Donald Trump

45th president of the United States

EARLY LIFE

Donald Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, New York. His father was a wealthy real-estate developer and his mother was a homemaker. Trump, the fourth of five children and the second son, attended a private boarding school in rural New York for high school. He spent his first two years of college at New York City’s Fordham University, before completing his education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance and Commerce (known now as the Wharton School).

After graduation, Trump returned to New York City and began working for his father’s real-estate business. In 1971 he became president of a collection of family-owned businesses, which he later named the Trump Organization.

FROM BUSINESSMAN TO POLITICIAN

After taking control of the Trump Organization, Trump continued to work in real-estate development but also expanded into other businesses. He purchased sports teams, published books, and served as the producer and host of a reality TV show called The Apprentice. He married his third wife and future first lady, model Melania Knauss, in 2005. (Trump was previously married to model Ivana Zelníčková and actress Marla Maples.)

In 2000, Trump ran for president as a candidate on a third-party ticket, meaning as an alternative candidate to those from the two major political parties, the Republicans and Democrats. He dropped out early in the race, but considered running again in 2004 and 2012. In 2015, he announced he was again running for president, this time on a major-party ticket as a Republican nominee. He beat out 16 other candidates to become the party’s official nominee in 2016.

THE 2016 ELECTION

Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election was Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state and wife to former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Because of Trump's lack of experience in public service and the untraditional way he ran his campaign, many expected Clinton to become the first female president of the United States.

In many countries, national elections are somewhat simple: The candidate with the most votes wins. But citizens of the United States participate in a more complex, two-step process. After individual citizens across the country have participated in the popular vote, it's up to a group called the electoral college to consider those votes and choose the president. Based on population, each state has a certain number of delegates, or voters, in the electoral college who vote for the president according to how people in their state voted. The candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all the state’s delegates.

After the 2016 election votes were counted, Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more votes than Trump, winning the popular vote. But Trump won the popular vote in several of the states that had a lot of delegates—and therefore he won the presidency. Trump is only the fifth president to take office after losing the popular vote, but winning the electoral college.

PRESIDENTIAL ACTS

Like Reagan before him, candidate Trump declared that his lack of experience as a politician made him better suited to represent the ordinary citizens of the country. Enough voters agreed with him, and he was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017.

Upon becoming president, Trump promised to follow his campaign slogan and "Make America Great Again." He began by providing more jobs for the middle class, attempting to lower the national debt (the amount of money that the United States owes to other countries and companies), and raising money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to increase border security and prevent immigrants from illegally entering the country. He also rolled back previous policies directed at reducing pollution and climate change, saying they were too costly for the U.S. government to fund. In addition, to create more jobs, his administration has proposed plans to allow drilling and mining where they were previously off-limits in national parks, and reduced the amount of land set aside for wildlife listed under the Endangered Species Act, a law that helped bring many North American species back from near-extinction. Under Trump’s administration, cruelty to animals became a federal crime in late 2019.

During his time as president, Trump also appointed three justices to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States: Neil Gorsuch in 2017, Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and Amy Coney Barrett in 2020.

THE FIRST IMPEACHMENT

In 2019, evidence emerged that Trump had supposedly withheld aid to the Eastern European country of Ukraine in an attempt to get them to provide damaging information on one of his political rivals. This angered many members of Congress. On December 18, 2019, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump, or officially charge him with misconduct in office. The two charges (called articles of impeachment) were abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, or blocking Congress from doing their job properly. The Senate then held a trial to decide if Trump should be removed from office. After nearly three weeks, the Senate voted to let the president remain in office.

Only two other U.S. presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868, and Bill Clinton in 1998. Like Trump, neither were removed from office.

RUNNING FOR TERM TWO

During the spring of 2020, Trump began actively campaigning for a second term in office. This time, he was running against Democrat Joe Biden, who served as Barack Obama’s vice president during his two terms in office.

The 2020 election was unlike any other in U.S. history in that it took place in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Both Trump and Biden had to try to run their campaigns while a highly contagious, deadly disease spread across the country. Trump decided to appear at rallies attended by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people. In contrast, Biden chose to stay socially distant and speak to his supporters during online campaign events.

In early October 2020, both Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus. They recovered quickly, and Trump resumed campaigning for reelection by the middle of the month.

The pandemic was a key issue that both candidates had to address, as well as the high unemployment rate caused by the crisis. Voters were also concerned about racial tensions across the country after high-profile shootings of Black people by police officers, as well as healthcare, a topic that had been much discussed during Trump’s term in office.

2020 ELECTION RESULTS

Concerned about catching and spreading COVID-19, many voters chose to vote by mail during the presidential election. That meant that determining the election results took longer than it had in previous years. But once all the votes had been counted, Biden was declared the winner. He won about 81 million votes to Trump’s approximately 74 million, winning the popular vote by 51.4 percent. In the electoral college, Biden won 306 votes to Trump’s 232. (The winning candidate must receive 270 electoral votes in the electoral college.)

On December 14, 2020, the electoral college formally elected Biden as the next president of the United States, making Trump the 10th incumbent commander in chief to become a one-term president.

AN ATTACK ON THE CAPITOL

In the weeks following the 2020 election, Trump refused to concede to Biden, declaring that he had won the election even though he and his legal team could not offer any evidence to back up his claims. On January 6, 2021, while Congress was in a joint session to count the electoral votes, a mob of violent protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol to prevent Congress from declaring victory for Biden. The mob consisted of people who believed Trump’s false claims that he had won the election. Five people, including a U.S. Capitol police officer, died during the riots. (Congress met later that night after police had retaken the Capitol to officially declare Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice president-elect of the United States.)

Many people believed that Trump encouraged his followers to overrun the Capitol because of remarks he had made on social media and at rallies, including one just before the attack happened. Because of that, the U.S. government moved to impeach Trump for the second time during his presidency to charge him with incitement of insurrection. He was officially impeached by the House of Representatives on January 13, 2021, this time with 10 Republicans joining Democrats to charge him. He is the only U.S. president ever to be impeached twice.

The Senate is not expected to vote on impeachment until after Biden begins his presidency on January 20, 2021. Because Trump will no longer be president, he will not be removed from office if the Senate votes to impeach. But the president would be disqualified from running for federal office again and might lose certain benefits former presidents enjoy, including an annual travel budget and security detail.

LASTING LEGACY

Trump will remain president until January 20, 2021, when President-elect Biden will take the oath of office. Trump is expected to move to Florida, where he’ll likely remain active in politics, pending the results of his impeachment trial. He’s expressed interest in running for president again in 2024.

Trump’s post-presidential legacy has yet to take shape. He’ll likely be remembered for his multiple appointments to the Supreme Court, an economy that continued to strengthen until the pandemic caused many people to lose their jobs, his controversial approach to handling the coronavirus response, his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election, and the events surrounding the U.S. Capitol riots.

From the Nat Geo Kids books Our Country's Presidents by Ann Bausum and Weird But True Know-It-All: U.S. Presidents by Brianna Dumont, revised for digital by Avery Hurt

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