut as well as an elimination of the estate tax. He projected a 35 to 40 percent increase in economic activity as a result and eliminate $200 billion in federal interest payments, half of which would be used to fund middle class tax cuts and the rest to allocate for Social Security.[53] The original plan provided only one year for taxpayers to pay the new tax, but that was later increased to 10 years. Economists predicted that enactment of the plan would “risk capital flight”[54] and “prick” the stock market bubble.[52][55] Bruce Bartlett of the National Center for Policy Analysis wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the proposed rate would fall short of its goal and that at any rate, would introduce “devastating” disruption to the economic system.[56] Tax attorney Robert L. Sommers, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, argued that many wealthy people lacked sufficient cash on hand to pay the tax and that doing so would lead to the mass liquidation of assets, “roil[ing] the stock and real estate markets.”[57] Trump defended his plan, rejecting the speculation that it would be “a shock to the system.”[52] Roger Stone noted that Trump had been thinking about the plan for a while and that he felt so strong about it that he was willing to pay $725 million of his own money in taxes under it.[57] CBS News speculated that the plan meant to appeal to middle and lower class Americans.[52] Trump’s tax plan differed significantly from the plan put forward by Reform Party rival Buchanan, who had called for a 16 percent flat tax on earnings over $35,000.[52]

I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.

Donald Trump[58]

Despite the discussion of substantive issues, the campaign’s seriousness continued to come under attack. Ed Koch elevated his criticisms of the campaign, calling it “fraudulent” and arguing that Trump is the “greatest con artist in the world when it comes to trumpeting his own name . . . . [M]y gut tells me that he knows nothing [about policy].”[59] Former White House adviser Dick Morris said “I think he’s mainly selling books.” Republican strategist Ed Rollins questioned whether Trump could “say the right things” or “be willing to let somebody put an organization together.” A New York Daily News/WNBC-TV poll showed that 74% of New Yorkers believed the campaign was being used only for Trump “to promote himself.” Roger Stone commented that the perception problem would “solve itself” once the campaign would reveal the number of petition signatures it collected.[60] By mid-November, the campaign started receiving advice from political consultant Douglas Friedline, who ran Ventura’s successful 1998 gubernatorial campaign. Upon Friedline’s advice, Trump assembled communications and campaign staff, and began planning events in strategic states.[61] As a further step in organization, Trump set up a campaign website at the domain http://www.donaldjtrump2000.com and used Ventura’s webmaster, Phil Madsen, to create an online community of supporters.[62]

On his first campaign stop, Trump traveled to Miami, Florida and spoke before the Cuban American National Foundation.[63] The foundation invited Trump after he wrote a Miami Herald article denouncing Cuban President Fidel Castro and favoring the U.S. embargo against Cuba several months earlier.[61] During the visit, Trump was met with supporters touting “Trump 2000” posters and shouting “Viva Donald Trump!” There, he delivered his first foreign policy speech, capped with the line, “I’d have, personally, two words for [Castro]: ‘Adios, amigo!'” Covering the event, columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that the fascination with Trump was the “apotheosis of our Gilded Age,” where “money, celebrity, polling, and crass behavior” warp politics and the television show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire dominates the culture.[58] Following this theme, Saturday Night Live performed a sketch in which Darrell Hammond reprised his role as Trump, holding a press conference announcing Millionaire winner John Carpenter as his running mate.[64] Soon thereafter, the actual Trump floated possible running mates and members of his presidential cabinet during a November 28 episode of Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer. He identified Senator John McCain, a Republican presidential candidate, as a possible Secretary of Defense. Trump said he would consider Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and mentioned retired General Colin Powell as a possible Secretary of State. He praised General Electric CEO Jack Welch, and discussed him as either Secretary of Treasury or running mate. He again mentioned Oprah Winfrey as a possible running mate. During the interview, Trump expressed his willingness to spend $100 million to self-finance a full-scale campaign.[65] The Reform Party scheduled a debate of the candidates seeking the presidential nomination on December 3 in Portland, Oregon. When a reporter asked a Trump aide whether Trump would appear, the aide was unaware of the debate. Ultimately, Buchanan attended but Trump did not.[66]

Trump’s proposed cabinet

December 1999[edit source]

Top adviser Roger Stone was part of Trump’s campaign entourage.

As the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations collapsed amid protests at a summit in Seattle, Trump appeared on the December 5 airing of ABC‘s This Week. He said that the WTO was not “necessarily fair” to the United States, and argued that “our best, and our smartest, and our brightest” were not being used to negotiate the deal. He renewed his attack on the negotiation skills of Barshefsky, saying that both she and Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley did not know how to negotiate.[67] Next, Trump embarked on a two-day campaign stop in California, which the media covered extensively. During the stop, Trump held a press conference, appearing with his campaign entourage that included his girlfriend Melania, Roger Stone, and bodyguard Matt Calamari. Aides made hand sanitizer readily available for reporters, presumably due to Trump’s alleged germaphobia.[66] The Associated Press (AP) noted that Trump “made little attempt to appear statesman-like” at the press conference with responses that seemed “tailored more to entertain his listeners than establish his credibility.”[68] In Burbank, Trump appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno where he attacked Buchanan as “having a love affair with Adolf Hitler” and discussed his upcoming book, The America We Deserve. The Weekly Standard reported that though the release date was only a month away, the book had yet to be written.[66] After the Tonight Show appearance, Trump attended a meeting of one hundred Southern California Reform Party members, to whom he delivered a speech and answered questions. Crowds cheered Trump when he discussed his opposition to NAFTA, but some were offended[68] when he questioned the existence of a Reform Party platform and, after receiving a copy, left it on the podium when he exited. On the final day, Trump visited the Simon Wiesenthal Center‘s Museum of Tolerance and walked through an exhibit of The Holocaust. He delivered a speech and held another press conference at the museum atrium, where he denounced Buchanan’s views on Nazis. Afterwards, Trump boarded his jet for Long Beach.[66] During an on-jet interview, Trump placed his odds of waging a full-scale campaign at “50/50,” but “edging closer,” believing there to be a “fervor” among the public about his campaign. The AP evaluated the California response as more “warm” than fervent, but described Trump’s treatment as that of a “high profile dignitary.” At Trump’s final event, he spoke at a Tony Robbins motivational conference.[68] Robbins and Trump had made an agreement that would pay Trump $1 million for showing up at ten of Robbins’ events. Trump planned to make campaign stops to coincide with Robbins’ shows, speculating that he “could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”[69] At the event, Trump received what the AP called a “moderately enthusiastic applause”[68] after asking the 21,000 people in attendance[66] whether he should run for president.[68] He received a large ovation when he proclaimed, “people want to hear straight talk. We’re tired of being bullied by these moron politicians.” Overall, The Weekly Standard praised Trump for his candor on the campaign trail.[66]

