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Donald Trump

Donald J. Trump was the 45th President of the United States. He became the first U.S. president to serve without prior military or government service. Trump came into office touting his business acumen and "political outsider" status, but he left office shunned by many members of both political parties, business leaders, former government officials and others for his inability to concede the election and his role in the Capital riots on January 6, 2021. He served one term, from 2017 until 2021.

There is no doubt that Trump will leave his mark as an unconventional and controversial figure in American politics. He pushed a nationalistic agenda for the U.S. both abroad and domestically. He was known for his brash style of speaking and tweeting, self-ascribed nationalistic views, consistent and prolific use of false statements, and attacks on all branches of the government and press.

Politically, he ran for office as a Republican, but his legislation and politics at times ran counter to current Republican views in Congress. Political analysts and legal scholars have called his philosophy and rhetoric “Trumpism” because the combination of populist, nationalistic, nativist, and authoritarian tendencies has not been practiced by a U.S. president in modern times.

His speeches often depicted a dystopian view of the current state of the U.S., contrasted with his views of what a utopian view of America could look like under his leadership.

“Sadly, the American dream is dead.” Trump said in his speech he gave at Trump Tower in 2015 when he announced his presidential bid. “But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.”

While in office, he amassed an enthusiastic and loyal following, often attracting thousands of people to his rallies, but he also disenfranchised many others. His supporters cite his "America First" policies that include tax cuts, trade protectionism, immigration restriction, energy/financial/environmental deregulation, and the appointment of many perceived conservative judges. His detractors cite his disregard for ethics and traditions of the office of president, his praise of authoritarian leaders and resistance to denounce white supremacy, his policy on separation of migrant children from their families, his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic (including his own disregard of public health guidelines and his inability to support his scientific advisors), and his false claims of fraud in the 2020 election and inability to concede as a failure in leadership.

In 2019, Trump became the third sitting president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. At the end of his term, he was impeached again by the House of Representatives for his part in inciting riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. He is the only President in the history of the U.S. to be impeached twice.

Trump lost the presidential election of 2020 to Joe Biden and became the tenth president in U.S. history to lose a re-election bid.

Early Life and Career

Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946 in Queens, New York to Fred and Mary Anne Trump. Fred Trump was a real estate developer whose wealth afforded Donald a privileged young life that included education at private schools. Donald Trump graduated high school at the New York Military Academy and earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. He then returned to New York to work with his father and in 1971 became president of the family-owned businesses (later known as the Trump Organization). He continued investing in real estate and developing other business ventures in New York and eventually across the world.

Donald Trump ran for president in 2000 as a third-party candidate, but dropped out of the race. In 2015 he entered the presidential race again, this time as a Republican candidate.

Trump was the host of fourteen seasons of the reality television show, The Apprentice, which ran on NBC from 2004 to 2017. He has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books, including his most well-known book, Trump: The Art of the Deal.

Election 2016

The race for president in 2016 started with an unprecedented number of Republican candidates: 17, in total. The Republican race was largely between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. On the Democratic side, the race was between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

After the primary elections, the race for president narrowed to between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. In the election, held on November 8, 2016, Clinton won the popular vote with 48 percent to 46 percent for Trump (65,853,514 votes for Clinton and 62,984,828 votes for Trump), but Trump won the electoral college votes with 304 votes to 227 for Hillary Clinton, so Donald Trump was announced the winner. Donald Trump is one of five presidents in U.S. history who have lost the popular vote but won the presidency with electoral votes. The other four include John Quincy Adams in 1824 (who actually lost both the popular vote and the electoral college vote), Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000.

First Lady Melania Trump

First Lady Melania Trump (born Melanija Knavs) was born in Slovenia on April 26, 1970 to Viktor and Amalija Knavs. She studied architecture and design at the University of Ljubljana but left to focus on a career in modeling which took her to Paris, Milan, and eventually to the United States in 1996.

In an interview with People magazine in 2015, Melania described her background in fashion. “I always loved fashion. My mother was a fashion designer so it was always in my blood.”

Melania married Donald Trump in 2005 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006. She is the second First Lady born outside of the United States and the first to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Melania served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the American Red Cross from 2005 to 2009 and served five years as Honorary Chairwoman for the Boys’ Club of New York. Melania also served as chairwomen for the American Heart Association in 2010.

