35 unforgettable images that capture Trump’s wild and bitter presidency

Business Insider
Jan 16 · 9 min read

Insider rounded up the most memorable and candid images that will come to define Trump’s presidency.

President Donald Trump in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
President Donald Trump in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
President Donald Trump in his conference room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, October 4, 2020. Photo: Tia Dufour/The White House via Getty Images

By Oma Seddiq and David Choi

President Donald Trump’s last days in office have been historic: he tried multiple times to overturn his election defeat, his supporters stormed the Capitol in protest of the results, he was impeached over inciting the violent mob, and he’s hit his lowest approval rating — all amid a pandemic that has robbed nearly 400,000 Americans of their lives.

The chaos wraps up an already-tumultuous term personified by broken traditions, from declining to release his tax returns, to regularly firing his administration officials and cozying up with foreign dictators, to name a few.

White House photographers are tasked with capturing the behind-the-scenes moments that define a presidency: the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Pete Souza, former President Barack Obama’s photographer, for example, managed to get up close and personal with the former leader.

Americans have mostly viewed the Trump administration through the lens of uncredited pictures posted on his now-suspended Twitter account, staged White House photo-shoots, and the award-winning shots by journalists who have followed him over the past four years.

Insider poured through these galleries and rounded up some of the most wildly memorable and candid images of the outgoing president:

His taped tie

Donald Trump arrives at Indianapolis International Airport for a visit to the Carrier factory, December 1, 2016.
Donald Trump arrives at Indianapolis International Airport for a visit to the Carrier factory, December 1, 2016.
President-elect Donald Trump arrives at Indianapolis International Airport for a visit to the Carrier factory, December 1, 2016. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Telling photos of the President-elect Donald Trump trickled in even before he was sworn in. In this scene, Trump made headlines for his taped tie.

The dismissal of James Comey

Donald Trump shakes hands with then-FBI Director James Comey during a reception at the White House on January 22, 2017.
Donald Trump shakes hands with then-FBI Director James Comey during a reception at the White House on January 22, 2017.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with then-FBI Director James Comey during an inaugural reception at the White House on January 22, 2017. Photo: Getty Images

“He’s become more famous than me,” Trump joked when embracing former FBI director James Comey, during his first days as president. Their relationship soured after Comey led the investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia.

Trump abruptly announced he was firing Comey with a tweet in May 2017.

The original White House staff

Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the White House on January 28, 2017.
Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the White House on January 28, 2017.
President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the White House on January 28, 2017. Also pictured, from left, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, press secretary Sean Spicer, and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Before he was commander-in-chief, Trump gained stardom for his “you’re fired” catchphrase on his TV show, “The Apprentice.” That pattern of firings continued under his presidency, when he purged officials he deemed disloyal, or let go of close advisers who later pleaded guilty in federal court.

The glowing orb

Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi put their hands on an illuminated globe in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on May 21, 2017. Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Council/Handout via Getty Images

This viral moment from 2017 showed Middle East leaders touching a glowing globe as part of a commencement ceremony for a new anti-extremism center in Saudi Arabia.

Meeting with Pope Francis

Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and President Donald Trump stand with Pope Francis.
Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and President Donald Trump stand with Pope Francis.
Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and President Donald Trump stand with Pope Francis during a meeting on May 24, 2017. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

During his trip to the Vatican, Trump gifted Pope Francis a collection of books written by Martin Luther King Jr.

Relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin

Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017.
Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017.
President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 7, 2017. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been under scrutiny throughout his presidency. “It’s an honor to be with you,” Trump said during their first-ever meeting at the G20 summit in Germany.

“Made in America”

Donald Trump holds a baseball bat at the “Made in America” product showcase event at the White House, July 17, 2017.
Donald Trump holds a baseball bat at the “Made in America” product showcase event at the White House, July 17, 2017.
President Donald Trump holds a baseball bat at the “Made in America” product showcase event at the White House, July 17, 2017. Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Trump, echoing his campaign promises, held several events at the White House celebrating America’s innovations in production.