In discussing his campaign strategy with The Los Angeles Times, Trump proclaimed, “the only strategy is, I’ll be on television a lot.” Responding to a poll of probable Reform Party voters that showed him with only 14% support, fourth place behind Ventura (20%), Perot (25%), and Buchanan (30%), Trump pointed to the spike in ratings each television network received whenever he appeared on air. He admitted, “whether or not TV ratings can transfer into votes is an interesting question.” The Times characterized Trump’s campaign as “Political Science 101 on how far politics is devolving into pure entertainment.”[70] Nevertheless, Trump contemporaneously delved into the politics of third party campaigns when he wrote a letter to Commission on Presidential Debates asking the body to review its standard for third party candidate inclusion in the general election debates. His letter included a veiled threat of litigation if the body enacted a standard preventing his participation. At this time, Trump announced that he would make his decision on whether to wage a full-scale campaign by early February.[70] In addition, he retained two signature collection agencies in order to secure ballot access.[71]

As 1999 drew to a close, the conflict within the Reform Party escalated. To the chagrin of the Perot faction, chairman-elect Jack Gargan pushed through a motion to move headquarters from Perot’s home in Dallas to Florida.[72] Shortly thereafter, the Perot faction incorporated the Reform Leadership Council as an entity separate from the main party to preserve the vision of Perot. They also moved the National Convention from Ventura’s home in Minneapolis to Long Beach.[73] The Ventura faction filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the Perot faction and threatened to bolt the party, prompting chairman Verney to instruct, “don’t let the door hit them when they leave.”[74] As the conflict unfolded, Ventura publicly expressed that he could never support Buchanan as the party’s nominee, describing him as “very shallow.” Ventura said that in a head-to-head against Buchanan, he favored Trump. Ventura and Trump planned a campaign event together in Minnesota to begin the new year.[75]

January 2000[edit source]

The America We Deserve book cover

Trump officially released his book The America We Deserve on January 1. Dave Shiflett received credit as co-writer.[76] To promote the book, Trump held a January 5 press conference at Trump Tower, which aired on C-SPAN. He signed books and answered questions from reporters, once asserting, “I may be too honest to be a politician.”[77] Trump’s book, consisting of 286 pages,[76] covers Trump’s political positions and policy proposals, including strict anti-crime measures, increased pressure on China, fair trade, border control, increased military spending, support for public capital punishment, and the implementation of single-payer health care.[78] It advocates eliminating soft money contributions to political parties and full disclosure of campaign donations to political candidates, but calls for the removal of limits on the amount of donations, arguing, “[i]f you want to give your life savings to Al Gore, that should be between you, Al Gore and your psychiatrist.” In addition, it raises concerns about terrorism, proposing the creation of a national lottery to raise funds for anti-terrorism programs,[79] and offers a choice to North Korea to disarm or face military strikes.[17] The America We Deserve also includes praise for former boxer Muhammad Ali, Teamsters leader James P. Hoffa, as well as Trump’s future political opponents Florida governor Jeb Bush and New York governor George Pataki, among others.[80] It cites friendships with baseball player Sammy Sosa and entertainer Sean Combs as making Trump more understanding of racial diversity. Trump later backpedaled his book’s praise of Combs after Combs was charged with violating gun laws following a shooting at a New York nightclub. Trump said he did not “know [Combs] really well.”[81] The book condemns Congressman Jerrold Nadler as a “hack” for opposing Trump’s development of waterfront real estate in Manhattan, and describes Senator Bob Smith as “the dumbest guy in the U.S. Senate” after he grilled Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry on abortion when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1999 upon her nomination to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. It criticizes Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley as a “phony” for his Senate sponsorship of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 that purportedly hurt Trump financially. It also notes the hypocrisy of both an unnamed Senator and an unnamed conservative columnist who each engaged in extramarital affairs at Trump’s hotels and resorts while they attacked President Clinton for the Lewinsky scandal.[80] In a scathing review, New York Magazine described the book as inadvertently satirical.[82] Booklist pondered whether Trump was “the only man ever to run for president in order to promote a book.”[83] Dave Saltonstall of the New York Daily News, labeled it as autobiographical and reported that it contains “enough details to paint a fairly comprehensive picture of what a Trump presidency might look like.”[79]