Melania has described her approach as First Lady as “very traditional.” She took only a small part in Donald Trump’s election in 2016, she says, to focus on her and Trump’s son, Barron. She made few appearances in his 2020 re-election bid, but supported him throughout his presidency. "I'm choosing not to go political in public because that is my husband's job," Melania said in an interview with Harper's Bazaar in 2016 about why she stays out of the limelight during campaigns. She used her platform as First Lady to primarily focus on issues affecting children. The goals of her program, Be Best, were to raise awareness on the well-being of children, the effects of social media on children, and how parental opioid abuse can affect infants.

Domestic Policies, Actions, & Legislation

During his tenure in office, Trump re-shaped the Supreme Court with his nomination and eventual seating of three justices, established the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces—the Space Force—the first new military service since the Air Force was created in 1947, passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the first major re-haul of the tax code in three decades), and signed bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation called the First Step Act. His administration is credited with building and/or replacing hundreds of miles of wall at the border with Mexico. It was a controversial effort, but was a campaign promise he made and considered a major motivator for voters in his election.

Supreme Court Judges

During his time as president, Trump selected three judges to sit on the Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch in 2017, Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and Amy Coney Barrett in 2020. All three justices were confirmed after the Republican-led Senate invoked the “nuclear option,” which means they eliminated the super-majority of 60 votes required to confirm Supreme Court nominees in favor of a simple majority of 51 votes. The result was that all three nominees were confirmed largely along party lines.

First Impeachment

In August of 2019, a whistleblower complaint alleged that they had received information from several government officials that “the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.” The complaint was later corroborated by other whistleblowers.

In response to the complaint, the House of Representatives opened an inquiry into the matter, and by December of 2019 approved two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Article I included Abuse of Power, stating that “President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government—corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into—(A) a political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; and (B) a discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine—rather than Russia—interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.”

The second article, Obstruction of Congress, states “President Trump abused the powers of his high office" by defying lawful subpoenas when directing the White House and other executive branch offices to withhold documents and records and directing current and former executive branch officials not to cooperate with House Committees.

The House of Representative approved the articles of impeachment on December 18, 2019, but Trump was acquitted of all charges by the Senate on February 5, 2020. Trump is the only president to date where a member of his own party voted for impeachment in the Senate trial.

2020 Election & Capital Riots

Trump ran for a second presidential term in 2020, but lost the election both in the popular vote and in electoral votes. Despite overwhelming evidence of his loss, Trump made repeated claims of election fraud and insisted that he won the election.

In a statement on November 12, 2020, the director of Department of Homeland Security, Christopher Krebs, stated that the election was the most secure in American history and that there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” A few days later, Krebs was fired by Trump via Twitter.

On December 1, 2020, Trump’s attorney general William Barr said that attorneys and the FBI had found no evidence of significant fraud that would have changed the election results. Barr eventually resigned two weeks later.

Trump and his allies filed more than 60 court cases in several states, the vast majority of which were thrown out due to lack of evidence. The Supreme Court on several occasions struck down Trump-related 2020 election lawsuits.

Even after every state had certified results on December 14, 2020, Trump continued to claim that the election had been “rigged.” On January 2, 2021, Trump spoke with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and pressured him to find votes for him. “So what are we going to do here folks? I only need 11,000 votes,” said Trump on the phone call. “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes.”

On January 6, 2021, Congress was scheduled to certify the results of the election.Before the vote, Trump held a rally at noon at the Ellipse in Washington. D.C., in which he lashed out at the media, the Supreme Court, elected officials, and members of his own political party. He repeated that he believed the election was fraudulent and made several false statements about election results. He also said that vice president Pence could overturn the election results, which was legally and constitutionally impossible. Toward the end of his speech, Trump told the crowd that, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

The crowd then moved to the Capitol building, which was short on security staff and minimally fortified with barriers. The House and Senate were evacuated and placed in lockdown. Shortly after 2 p.m., a mob of hundreds of people broke into the Capitol building. Video footage showed rioters searching for legislators, stealing items from the Capitol, vandalizing, and beating police offers. Several rioters chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!”