Looking at the sky during a solar eclipse

Donald Trump looks up at the partial solar eclipse.
Donald Trump looks up at the partial solar eclipse.
President Donald Trump looks up at the partial solar eclipse from the balcony of the White House on August 21, 2017. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Trump briefly glanced up at the sky during a solar eclipse, which can cause eye damage without eye protection, even after an adviser warned him not to look.

The kid who mowed the White House lawn

Donald Trump watches Frank Giaccio, 11, of Falls Church, Virginia, as he mows the lawn in the Rose Garden.
Donald Trump watches Frank Giaccio, 11, of Falls Church, Virginia, as he mows the lawn in the Rose Garden.
President Donald Trump watches Frank Giaccio, 11, of Falls Church, Virginia, as he mows the lawn in the Rose Garden of the White House on September 15, 2017. Photo: Mike Theiler/AFP via Getty Images

“It would be my honor to mow the White House lawn some weekend for you,” 11-year-old Frank wrote to Trump.

Paper towels for hurricane victims

Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd at Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd at Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd at Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, on October 3, 2017, after Hurricane Maria. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Trump defended throwing paper towels to Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria, calling the criticism “a made-up thing.”

Slashing the red tape — literally

President Donald Trump as he prepares to cut some red tape on December 14, 2017.
President Donald Trump as he prepares to cut some red tape on December 14, 2017.
President Donald Trump as he prepares to cut some red tape on December 14, 2017. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

After Trump announced that he was slashing government regulations, he stood in front of a huge stack of papers and literally cut the red tape.

The wall

Donald Trump speaks while participating in a tour of US-Mexico border wall prototypes in 2018.
Donald Trump speaks while participating in a tour of US-Mexico border wall prototypes in 2018.
President Donald Trump speaks while participating in a tour of US-Mexico border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California, on March 13, 2018. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Trump campaigned on building a controversial border wall along the US-Mexico border. But the prospects of the grand scheme fizzled out over the years, and much of its construction has yet to materialize.

“America First”

Angela Merkel, center, speaks with Donald Trump during the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on June 9, 2018.
Angela Merkel, center, speaks with Donald Trump during the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on June 9, 2018.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, speaks with President Donald Trump during the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on June 9, 2018. Photo: German Federal Government/Jesco Denzel via AP

Trump strained US relations with many international allies when he committed to an “America First” approach to foreign policy.

Trump’s meet-and-greets

Rapper Kanye West shows a picture of a plane to President Donald Trump at the White House on October 11, 2018.
Rapper Kanye West shows a picture of a plane to President Donald Trump at the White House on October 11, 2018.
Rapper Kanye West shows a picture of a plane to President Donald Trump at the White House on October 11, 2018. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Pool/Getty Images

Two years after their meeting at the White House, rapper Kanye West withdrew his support for Trump and announced his own bid for the presidency in July 2020.

“Fake News” fiasco

A White House aide attempts to take the microphone from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta during a news conference.
A White House aide attempts to take the microphone from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta during a news conference.
A White House aide attempts to take the microphone from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta during a news conference on November 7, 2018, after Trump points and tells him “that’s enough.” Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Trump has endlessly launched attacks against the media and journalists over the past four years.

Holiday celebrations

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump each speak on the phone sharing updates to track Santa Claus’s movements.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump each speak on the phone sharing updates to track Santa Claus’s movements.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump each speak on the phone sharing updates to track Santa Claus’s movements from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) on December 24, 2018. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

During a Christmas Eve call to children, Trump asked a seven-year-old girl if she still believed in Santa. “Are you still a believer in Santa Claus,” Trump asked. “[Because] at seven, it’s marginal, right?”

