In 1995, Trump founded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (THCR), which assumed ownership of Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, and the Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana. THCR purchased Taj Mahal in 1996 and underwent bankruptcy restructuring in 2004 and 2009, leaving Trump with 10 percent ownership in the Trump Taj Mahal and other Trump casino properties. Trump remained chairman of THCR until 2009.
The first is that he can barely contain his affection for — and apparent desire to return to — political campaigning. This is a guy who is just days away from being sworn in as the 45th president, and he's already talking gleefully about the next campaign. (And if you don't think he's gleeful, read Tumulty's whole interview; it's really something.)
In 2017, Matt Braynard, a key member of Trump's 2016 campaign staff, established the organization Look Ahead America. The organization has taken steps to target inactive voters in places such as New Hampshire. Trump came close to winning New Hampshire in the 2016 election. Look Ahead America has claimed that it will not be coordinating their efforts with the president.
For Democrats, the saying is, it could happen again. In between appeasing Putin and castigating NATO and tweeting out his unhappiness with the Mueller probe, Trump is doing what he loves most: running for president. His re-election effort is typically Trumpian: sprawling, disjointed, and bursting with confidence. In February, Trump announced that Brad Parscale, the digital guru with the Billy Gibbons beard who led his 2016 online strategy, would be his 2020 campaign manager. Meanwhile, Trump has been crisscrossing the country holding fund-raisers, building up a war chest of $88 million in his first 18 months. Many cast members from the original campaign are expected to reprise their starring roles, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, as well as Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, and Kellyanne Conway. Even Bannon is starting to find his way back into Trump’s orbit after a bitter falling-out. This fall, Trump plans to deliver slashing stump speeches that stoke his base while defining his likely Democratic challengers long before they launch campaigns of their own. He’s already rolled out his campaign slogan: “Keep America Great.”
But the biggest liability for Trump is himself, as evidenced by his disastrous Putin press conference. “For Trump’s outside supporters, we are highly concerned the president is continually incapable of discerning between meddling and collusion,” Sam Nunberg said. “Every time he does something like that he makes our lives harder. It’s time he gets the fuck over [the election].” Even if he survives the Mueller probe and holds on to Congress, there’s the Michael Cohen time bomb. “Michael Cohen and the Trump Org? I don’t know,” Bannon said with concern when I brought it up. “That’s not my deal.” It will be difficult to rekindle the magic that propelled Trump to victory last time.
On May 9, 2017, Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey. He first attributed this action to recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, which criticized Comey's conduct in the investigation about Hillary Clinton's emails. On May 11, Trump stated that he was concerned with the ongoing "Russia thing" and that he had intended to fire Comey earlier, regardless of DoJ advice.
And yet, in the 1980s, there were still limits to what needed to be said about America. Surveying the planet, you didn’t yet have to refer to us as the “greatest” country of all or as the planet’s sole truly “exceptional” country. Think of such repeated superlatives of our own moment as defensive markers on the declinist slope. The now commonplace adjective “indispensable” as a stand-in for American greatness globally, for instance, didn’t even arrive until Bill Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, began using it in 1996. It only became an indispensable part of the rhetorical arsenal of American politicians, from President Obama on down, a decade-plus into the 21st century when the country’s eerie dispensability (unless you were a junkie for failed states and regional chaos) became ever more apparent.
Trump’s own data guys have a slightly different interpretation. “The best way to win in 2020 is to win in 2018,” said Bill Stepien, with a straight face. It was a swampy Washington Friday in mid-June, and I was sitting with Stepien, the White House political director, in his office turned war room on the first floor of the Executive Office Building. Virtually every inch of wall space was covered with maps of states with races that Republicans have targeted to win to keep control of the Senate.
