07 November 2020

What happens now for Donald Trump?

In a predictable move by the often unpredictable Donald Trump the billionaire tycoon-turned-president said he will not go down without a fight after losing his re-election bid to Democrat Joe Biden.

Even as Mr Biden passed the 270 electoral college votes needed for victory in the US presidential race, Mr Trump declared the election was “far from over”, and accused the former vice president of “falsely posing as the winner”.

While refusing to concede and accept defeat, he continued to repeat unsubstantiated claims of fraudulent ballots and vowed to press ahead with legal action.

In his statement immediately following the news of Mr Biden’s victory, Mr Trump said: “Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.”

Now that he has been unceremoniously dumped from the White House, the world will look on with great curiosity as to where he goes next – will he continue down the path of an animated politician or go back to business?

His impending exit from office could culminate in financial difficulty based on the reports of his fiscal affairs, and critics hoping to be shot of Mr Trump should remember he would be eligible to run for the presidency again in 2024.

But he may yet return to our TV screens as there have been suggestions he could launch a “Trump TV” channel to rival Fox.

In April, he tweeted: “The people who are watching @FoxNews, in record numbers (thank you President Trump), are angry. They want an alternative now. So do I!”

He has heavily criticised news channels for what he continually called “fake news” against him, and in the dying days of his presidency multiple major US broadcasters decided to cut him off mid-speech during a White House press conference on Thursday night.

Four years ago, many observers thought The Apprentice star had little chance of ever getting to the Oval Office.

Mr Trump proved them wrong.

But no-one could have foretold the 74-year-old’s battle for re-election would take place amid the chaos of a coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump does a little dance during a campaign rally in Ohio (AP)

Mr Trump himself tested positive for the disease that has killed more than 230,000 across the States, just a month ahead of election night.

Born into the wealthy family of New York property tycoon Fred Trump, he joined his father’s business before taking control of the company – which he renamed as the Trump Organisation – in 1971.

His business empire expanded with the construction of Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue, as well as hotels, casinos and the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants.

Despite amassing a huge fortune over the years, his companies have also filed for multiple bankruptcies.

After teasing the public many times over the prospect of a presidential bid, Mr Trump made it official in 2015 by announcing his candidacy.

As he did so, he tore into the presidency of Barack Obama, having fuelled the “birther” movement that questioned the African-American leader’s birthplace in a baseless conspiracy theory that many described as racist.

His campaign against Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton was rocked by numerous sexual assault allegations, all of which he denied.

The campaign also saw a video surface which showed him bragging of using his fame to “do anything” to women, including “grab ’em by the pussy”.

But he shattered expectations and predictions from pollsters by beating the former secretary of state in the electoral college – though not the popular vote.

Rows, resignations and sackings were staples of his term, as was the use of Twitter for diplomacy, including labelling North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un “Little Rocket Man”.

He used the platform to maintain his long-running feud with Beijing, repeatedly tweeting about what he called the “China virus” and to voice his concerns about the internationally recognised Paris Agreement to tackle climate change, which the US formally pulled out of the day after the election.

Mr Trump was also accused of cosiness with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Mueller inquiry into Russian interference during the 2016 election did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow but it did not clear the president of obstructing justice.

However, it was allegations that Mr Trump pressured Ukraine to dig up damaging information on Mr Biden that led to his impeachment.

He survived being removed from the White House when he was acquitted in a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Mr Trump’s personal life has also made headlines over the years.

In 2018, it was revealed that his lawyer Michael Cohen paid porn actress Stormy Daniels almost £100,000 days before the 2016 election in an attempt to keep her silent over her alleged sexual relationship with the president 10 years before.

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House (AP)

Mr Trump denied knowing about the payment for several years before he acknowledged it on Twitter in May 2018 and said he reimbursed Mr Cohen for the money paid to Ms Daniels.

In its 2019 billionaires ranking, Forbes estimated Mr Trump’s net worth at 3.1 billion US dollars, and 715th in the world.

But his finances have remained a subject of intense scrutiny, culminating in bombshell reports from the New York Times after the newspaper found he paid just 750 US dollars in federal income tax both in 2016 and 2017.

It also revealed “chronic losses and years of tax avoidance”.

Painting a dire financial situation approaching for Mr Trump, the reports added that hundreds of millions of dollars in loans will come due in the next four years.

The successful run against Mrs Clinton was filled with chants of “lock her up” and “build the wall”.

The wall along the border with Mexico, a key pledge to halt the movement of immigrants who he derided as “rapists” and “criminals”, remained largely unbuilt when Mr Trump fought for re-election.

He reprised his Make America Great Again slogan for the 2020 campaign but official records suggested very few miles of new wall had been erected.

Mr Trump continued his personal attacks against Mrs Clinton’s successor, labelling him “Sleepy Joe” as he tried to portray the man three years his senior as senile.

He launched a flurry of unsubstantiated claims on Twitter hours before Mr Biden won the state of Pennsylvania, alleging that “bad things” happened, referring to votes being “illegally received” and insisting he has won “by a lot”.

But Federal Election Commission boss Ellen Weintraub said there is no evidence of voter fraud.

Before the election, he controversially pushed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court after the death of liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The move raised concerns that abortion rights could be eroded, with Republican picks outnumbering Democrats by six justices to three.

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