Trump launched his political career in 2011 as a leading proponent of "birther" conspiracy theories alleging that Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, was not born in the United States. In April 2011, Trump claimed credit for pressuring the White House to publish the "long-form" birth certificate, which he considered fraudulent, and later saying this made him "very popular". In September 2016, amid pressure, he acknowledged that Obama was born in the U.S. and falsely claimed the rumors had been started by Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign. In 2017, he reportedly still expressed birther views in private.
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.More Info
In August 2019, a whistleblower filed a complaint with the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community about a July 25 phone call between Trump and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump had pressured Zelensky to investigate CrowdStrike and Democratic presidential primary candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, adding that the White House had attempted to "lock down" the call records in a cover-up. The whistleblower further stated that the call was part of a wider pressure campaign by Giuliani and the Trump administration which may have included withholding financial aid from Ukraine in July 2019 and canceling Vice President Pence's May 2019 Ukraine trip. Trump later confirmed having withheld military aid from Ukraine and offered contradicting reasons for the decision.More Info
As president, Trump has criticized Russia about Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, Venezuela, and the Skripal poisoning, but has sent mixed messages regarding Crimea. He forbade U.S. oil companies from drilling in Russia. Businesses involved in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany have been sanctioned by the Trump administration with the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 on December 20, 2019. Trump said the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, owned by Russia's Gazprom, could turn Germany into a "hostage of Russia".More Info
Among several State Department employees testifying to congressional committees in October 2019, William B. Taylor Jr., the chargé d'affaires for Ukraine, testified that soon after arriving in Ukraine in June 2019, he found that Zelensky was being subjected to pressure from a private initiative directed by Trump and led by Giuliani. According to Taylor and others, the goal was to coerce Zelensky into making a public commitment to investigate the company that employed Hunter Biden, as well as rumors about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He said it was made clear that until Zelensky made such an announcement, the administration would not release scheduled military aid for Ukraine and not invite Zelensky to the White House. Zelensky denied that he felt pressured by Trump.More Info
The Crossfire Hurricane FBI investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign was launched in mid-2016 during the campaign season. Since he assumed the presidency, Trump has been the subject of increasing Justice Department and congressional scrutiny, with investigations covering his election campaign, transition and inauguration, actions taken during his presidency, along with his private businesses, personal taxes, and charitable foundation. The New York Times reported in May 2019 that there were 29 open investigations of Trump, including ten federal criminal investigations, eight state and local investigations, and eleven Congressional investigations. In 2020, Jeffrey Toobin authored a book entitled, True Crimes and Misdemeanors, the Investigation of Donald Trump, which is described as a condensation of evidence against Trump, as if he were on trial.More Info
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