On March 14, 2017, the first two pages of Trump's 2005 federal income tax returns were leaked to Rachel Maddow and shown on MSNBC. The document states that Trump had a gross adjusted income of $150 million and paid $38 million in federal taxes. The White House confirmed the authenticity of these documents and stated: "Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns."
On November 8, 2016, Mr. Trump was elected President in the largest Electoral College landslide for a Republican in 28 years. Mr. Trump won more than 2,600 counties nationwide, the most since President Ronald Reagan in 1984. And he received the votes of more than 62 million Americans, the most ever for a Republican candidate. These voters, in delivering a truly national victory and historic moment, rallied behind Mr. Trump’s commitment to rebuilding our country and disrupting the political status quo that had failed to deliver results.
Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech in which he stated: "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ... They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people." Later, his attacks on a Mexican-American judge were criticized as racist. His comments following a 2017 far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, were seen as implying a moral equivalence between white supremacist marchers and those who protested them. In a January 2018 Oval Office meeting to discuss immigration legislation with Congressional leaders, Trump reportedly referred to El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and African countries as "shitholes". His remarks were condemned as racist worldwide, as well as by many members of Congress. Trump has denied accusations of racism multiple times, saying he is the "least racist person".
Think of this as part of a post-Vietnam Reagan reboot, a time when the United States in Rambo-esque fashion was quite literally muscling up and over-arming in a major way. Reagan presided over “the biggest peacetime defense build-up in history” against what, referencing Star Wars, he called an “evil empire”—the Soviet Union. In those years, he also worked to rid the country of what was then termed “the Vietnam Syndrome” in part by rebranding that war a “noble cause.” In a time when loss and decline were much on the American brain, he dismissed them both, even as he set the country on a path toward the present moment of 1 percent dysfunction in a country that no longer invests fully in its own infrastructure, whose wages are stagnant, whose poor are a growth industry, whose wealth now flows eternally upward in a political environment awash in the money of the ultra-wealthy, and whose over-armed military continues to pursue a path of endless failure in the Greater Middle East.
Trump, who filed the paperwork for “Make America Great Again” just days after Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election, announced his already-arrived-upon 2020 slogan in a just-published interview with The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty. The reveal comes in the middle of a must-read interview in which Trump seems to decide, on the spot, to nail down the new slogan and share it with the world.
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 2013, New York State filed a $40 million civil suit against Trump University; the suit alleged that the company made false statements and defrauded consumers. In addition, two class-action civil lawsuits were filed in federal court relating to Trump University; they named Trump personally as well as his companies. During the presidential campaign, Trump criticized presiding Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel, alleging bias in his rulings because of his Mexican heritage. Shortly after Trump won the presidency, the parties agreed to a settlement of all three pending cases, whereby Trump paid a total of $25 million and denied any wrongdoing.
Adult film actress Stormy Daniels has alleged that she and Trump had an affair in 2006, which Trump denied. In January 2018, it was reported that just before the 2016 presidential election Daniels was paid $130,000 by Trump's attorney Michael Cohen as part of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA); Cohen later said he paid her with his own money. In February 2018, Daniels sued Cohen's company asking to be released from the NDA and be allowed to tell her story. Cohen obtained a restraining order to keep her from discussing the case. In March, Daniels claimed in court that the NDA never came into effect because Trump did not sign it personally. In April, Trump said that he did not know about Cohen paying Daniels, why Cohen had made the payment or where Cohen got the money from. In May, Trump's annual financial disclosure revealed that he reimbursed Cohen in 2017 for payments related to Daniels. In August 2018, in a case brought by the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to breaking campaign finance laws, admitting to paying hush money of $130,000 to Daniels and $150,000 indirectly to Playboy model Karen McDougal, and said that he did it at the direction of Trump, with the aim of influencing the presidential election. In response, Trump said that he only knew about the payments "later on", and that he paid back Cohen personally, not out of campaign funds. Cohen also said he would cooperate fully with the Special Counsel investigation into collusion with Russia.
In 1988 Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for $407 million and appointed his wife Ivana to manage its operation. Trump invested $50 million to restore the building, which he called "the Mona Lisa". According to hotel expert Thomas McConnell, the Trumps boosted it from a three-star to a four-star ranking. They sold it in 1995, by which time Ivana was no longer involved in the hotel's day-to-day operations.
Seeking other counsel, Trump has increasingly turned to a shadow political operation, composed of a few very familiar faces. The outside group was put together by, of all people, Trump’s former campaign chairman Steve Bannon. Members include 2016-campaign veterans like Lewandowski, Bossie, and communications director Jason Miller; former national-security aide Sebastian Gorka; Breitbart Washington editor Matthew Boyle; and former Trump aide Sam Nunberg. Throughout the day, Bannon checks in by phone with his allies to hash out talking points that Trump surrogates can deploy in the media. For much of the past year, John Kelly banned Bossie and Lewandowski from the West Wing. But after Trump sidelined Kelly this spring, the pair have been welcomed back. In mid-June, Bossie and Lewandowski flew with Trump aboard Air Force One to a fund-raiser in Las Vegas.
The 2016 Republican presidential candidates and their surrogates sang the same tune. When Fox News pundit Sean Hannity asked Jeb Bush for his thoughts on exceptionalism, Bush replied, “I do believe in American exceptionalism,” unlike Obama, who “is disrespecting our history and the extraordinary nature of our country.” Rudy Giuliani was more explicit. “I do not believe that the president loves America,” he asserted, suggesting Obama did not think “we’re the most exceptional country in the world.” During a speech a month later in Selma, Alabama, the president pointed out that the ongoing fight for civil rights is a cornerstone of what makes America exceptional.
Trump’s electoral base wouldn’t mind a handful of ideological betrayals since rank-and-file Republicans are really here for the culture war stuff and not for the concrete policy anyway. So Trump would enter the 2020 campaign with his base intact but also with the brand as a freethinking moderate who’s at odds with the right wing of congressional Republicans. Democrats would end up nominating someone with a relatively extreme rejectionist profile, and Trump would be in a good position to improve his approval ratings and get reelected.
On January 10, 2017, Politico reported that Trump would be keeping his campaign offices in Trump Tower open in order to lay the groundwork for a re-election campaign. By that time his campaign offices at Trump Tower already included a staff of about ten people led by Republican strategist Michael Glassner. Glassner's deputy is John Pence, nephew of Vice President Mike Pence. The campaign staff was focused on data-building and fundraising for a 2020 reelection campaign.