On January 7, Trump appeared in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, where he spoke before the Chamber of Commerce, attended a Reform Party fundraiser, and held a joint press conference with Ventura. At the fundraiser, Trump identified North Korea as the nation’s greatest foreign policy threat, blasted Japan for “ripping us off” for the last 25 years, and ripped Russia as being “totally mixed up” for placing “people nobody ever even heard of” in charge of missiles.[84] At the press conference, Trump claimed he had yet to decide whether to run officially and so had not asked for Ventura’s endorsement. Ventura said that if Trump decided to run, he would give his “full consideration.” Trump asserted it would be “disaster for the Reform Party” if Pat Buchanan received the presidential nomination.[85] Describing himself and Ventura as self-made and not part of the “lucky sperm club,” Trump made an indirect jab at both the Republican front-runner George W. Bush, the son of former President Bush, and Democratic front-runner Al Gore, son of the late Senator Albert Gore, Sr..[86] Trump and Ventura released a written statement opposing the Commission on Presidential Debates’ decision to limit debate participation to candidates polling above 15 percent in the general election and urging the Federal Election Commission to take action.[87]

Trump ended his relationship with Melania Knauss in January 2000, removing a key figure of the campaign entourage.[88] According to the New York Daily News, an associate of Trump said the move was meant to appease Reform Party leaders. Roger Stone denied the suggestion.[89] In addressing the matter, Trump complimented Knauss and commented, “she will be missed.”[90] Shortly thereafter, in an attempt to bring the two Reform Party factions together, Trump invited party leaders to the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. Addressing the 170 party members, who attended the event (including former chairman Russ Verney), Trump proclaimed “I’m very proud to be in the party of Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura.” Verney appreciated the gesture and in shifting from his once-chilly reception to the Trump candidacy, he welcomed Trump into the race. After opening the event to questions, one attendee asked Trump whether he would appear at the Florida Reform Party‘s state convention. Trump said he would consider it “very seriously.” Concerning Buchanan, Trump repeated he could not support Buchanan as the party’s nominee.[91] Despite the retreat, the intra-party dispute over the location of the convention continued.[92] Citing scheduling conflicts, Trump did not attend the Florida Reform Party’s state convention. Reports suggested that Trump insiders believed Buchanan had packed the convention with supporters and would embarrass Trump by winning all the state’s delegates. There were also growing indications Trump was considering withdrawing from the race, commenting that he was “deeply concerned” about the conflict within the party.[93] In another attempt to unite the party’s factions, Trump wrote letters to Ventura and Perot, requesting the two make peace.[94] Trump believed the instability of the party would hinder his chances of presidential success. Stone commented that “the [Reform] party is melting down before our very eyes.”[92] On the final day of January, Trump was removed from the New York primary ballot after a judge determined that Trump’s supporters had failed to obtain the required 5,000 signatures from registered Reform Party members. This marked a victory for Buchanan’s supporters, including leftist activist Lenora Fulani, who had hoped to prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot in his home state.[95]

February 2000[edit source]

Despite Trump’s efforts, the conflict within the Reform Party escalated. A special Reform Party meeting was planned for Nashville at which the Perot faction was expected to vacate the national chairmanship of Ventura-ally Jack Gargan.[96] Both Trump and Ventura expressed disgust with the national party. Ventura desired to disassociate the Minnesota Reform Party from the national party. An unnamed official within the party told the AP that Ventura and Trump discussed a scenario where Ventura would run as the presidential nominee of the disaffiliated party with Trump as his running mate. The chairman of the Minnesota Reform Party denied Ventura would be part of any presidential ticket.[97] After privately notifying Trump of his intentions and seeking his blessing,[98] Ventura held a press conference on February 12 and officially left the national Reform Party, remaining a member of his state party, which he urged to disaffiliate and return to its original name, the Independence Party of Minnesota. He voiced dissatisfaction with the presidential contest, explaining that Pat Buchanan was running “virtually unopposed” and receiving support from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke; something with which Ventura could not associate. Ventura invited Trump to run for the presidential nomination of the Independence Party, which Ventura believed could become a national entity.[99] At the party’s next meeting, it disaffiliated.[100] Trump considered Ventura’s invitation but had concerns, particularly the question of whether other state parties would affiliate with the new party.[101] Minnesota political scientist Steve Schier doubted the party could become a national entity, arguing that it was far too small to make an impact on the national level.[99] Ventura’s move came just ahead of the Nashville meeting where, with the rationale of failing to “faithfully perform and execute the duties of his office,” Gargan was removed by a 109 to 31 committee vote.[102] The chaotic meeting, dominated by Perot-faction members, featured shoving matches and physical squabbles as the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department intervened to restore order. Gargan charged that the meeting was illegal due to insufficient notice, though a quorum was present.[103]

Withdrawal[edit source]

So the Reform Party now includes a Klansman—Mr. Duke, a Neo-Nazi—Mr. Buchanan, and a Communist—Ms. Fulani.
This is not company I wish to keep.

