Biography of Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States

U.S. President Donald Trump walks out of the White House before departing July 19, 2019 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Donald Trump walks out of the White House before departing July 19, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump (born June 14, 1946) is a conservative American politician, television personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Despite having little political experience and losing the popular vote, Trump won the 2016 presidential election as the Republican nominee against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.  His political orientation has been described as populist, isolationist, and nationalist. As the only U.S. president to be impeached twice, Trump’s controversial actions often sparked protests.

Fast Facts: Donald Trump

  • Known For: 45th President of the United States (2017 to 2021)
  • Born: June 14, 1946 in Queens, New York, U.S.A.
  • Parents: Fred Trump, Mary Anne MacLeod
  • Education: Wharton School (BS Economics, 1968)
  • Published Works: The Art of the Deal
  • Awards and Honors: Time Person of the Year (2016)
  • Spouses: Ivana Zelnivcková, Marla Maples, Melania Knauss
  • Children: Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, Barron
  • Notable Quote: “As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, think big.”

Early Life

Donald John Trump was born in Queens, New York, on June 14, 1946. His father, Fred Trump was a successful real estate developer. Trump was educated at the New York Military Academy and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, graduating in May 1968 with a B.S. in economics. While in college, Trump obtained four student draft deferments during the Vietnam War. In 1971, he was reclassified 4-F by his local draft board due to bone spurs, permanently disqualifying him from military service.

Business Career

In 1971, Trump took over his father’s real estate company, renaming it the Trump Organization. The conglomerate soon encompassed some 500 corporations involved in a variety of projects, including hotels, resorts, residential and commercial construction, casinos, and golf courses. The first and most successful of his many books, The Art of the Deal, was published in 1987. In 2004, he launched two popular reality television shows: The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice.

Family

In 1977, Trump married Czech model Ivana Zelnicková, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988. They had three children: Donald Jr. (1977), Ivanka (1981), and Eric (1984). The couple divorced in 1992, following Trump's affair with actress Marla Maples. Trump and Maples married in 1993 and divorced in 1999. Their daughter and only child, Tiffany was born in 1993. In 2005, Trump married Slovenian model Melania Knauss. Their one son, Barron was born in 2006, the same year Melania became a U.S. citizen.

Political Career

Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speak during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.
Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speak during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Trump officially announced his candidacy for president in June 2015. While his campaign was initially not taken seriously by political analysts, polls showed him as the Republican front-runner by March 2016. After a landslide win in the Indiana primary in May, Trump was declared the presumptive Republican nominee. Trump and Democratic presidential nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, faced off in three presidential debates in September and October 2016. Clinton led Trump in national polling averages throughout the campaign, but in early July her lead had narrowed. In mid-July Trump selected Indiana governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate.

Adopting the slogan “Make America Great Again,” Trump's campaign emphasized normalizing U.S.-China relations and free trade agreements such as NAFTA, strong enforcement of immigration laws, and building an anti-illegal immigration wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Other campaign positions included pursuing energy independence while opposing climate change regulations such as the Paris Agreement, improving services for veterans, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, abolishing Common Core education standards, investing in infrastructure improvement, simplifying the tax code while reducing taxes for all economic classes, and imposing tariffs on imports by companies that offered overseas jobs. 

Despite advocating a largely non-interventionist approach to foreign policy, he called for increasing military spending, extreme vetting or banning immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, and aggressive military action against the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq. He also described NATO as “obsolete.”

Presidency

On November 8, 2016, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the general election by winning a majority of Electoral College votes. Trump received nearly 2.9 million fewer popular votes than Clinton, which made him the fifth person in U.S. history to be elected president while losing the popular vote.

A 2017–2019 special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller established that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to benefit the Trump campaign, and that such benefits were welcomed by the campaign, but did not establish that any members of the Trump campaign had "conspired" or "coordinated" with Russia. 

Without previous elected political experience, Trump used unconventional methods to communicate his presidential policies and priorities. Most notably, he used the social media platform Twitter as his primary method of communicating with the American people, other politicians, and the press. 

As president, he ordered a travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries, signed a major tax reform bill into law, and oversaw a reduction of federal regulations. Making good on one of his campaign promises, his protectionist trade policies included imposing tariffs on foreign aluminum, steel, and other products. The Trump administration also renegotiated trade agreements with Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, and South Korea. Other domestic policy priorities included Supreme Court and federal judiciary appointments, increased military budgets, aggressive border and immigration control, criminal justice reform, and the reduction of prescription drug prices.

Rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change, Trump reduced the budget for renewable energy research by 40% and reversed Obama-era policies directed at curbing climate change. In June 2017, Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement, making the U.S. the only nation in the world to not ratify the agreement.

In foreign policy, the Trump administration moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and brokered normalization agreements between Israel and many other countries. In 2018, Trump attended a summit with Kim Jong Un, marking the first time a sitting president met with a North Korean leader.

In 2018, a disagreement between Congress and Trump over funding for his border wall between the United States and Mexico led to a partial government shutdown. The funding lapse lasted thirty-five days before it was resolved.

