June 14th, 2020


Presidents in Their Youth: Donald Trump

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 (yes, that is indeed the man's middle name). He was a Bronx-born real estate developer whose parents were German immigrants. His mother was Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, who was born in Scotland. Donald Trump grew up in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens. He attended the Kew-Forest School from kindergarten through seventh grade.

His father Fred Trump started working in real estate with his mother Elizabeth when Fred was 15, after his father Friedrich had died in the 1918 flu pandemic. Their company, "Elizabeth Trump & Son", was founded in 1923, and was active in the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, building and selling thousands of houses, barracks, and apartments. At the time there was a strong anti-German resentment and Fred Trump claimed to be of Swedish descent, especially during. Donald Trump himself also claimed Swedish heritage until 1990. Fred and Mary were married in 1936 and raised their family in Queens. Donald Trump grew up with three elder siblings – Maryanne, Fred Jr., and Elizabeth – and younger brother Robert.

At age 13, he was enrolled in the New York Military Academy, a private boarding school where he played baseball. He was a big fan of the New York Yankees. The team figured into a poem that a 12 year old Donald Trump wrote about his love of baseball. The poem was published in the school yearbook. The future president wrote:

"I like to hear the crowd give cheers,
So loud and noisy to my ears.
When the score is 5-5, I feel like I could cry.
And when they get another run, I feel like I could die.
Then the catcher makes an error,
Not a bit like Yogi Berra.
The game is over and we say,
Tomorrow is another day."

In 1964, Trump enrolled at Fordham University and two years later in 1966 he transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. While at Wharton, he worked at the family business, Elizabeth Trump & Son. Donald Trump graduated in May 1968 with a B.S. in economics. Contrary to reports which claimed that he had graduated first in his class at Wharton, this has not been verified by school records, and in 2015, Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen threatened Fordham University and the New York Military Academy with legal action if they released Trump's academic records.

Trump went to Sunday school and was confirmed in 1959 at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens. In the 1970s, his parents joined the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan, which belongs to the Reformed Church. The pastor at Marble was Norman Vincent Peale, famous for his best-selling book "the Power of Positive Thinking". Trump has described Peale as a mentor.

While in college, Trump obtained four student draft deferments. In 1966, he was found to be 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). In 1972, he was reclassified 4-F due to bone spurs, which permanently disqualified him from service.

In 1977, at age 31, Trump married Czech model Ivana Zelníčková. They have three children, Donald Jr. (born 1977), Ivanka (born 1981), and Eric (born 1984). Ivana became a naturalized United States citizen in 1988. The couple divorced in 1992, and Trump married actress Marla Maples in 1993. They had one daughter, Tiffany (born 1993). They were divorced in 1999, and Tiffany was raised by her mother in California. In 2005, Trump married Slovenian model Melania Knauss. They have one son, Barron (born 2006). Melania obtained her U.S. citizenship in 2006.

President Trump's Birthday

Today the current President of the United States, Donald John Trump, celebrates his 74th birthday. President Trump was born on June 14, 1946 in Queen's New York. His seventy-four years on this planet have been eventful and fast-paced, and that is unlikely to change for the 45th President. Before entering politics, Trump was a businessman and television personality. He is controversial and colorful, with an appeal to those who dislike the notion of career politicians as usual, those who dislike political correctness and those who are looking for someone to shake things up in Washington. Conversely, he is intensely disliked by those on the left of the political spectrum and by those who perceive him to be too impulsive. His presidency continues a trend of polarization among voters between those who support and oppose the president that has been present since at least the latter half of the Clinton Presidency.

Donald Trump was born and raised in Queens, one of the five boroughs of New York City. He earned an economics degree from the Wharton School. Trump's father Fred was born in 1905 in the Bronx, and started working with his mother in real estate when he was 15, shortly after his father's death. Their company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, was mainly active in the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. Fred Trump eventually built and sold thousands of houses and apartments. The company later became The Trump Organization when Donald Trump took over its leadership in 1971. Trump ran the company for 45 years until 2016. During his real estate career, Trump built, renovated, and managed a significant number of office towers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses.

Recognizing the value of diversity in business interests, Trump also conducted several side ventures. He has has licensed the use of his name for the branding of various products and properties, including Trump Entertainment Resorts. He is also the founder of Trump University. His fame and name recognition increased significantly when he produced and hosted a reality television series on NBC from 2004 to 2015 called "The Apprentice". It was on that series that Trump became famous for his signature phrase "You're fired!" In their 2017 annual ranking of billionaires, Forbes Magazine estimated Trump's net worth to be $3.5 billion, making him the 544th richest person in the world, and 201st in the United States. These estimates have been disputed with sources such as Bloomberg News estimating his net worth to be lower ($3 billion in 2016) and others including Trump himself estimating it to be much higher. This past October of 2018, Forbes estimated 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. In 1995 his reported losses were $915.7 million.

Thus far, Donald Trump has the distinction of being the only President to have appeared in a televised wrestling match. He is said to be a World Wrestling Entertainment fan and a friend of WWE chairman Vince McMahon and in 1988 and 1989 Trump hosted WrestleMania IV and V at his Boardwalk Hall. He appeared in WrestleMania VII, and was interviewed ringside at WrestleMania XX. Trump also appeared at WrestleMania XXIII in a match called "The Battle of the Billionaires". He was in the corner of wrestler Bobby Lashley, while McMahon was in the corner of Lashley's opponent Umaga, with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee. The terms of the match were that either Trump or McMahon would have their head shaved if their competitor lost. Lashley won the match, and so McMahon was shaved bald.

