Tom Pennington/Getty Images
As President Donald Trump seeks a second term in the White House, the final weeks of his campaign have seen him barnstorming throughout the country holding rally after rally in hopes of having four more years to Make America Great Again. Typically, an incumbent president running for reelection will point to a record of accomplishments from the first term as evidence of why he deserves a second. Trump, however, took a somewhat different strategy by attempting to discredit his opponent with a dodgy tale about a soggy laptop that 50 former intelligence officials have warned has all the hallmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign.
It's no great revelation that the former Celebrity Apprentice star has long had a loose and somewhat adversarial relationship with the truth. According to the Washington Post, Trump is "on track" to have made 25,000 "false or misleading claims" by election day; in fact, in the period leading up to the election he'd been averaging about 50 whoppers per day.
Meanwhile, there's a lot from Trump's past, both distant and recent, that he's hoping has slipped voters' minds. Read on to be reminded of all the things Donald Trump wants you to forget about.
Donald Trump's first wife's disturbing allegations
Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images
Back in his 1980s heyday, Donald Trump stood out in an era of conspicuous consumption and ostentatious displays of wealth by stamping his surname on buildings, airlines, casinos and whatever else struck his fancy. "The Donald" and wife Ivana Trump, a Czech ex-model, projected the image of Manhattan power couple, especially when he bought the famed Plaza Hotel and placed her in charge of running it.
The marriage didn't last. Donald's affair with actor Marla Maples led to a tabloid-worthy altercation on a ski hill and, eventually, an ugly divorce. According to a report in The New Yorker, author Harry Hurt III wound up with a copy of Ivana's divorce filing, which he detailed in his 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump. According to Hurt, Ivana accused her enraged husband of violently raping her in her deposition.
Donald's lawyers allegedly put the screws to the publisher attempting to have a "clarifying statement" from Ivana included in the book's flyleaf. In the statement, she confirmed she used the word "rape" in her deposition, before adding, "I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.'" As The New York Times reported, she received a $14-million divorce settlement.
Multiple bankruptcies are part of the Donald Trump story
Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images
Donald Trump is the first president in American history to have been married three times — and still have more bankruptcies than marriages. The first bankruptcy came in 1991, recalled Forbes, after financing his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City with junk bonds and racking up $900 million in personal debt. The following year, reported CNN, Trump Castle Associates filed for bankruptcy, with this second bankruptcy involving NYC's Plaza Hotel, and Atlantic City's Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and Trump Castle Casino Resort.
After more than a decade without a bankruptcy, Trump broke that streak when, as The Los Angeles Times reported in 2004, his Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts declared Chapter 11, involving more Atlantic City casinos and a riverboat in Indiana.
Then, in 2009 Trump filed for a fourth time when another company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, was unable to make a $53.1 million bond payment. While his name remained on the three casinos involved in this bankruptcy, he resigned from the board and gave up his remaining stake in the company, effectively pushing him out of the casino business in Atlantic City. Meanwhile, as CNN noted, the casinos that still bore the "Trump" moniker filed for bankruptcy in 2014, although by that point Trump himself was only licensing his name to the properties and had no ownership stake or other involvement.
Donald Trump's connection to Jeffrey Epstein
Mysterious billionaire Jeffrey Epstein died in a jail cell in 2019, reportedly by suicide, after being arrested and charged with trafficking minors. The convicted pedophile's associations with such powerful figures as Prince Andrew and former President Bill Clinton raised eyebrows, as did the nicknames for his private jet ("the Lolita Express") and his secluded Caribbean island, dubbed "Pedophile Island" by locals.
Donald Trump would prefer everyone forget about his long history with Epstein. In 2019, NBC released video footage from 1992 of the pair ogling young women while partying at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. In a 2002 profile for New York magazine, Trump gushed, "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."
During a 2020 press conference, Trump offered a weird response when asked if he thought Epstein's alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell would "turn in powerful men" after her arrest on charges of trafficking minors. "I don't know — I haven't really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly," Trump said, adding, "I wish her well, whatever it is."
The comments Donald Trump made in the Access Hollywood tape
Less than a month before the 2016 presidential election, the Washington Post unearthed a video taken while Donald Trump was being interviewed by Access Hollywood's Billy Bush in 2005. Wearing his mic but apparently believing it had been turned off, Trump explains to Bush that when he sees "beautiful" women, "I just start kissing them... I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it... Whatever you want. Grab 'em by the p***y. You can do anything."
Outrage ensued, and Trump issued a video on Twitter that included a halfhearted apology but was actually an attack on opponent Hillary Clinton. "I said it, I was wrong and I apologize," said Trump before pivoting. "I've said some foolish things, but there's a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed, and intimidated his victims."