Fast-food at the White House

Donald Trump at the State Dining Room, where the 2018 NCAA Football National Champions, the Clemson Tigers, will be welcomed.
Donald Trump at the State Dining Room, where the 2018 NCAA Football National Champions, the Clemson Tigers, will be welcomed.
President Donald Trump at the State Dining Room on January 14, 2019, where the 2018 NCAA Football National Champions, the Clemson Tigers, will be welcomed with food from Domino’s, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. Photo: Joyce Boghosian/The White House

Trump started his own tradition of serving fast food at the White House to college championship teams.

State of the Union showdowns

Donald Trump turns to House speaker Nancy Pelosi as he delivers his State of the Union address.
Donald Trump turns to House speaker Nancy Pelosi as he delivers his State of the Union address.
President Donald Trump turns to House speaker Nancy Pelosi as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on February 5, 2019. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s clap during his State of the Union speech exploded the internet with memes.

The Trump-Kim talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating South and North Korea on June 30, 2019. Photo: Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images/Getty Images

Trump became the first sitting president to ever set foot in North Korea during a hastily-scheduled meeting with leader Kim Jong Un in 2019.

Trump v. Pelosi

Donald Trump meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional leadership at the White House on October 16, 2019.
Donald Trump meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional leadership at the White House on October 16, 2019.
President Donald Trump meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional leadership at the White House on October 16, 2019. Photo: Shealah Craighead/The White House

Trump tweeted a striking photo accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of having an “unhinged meltdown,” though Democrats quickly came to her defense and praised her for standing up to the president.

Sharpie-gate

Donald Trump holds a chart at the White House after receiving a briefing on Hurricane Dorian on September 4, 2019.
Donald Trump holds a chart at the White House after receiving a briefing on Hurricane Dorian on September 4, 2019.
President Donald Trump holds a chart at the White House after receiving a briefing on Hurricane Dorian on September 4, 2019. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Trump incorrectly stated that Hurricane Dorian would impact Alabama during a press conference. Although the National Weather Service also shut down his claim, Trump repeated the mistake by displaying an altered map at a press conference.

The US raid that killed ISIS’ leader

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and national security officials.
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and national security officials.
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and national security officials watch as US Special Operations forces close in on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in the Situation Room of the White House on October 26, 2019. Photo: Shealah Craighead/White House via Reuters

Trump was criticized for appearing to stage a photo while watching a military operation that resulted in the successful killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Impeachment

Donald Trump holds his notes while speaking to the media about the impeachment inquiry hearings.
Donald Trump holds his notes while speaking to the media about the impeachment inquiry hearings.
President Donald Trump holds his notes while speaking to the media about the impeachment inquiry hearings at the White House on November 20, 2019. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

“I want nothing,” Trump’s notes from his impeachment inquiry said. “I want no quid pro quo.”

“Vindication”

Donald Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post, one day after the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him.
Donald Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post, one day after the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him.
President Donald Trump holds a copy of The Washington Post, one day after the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him on two articles of impeachment on February 6, 2020. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Following Trump’s impeachment in December, the Senate voted to acquit him of the two charges: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.

Black supporters

African American supporters pray for President Donald Trump on February 27, 2020.
African American supporters pray for President Donald Trump on February 27, 2020.
African American supporters pray for President Donald Trump at the conclusion of a meeting at the White House on February 27, 2020. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump has repeatedly declared that he has “done more for the Black community than any other president,” excluding President Abraham Lincoln, a claim his critics have criticized and described as outrageous and far-fetched.

Dr. Fauci’s facepalm

Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci listen as President Donald Trump speaks with the coronavirus task force on March 20.
Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci listen as President Donald Trump speaks with the coronavirus task force on March 20.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, listen as President Donald Trump speaks with the coronavirus task force on March 20, 2020. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The US’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, broke his composure when Trump went off-script to speak about the “Deep State Department” during a COVID-19 briefing in the early days of the pandemic.

