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the donald

Donald Trump: a timeline of the most bonkers events from a truly bonkers presidential campaign

Love him or loathe him, the Donald has kept the world enthralled for the past 18 months.


WE’VE JUST TWO days to go. Finally, finally, it will all be over.

After 18 months of furiously fractious and acidic campaigning, America will elect its new president on Tuesday 8 November.

Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings towards candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it can’t be denied that this election has felt like something of a turning point for US democracy. To out-dirty the dirty dealings of this campaign in the future will take some doing.

Trump himself has been involved in enough controversies since announcing his candidacy to fuel (and probably destroy) 10 presidential campaigns.

We really should have known what was to come way back in the mists of time, in June 2015.

As we enter the final furlong, here’s a (brief) timeline of some of the Donald’s campaign antics:

16 June 2015

ElectionWatch / YouTube

Trump announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination at Trump Tower in New York, and starts as he means to go on by targeting immigration with his infamous ‘Mexicans’ speech:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump further vows, for the first (but you better believe not the last) time to build “a great, great wall”  on the US-Mexican border.


15 July 2015

It’s hard to get away with anything with the internet around to keep an eye on what you’re doing: it emerges that Trump accidentally used a photo of men dressed as Nazi soldiers for a would-be patriotic ad campaign involving his face, the White House, and the American flag.

6 August 2015

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During the first Republican primary debate, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly lambasts Trump for calling women “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals” on Twitter. Trump’s response:

I’ve been challenged by so many people and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness… And honestly, if you don’t like it, Megyn, I’m sorry, but I’ve been very nice to you.

In the aftermath, Trump suggests Kelly possibly had “blood coming out of her” as a reason for her haranguing him. This is subsequently widely surmised to be a suggestion that Kelly was menstruating during the debate. Kelly will become something of a bête noire for Trump in the ensuing campaign.

13 November 2015

Trump compares rival Ben Carson’s “pathological temper” (as detailed in his biography) to that of child molesters.

22 November 2015

At a rally in Birmingham, Alabama, Trump claims he saw people in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks on New York City in 2001. “It happened, I saw it on television,” he says, adding that there is a ‘large Arab population in the area’.

No corroboration for his version of events is forthcoming.

26 November 2015

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The New York Times claims that Trump mocked one of its reporters, Serge Kovaleski (who had disputed Trump’s New Jersey 9/11 claims immediately above), for his chronic disability while addressing supporters at a rally.

Footage emerges of Trump impersonating Kovaleski by flailing his arms around and changing his voice.

7 December 2015


After emerging as the clear Republican frontrunner ahead of Texan candidate Ted Cruz, Trump announces for the first time that, as president, he will ban all Muslims from travelling to the US “until we can figure out what is going on”. Among his critics, the announcement doesn’t go down particularly well.

A video of his speech is subsequently used in a recruitment video for an Islamic extremist group.

15 December 2015

Not content with banning Muslims, Trump vows to “close the internet” in his bid to combat Isis at a CNN primary debate in Las Vegas. The announcement is met with some boos from his audience. Trump isn’t impressed:

“These are people that want to kill us, folks. And you’re objecting to us infiltrating their conversations? I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”

8 January 2016

Trump alleges that Ted Cruz, by now his only clear opponent towards capturing the Republican nomination, may not be eligible to become president due to his Canadian birth.

20 January 2016

ap2 AP AP

Former Republican vice presidential candidate, the one and only Sarah Palin, endorses Trump’s candidacy in her own inimitable manner.

Trump, she says, would be a commander in chief who would “let our warriors do their job and go kick Isis’ ass!

23 January 2016

A distinctly confident-sounding Trump claims that he could “shoot somebody” and still not lose any support.

3 March 2016

As it becomes increasingly clear that the Republican nomination is Trump’s to lose, Republican royalty like former presidential candidate Mitt Romney line up to attack the billionaire en masse. It has little effect.

In a subsequent debate with his fellow contenders, Trump dismisses rival Marco Rubio’s reference to his having “tiny hands” with a less than subtle statement about his own genitalia:

trumpy Carlos Osorio Carlos Osorio

Nobody has ever hit my hands. He referred to my hands. If they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem.

11 March 2016

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Trump’s candidacy faces a major stumbling block as the scandal surrounding Trump University rears its head. The institution (which existed between 2005 and 2010 but had to stop calling itself a university due to allegations of false advertising) faces a $40 million lawsuit from New York state alleging that the enterprise intentionally misled more than 5,000 people across the country. Court documents will later suggest that Trump University “preyed on the poor”.

“He fooled me for $35,000, now he’s fooling the people of the United States by saying things that are totally impossible to accomplish,” says one alumnus.

24 March 2016

Relations between Trump and Cruz reach an all-time low, with a Cruz ad first using a naked photo of Trump’s wife Melania from the 1990s, before Trump tweets he will “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife Heidi in retribution.