Six hours later, the Capitol was cleared of protestors and in the early morning of January 7, Biden was declared the winner of the election. Five people died in the riot: three rioters died of medical emergencies, one rioter was shot by Capitol police, and a Capitol police officer died. A few days later another Capitol police officer died by suicide. At least 140 officers were injured in the riots.

Second Impeachment

One article of impeachment was filed against Trump on January 11, 2021 for incitement of insurrection while he was president. The article states that Trump “threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government.”

The insurrection the article alludes to were, in part, the events that occurred on January 6, 2021, when Trump addressed a crowd in Washington, DC, where he made several statements that encouraged lawless action in an effort to interfere with Legislature’s constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election.

The articles also contend that Trump attempted to subvert and obstruct the certification of the 2020 Presidential election when, in a phone call on January 2, 2021, he “urged the secretary of state of Georgia to ‘find’ enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results and threatened the Secretary Raffensperger if he failed to do so.”

The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on January 13, 2021, but the Senate voted 57-43 to acquit Trump on February 13, 2021. In the Senate, seven members of the Republican party voted to impeach Trump, making Trump the only president to date whose members of his own party voted for impeachment in the Senate trial. He is also the first president in history to be impeached twice.

Post-Presidential Years

Trump left the White House in the early morning on January 20, 2021. In a break with tradition, he did not attend the inauguration of Joe Biden nor was he escorted out by the incoming president. Trump and Melania currently live in Florida.

Sources and Further Reading

117th Congress. (January 11, 2021). 1st Session House Resolution II: Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors. www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-resolution/24/text

Balsamo, Michael. (December 1, 2020). Disputing Trump, Barr says no widespread election fraud. apnews.com/article/barr-no-widespread-election-fraud-b1f1488796c9a98c4b1a9061a6c7f49d

Bausum, Ann. (2017) Our Country’s President’s: A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Partners

Be Best. White House archives. www.trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/bebest

BBC. (August 26, 2020) Melania Trump: The unusual, traditional First Lady. www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37256893

Cagle, Jess and Triggs, Charlotte. (2016) Melania Trump's First Interview! Plus: Why Donald Trump Says His Wife Would Be an 'Amazing' First Lady. People www.people.com/celebrity/melania-trumps-first-interview

C-SPAN. (February 10, 2021.) Senate Impeachment Trial Day 2, Part 3. www.c-span.org/video/?508741-102/senate-impeachment-trial-day-2-part-3

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (November 12, 2020). Joint Statement from Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council & the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees. www.cisa.gov/news/2020/11/12/joint-statement-elections-infrastructure-government-coordinating-council-election

Eckhart, Robert. (October 22, 2018) "I am a nationalist," Trump proclaims at Houston rally. www.apnews.com/article/90049489b3584332bd8263aa0ef4b353

Federal Election Commission. (2017). Federal Elections 2016: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. www.fec.gov/resources/cms-content/documents/federalelections2016.pdf

Kuczynski, Alex. (Jan 6, 2016) Melania Trump's American Dream. Harper's Bazaar www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a13529/melania-trump-interview-0216

Naylor, Brian. February 10, 2021. Read Trump's Jan. 6 Speech, A Key Part Of Impeachment Trial. National Public Radio. www.npr.org/2021/02/10/966396848/read-trumps-jan-6-speech-a-key-part-of-impeachment-trial

Pastan, Ann. (2017) First Ladies (Eyewitness). New York: DK Publishing.

Superville, Jeff, Amy & Darlene and Brumback, Kate. (January 3, 2021) Trump, on tape, presses Ga. official to ‘find’ him votes. AP News. apnews.com/article/election-2020-joe-biden-donald-trump-georgia-elections-a7b4aa4d8ce3bf52301ddbe620c6bff6

Supreme Court Justices and Rulings. www.supremecourt.gov

Trump, Donald J. and Schwartz, Tony. (1988). Trump: The Art of the Deal. New York: Random House

Wamsley, Laurel. (January 15, 2021). What We Know So Far: A Timeline Of Security Response At The Capitol On Jan. 6. National Public Radio. www.npr.org/2021/01/15/956842958/what-we-know-so-far-a-timeline-of-security-at-the-capitol-on-january-6

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