Donald Trump[104]

On February 14, Trump withdrew from the race.[105] In a press release, he cited infighting in the Reform Party as not “conducive to victory,” concluding he could not win the election as the party’s nominee and so, as pledged, would not continue his campaign. He expressed concerns about the direction of the party, particularly its membership, referring to David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and Lenora Fulani as a Klansman, a Neo-Nazi, and a Communist, respectively. However, he lauded party members Russ Verney, Jack Gargan, and others as “wonderful people” he was honored to meet. Trump lamented the exit of Jesse Ventura from the party, arguing “without Jesse, the Reform Party is just an extremist shell and cannot be a force or even a factor in 2000.” Trump declined to seek the nomination of Ventura’s new Independence Party, finding it “healthy” but too young to win. He expressly kept open the possibility of running for president in 2004.[104]Trump publicly announced his withdrawal on The Today Show in an interview with Matt Lauer. He explained that though he still could have won the Reform Party nomination, he believed he would only win 20 percent in the general election, which he did not want. He claimed the party was on the verge of “self-destructing” and referred to it as a “total mess.”[98] In response, Pat Choate, who became the new Reform Party chairman after the unseating of Gargan, disputed Trump’s claim about the party[106] and said Trump’s campaign was meant only “to smear Pat Buchanan.”[107] He declared Trump “unwelcome” to seek the party’s 2004 presidential nomination.[106] Choate later remarked that he believed Trump’s campaign was a “Republican dirty trick” orchestrated by Roger Stone “to disgust people and drive them away from the Reform Party.”[108] Stone argued that John McCain “running on Trump’s message” and surging in the polls signaled an end to the Trump campaign.[69]

Several days after withdrawing, Trump reflected on his campaign in an editorial published in The New York Times titled “What I Saw at the Revolution.” Disputing the claim that he ran for the publicity, Trump countered that he felt the nation was ready for a non-establishment “businessman president” who offered “straight talk.” He cited three reasons for dropping out: (1) the criteria of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which would have made it “impossible” for him to qualify for general election debates; (2) the rise of the presidential campaign of John McCain, whose similar message would have made a contrast difficult; and (3) the exit of Ventura from the Reform Party. Trump called his run the “greatest civics lesson that a private citizen can have,” but said it was “enormous fun” and a “great life experience,” though it “doesn’t compare with completing one of the great skyscrapers of Manhattan.”[109]

Results[edit source]

During the campaign, Trump qualified for the Michigan and California Reform Party presidential primaries. Both of these elections were held after Trump exited the race.[110] On February 22, Trump won the Michigan Primary with 2,164 votes defeating uncommitted with 948 votes.[111] Trump won the California primary on March 7 with 15,311 votes (44.28%) defeating perennial candidate George D. Weber who received 9,390 votes (27.16%), former Director of Advanced Space Programs Development Robert M. Bowman who received 4,879 (14.11%), former Congressman John B. Anderson who received 3,158 (9.13%), and political activist Charles E. Collins who received 1,837 (5.31%).[112] Pat Buchanan was not listed on either ballot. A slate of Trump supporters petitioned to list Trump on the New York Independence Party presidential primary ballot but were denied on a technicality.[113]

Pat Buchanan eventually won the Reform Party presidential nomination at a chaotic[114] National Convention in Long Beach in August 2000.[115] Buchanan had lost the support of the Perot faction, which accused Buchanan of fraud and held a counter-convention, nominating Buchanan’s only major opponent physicist John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party.[116] According to Russ Verney, the Perot faction lost faith in Buchanan when he emphasized pro-life and anti-homosexual issue positions after promising to respect the party’s neutral stance on social issues.[117] After the filing of a complaint over the party’s matching funds, the FEC ruled against the Perot faction and invalided the Hagelin selection.[118] The decision was affirmed on appeal. On Election Day, Buchanan appeared on the ballot in all 50 states and received 448,895 votes, 0.42% of the popular vote. George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in a close contest[119] that required a recount and Supreme Court intervention.[120] The Bush campaign recruited Roger Stone to oversee the recount.[121]

Reform Party presidential primary results by county

Michigan

  Uncommitted
  Tie
  No votes

Aftermath[edit source]

Trump speaks at a campaign event in 2016.

After the election, Trump returned to his real estate business, rekindled his relationship with Melania Knauss, whom he married in 2005,[122] and hosted NBC’s The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice for 14 seasons from 2004 to 2015, acquiring the catchphrase, “You’re fired!”.[123] In addition, he continued an involvement in politics. He changed his voter registration from the New York Independence Party (Reform Party affiliate) to the Democratic Party in August 2001[2] as the Reform Party continued its decline. By 2004, the party had lost ballot access in all but seven states, which it gave to Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader.[124] Trump was critical of the George W. Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq War[125] and publicly endorsed Bush’s impeachment.[126] He considered challenging Bush in the 2004 Republican presidential primaries, but ultimately decided against it.[127] Jesse Ventura, who chose not to run for re-election as Governor of Minnesota in 2002,[128] also considered a 2004 presidential run and publicly asked for and received Trump’s support at WrestleMania XX.[129] However, Ventura did not run.

In 2009, Trump changed his voter registration from Democrat back to Republican.[2] He seriously considered running for president as a Republican in 2012 and led in an April 2011 Rasmussen Reports survey.[130] While considering a run, Trump emphasized China’s currency manipulation and criticized the trade policies of the Barack Obama administration.[131] Additionally, he questioned the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship and birth certificate.[132] He decided not to run in May 2011,[133]but proclaimed “I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and, ultimately, the general election.”[134] After reports that a group in Texas was attempting to create the “Make America Great Again Party” with the intention of running Trump as a candidate,[135] Trump briefly considered a 2012 Independent bid and changed his voter registration from Republican to “I do not wish to enroll in a party.”[2][136] Trump said he would run if the Republicans selected the “wrong candidate.”[135]Ultimately, he again decided against running. Trump re-registered as a Republican in 2012[2] and publicly endorsed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for president.[137]

After much speculation, Trump officially decided to run for president as a Republican in 2016, using the motto “Make America Great Again.” In his announcement speech in June 2015, Trump took a tough stance against illegal immigration and promised to build a wall on the U.S.–Mexico border if elected president.[138] After announcing, Trump became the front-runner for the nomination, taking the lead in nearly every national poll, ahead of his rivals for the Republican nomination including Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.[139] Trump styled himself as the candidate of anti-establishment Republicans and received praise from former rival Pat Buchanan, who compared Trump’s run to Buchanan’s 1992 and 1996 campaigns.[140] His attacks on the Republican establishment included a slight against the war hero status of John McCain, whom Trump complimented during his 2000 campaign.[141] Republican voters favored the purported honesty of Trump’s message and his abrasive approach,[142] which eschewed political correctness.[143] Roger Stone, who headed Trump’s 2000 presidential committee, served as an adviser for the 2016 campaign until a much publicized split in August 2015.[144] The campaign generated major media attention and attracted large crowds to campaign events. Trump won multiple Republican primaries, receiving more votes than any previous Republican candidate, and earned the party’s presidential nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention. In the general election, Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to be elected the 45th President of the United States.