According to Trump biographer Roger Stone, Trump was influenced by Richard Nixon, who predicted that Trump might someday become President. (The other famous predictor of a Trump presidency was the character Lisa Simpson on the Fox TV show "The Simpsons"). Trump first publicly expressed interest in running for political office in 1987, when he spent almost $100,000 to place full-page ads in several newspapers. The ads read "America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves and should present Western Europe and Japan with a bill for America's efforts to safeguard the passage of oil tankers in the Persian Gulf." According to a Gallup Poll at the time, Trump was the tenth most admired person in America. He briefly ran for the Reform Party's presidential nomination in 2000 and won two primaries, but withdrew his candidacy early on.

Trump made his first speaking appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February 2011. His appearance at CPAC was organized by GOProud, an LGBT conservative organization. GOProud pushed for a write-in campaign for Trump at CPAC's presidential straw poll. In June of 2015, Trump launched his campaign for the 2016 presidential election and quickly emerged as the front-runner among seventeen candidates in the Republican primaries. His campaign was not taken seriously at first, but one by one his opponents dropped out as Trump steamrolled through the primaries. His remaining opponents all suspended their campaigns by the end of May 2016, and in July he was formally nominated at the Republican National Convention. Indiana Governor Mike Pence was chosen as his running mate. His "shoot from the hip" speaking style generated a lot of free media coverage and news of his campaign led and dominated most of the news coverage of the election campaign. He was able to overcome a late "October surprise" when offensive comments of a sexual nature that he had made years earlier to NBC entertainment personality Billy Bush were broadcast in the campaign. This issue was not damaging enough to deter voters in states comprising an electoral college majority to vote for him. He was even able to wrestle away a number of "blue states" which had previously been considered safe Democratic states and part of the "blue wall" that previous Republican presidential candidates had been unable to win.

Trump won the general election on November 8, 2016, in a surprise victory against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. He was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2017. At that time he became both the oldest and the wealthiest person ever to win the presidency. He is also first elected president without prior military or government service, and the fifth to have won the election while losing the popular vote.

Trump's political positions have been called populist, protectionist, and nationalist. During his first few months in office, Trump issued almost 40 executive orders, the most controversial of which have been executive orders 13769 and 13780 dealing with denying admission to the US of people from several foreign countries. These orders have been blocked by federal courts. His nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 7, 2017. Trump drew criticism for his firing of controversial FBI Director James Comey and for his comments taunting Korean leader Kim Jong-un (with whom he met this week).

On May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller, a former Director of the FBI, to serve as special counsel for the United States Department of Justice. In this capacity, Mueller led the investigation into "any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation", taking over an existing FBI investigation into the matter. Mueller also investigated the Trump campaign's possible ties to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, and China. Muller also investigated whether or not President Trump had obstructed justice a result of Comey's dismissal. Trump repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and the Russian government. During and after the Mueller probe Trump repeatedly referred to it as a "rigged witch hunt" or a "hoax".

On March 22, 2019, the special counsel concluded his investigation and gave his report to Attorney General William Barr. On March 24, Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress summarizing what he said were the "principal conclusions" in the report. He said the report did not conclude that the president committed any crimes. A redacted version of the final Mueller Report was released to the public on April 18, 2019. It concluded that the prevailing evidence did not establish that Trump campaign members conspired or coordinated with Russian interference.

More recently, this past year, the President like all world leaders has had to deal with the outbreak of corona virus. The first confirmed case in the United States was reported on January 20, 2020. President Trump was criticized for being slow to address the pandemic initially for failing to take seriously calls for action from government health experts. On March 6, he signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act into law, which provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies and on March 11, he announced partial travel restrictions for most of Europe, effective March 13. On March 13 he declared a national emergency, and beginning in mid-March, he held a daily press conference, joined by medical experts and other administration officials. On April 3, Trump announced that the federal government would use funds from the CARES Act to pay hospitals for treatment of uninsured patients infected with the coronavirus. His repeated use of the terms "Chinese virus" and "China virus" to describe COVID-19 drew criticism from the media and the Chinese government.

As the pandemic worsened, Trump signed an executive order on April 22, restricting some forms of immigration to the United States. As groups organized anti-lockdown protests against the measures state governments were taking to combat the pandemic, he first supported, then later was critical of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's plan to reopen some nonessential businesses. In early May, President Trump proposed that the coronavirus task force should be phased out, and another group centered on reopening the economy should be the focus.

More recently, in reaction to mass protests and civil unrest in response to the police killing of George Floyd, President Trump publicly suggested invoking the Insurrection Act and deploying military forces within certain American cities to maintain law and order. On June 1, 2020, federal law enforcement officials used various weapons to remove a large crowd from Lafayette Square, outside the White House. President Trump then walked to St. John's Episcopal Church and posed for photographs holding a Bible. Religious leaders were critical of the treatment of protesters and many retired military leaders criticized Trump's proposal to use the U.S. military against the protesters.

President Trump has also proven to be unique in his use of the social media app Twitter as a means of getting his message out. While he has been criticized for the bluntness of this method and of some of the content of his tweets, it is certainly extremely effective as a means of getting noticed and as a means of controlling the message. Whatever else one may wish to say about President Donald Trump, two things are clear: (1) He was elected as President of the United States by the voters in accordance with the rules set out in the Constitution, and (2) Very few people have a neutral opinion of him.

We are living in interesting times. Happy birthday Mr. President.