The Trumps – Inside the dynasty ruling world’s most powerful democracy

The Donald Trump dynasty is arguably the most powerful in the world today. The reason for this description is not difficult to fathom. The patriarch of the dynasty, Donald Trump, is the most powerful man in the world on account of his position as president of the most powerful country on the planet – the United States.

Among the key people behind his presidency are members of his powerful immediate family who played key roles in his presidential campaigns right from the early stages, through the party primaries up to the main presidential election victory. After assumption of office as president of The United States of America, the same immediate family members led by his wife and five children are still deeply involved in his government. He heads a dynasty that comprises a wife that has achieved immense success on her own personal account, not as the wife of the president of the United States, and children that have equally attained varying degrees of successes on their own individual merits. Though at informal level, his immediate family is part of the inner cycle of his administration, whose opinion and views still shape to a large extent, the direction of things in the White House.

Trump assumed office as America’s 45th president on January 20, 2016 with several ‘firsts’. He is the oldest person to assume the office at 70, and the wealthiest. It may also be thrown into his lists of ‘firsts’ the fact that he single-handedly funded his campaign without support from anybody – not even the traditional fundraising functions that provide funding for presidential contenders in the United States, or donations from supporters. He is also the first to become president without any prior experience in any public office – whether in the military or political office – an entirely green horn.

On Saturday, June 29, 2019, he made history as the first American president to set foot on North Korean soil when he walked across the border into the country from South Korea, accompanied by President Moon, on a snappy visit to President Kim Jong Un. It was on the sidelines of a G-20 Summit that held in South Korea.

To say that Trump’s first term has been riddled with controversy, almost from his first day in office, would be to make a gross understatement. He has been more of a Mr. Controversy than Mr. President.

He was accused of making false and misleading statements during his campaign, which probably contributed to his victory. He assumed office amid allegations that his victory may have been aided by Russia, against the background of accusations of interference in the elections by the latter in his favour, an accusation that has refused to go away. He has been accused of making statements and taking actions that widen the racial divide not only in America but around the world.

One of his most controversial actions shortly after assuming office was a travel ban on citizens from some Muslim-majority countries supposedly on security concerns. He initiated a ban on transgender applicants from joining the military in a country that respects individual liberties that include gender rights.

Trump took his controversial and potentially explosive actions outside the shores of America as well. In his pursuit of his America First agenda, he withdrew the United States from the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the allegation that it was not beneficial to the American people; the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Iran Nuclear Deal. He brought the world close to the start of a nuclear war by engaging North Korea in a face-off, fueled by war-threating rhetoric, over that country’s nuclear programme.

As if those were not enough hair-raising actions, Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocated the American embassy there, from Tel Aviv, where all the countries of the world have their embassies and missions. It was an action that sparked outrage around the world, including the United Nations. He imposed tariffs on several goods, thereby triggering the current trade war with China.

Trump started waging war with America’s mainstream media from the time he was campaigning to be president, taking on giants like CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post, all of which he labeled purveyors of fake news. Any news item that is not complimentary of him or critical of his action is fake news.

He has employed Twitter virtually for governance, making important statements and decisions on the social media platform. He speaks with the most unpresidential language, sometimes bordering on outright abuse and insults, and uses such language on important personalities including even leaders of other countries, without batting an eye lid and without any care in the world what anybody thinks.

His administration is probably the only one in American history with the highest number of resignations. In fact, resignations began to hit his administration within the first few days of coming into existence. He has also fired his officials in controversial circumstances. The best way to describe him is that he is unpredictable and erratic.

Despite his many missteps, Trump has managed to win the hearts of the American people, as his job approval ratings sometimes show. In mid-April, 2019, for instance, his rating hit an all-time high of 46 per cent, the highest since he assumed office.

It hasn’t been all bad news from the White House. Trump has recorded some achievements Americans agree are worth celebrating.

According to the White House, the Trump administration has created four million jobs from inception, including 400, 000 manufacturing jobs, and manufacturing jobs are growing at the fastest rate in three decades; more Americans are employed than at any time in the country’s history,  while new unemployment claims have hit a 49-year low.