In 2019, a federal whistleblower filed a complaint that Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who had served on the board of Bursima Holdings, a natural gas company in Ukraine. In December 2019, the House of Representatives impeached Trump based on allegations of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. In 2020, the Senate acquitted Trump on both articles of impeachment.

On January 20, 2020, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States. The ensuing coronavirus pandemic largely consumed the remainder of Trump’s presidency. Critics argued that Trump’s response to the pandemic had not sufficiently encouraged people to follow the CDC’s recommended public health practices to reduce the spread of the virus. However, the Trump administration’s program “Operation Warp Speed” assisted in the development of two FDA-approved vaccines. Nonetheless, by the time Trump left office, more than 400,000 Americans had died of COVID-19.

During his four years in office, Trump appointed more than 200 federal judges, including nearly as many powerful federal appeals court judges as Barack Obama appointed in eight. He also placed three conservative-leaning justices on the U.S. Supreme Court—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.  

2020 Election

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

On November 3, 2020, Trump lost his bid for reelection to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Biden received 81.3 million popular votes (51.3%) to Trump's 74.2 million (46.8%) and 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232. However, Trump refused to concede, publicly claiming that widespread voter fraud in key swing states had affected the outcome in Biden’s favor. In the weeks following the election, Trump and his backers filed several legal challenges to the election results, which were rejected by at least 86 judges in both the state and federal courts, finding no factual or legal basis.

On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters traveled to Washington, D.C. for a “Stop the Steal” rally—a reference to Trump’s ongoing claim that the 2020 election had been “stolen.” Trump addressed the large crowd on the Ellipse near the White House and encouraged attendees to “Take Back America” by marching to the Capitol and protesting the counting of the Electoral College votes by a joint session of Congress. The protest turned violent when the president’s supporters overwhelmed Capitol Police, breaching the United States Capitol and temporarily delaying the vote count. Five people died as a result of the violence, and the Capitol complex suffered millions of dollars in damage.

On January 13, 2021, Trump’s actions in connection with the January 6 violence resulted in the House of Representatives approving another article of impeachment on charges of insurrection. Trump is the only president in American history to be impeached twice by Congress. On February 13, he was acquitted by the Senate.

President Donald Trump speaks at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump speaks at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Samuel Corum / Getty Images

Post Presidency

Trump broke with tradition by refusing to attend Biden's inauguration, leaving Washington for Florida hours before. Trump went to live at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. As provided for by the Former Presidents Act, he established an office there to handle his post-presidential activities.

Though he has not yet officially announced his candidacy, Trump is widely expected to run for election again in 2024. Were he to be successful, he would become only the second president to be elected to two non-consecutive terms since Grover Cleveland did so in 1892.

On August 8, 2022, FBI agents searched Trump's residence at Mar-a-Lago to recover government documents and material he had allegedly taken with him when he left office in violation of the Presidential Records Act, some of which reportedly related to nuclear weapons. According to the search warrant made public on August 12, 2022, the items taken in the search included 11 sets of classified documents, four of them tagged as "top secret" and one as "top secret/SCI", the highest level of classification. The text of the search warrant, authorized by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, indicated that Trump was being investigated for potential violations of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice laws.

Sources

  • University Press. “Donald Trump Book: The Biography of Donald Trump.” Independently published (June 22, 2021), ISBN-13: ‎979-8524790699.
  • Wheeler, Jill C. “Donald Trump: No. 45 (United States Presidents).” Checkerboard Library (January 15, 2021), ISBN-10: ‎1532193769.
  • “Donald Trump Fast Facts.” CNN Politics, May 5, 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/04/us/donald-trump-fast-facts/.
  • Zelizer, Julian E. “The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment.” Princeton University Press (April 12, 2022), ISBN-10: ‎0691228949.
  • Swanson, Ana. "The myth and the reality of Donald Trump's business empire.” The Washington Post, (February 29, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/29/the-myth-and-the-reality-of-donald-trumps-business-empire/.
  • Montopoli, Brian. "Donald Trump avoided Vietnam with deferments, records show.” CBS News, (April 29, 2011), https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-avoided-vietnam-with-deferments-records-show/.
  • Shear, Michael D.; Mervosh, Sarah. "Trump Encourages Protest Against Governors Who Have Imposed Virus Restrictions.” The New York Times, (April 17, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/17/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-governors.html.
  • Barrett, Devlin; Dawsey, Josh. "Agents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago seized 11 sets of classified documents, court filing shows.” The Washington Post, (August 12, 2022), https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/08/11/garland-trump-mar-a-lago/.
  • Haberman, Maggie. "Files Seized From Trump Are Part of Espionage Act Inquiry.” (August 12, 2022), The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/12/us/trump-espionage-act-laws-fbi.html.


Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Longley, Robert. "Biography of Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States." ThoughtCo, Oct. 28, 2022, thoughtco.com/donald-trump-profile-4024748. Longley, Robert. (2022, October 28). Biography of Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/donald-trump-profile-4024748 Longley, Robert. "Biography of Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/donald-trump-profile-4024748 (accessed November 29, 2022).