2016 presidential campaign

Trump speaking behind a brown wooden podium, wearing a dark blue suit and a red tie. The podium sports a blue "TRUMP" sign.

Trump campaigning in Laconia, New Hampshire, on July 16, 2015

On June 16, 2015, Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Trump Tower in Manhattan. 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 priorities during the campaign. He also announced his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again“.[340]

In his campaign, Trump said that he disdained political correctness; he also stated that the media had intentionally misinterpreted his words, and he made other claims of adverse media bias.[341][342][343] In part due to his fame, Trump received an unprecedented amount of unpaid coverage from the media during his run for the presidency; this elevated his standing in the Republican primaries.[344]

Republican leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan were hesitant to support him during his early quest for the presidency. They doubted his chances of winning the general election and feared that he could harm the image of the Republican Party.[345][346]

The alt-right movement coalesced around Trump’s candidacy,[347] due in part to its opposition to multiculturalism and immigration.[348][349]The connection of this group to the Trump campaign is controversial; writers such as Jon Ronson have suggested that the link between Trump and right-wing figures such as Alex Jones and Roger Stone is a marriage of convenience.[350]

During the campaign, Trump was accused of pandering to white nationalists,[351] especially in his initial refusal to condemn the support of David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, in a CNN interview with Jake Tapper. He had previously criticized Duke in 1991, disavowed the 2000 Reform Party due to the support of Duke and others, and condemned Duke on the campaign trail both before and after the interview.[352] In August, he appointed Steve Bannon—the executive chairman of Breitbart News—as his campaign CEO; the website was described by Bannon as “the platform for the alt-right.”[353] However, Bannon later told the Wall Street Journal that he was an “economic nationalist” but not “a supporter of ethno-nationalism.”[354]

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.[355][356][357]

Fact-checking organizations have denounced Trump for making a record number of false statements compared to other candidates.[358][359][360] At least four major publications – Politico, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times – have pointed out lies or falsehoods in his campaign statements.[361] Trump’s penchant for hyperbole is believed to have roots in the New York real estate scene, where Trump established his wealth and where puffery abounds. Trump has called his public speaking “truthful hyperbole”, though online media outlets such as Yahoo! believed Trump’s “truthful hyperbole” to be a political tactic.[362][363] Lucas Graves, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication,[364] opined, of Trump’s speaking, 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.”[365] Other sources, such as NPR, also said that Trump’s statements during the campaign were often opaque or suggestive.[366]

Republican primaries

Trump rally in the U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio, on October 13, 2016

Trump entered a field of 16 candidates who were vying for the 2016 Republican nomination; this was the largest presidential field in American history.[367] 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 television ratings, which increased the visibility of Trump’s campaign.[368]

By early 2016, the race had mostly centered on Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.[369] On Super Tuesday, Trump won the plurality of the vote and remained the front-runner throughout the remainder of the primaries. By March 2016, Trump became poised to win the Republican nomination.[370] 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.[371] 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.[372]

General election campaign

Donald Trump and his running mate for vice president, Mike Pence, at the Republican National Convention in July 2016. They appear to be standing in front of a huge screen with the colors of the American flag displayed on it. Trump is at left, facing toward the viewer and making "thumbs-up" gestures with both hands. Pence is at right, facing toward Trump and clapping.

Trump with his running mate Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016

Trump–Pence 2016 campaign logo

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.”[373] 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 during one of his rallies in Las Vegas; they seized a 20-year-old British man who was illegally residing in the U.S.[374]

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 re-opening of its investigation into her ongoing email controversy.[375][376][377] In reference to the matter, FBI Director James Comey opined Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified government material.[378]

On July 15, 2016, Trump announced his selection of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.[379] Trump and Pence were officially nominated by the Republican Party on July 19, 2016, at the Republican National Convention.[380] 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.[381][382]

Two days later, Trump officially accepted the nomination in a 76-minute speech inspired by Richard Nixon‘s 1968 acceptance speech.[383]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.[384][385][386]

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.[387] Following Clinton’s 7 percent convention bounce, she significantly extended her lead over Trump in national polls at the start of August.[388][389]

Presidential debates

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.[390] This was the most watched presidential debate in United States history.[391] 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, 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, regardless of the outcome, drew particular press attention.[392][393]

Political positions

Trump’s campaign platform emphasized renegotiating U.S.–China relations and free trade agreements such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, strongly enforcing immigration laws, and building a new wall along the U.S.–Mexico border. His other campaign positions included pursuing energy independence while opposing climate change regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement, modernizing and expediting services for veterans, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, abolishing Common Core education standards, investing in infrastructure, simplifying the tax code while reducing taxes for all economic classes, and imposing tariffs on imports by companies that offshore jobs. During the campaign, he also advocated a largely non-interventionist approach to foreign policy while increasing military spending, extreme vetting of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries to pre-empt domestic Islamic terrorism, and aggressive military action against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS or IS).