5 May 2016

Trump, perhaps recognising that his anti-immigration antics have done him few favours with certain minorities, tries to make amends by posting this to twitter:

12 June 2016

Trump reacts to the shooting dead of 49 people by Omar Mateen at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, with this tweet:

20 June 2016

Trump drops his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski (who coined the phrase “let Trump be Trump”) after he becomes embroiled in an assault case taken by a female reporter at a rally (all charges are later dropped). It is the first of two reshuffles Trump will perform in a matter of months. Lewandowski is replaced by Paul Manafort, who three months later is replaced in turn by Kellyanne Conway.

19 July 2016

Would-be first lady Melania Trump gives a speech endorsing her husband at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Soon after, it emerges that much of her speech appears to have been plagiarised from a speech given by actual first lady Michelle Obama in 2008. It is the last time Melania will be allowed speak on the campaign trail for nearly four months (until last Thursday in fact, when she managed to get accused of plagiarism again).

Meanwhile, Trump’s ghostwriter for his book The Art of the Deal Tony Schwartz launches an impassioned attack against him, saying that “lying is second nature to him”.

30 July 2016


CBC News / YouTube

At the Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan, a Pakistan-born father of a Muslim American soldier Humayun Khan who died in combat in Iraq and was decorated for bravery posthumously, attacks Trump for having “sacrificed nothing”.

Trump responds that he has “made a lot of sacrifices… had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot”.

He further suggests that Khan’s wife Ghazala had been conspicuous by her silence during Khan’s speech:

If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.

Ghazala Khan had previously gone on the record as saying she kept quiet during her husband’s speech as she was too emotional to be able to trust herself to speak. The spat is a major blow to Trump whose campaign ends up fighting the fire for over a week as their candidate refuses to back down, which results in him taking a savaging from his own party once once more.

8 August 2016

Trump appears to suggest that gun-owners should take matters into their own hands to stop Hillary Clinton from taking their arms away from them:

Victoria Applegate / YouTube

“Hillary wants to abolish – essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” he tells a rally in North Carolina.

By the way, if she gets to pick, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.

10 August 2016 

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Trump accuses Barack Obama (with assistance from Hillary Clinton) of founding Isis.

At a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the real estate tycoon says the jihadist group is “honoring President Obama”.

“He is the founder of Isis, he’s the founder of Isis, okay?” he says.

He’s the founder! He founded Isis.

Two days later, when it is put to him that he was speaking non-literally, he chooses to double down on his assertion. “No, I meant that he’s the founder of Isis, I do,” Trump tells conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

30 September 2016


alicia Alicia Machado AP AP

The first presidential debate happens on 27 September. By future standards, it’s an almost cordial affair, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump actually shaking hands. At the end of the debate, Clinton brings up the subject of Alicia Machado, a former Ms Universe (in 1996) in Trump’s pageant, who the mogul had addressed using derogatory terms like ‘Miss Piggy’ and ‘Miss Housekeeping’ due to her (Venezuelan) ethnicity.

Trump’s response is to double down on his assertions, claiming that Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight”, and then, in a bizarre 3am Twitter rampage, accuses her of making a ‘sex tape’, an accusation that proves to be unfounded.

1 October 2016

Saturday Night Live / YouTube

The New York Times claims to have gained access to Trump’s 1995 tax return, in which he reportedly made a near billion dollar loss. A loss of such a scale could have seen him effectively paying no federal income tax for the guts of 20 years.

During the ensuing presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump (the only candidate in living memory to fail to disclose his tax returns) doesn’t deny the claims, saying that dealing with tax in such a way makes him “smart”. He does, however, threaten to sue the New York Times.

7 October 2016

NBC News / YouTube

The last and possibly greatest scandal to hit the Trump campaign (though with two days left there’s still time for both candidates to throw a few more curveballs at us).

The Washington Post uncovers and posts footage of Trump and Access Hollywood anchor Billy Bush being recorded, via a ‘hot mic’ and apparently without their knowledge, on a tour bus in 2005.

Trump speaks of his ‘rapport’ with women, saying that “when you’re a star” you can “grab them by the p***y”, among other things. In the immediate aftermath Trump dismisses the incident as “locker room talk”, but he later issues an exceedingly rare apology.

The incident leads 17 women (and counting) to come forward with allegations that Trump sexually assaulted them in one way or another over the years. Trump dismisses all the allegations as “lies”, and in the case of one accuser, Jessica Leeds, he informs a rally that “she wouldn’t be my first choice, believe me”.

Mitchell Wiggs / YouTube

Read: Donald Trump bundled off the stage at rally over gun scare

Read: Obama’s legacy: Eight years on, how did all that ‘hopey-changey stuff’ work out?

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