African-American unemployment has recently been at the lowest rate ever recorded; Hispanic-American unemployment is at the lowest rate ever recorded; Asain-American unemployment recently achieved the lowest rate ever recorded, while female unemployment recently reached the lowest in 65 years. Youth unemployment recently hit the lowest in nearly half a century, while the country has recorded the lowest ever unemployment rate for Americans without high school diploma. Veterans’ unemployment recently reached its lowest rate in almost 20 years. The administration says it has lifted almost 3.9 million Americans off food stamps since inception.

The Trump administration took the controversial strep of repealing Obamacare and now says in its place, it is providing more affordable healthcare options for Americans through association health plans and short term duration plans.

“We reformed the Medicare programme to stop hospitals from overcharging low-income seniors on their drugs—saving seniors hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone”, a White House statement listing Trump’s achievements said.

The administration said it signed the biggest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history. The action, according to the White House, led to inflow of over $300 billion back into the economy in the first quarter alone.  The administration said as a result of the tax bill, small businesses would have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years. The government also enacted regulatory relief for community banks and credit unions.

Trump threw his weight behind America’s successful bid to co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada and America’s successful bid to host the 2018 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He las a long list of achievements at home.

Quite ironically, the same actions for which Trump received knocks from around the world are those for which he claimed credit at home. For instance, his reason for withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord was that it was killing American jobs. He said he withdrew his country from the Iran Deal because it was “horribly one-sided”. He replaced NAFTA with a trade deal with Mexico, with negotiations currently ongoing to strike a similar deal with Canada, both of which he says are more economically beneficial to the United States than the former.

Trump said he imposed tariffs on China in response to its forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft and what he called, “their chronically abusive trade policies”. He said his travel ban on Muslim-majority countries was meant to protect Americans from terrorists. And, if anybody was in doubt about the appropriateness or otherwise of the action, he actually got support from the US Supreme Court that upheld the ban.

A lifelong journey – from birth to the White House

The American president was born Donald John Trump on June 14, 1946 at the Jamaica Hospital on Queens, New York City, to Frederick Christ Trump, a real estate developer and Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, a Scottish mother. He grew up in Jamaica Estates neighbourhood of Queens, and attended Kew-Forest School from kindergarten up to the seventh grade.

He enrolled in the New York Military Academy, a private boarding school, at the age of 13. In 1964, he later attended Fordham University, transferring after two years to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from where he graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Economics in1968. He cut his teeth in business while a student at Wharton, in the family business – Elizabeth Trump & Son. Such was Trumps interest in business from an early stage that as a student, he rarely took part in school activities preferring, instead, to spend time pursuing his business career.

Trump missed an opportunity of a military experience when, between 1964 and 1968, he obtained four student draft deferments from the military. Though he was deemed fit for military service in 1966 based upon medical examination and considered eligible to serve in July 1968, he was given a medical deferment which resulted in a 1-Y classification in October of the same year, which declared him “unqualified for duty except in the case of a national emergency”.

The high number of deferments he received robbed him of the chance of being called to military service. And in 1972, he was classified as 4-F, which permanently disqualified him from service.

Trump would explain in 2015 after he joined the presidential race that his medical deferment was as a result of his feet, adding that he had “a bone spur”.

Trump went into full time business in 1971 when he took charge of the family company, renaming it The Trump Organization. He expanded the business from his Queens neighbourhood and Brooklyn to Manhattan, engaging in building and renovation of skyscrapers, hotels, casinos and golf courses. He later branched into other ventures, all of which he licensed his name, turning it into a major brand.

He owned the Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants from 1996 to 2015 when he re-entered politics. He co-authored several books, one of which is The Art of the Deal. He also produced and hosted The Apprentice, a reality television show, from 2003 to 2015.

Trump managed his business until his inauguration on January 20, 2017. A Forbes estimate puts his wealth at $3.1 billion.

