Donald Trump: Life in brief
Donald Trump was elected on November 8, 2016, in what was widely seen as a surprise upset victory. He was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. By the time he left office after losing the 2020 presidential election to former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s presidency was largely defined by scandal, investigation, and intense partisan division. Both supporters and critics often used the word “unprecedented” to describe his time in office.
A number of factors marked Trump as distinctive even before his presidency began. At 70 years old, he was the oldest person to ever become president, surpassing a record set by Ronald Reagan, who was 69 when he took office in 1981. Trump’s successor, Joseph Biden, re-set the record for oldest president when he was inaugurated four years later at age 78. Trump was also the first president never to have served in either public office or in military leadership before arriving in the White House. Finally, he was the fifth person (and the second in sixteen years) to win a victory in the Electoral College but to lose the popular vote. His Democratic challenger in 2016, Hillary Clinton, won 2.8 million more votes than Trump did, but he prevailed in the Electoral College, 304 to 227.
Trump was also the first US president to be impeached twice. In December 2019, the Democratically controlled House of Representatives impeached President Trump on the charge of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress because of his efforts to persuade a foreign leader, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, to interfere with the upcoming US presidential election. He stood trial in the Senate and was acquitted in February 2020.
The House of Representatives impeached President Trump again in January 2021. In a stark break from all past precedent, Trump refused to concede the 2020 presidential election or acknowledge the legitimacy of Biden’s victory, in which Biden won approximately 7 million more votes and the Electoral College vote by 306 to 232. Trump led a protracted effort to undermine the certification of the votes, leading Trump supporters to violently assault the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. That event led to a second impeachment. He stood trial in the Senate and was acquitted again several weeks after his term expired.
Donald John Trump was born in the borough of Queens in New York City on June 14, 1946, and remained a New Yorker throughout most of his life. In the waning months of his presidency in the fall of 2020, he formally changed his residency to Florida. He was the fourth of five children born to Mary Anne MacLeod Trump and her husband Fred, a residential real estate developer. As a young adult, Donald Trump took over his father’s real estate business and expanded it into a range of other fields, from hotels and casinos, golf courses, beauty pageants, and branded products around the world.
In the 1970s and 1980s, he cultivated an international reputation, both for his branded venues and products as well as for himself personally, as the embodiment of the high life. Through a series of how-to books and, in the 2000s, as the star of a realty television show, The Apprentice, Trump portrayed himself as a fabulously wealthy and talented businessperson. Many of his traditional businesses, including his casinos, suffered financially, and he went through a series of bankruptcies. Yet his ability to craft an association between the brand-name “Trump” and business success remained strong.
Donald Trump was also the first US president to have been divorced twice. (Ronald Reagan was the first to have been divorced at all.) He had five children with three wives. The oldest three—Donald, Jr., Ivanka, and Eric—played key roles in his businesses. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, became senior White House advisors during the Trump presidency. Trump’s third wife, Melanie Trump (née Knauss), served as First Lady.