Media have described Trump’s political positions as “populist“,[394][395] and some of his views cross party lines. For example, his economic campaign plan calls for large reductions in income taxes and deregulation,[396] consistent with Republican Party policies, along with significant infrastructure investment,[397] usually considered a liberal (Democratic Party) policy.[398][399] According to political writer Jack Shafer, Trump may be a “fairly conventional American populist when it comes to his policy views”, but he attracts free media attention, sometimes by making outrageous comments.[400][401]

Trump has supported or leaned toward varying political positions over time.[402][403][404] Politico has described his positions as “eclectic, improvisational and often contradictory”,[404] while NBC News counted “141 distinct shifts on 23 major issues” during his campaign.[405]

Foreign interference in election

There has been intensive media scrutiny of Trump’s relationship to Russia.[406][407] During the campaign, Trump repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin as a strong leader.[408] Several of Trump’s advisers, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, have been connected to Russian or Ukrainian officials.[191][409] The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine released information that helped to force Manafort’s resignation as campaign manager.[410]American intelligence sources stated with “high confidence”[411] that the Russian government attempted to intervene in the 2016 presidential election to favor the election of Trump by hacking into computers of Trumps’ opponents,[412] and that members of Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian government officials both before and after the presidential election.[413]

Sexual misconduct allegations

Two days before the second presidential debate, a 2005 recording surfaced in which Trump was heard bragging about forcibly kissing and groping women.[414][415][416] The hot mic recording was captured on a studio bus in which Trump and Billy Bush were preparing to film an episode of Access Hollywood. “I just start kissing them,” Trump said, “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.”[417] During the recording, Trump also spoke of his efforts to seduce a married woman, saying he “moved on her very heavily.”[417] These statements were recorded several months after Trump married his third and current wife, Melania, who was pregnant at the time.[417][418]

Trump’s language on the tape was described by the media as “vulgar”, “sexist”, and descriptive of sexual assault. The incident prompted him to make his first public apology during the campaign,[419][420] and caused outrage across the political spectrum,[421][422] with many Republicans withdrawing their endorsements of his candidacy and some urging him to quit the race.[423] A number of Trump supporters worldwide also withdrew their support following release of the tape, including many Conservatives in Britain.[424]Subsequently, at least 15 women[425] came forward with new accusations of sexual misconduct, including unwanted kissing and groping, resulting in widespread media coverage.[426][427]

Trump and his campaign have denied all of the sexual misconduct accusations, which Trump has called “false smears”, and alleged a conspiracy against him.[428][429][430] 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.[431]

Election to the presidency

2016 electoral vote results

On Election Day, November 8, 2016, Trump received 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232 votes. The counts were later adjusted to 304 and 227 respectively, after defections on both sides, formalizing Trump’s election to the presidency.[432] In the early hours of November 9, Clinton called Trump to concede the election. Trump then delivered his victory speech before hundreds of supporters in the New York Hilton hotel. 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.[433][434]

Trump received a smaller share of the popular vote than Clinton, making him the fifth person to be elected president after losing the popular vote. Records on this matter date from the year 1824.[435][nb 1] Clinton finished ahead by 2.86 million votes or 2.1 percentage points, 48.04% to 45.95%, with neither candidate reaching a majority nationwide.[438][439]

Trump’s victory was considered a stunning political upset, as polls consistently showed Hillary Clinton leading nationwide (where she did win) and in most battleground states, while Trump’s support had been underestimated throughout his campaign.[440] 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.[441] Trump won the perennial swing states of Florida, Iowa and Ohio, and flipped Clinton’s “blue wall” states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which had been Democratic strongholds since the 1990s. Trump’s victory marked the return of a Republican White House combined with control of both chambers of Congress, as was the case during parts of George W. Bush‘s presidency from 2003 to 2007.

Trump became the first president without prior governmental or military experience.[442][443][444] Of the 44 previous presidents, 39 had held prior elective office; two had not held elective office but had served in the Cabinet; and three had never held public office but had been commanding generals.[444] He is the first Republican since the 1980s to win the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. He 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.[445]

Protests

Trump’s victory sparked protests across the United States. Trump opponents took to the streets to amplify their opposition to Trump’s views and denounce his inflammatory statements. Some argued that Clinton’s popular vote victory meant Trump was not the democratically elected president and should be considered illegitimate.[446] 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.[447][448] 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!”[449]

On the Saturday following Trump’s inauguration there were massive demonstrations protesting Trump in the United States and worldwide, with approximately 2,600,000 taking part in Women’s Marches worldwide.[450] The most notable of these marches was the Women’s March on Washington (in Washington, D.C.), where over 500,000 people marched in opposition to Trump.[451] This was more than three times the number of people who were at Trump’s inaugural speech, according to crowd scientists at the Manchester Metropolitan University.[452]

Electoral history

Republican Party presidential primaries, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Donald Trump 14,015,993 votes
1,441 delegates
(41 contests)
Votes: 44.9%
Delegates: 58.3%
Republican Ted Cruz 7,822,100 votes
551 delegates
(11 contests)
Votes: 25.1%
Delegates: 22.3%
Republican Marco Rubio 3,515,576 votes
173 delegates
(3 contests)
Votes: 11.3%
Delegates: 7%
Republican John Kasich 4,290,448 votes
161 delegates
(1 contest)
Votes: 13.8%
Delegates: 6.5%
United States presidential election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Donald Trump 62,979,879 votes
304 electors
(30 states + ME-02)
Votes: 46.0%
Electors: 56.5%
Democratic Hillary Clinton 65,844,954 votes
227 electors
(20 states + DC)
Votes: 48.1%
Electors: 42.2%

Indications of 2020 presidential campaign

Trump signaled his intent to run for a second term by filing with the FEC within hours of assuming the presidency.[453][454] This transformed his 2016 election committee into a 2020 reelection one.[455] The early timing of the beginning of the campaign was highly unorthodox. Trump marked the official start of the campaign with a campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida on February 18, 2017, less than a month after taking office.[456] By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[457]

Presidency

Transition

President Obama and President-elect Trump meet in the Oval Office on November 10, 2016, two days after the election.