The first time Trump took a shot at the White House was in 2000 when he tried to get the nomination of the Reform Party, one of the not-so-known political parties in the United States. Then, just as it would be in 2015, nobody took him seriously. He was dismissed as a joker and attention seeker who merely sought the limelight in an entirely unfamiliar terrain.

The man had not held any public office that could prepare him for the tough job of ruling the world’s most powerful country. He had no military background like many of the country’s presidents.

He was a successful businessman – a real estate tycoon, but known outside the country more as the owner of the Miss Universe and Miss America beauty pageants. He was a show promoter. Nothing in his resume could be said to qualify him for a political office as powerful as that of the president of the United States other than an Economics degree from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Not surprisingly, or rather, quite predictably, he failed in the attempt, and went back to his business which he knew how to do best.

Americans and, indeed, the world thought they had seen the last of what they must have thought was a joke from a most unlikely person. They were all wrong. Trump would return to politics again 16 years later and, when nobody expected, got elected into the world’s most powerful office.

The dynasty

Trump’s is arguably the most powerful dynasty in the world today, on account of the position its head occupies – president of the most powerful country on the planet. It comprises Trump, five children from three wives (one currently with him), and nine grandchildren.

Melania Trump

Of the three wives Trump has had, Melania is the only one currently married to him and is the First Lady of the United States. Born Melanija Knays in Novo Mesto, she grew up in Sevnica, in the Yugoslav republic of Slovenia.

Since Donald Trump indicated interest in going into politics till date, Melania has stood by her husband despite negative reports of his infidelities, alleged sexual assaults, and campaign revelations that he boasted about groping women.

In 2016, she came into the limelight after making a speech at the Republican National Convention, which she was accused of plagiarizing from one made by Michelle Obama in 2008. In an October interview with CNN, she was asked what she would change about her husband. She replied: “His tweeting”.

Though she did not move into the White House with her husband immediately after the election victory as she was required to stay in New York with their son Barron until he finished his school term, before formally moving into the White House in June 2017, she was overseeing things from New York.

She received her education at the Secondary School of Design and Photography in Ljubljana, and studied Architecture and Design at the University of Ljubljana for one year before dropping out. She modeled for fashion houses in Paris and Milan after dropping out of university. She actually started modeling at age five, and began commercial modeling at 16 when she posed for Stane Jerko, a famous Slovenian photographer.

At 18, Melania signed up with a modeling agency in Milan. In 1992, she emerged runner-up in the Jana Magazine Look of the Year competition in Ljubljana, thus benefiting from the first three position prizes that involved international modeling contracts.

She met Paolo Zampolli, co-owner of Metropolitan Models and friend of her future husband in 1995 while modeling in Milan. Zampolli was on a scouting trip in Europe and advised her to travel to the United States where he told her he would represent her.

Melania moved to Manhattan, New York, in 1996 and, with Zampolli’s arrangement, shared an apartment with Matthew Atanian, a photographer, in the Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square. She did 10 modeling jobs before receiving legal permission to work in the United States. She made a success of her modeling career, launching her own line of jewelry, Melania Timepieces and Jewelry, in 2010.

She met Trump at a party in 1998 and they began dating. They got engaged in 2004 and got married the following year in Palm Beach, Florida. The marriage is the third one for Trump and her first. She gave birth to their son, Barron William Trump, on March 20, 2006.

Melania is the second American first lady to be born outside the United States after Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams who was born in London; the first naturalized citizen to occupy that position and the first whose native language is not English. At just 49, she is the matriarch of the Trump dynasty.

Donald Trump, Jnr

Donald John Trump Jnr, is the eldest son of President Trump from his first marriage to Ivana. He was born on December 31, 1977 to Ivan (Trump’s first wife) and Donald Trump. He was educated at Beckley School and The Hill School, a college preparatory school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and later at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania from where, like his father, he also graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Economics in 2000.