In a subsequent presidential debate, moderator Anderson Cooper told Trump, "You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?" Trump replied, "No, I didn't say that at all. I don't think you understood... this was locker room talk."
Vladimir Putin's word is good as gold to Donald Trump
Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
America's intelligence community has continually warned that Russian interference took place during the 2016 presidential election. Despite even greater warnings, and a 2020 Senate report that described ongoing Russian meddling in America's elections as "grave," Donald Trump's public behavior with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been puzzling, to say the least.
Case in point: when Trump met with Putin in Helsinki, FInland, during a 2018 summit between the two countries, Trump took the Russian president (and former KGB spy) at his word when he claimed Russia didn't interfere in the 2016 election. "President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be," said Trump (via BBC), effectively siding with Putin over America's intelligence agencies, which repeatedly and vociferously said the exact opposite.
As The Hill reported, Paul Ryan, then Speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, was apparently so shaken by the president's words that he issued a strongly worded statement to refute Trump. "There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world," Ryan said. "This is not just the finding of the American intelligence community but also the House Committee on Intelligence. The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally."
The Donald Trump charity that imploded
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The Donald J. Trump Foundation, founded in 1987, was ostensibly a charitable organization to reflect its founder's philanthropy. The reality, however, proved to be far different when New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a suit against the foundation in 2018. According to a report in The New York Times, the AG accused the foundation of "sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination."
The following year, Donald Trump was ordered by a court to dissolve the charity, and pay in excess of $2 million to eight actual charities due to the foundation "misusing charitable funds" by pumping them into his presidential campaign. "Not only has the Trump Foundation shut down for its misconduct, but the president has been forced to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his own political gain," said James in a statement. "Charities are not a means to an end, which is why these damages speak to the president's abuse of power and represent a victory for not-for-profits that follow the law."
In addition, Trump and his children Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump — who sat on the board of the Trump Foundation — were all barred from ever again serving on a nonprofit.
Donald Trump and his 'sham' university
Scott Gries/Getty Images
Donald Trump's foundation wasn't the only Trump-associated venture found to be engaged in shady activities. Trump University — which USA Today described as "not an actual university but a for-profit seminar series" — was sued in 2013 by then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, accused of bilking its thousands of "students" out of a collective $40 million. A Trump University salesman gave an affidavit that was referenced in The New Yorker, indicating his belief that the whole thing was "a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money."
Trump fought the suit for years until ultimately agreeing to a settlement in 2018. According to USA Today, Trump agreed to pay $25 million to conclude two class-action suits and Schneiderman's civil suit accusing the sitting president of the United States of "swindling thousands of Americans out of millions of dollars."
In a statement, Schneiderman declared victory. "This settlement marked a stunning reversal by President Trump, who for years refused to compensate the victims of his sham university" said Schneiderman, who also pointed out that the settlement was "even higher... than anyone originally anticipated."
Some of Donald Trump's associates got in big trouble
George Frey/Getty Images
Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has frequently asserted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his campaign's ties with Russia was a "hoax" and a "phony witch hunt". Despite his protestations, however, there sure have been a lot of people in Trump's orbit who've been charged with non-phony crimes resulting from that investigation.
Reuters provided a rundown of the various Trump associates hit with criminal charges. Paul Manafort, one-time head of Trump's presidential campaign, was found guilty of tax fraud and bank fraud in August 2018; the following month, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges related to money laundering, witness tampering and more. Manafort's business partner, Rick Gates, agreed to testify against Manafort after he entered a guilty plea to lying to investigators and conspiracy against the U.S. Another Manafort associate, Roger Stone, was convicted of lying to investigators looking into Russian interference into American elections; his sentence was subsequently commuted by the president.
Then there was Gen. Michael Flynn, who served as the Trump administration's national security advisor for just one month before getting sacked. He subsequently entered a guilty plea to charges of lying to FBI investigators about his interactions with Russian diplomats.
Donald Trump is the third president to be impeached
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
In December 2019, Donald Trump became the third president in America's history to be impeached. It all began, recalled BBC News, when evidence surfaced indicating Trump withheld desperately needed aid from Ukraine until the nation's recently elected president would agree to throw his support behind some "widely discredited" claims that Trump hoped would cause political damage to presumptive presidential rival Joe Biden.
In late 2019, reported The New York Times, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump on one count of abuse of power, and one count of obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate, however, subsequently voted to acquit.
After the Senate's vote, Trump was asked what he'd learned from being impeached. He responded, reported CNN, by claiming he'd learned "that the Democrats are crooked, that they've got a lot of crooked things going. That they're vicious. That they shouldn't have brought impeachment." Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, offered a different take on what Trump learned. "It's pretty clear the president of the United States did learn a lesson," said Brown. "The lesson: he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to abuse his office he'll never, ever be held accountable by this Senate."