On November 10, President-elect Trump had his first ever 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.”[458] The BBC stated that “their antipathy was barely concealed” in “awkward photos” of the meeting.[459]

White House appointments

Trump’s transition team was led by Chris Christie until November 11, 2016, when Vice President-elect Mike Pence took over.[460] Since then, Trump has chosen RNC chairman Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff[461] and businessman and media executive Steve Bannon as White House Chief Strategist.[462]

Cabinet-level nominations

Trump has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General,[463] retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor,[464] education reform activist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education,[465] Governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations,[466] former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation,[467]U.S. Representative Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services,[468] former campaign rival Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development,[469]financier Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury,[470] billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce,[471] retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense,[472] retired Marine Corps General John F. Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security,[473] businessman Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor[474] (later withdrawn, replaced by attorney and law school dean Alexander Acosta),[475] CEO of ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State,[476] former Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy,[477] U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior,[478] and Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.[479]

Despite being nominated promptly during the transition period, most cabinet members were unable to take office on Inauguration Day because of delays in the formal confirmation process. By February 8, 2017, President Trump had fewer cabinet nominees confirmed than any prior president two weeks into their mandate, except George Washington.[480][481] Part of the lateness was ascribed to delays in submitting background-check paperwork, part to obstructionism by Senate Democrats.[482]

Pre-inauguration events

On November 22, Trump outlined his plan for his first 100 days in office in a video posted on YouTube. The plan included the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and asking the Department of Defense to develop a plan to protect the U.S. from cyber-attack.[483][484]

On December 7, Time named Trump as its “Person of the Year“.[485] 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.”[486][487] He also opposed Time‘s decision to change its “Man of the Year” title to “Person of the Year” in 1999, describing the action as too “politically correct”.[488] On December 13 he was named Financial Times Person of the Year.[489] In December 2016, Forbes ranked Trump the second most powerful person in the world, after Vladimir Putin and before Angela Merkel.[490]

Based on intelligence reports issued from October 2016 to January 2017, the Obama administration accused the Russian government of trying to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump, by supplying the DNC emails to WikiLeaks for publication.[491] Trump,[492] WikiLeaks[493] and Russian officials[494] have denied the allegations.

In January 2017, Trump was briefed on a private intelligence dossier containing “potentially compromising personal and financial information” about his activities in Russia,[495]which he denied.[496] The dossier was also leaked to the press and published.[497] Media evaluation of the dossier ranged from “garbage”[498] to “partially corroborated”.[499]

First 100 days

Trump taking the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts

Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States was held on Friday, January 20, 2017. In his first week as president, Trump signed six executive orders. His first order as president set out interim procedures in anticipation of repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That same week, Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, re-instated the Mexico City Policy, reopened the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline construction projects and launched the process[clarification needed] to build a new Mexico border wall and reinforce border security.[500]

Immigration order

Trump signing Executive Order 13769 at the Pentagon as the Vice President and Secretary of Defense look on

On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order that suspended admission of refugees for 120 days and denied entry to citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days, citing security concerns about terrorism. The following day, thousands of protesters gathered at airports and other locations throughout the United States to protest the signing of the order and detainment of the foreign nationals.[501] Later, the administration seemed to reverse a portion of part of the order, effectively exempting visitors with a green card.[502][503] Two Iraqi nationals detained upon arrival filed a complaint.[504] Several federal judges issued rulings that curtailed parts of the immigration order, stopping the federal government from deporting visitors already affected.[503]

On March 6, 2017, Trump issued a revised executive order, that, among other differences with the original order, excluded Iraq, visa-holders, and permanent residents from the temporary suspension and did not differentiate Syrian refugees from refugees from other countries.[505]

Supreme Court nomination

On January 31, Trump nominated U.S. Appeals Court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left on the Supreme Court by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.[506] An invocation of the “nuclear option” was prompted by Trump.[507] The Senate confirmed the nomination of Gorsuch on April 7, with a 54–45 vote.[508] Gorsuch was sworn in the next day.[509]

Domestic policy

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.[510] 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.[511]

Trump does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change.[512][513] In 2012, he said that global warming was a hoax invented by the Chinese, but later said that he was joking.[514][515] He has called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a “disgrace” and has threatened to cut its budget.[516] Trump has pledged to eliminate the Clean Power Plan[517] and withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, which calls for reductions in carbon emissions in more than 170 countries.[518] 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.[519]

Immigration

Trump speaking with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly on January 25, 2017

Trump’s immigration policies were intensely discussed during the campaign. Trump vowed to build a more substantial wall on the Mexico–United States border to keep out illegal immigrants, a wall which Trump promised Mexico would pay for.[520][521][522] He pledged to massively deport illegal immigrants residing in the United States,[523] and criticized birthright citizenship as it creates “anchor babies“.[524]He said the focus of deportation would be criminals, those who have overstayed their visas, and other “security threats”.[525]

Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, Trump made a controversial proposal to completely ban Muslim non-citizens from entering the United States until stronger vetting systems could be implemented.[526][527][528] Later in 2016 he stated that the 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”.[529][530][531]