Campaign rallies during the pandemic

Donald Trump dances after speaking during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agricultural and Event Center.
Donald Trump dances after speaking during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agricultural and Event Center.
President Donald Trump dances after speaking during a campaign rally at Pickaway Agricultural and Event Center, October 24, 2020, in Circleville, Ohio. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

Trump traveled to multiple states a day as he hosted campaign rallies during the pandemic in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Racial unrest

Donald Trump walks back to the White House escorted by the Secret Service after appearing outside of St John’s church.
Donald Trump walks back to the White House escorted by the Secret Service after appearing outside of St John’s church.
President Donald Trump walks back to the White House escorted by the Secret Service after appearing outside of St John’s church across Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2020. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Trump did not immediately address the nation publicly as protests erupted across the country following the killing of George Floyd. Protesters who descended on Washington, D.C., were met with law enforcement officials and military helicopters.

“Law and order”

Donald Trump holds a Bible while visiting St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C.
Donald Trump holds a Bible while visiting St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump holds a Bible while visiting St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C., after the area was cleared of protesters on June 1, 2020. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Trump held a Bible in front of a church near the White House, after federal officers cleared the streets of mostly peaceful protesters with tear gas and batons. The alleged photo-op shown live by some TV channels was widely denounced by religious leaders, given the racial tensions at the time.

Trump’s former defense secretary, Jim Mattis, broke his silence to condemn the clearing of protesters by force and the president’s rhetoric against protests generally as making “a mockery of our Constitution.”

Embrace of Evangelicals

Donald Trump attends a religious service at the International Church of Las Vegas in Nevada.
Donald Trump attends a religious service at the International Church of Las Vegas in Nevada.
President Donald Trump attends a religious service at the International Church of Las Vegas in Nevada on October 18, 2020. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

Trump frequently touted his support and appreciation of Evangelical Christians, who are predominantly white, despite the claims from former associates who suggest otherwise.

The media interviews

Donald Trump shows charts of US coronavirus infection rates to Axios correspondent Jonathan Swan.
Donald Trump shows charts of US coronavirus infection rates to Axios correspondent Jonathan Swan.
President Donald Trump shows charts of US coronavirus infection rates to Axios correspondent Jonathan Swan during an interview that aired on August 3, 2020. Photo: Axios/HBO

Axios correspondent Jonathan Swan’s mixed expressions to Trump’s comments during a wide-ranging interview became an online sensation.

Trump and COVID-19

Donald Trump waves to supporters as he takes a ride in front of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Donald Trump waves to supporters as he takes a ride in front of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
President Donald Trump waves to supporters as he takes a ride in front of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was being treated for COVID-19 in Bethesda, Maryland, on October 4, 2020. Photo: Cheriss May/Reuters

Trump temporarily left the hospital where he was receiving treatment for the coronavirus to wave at supporters in a presidential motorcade. He was condemned for risking the health of his Secret Service agents.

Contesting the election

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, November 5, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, November 5, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, November 5, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

As the ballots were tallied after Election Day, Trump began alleging rampant fraud and inconsistencies with the election process. His campaign launched a bevy of lawsuits that relied on little to no evidence, all of which have so failed in courts.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said in November. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late, we’re looking at them very strongly. But a lot of votes came in late.”

Golfing

President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on December 13, 2020.
President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on December 13, 2020.
President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on December 13, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

After the 2020 election loss that Trump still refuses to acknowledge, the president spent many of his remaining days as commander-in-chief at the golf course. According to a database of his public schedule, the outgoing president has made 321 golfing trips over his 1,148 days in office.

Capitol riots and impeachment

President Donald Trump speaks at “Save America March” rally in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021.
President Donald Trump speaks at “Save America March” rally in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021.
President Donald Trump speaks at “Save America March” rally in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Trump’s speech to his supporters shortly before they violently stormed the Capitol on January 6 will take center-stage during his upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate. The House impeached Trump on January 13 for incitement of insurrection — making him the first president in US history to be impeached twice. If convicted, Trump could possibly be barred from running for office ever again.

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