The 'beautiful' tax returns of Donald Trump
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Richard Nixon became the first president in American history to publicly release his tax returns, recalled NPR. Since then, every single presidential candidate has voluntarily released their tax returns in order to demonstrate there are no financial skeletons lurking in their closets — every candidate, that is, except Donald Trump.
Long before announcing his candidacy, Trump insisted he'd release his returns. "If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns, absolutely," he told Ireland AM in 2014. After he began his presidential run, however, the story changed. He told CNN's Anderson Cooper in 2016 that his "very beautiful" tax returns, as he called them on Meet the Press, were now too "complicated" to release. He then started claiming he was under audit, which he said prevented him from releasing his returns. "After the audit, no problem," he tweeted later that year.
As Trump ran for a second term in 2020, those returns remained hidden. Even more questions were raised about what those tax returns contained when an explosive report in The New York Times revealed that, for 11 of the 18 years of Trump tax returns examined by reporters, he paid no taxes at all. Since becoming president, he had paid a grand total of $750.
The sexual misconduct allegations against Donald Trump
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
Following the release of the Access Hollywood tape, women began coming forward to allege they'd been on the receiving end of Donald Trump's sexual misconduct. Initial accusations in The New York Times, People, and The Palm Beach Post caused the dam to burst, with allegations running the gamut from uninvited groping and kissing to full-on rape.
Since then, Business Insider tallied 26 different women who've accused the 45th president of varying degrees of sexual misconduct, dating as far back as the 1970s. Trump dismissed all his accusers in one fell swoop during a 2016 campaign rally. "Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign," Trump told the audience (via Business Insider). "Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over."
Some of those accusers, however, are suing Trump. Journalist E. Jean Carroll, for example, published a 2019 memoir claiming Trump sexually assaulted her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store in the 1990s (via The Cut). Trump responded, recalled Associated Press, by claiming Carroll was "totally lying" and professed his innocence by insisting she was "not my type." She retaliated by suing Trump for defamation.
Donald Trump's belief COVID-19 would 'disappear'
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Since the start of the pandemic, Donald Trump has insisted COVID-19 will vanish, even calling the virus a Democrat "hoax." The Washington Post has kept a running tally of Trump's coronavirus comments, demonstrating the president's predictions haven't exactly proven accurate. Back in February 2020, Trump declared "a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat." Later that month, he predicted the number of COVID-19 cases would soon be "close to zero," then declaring, "It's like a miracle, it will disappear."
In March, he expected the virus to be gone "hopefully at the end of the month." In May, he said, "this is gonna go away without a vaccine." In June, he said, "You know, at some point this stuff goes away," and later that month said, "It's dying out." In July, he insisted, "It's going to disappear and I'll be right," and in August said, "This thing's going away," and "it's going to be gone soon."
Herman Cain's death following the Tulsa rally
Eric Thayer, Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
In June 2020, Donald Trump was anxious to get in front of a crowd, pandemic or not, for his first campaign rally in months. Scheduled for Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump's since-demoted (and later arrested) campaign manager Brad Parscale predicted a blockbuster, tweeting that there were a staggering million ticket requests for the comeback rally. As it turned out, that number was wildly overstated. Organizers were humiliated when only 6,200 showed up to the 19,000-capacity venue. As The New York Times reported, word got around that the disparity was likely caused by a grassroots movement of K-pop fans and teenagers on the TikTop app, with thousands upon thousands apparently registering for tickets they had no intention of using.
Embarrassment over the sparse attendance wasn't the only end result of the Tulsa rally. Another sad repercussion was the fate of conservative stalwart and onetime presidential candidate Herman Cain. On July 2, about a week-and-a-half after photos were publicized of a mask-free Cain attending the rally, Cain's reps tweeted he had tested positive for COVID-19. Cain, a 74-year-old cancer survivor deemed to be at high risk, was hospitalized.
Donald Trump allegedly has $400 million in loans
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
In addition to the revelation about Trump paying a measly $750 in taxes in 2017, The New York Times' 2020 exposé — based on tax returns obtained by the newspaper — contained another bombshell. According to the report, Trump owed more than $420 million to... someone. According to Vox, most of that money is owed to Deutsche Bank, including $160 million that had been earmarked for his hotel in Washington, DC, and another $125 million for mortgages on his Doral golf resort in Miami. Those debts, the Times reported, would be coming due within four years.
News of Trump's massive debt sent shockwaves through the U.S. intelligence community. Robert Cardillo, former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Time that if Trump were any other government employee, that debt would preclude him from being granted a security clearance. As he pointed out, Trump was facing the kind of "personal financial pressure [that] could adversely affect U.S. national security decisions."
This view was shared by Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush administration. "There's a lot of warning signs all over this massive debt," he told Time. "We don't know how bad this is."