Trump was born and raised in the New York City borough of Queens, and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He took charge of his family’s real-estate business in 1971, renamed it The Trump Organization, and expanded its operations from Queens and Brooklyn into Manhattan. The company built or renovated skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. Trump later started various side ventures, mostly by licensing his name. He owned the Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants from 1996 to 2015, and produced and hosted The Apprentice, a reality television show, from 2003 to 2015. Forbes estimates his net worth to be $3.1 billion.[a]
Trump entered the 2016 presidential race as a Republican and defeated 16 other candidates in the primaries. His political positions have been described as populist, protectionist, and nationalist. He was elected in a surprise victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, although he lost the popular vote.[b] He became the oldest first-term U.S. president,[c] and the first without prior military or government service. His election and policies have sparked numerous protests. Trump has made many false or misleading statements during his campaign and presidency. The statements have been documented by fact-checkers, and the media have widely described the phenomenon as unprecedented in American politics. Many of his comments and actions have also been characterized as racially charged or racist.
During his presidency, Trump ordered a travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries, citing security concerns; after legal challenges, the Supreme Court upheld the policy’s third revision. He enacted a tax-cut package for individuals and businesses, rescinding the individual health insurance mandate. He appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. In foreign policy, Trump has pursued an America First agenda, withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Iran nuclear deal. He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, imposed import tariffs triggering a trade war with China, and started negotiations with North Korea toward their denuclearization.
A special counsel investigation led by Robert Mueller found that Trump and his campaign welcomed and encouraged Russian foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election under the belief that it would be politically advantageous, but did not find sufficient evidence to press charges of criminal conspiracy or coordination[d] with Russia. Mueller also investigated Trump for obstruction of justice, and his report neither indicted nor exonerated Trump on that score. A 2019 House impeachment inquiry found that in the Trump–Ukraine scandal, Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election to help his re-election bid, and then obstructed the inquiry itself. The inquiry reported that Trump withheld military aid and a White House invitation in order to influence Ukraine to announce investigations into Trump’s political rivals. Two potential articles of impeachment were announced: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Early life and education
Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, at the Jamaica Hospital in the borough of Queens, New York City. His father was Frederick Christ Trump, a Bronx-born real estate developer, whose own parents were German immigrants. His mother was Scottish-born housewife and socialite Mary Anne MacLeod Trump. Trump grew up in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens, and attended the Kew-Forest School from kindergarten through seventh grade. At age 13, he was enrolled in the New York Military Academy, a private boarding school. In 1964, Trump enrolled at Fordham University. Two years later he transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. While at Wharton, he worked at the family business, Elizabeth Trump & Son, graduating in May 1968 with a B.S. in economics. Profiles of Trump published in The New York Times in 1973 and 1976 erroneously reported that he had graduated first in his class at Wharton. However, he had never made the school’s honor roll.
While in college, Trump obtained four student draft deferments. In 1966, he was deemed fit for military service based upon a medical examination, and in July 1968 a local draft board classified him as eligible to serve. In October 1968, he was medically deferred and classified 1-Y (unqualified for duty except in the case of a national emergency). Trump said in 2015 that the medical deferment was due to a bone spur in a foot, though he could not remember which foot had been afflicted; his presidential campaign stated that the spurs were in both heels, a minor issue expected to be temporary. In 1972, he was reclassified 4-F, which permanently disqualified him from service.
Trump’s father Fred was born in 1905 in the Bronx. He started working with his mother in real estate when he was 15. Their company, “E. Trump & Son”, founded in 1923, was active in the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, building and selling thousands of houses, barracks, and apartments. In spite of his German ancestry, Fred claimed to be Swedish amid the anti-German sentiment sparked by World War II; Trump repeated this claim until the 1990s. Trump’s mother Mary Anne MacLeod was born in Scotland. Fred and Mary were married in 1936 and raised their family in Queens. Trump grew up with three elder siblings – Maryanne, Fred Jr., and Elizabeth – and younger brother Robert.
In 1977, Trump married Czech model Ivana Zelníčková. They have three children, Donald Jr. (born 1977), Ivanka (born 1981), and Eric (born 1984), and ten grandchildren. Ivana became a naturalized United States citizen in 1988. The couple divorced in 1992, following Trump’s affair with actress Marla Maples. Maples and Trump married in 1993 and had one daughter, Tiffany (born 1993). They were divorced in 1999, and Tiffany was raised by Marla in California. In 2005, Trump married Slovenian model Melania Knauss. They have one son, Barron (born 2006). Melania gained U.S. citizenship in 2006.
Trump is a Presbyterian. As a child, he attended the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, where he had his confirmation. In the 1970s, his parents joined the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, part of the Reformed Church. The pastor at Marble, Norman Vincent Peale, ministered to Trump’s family and mentored him until Peale’s death in 1993.
Trump says he is “not sure” whether he ever asked God for forgiveness: “If I do something wrong, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture.” He tries to take Holy Communion as often as possible because it makes him “feel cleansed”. While campaigning, Trump referred to The Art of the Deal as his second favorite book saying, “Nothing beats the Bible.”
Trump has associations with a number of Christian spiritual leaders, including Florida pastor Paula White, who has been called his “closest spiritual confidant”. In 2015, he released a list of religious advisers, which included James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Ralph Reed, Michele Bachmann, and Robert Jeffress.