In late January 2017, Trump issued an executive order banning the admission of immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.[532] The order was imposed without warning and took effect immediately;[533] the measure caused chaos at many airports, with consecutive days of mass protest afflicting major airports in the United States.[534] Multiple legal challenges were filed against the order, and a federal court blocked its implementation.[533] In early March 2017, Trump issued a revised order into law, which excluded Iraq, gave specific exemptions for permanent residents, no priorities for religious minorities (e.g. Christian refugees) and a week was given to implement legislation.[505][533]

Social issues

Trump is conservative, describes himself as pro-life and generally opposes abortion; exceptions are made in cases of rape, incest, and circumstances endangering the health of the mother.[535] He has said that he is committed to appointing justices who would try to overturn the ruling in Roe v. Wade.[536] He personally supports “traditional marriage”[514]but considers the nationwide legality of same-sex marriage a “settled” issue.[536]

Trump supports a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and says he is opposed to gun control in general,[537][538] although his views have shifted over time.[539] Trump opposes legalizing recreational marijuana but supports legalizing medical marijuana.[540] He favors capital punishment,[541][542] as well as the use of waterboarding.[543][544]

Health care

In 1999, Trump told Larry King Live that “I believe in universal healthcare.”[545] Trump’s 2000 book, The America We Deserve, argued strongly for a single-payer healthcare system based on the Canadian model,[546] and has voiced admiration for the Scottish National Health Service.[545][547][548]

However, Trump has repeatedly vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare.[549][550] In March 2016, Trump’s campaign released a platform summary which included a variety of free-market health 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.[551][552]

Trump aims to streamline the Department of Veterans Affairs, getting rid of backlogs and waitlists, and upgrading relevant facilities.[553] On his first Monday in office, Trump issued a federal hiring freeze on the VA.[554]

Education

Trump has stated his support for school choice and local control for primary and secondary schools.[555] He opposes the Common Core State Standards Initiative for primary and secondary schools,[556] and has called Common Core “a disaster” that must be ended.[557] He has stated he would abolish all or part of the Department of Education.[558]

Economy and trade

Trump speaking to automobile workers in Michigan in March 2017

Trump’s campaign tax plan called for levelling the corporate tax rate to 15%, eliminating various business loopholes and deductions,[396] 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.[559] His comments about the minimum wage have been inconsistent.[560][561][562]

Trump identifies as a “free trader“, but says that trade must be “reasonably fair”.[563] He has often been called a “protectionist“,[564][565][566] because of his criticism of NAFTA,[567][568] the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),[569] and his proposal to raise tariffs on Chinese and Mexican exports to the United States significantly.[570][571] He has also been critical of the World Trade Organization, threatening to leave unless his proposed tariffs are accepted.[572][573] However, Trump has been very keen to support a “fair” post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom,[574] which Trump says would be “good for both sides”.[575]

Government size and deregulation

Trump’s early policies have favored far-reaching deregulation and a smaller federal government. He became the first president in sixteen years to sign a Congressional Review Act disapproval resolution; the law had been used only once before.[576] During his first six weeks in office, he abolished ninety federal regulations.[577][578]

On January 23, 2017, Trump ordered a temporary government-wide hiring freeze.[579][580] The Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office told a House committee that hiring freezes have not proven to be effective in reducing costs.[581] Unlike some past freezes, the current freeze bars agencies from adding contractors to make up for employees leaving.[581]

A week later Trump signed Executive Order 13771, directing administrative agencies to repeal two existing regulations for every new regulation they issue.[582][583] Harvard Law professor Jody Freeman said that the order would do no more than slow the regulatory process, because it did not block rules required by statute.[584]

On February 24, 2017, Trump ordered the agencies to create task forces to determine which regulations are deemed burdensome to the U.S. economy.[585] Agency defenders expressed opposition to Trump’s attacks, saying that the bureaucracy exists to protect people against well-organized, well-funded interest groups.[586]

Foreign policy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Trump meeting in Washington, D.C., on February 10, 2017

Trump has been described as non-interventionist[587][588] and nationalist.[589] Trump repeatedly stated that he supports “America First” foreign policy.[590] He supports increasing United States military defense spending,[589] but favors decreasing United States spending on NATO and in the Pacific region.[591] He says America should look inward, stop “nation building”, and re-orient its resources toward domestic needs.[588] As a candidate he questioned whether he, as president, would automatically extend security guarantees to NATO members,[592] and suggested that he might leave NATO unless changes are made to the alliance.[593] But as president he has re-affirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO.[594]

In order to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Trump in 2015 called for seizing the oil in ISIS-occupied areas, using U.S. air power and ground troops.[595] In 2016, Trump advocated sending 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops to the region,[596][597] a position he later retracted.[598] 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”.[599] During the campaign he said he would relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from its current location, Tel Aviv, although he has not pursued that proposal as president.[600]

Both as a candidate and as president, Trump repeatedly said he wants a good relationship with Russia.[601][602] Trump has pledged to hold a summit meeting with Vladimir Putin.[603] He added that Russia could help the U.S. in fighting ISIS militants.[604] On April 7, 2017, Trump ordered the Shayrat missile strike in retaliation for the chemical weapons attack in Syria.[605]

Awards, honors, and distinctions

A ceremony in which Trump receiving the 2015 Marine Corps–Law Enforcement Foundation's annual Commandant's Leadership Award. Four men are standing, all wearing black suits; Trump is second from the right. The two center men (Trump and another man) are holding the award.

Trump receiving the 2015 Marine Corps–Law Enforcement Foundation’s annual Commandant’s Leadership Award in recognition of his contributions to American military education programs

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