In response to these wanton guesstimates, Trump instinctually fired back at the guesstimators. “Forbes is a bankrupt magazine, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” “Fortune has no idea what my assets are” and “has totally lost its way.” But the real sulfuric acid was reserved for the lowballers over at Bloomberg. As usual, Trump made it personal, even suggesting his “friend,” the former New York City mayor, might be jealous. “Maybe Michael told them to do it,” Trump speculated in the Daily Mail, “because he always wanted to do what I’m doing.” Perhaps wisely, The New Yorker—even with its legendary phalanx of persnickety fact-checkers—wouldn’t venture any closer than “just a back-of-the-envelope calculation” of $2.56 billion, “which shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”
U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan increased from 8,500 to 14,000, as of January 2017. reversing Trump's pre-election position critical of further involvement in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said then that they aimed to "force the Taliban to negotiate a political settlement"; in January 2018, however, Trump spoke against talks with the Taliban.
Joe Biden, a son of Scranton, Pa., appeals to the same working-class white voters who flocked to Mr. Trump in 2016. Some progressives no doubt look upon him fondly from his days as Barack Obama’s vice president. But Mr. Biden’s three-decades-long centrist Senate record, from his handling of Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing in 1991 to his vote for the 2005 bankruptcy bill, might make him a tough sell to today’s Democratic primary voters, not to mention the fact that he still has those centrist tendencies (he recently came out against a universal basic income). And he’ll turn 78 in November 2020.
Trump's racially insensitive statements have been condemned by many observers in the U.S. and around the world, but accepted by his supporters either as a rejection of political correctness or because they harbor similar racial sentiments. Several studies and surveys have stated that racist attitudes and racial resentment have fueled Trump's political ascendance, and have become more significant than economic factors in determining party allegiance of voters. According to an October 2017 Politico/Morning Consult poll, 45 percent of American voters viewed Trump as racist and 40 percent did not. In a June 2018 Quinnipiac University poll, 49 percent of respondents believed that Trump is racist while 47 percent believed he is not. Additionally, 55 percent said he "has emboldened people who hold racist beliefs to express those beliefs publicly."
Trump's cabinet nominations included U.S. Senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, financier Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury, retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Trump also brought on board politicians who had opposed him during the presidential campaign, such as neurosurgeon Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations.
Colbert chimed in to explain why he didn't want Trump to pull himself out of the race, saying: "I think it's important that the voters of America have an opportunity to say 'Oops, my bad. We've made a mistake there.' ...If Donald Trump doesn't run he takes away that corrective action of history and therefore his presidency is whole and unjudged if he just doesn't run again."
Most Republican strategists I spoke to agreed that Trump will face a primary challenge from the Never Trump wing of the party, which has been clipped since the 2016 election. Possible primary candidates include Senators Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, and Ben Sasse; and Ohio governor John Kasich. “My sense is someone is going to challenge Trump,” said Ed Rollins, Ronald Reagan’s ‘84 campaign manager who now advises the pro-Trump Great America PAC. “I don’t think it’ll be a viable candidate. Someone like Flake or Kasich, they’re just more of a nuisance. Trump has the base.” (A Gallup poll in June showed that Trump’s 87 percent popularity among his party is the second highest in modern presidential history, behind Bush 43 post-9/11.) If there’s one historical data point that should worry Trump advisers, it’s that incumbent presidents in the modern era who faced primary challenges failed to win the general election.
Certainly not for women, or Americans of color, or children, or gay men, or religious minorities. In the bygone days that Trump harkens back to, it wasn't so great to be anything but a straight white Christian male. Trump, of course, doesn't specify when, exactly, America was "great," but at no point in history was this country a better place to live as a female citizen, or a black one, or a very young one, than now. The establishment of the republic? We have "Founding Fathers" for a reason: Men (white ones) were the only ones in charge. Women couldn't vote or own property, and they lost their individual rights when they married, since they were legally absorbed into their husbands. Women couldn't enter into contracts on their own but were still automatically liable for their husbands' debts. White landowners, including many of the Founders, owned and enslaved blacks, who were not only ripped from their homes and forced into servitude, but routinely beaten, raped, and resold away from their families. There's also the small detail that American land was stolen from Native Americans, many of whom were murdered directly or killed off by new germs early on in the European settlement of the United States, and who saw their communities torn apart not just by early American wars but by centuries of colonization and land-grabs.