Health and lifestyle
Trump abstains from alcohol, a reaction to his older brother Fred Trump Jr.’s alcoholism and early death, and says he has never smoked cigarettes or cannabis. He likes fast food. He has said he prefers three to four hours of sleep per night. He has called golfing his “primary form of exercise”, although he usually does not walk the course. He considers exercise a waste of energy, because he believes the body is “like a battery, with a finite amount of energy”.
In December 2015, Harold Bornstein, who had been Trump’s personal physician since 1980, wrote in a letter that he would “be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”. In May 2018, Bornstein said Trump himself had dictated the contents of the letter, and that Trump’s representatives had taken away his medical records in February 2017.
In January 2018, White House physician Ronny Jackson said Trump was in excellent health and that his cardiac assessment revealed no issues, although his weight and cholesterol level were higher than recommended. Several outside cardiologists commented that Trump’s 2018 LDL cholesterol level of 143 did not indicate excellent health. In February 2019, after a new examination, White House physician Sean Conley said Trump was in “very good health overall”, although he was clinically obese. His 2019 coronary CT calcium scan score indicates he suffers from coronary artery disease, which is common for white men at his age.
In 1982, Trump was listed on the initial Forbes list of wealthy individuals as having a share of his family’s estimated $200 million net worth. His financial losses in the 1980s caused him to be dropped from the list between 1990 and 1995. In its 2019 billionaires ranking, Forbes estimated Trump’s net worth at $3.1 billion[a] (715th in the world, 259th in the U.S.) making him one of the richest politicians in American history and the first billionaire American president. During the three years since Trump announced his presidential run in 2015, Forbes estimated his net worth declined 31% and his ranking fell 138 spots. When he filed mandatory financial disclosure forms with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in July 2015, Trump claimed a net worth of about $10 billion; however FEC figures cannot corroborate this estimate because they only show each of his largest buildings as being worth over $50 million, yielding total assets worth more than $1.4 billion and debt over $265 million. Trump stated in a 2007 deposition, “My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.”
Journalist Jonathan Greenberg reported in April 2018 that Trump, using a pseudonym “John Barron“, called him in 1984 to falsely assert that he owned “in excess of ninety percent” of the Trump family’s business, in an effort to secure a higher ranking on the Forbes 400 list of wealthy Americans. Greenberg also wrote that Forbes had vastly overestimated Trump’s wealth and wrongly included him on the Forbes 400 rankings of 1982, 1983, and 1984.
Trump has often said he began his career with “a small loan of one million dollars” from his father, and that he had to pay it back with interest. In October 2018, The New York Times reported that Trump “was a millionaire by age 8”, borrowed at least $60 million from his father, largely failed to reimburse him, and had received $413 million (adjusted for inflation) from his father’s business empire over his lifetime. According to the report, Trump and his family committed tax fraud, which a lawyer for Trump denied. The tax department of New York says it is “vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation” into it. Analyses by The Economist and The Washington Post have concluded that Trump’s investments underperformed the stock market. Forbes estimated in October 2018 that the value of Trump’s personal brand licensing business had declined by 88% since 2015, to $3 million.
Trump’s tax returns from 1985 to 1994 show net losses totaling $1.17 billion over the ten-year period, in contrast to his claims about his financial health and business abilities. The New York Times reported that “year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer”, and Trump’s “core business losses in 1990 and 1991 – more than $250 million each year – were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years”. In 1995 his reported losses were $915.7 million.
Trump began his career in 1968 at his father Fred’s real estate development company, E. Trump & Son, which owned middle-class rental housing in New York City’s outer boroughs. He assisted his father in the attempted turnaround of the troubled Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio, which the elder Trump had bought at foreclosure in 1964. In 1971, when his father promoted him to president of the family company, he renamed it The Trump Organization.
Trump attracted public attention in 1978 with the launch of his family’s first Manhattan venture, the renovation of the derelict Commodore Hotel, adjacent to Grand Central Terminal. The financing was facilitated by a $400 million city property tax abatement arranged by Fred Trump, who also joined Hyatt in guaranteeing $70 million in bank construction financing. The hotel reopened in 1980 as the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and that same year, Trump obtained rights to develop Trump Tower, a mixed-use skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. That building was formerly Trump’s primary residence and now houses the headquarters of the Trump Organization.
In 1988, Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan with a loan of $425 million from a consortium of banks. Two years later, the hotel filed for bankruptcy protection, and a reorganization plan was approved in 1992. In 1995, Trump lost the hotel to Citibank and investors from Singapore and Saudi Arabia, who assumed $300 million of the debt.
In 1996, Trump acquired a vacant 71-story skyscraper at 40 Wall Street. After an extensive renovation, the high-rise was renamed the Trump Building. In the early 1990s, Trump won the right to develop a 70-acre (28 ha) tract in the Lincoln Square neighborhood near the Hudson River. Struggling with debt from other ventures in 1994, Trump sold most of his interest in the project to Asian investors who were able to finance completion of the project, Riverside South. Trump, along with other investors, retained an interest in adjacent properties that they sold in 2005 for $1.8 billion, at that time the biggest residential sale in New York City history.