He moved to Aspen, Colorado, after graduation, where lived in a truck hunting, fishing and skiing. He worked as a bar tender for one year before returning to join The Trump Organization in New York, supervising iconic buildings that included 40 Wall Street, Trump International Hotel and Towers, and Trump Park Avenue. He was a guest adviser and judge on several episodes of The Apprentice, his father’s reality television show, from 2006 to 2015 when his farther quit the show to concentrate on is presidential goal.

Trump Jnr, was a key member of his father’s campaign team, and spoke at the Republican National Convention where Trump Snr was endorsed as the party’s nominee for the election.

He and his brother, Eric, oversee their father’s trust that includes The Trump Organization and its assets while his father holds office. His parents got divorced when he was 13 years old, and upon being told by his mother that the divorce was caused by his father’s infidelity, remained estranged from his father for one year, blaming him for the development.

Trump Jnr married Vanessa Kay Haydon, a model, on November 12, 2005 after dating her at his father’s suggestion, and they have five children. They separated in 2018 and have divorced.

Ivanka Marie Trump

Ivanka Marie “Ivanka” Trump is the first daughter and second child of President Trump from his first marriage with Ivana, and perhaps the best-known of Donald Trump’s children. She was born on October 30, 1981, in Manhattan. She attended Chapin School, Manhattan up to age 15 before transferring to Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut. She attended Georgetown University, Washington, for two years before following in the footsteps of her father and elder brother by transferring to Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Economics in 2004 after two years.

A model in her early years, she was a vice-president at The Trump Organization, before stepping down when her father became president. She also launched her eponymous fashion line and was also a judge on her father’s reality TV show The Apprentice.

Her brother Donald Junior says Ivanka is the favourite child and is referred to as “Daddy’s little girl”.

She was given a level of authority in the family business that none of his wives ever had and is said to have handled some of the company’s biggest deals.

Since Mr Trump became president, she has regularly been seen at his side. She, rather than the first lady, travelled with him to an air base in early February 2017 to mark the return of the body of a soldier killed in a raid in Yemen.

She joined her father’s administration as an unpaid aide with the title Adviser to the President, and has her own office in the West Wing of the White House.

After her father became president, Ivanka said she had resigned from her signature apparel and accessories brand.

Ivanka worked briefly for Forest City Enterprises before joining the family business in 2005 as Executive Vice President, Development & Acquisitions, at the Trump Organization. She teamed up with Dynamic Diamond Corporation to create Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, a line of diamond and gold jewelry. Outside her involvement in her father’s business, Ivanka has been a very successfully woman with fingers in many pies, including modeling at an early age. She is reputed to be one of the wealthiest of the Trump dynasty with a net worth of about $300 million.

She was involved in her father’s campaign, and upon his election, was appointed an adviser in his administration. She has a Jewish husband, Jared Kushner, and is the first Jewish member of an American First family, having converted before marrying her husband.

Eric Trump

Eric Frederick Trump, third child and second son of President Trump, was born on January 6, 1984, in Manhattan, New York. He attended Trinity School and The Hill School. He later attended Georgetown University, Washington, from where he graduated with an honours degree in Finance and Management.

He works as Executive Vice President, Developments & Acquisitions, at The Trump Organization. He was also involved in The Apprentice, his father’s reality television show as a judge, as well as in his presidential campaign.

Eric and his wife, Lara Lea Yunaska, an associate producer on the syndicated television news programme, Inside Edition, got married on November 8, 2014.

They are expecting their second child in August, 2019.

Tiffany Trump

Tiffany Ariana Trump, the fourth and only child of President Trump from his second marriage to Marla maples, and actress and television personality, was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 13, 1993.

She attended Viewpoint School in Calabasas, California, before proceeding to the University of Pennsylvania from where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Sociology and Urban Studies.

Tiffany was part of her father’s presidential campaign and actually spoke at the national convention alongside her elder siblings.

Barron Trump

Barron William Trump, President Trump’s youngest child and the only one from First Lady Melania, was born on March 20, 2006. He attended the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in Manhattan, New York.

He currently attends St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland.