Media Moments Donald Trump Can Never Erase

The following article includes references to racism and sexual misconduct.

You either love him or hate him, but either way, he probably couldn't care less. We're referring to former President Donald Trump, whose polarizing antics have made him infamous. From reality television to the White House — his presidency was unprecedented. In fact, many didn't take his candidacy for the 2016 election seriously until he gained enough steam to snag the leader-of-the-free-world title from opponent Hillary Clinton. While he'd begin building his incredibly hyped-up and controversial border wall, he's arguably managed to build an even bigger one against the media and all of his naysayers. 

While he lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, the ex-POTUS didn't go quietly. And did anyone really expect him to? Trump has since been accused of inciting riots and protests nationwide, encouraging his followers to fight against the election he's falsely claimed was stolen. He has yet to prove his allegations in a court of law, but the former "Apprentice" star has been a bit busy. In addition to running for the 2024 election, he's facing multiple felony charges that have been stacked against him. The giant indictment list includes 34 counts in New York related to reported hush-money payments to an adult film star, 40 in Florida for allegedly hiding classified documents and blocking attempts of their retrieval, four charges connected to attempts to sway the 2020 election results, as well as 13 in Georgia tied to an infamous call to their secretary of state purportedly asking for more votes.

With these cases looming, we're taking a look back at the most shocking media moments that Donald Trump can never erase.

Donald Trump labeled Mexicans 'rapists'

Donald Trump endeavored into politics and launched his presidential campaign in 2015 with a few choice words that still ring in the ears of many Americans — and Mexicans — today. In a crisp blue suit with an American flag pin, he vowed to do many things, like "Make America Great Again" and build his aforementioned Mexican border wall. Insisting on fighting crime and illegal immigration, he infamously alleged (via The Washington Post): "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

He called on the Latin American country to pay for their alleged wrongdoings in a major way. "I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall," Trump continued. The wall ultimately spanned 458 miles along the borders of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

The price tag was steep, and it wasn't Mexican citizens who paid the price. Trump initially promised voters the sprawling project would cost $8 to $12 billion, but records show that the U.S. government shelled out around $15 billion for the border — at the expense of American taxpayers. The wall has yet to be finished. While President Joe Biden halted its construction in 2021, he announced that it would resume in October 2023.

The former president bragged about groping women

Just ahead of the 2016 election, Donald Trump's past came back to haunt him when a resurfaced 2005 video featured him making shocking comments about women. In the clip, Trump is heard speaking with "Access Hollywood's" Billy Bush as they're en route to the set of "Days of Our Lives," on which the future president had a cameo appearance. "I moved on her, and I failed. I'll admit it," Trump said in the audio recording, not naming the woman in question. He went on to add: "I did try and f*** her. She was married. ... And I moved on her very heavily ... I moved on her like a b***h, but I couldn't get there." 

While Trump went on to crudely attack the woman's appearance, both he and Bush switched tracks in their conversation when they seemingly saw their escort to the set, actor Arianne Zucker. "I've gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her," Trump said. "You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. ... I don't even wait." Trump then concluded by delivering one of his most controversial lines to date: "When you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything."

In response to the controversial video, Trump issued a rare public apology, but also dismissed what he'd said as "locker-room banter," per The Washington Post.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Donald Trump called for a punishment for abortions

Donald Trump took a bold stance on abortions in 2016, sending the media and constituents into a tailspin. During an MSNBC Town Hall that May, the future president doubled down on his pro-life stance when asked whether or not there should be some sort of consequence for those undergoing the procedure. "I would say that it's a very serious problem," Trump said, calling for a ban on abortions and adding, "There has to be some form of punishment." When host Chris Matthews pressed him on whether that punishment comes in the form of jail time, Trump refused to give a specific answer. "That I don't know," he interjected, noting that "it's a very complicated position."

Ultimately, Trump's presidency did make major strides stemming from his pro-life views after he left office, when Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court in June 2022. In typical Trump fashion, he not only patted himself on the back for appointing three conservative pro-life judges to the court during his presidency who had swayed the decision, but also called out former Republican presidents for failing to make waves in the anti-abortion sector. "They couldn't get the job done, I got the job done," he said while on the campaign trail in September 2023, per Iowa Capital Dispatch. "I got it done. ... With the three Supreme Court justices that I appointed, this issue has been returned to the states, where all legal scholars on both sides said it should be," Trump claimed.

He allegedly asked the Georgia secretary of state to 'find' more votes

One of the most damning charges against Donald Trump has to do with his alleged attempt to find more votes to sway the 2020 election. In January 2021, Trump called on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The southern state had previously tipped in favor of Joe Biden, marking the first time Georgia voted blue in almost three decades. 

However, in the leaked audio clip, the former president appeared to claim thousands of people falsely impersonated voters, including many voters he alleged were dead. "I think the number is close to 5,000 people. And they went to obituaries. They went to all sorts of methods to come up with an accurate number," Trump said (via the Brennan Center for Justice). But Raffensperger refuted that claim, per The New York Times, telling him: "Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong. ... The actual number were two. Two. Two people that were dead that voted."

Trump allegedly went on to tell Raffensperger, "All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. ... So tell me, Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it's not fair to take it away from us like this." Raffensberger ultimately told the former president to take his claims to court, stating, "We have to stand by our numbers. We believe our numbers are right." 

Donald Trump called his daughter 'hot'

Comments that Donald Trump made about his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, decades ago are still ringing in the ears of many Americans today. Per the Independent, the future POTUS creepily complimented Ivanka as she hosted the 1997 Miss Teen USA Pageant. "Don't you think my daughter's hot?" he asked Miss Universe Brook Antoinette Mahealani Lee of the then-16-year-old. "She's hot, right?"

But that incident doesn't mark the worst of what many deem to be Donald's highly inappropriate remarks about the businesswoman. In a resurfaced 2006 interview with Howard Stern (via CNN), the shock jock commented on Ivanka's body shape, stating that she "looks more voluptuous than ever" and asking Donald if she had gotten breast implants. A 2004 conversation between the two got even cringier when Stern said, "By the way, your daughter" — with Donald chiming in with, "She's beautiful" — and the host then adding, "Can I say this? A piece of a**." To which Donald affirmed, "Yeah." 

The former "Apprentice" star also previously admitted in a 2002 interview on "The Howard Stern Show" that he would have "no problem" dating women younger than Ivanka. "Do you think you could now be banging 24-year-olds?" the titular host asked him. "Oh, absolutely," Donald responded. In 2006, he even stated during the father-daughter duo's joint appearance on "The View," "I've said that if Ivanka weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her. Isn't that terrible?"

The ex-POTUS said Kim Jong-un was 'short and fat'

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un's relationship had its ups and downs throughout Trump's one-term presidency — and the ex-POTUS has certainly made his feelings known on X, formerly Twitter. After the two attended the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, for example, Trump tweeted, "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me 'old,' when I would NEVER call him 'short and fat?' Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!" 

The rift between Trump and Jong-un may have been ignited amidst the former's strong stance opposing North Korea's nuclear weapons program. "Do not underestimate us. And do not try us," Trump previously stated in a warning to the country during a speech at that year's South Korea's National Assembly (via The Guardian). "... The weapons you're acquiring are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face."

But at the 2019 North Korea-U.S. summit in Vietnam, Trump noticeably changed his tune, remarking on his "very strong" and "good relationship" with the North Korean dictator, per ABC News. While the duo's denuclearization talks ultimately went nowhere by October of that year — even following Trump's historic trip to North Korea as a sitting president — Trump has garnered criticism among his own party as his and Jong-un's mutual praise continued post-presidency amid the ongoing harrowing relationship between the U.S. and North Korea.

Donald Trump dubbed COVID-19 the 'China virus'

Donald Trump was quick to call out and place blame on other countries during his days in office. From dubbing Mexicans as "rapists" to blaming China for COVID-19, the list goes on. Of that latter, The Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford tweeted out a photo of Trump's notes ahead of a daily coronavirus task force briefing in March 2020, in which the then-president dubbed the disease the "Chinese virus," having scratched out the term "Corona."

While COVID-19 ramped up globally in the spring of that year, Trump repeatedly used this term when addressing the public. He defended his decision to do so, however, after receiving backlash for being xenophobic and using weaponizing language. "It's not racist at all, no, not at all," Trump claimed (via CNN). "It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate." He continued, "I have great love for all of the people from our country, but as you know China tried to say at one point ... that it was caused by American soldiers. That can't happen, it's not gonna happen, not as long as I'm president. It comes from China."

Trump used similar reasoning when downplaying the offense caused by one of his administration's officials reportedly referring to the coronavirus as the "Kung-Flu" while speaking to CBS correspondent Weijia Jang. "Makes me wonder what they're calling it behind my back," Jang wrote on X.

He suggested disinfectant injections as a coronavirus cure

Remember that time that Donald Trump suggested the American public ingest disinfectants to potentially cure COVID-19? It's a media moment that lives in infamy and went down after the former president made alarming comments following a research presentation by Billy Bryan, the head of the Department of Homeland Security's science and technology division at the time, in April 2020. Among Bryan's team's findings was that the coronavirus died more quickly in warm, humid temperatures and sunlight, and that disinfectants like bleach or alcohol were also effective in killing COVID-19 on surfaces.

"I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute," Trump remarked after the presentation, per NBC News. "And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that." 

This, along with Trump's other unproven suggestions to treat the coronavirus, led to a media and medical community firestorm. "This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it's dangerous," Dr. Vin Gupta, for example, stated. Trump's remarks came after a man died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate to try and rid himself of COVID-19 — a substance the then-president had previously referred to as a possible "game-changer" on X.

Donald Trump is the first president to face criminal charges

Donald Trump made United States history when he became the first president to face criminal charges in 2023. While Ulysses S. Grant was the first POTUS to be arrested in 1872 for speeding in a horse and buggy, the issue was later resolved after he paid a fine. Trump, however, is facing much graver charges, as of this writing, with felony counts made against him and several of his associates in four separate cases in Georgia, Washington D.C., New York, and Florida, as previously mentioned, totaling 91 federal and state charges

With Trump's civil fraud trial in New York taking place in the fall of 2023, the former president is also set to stand trial in the nation's capital in March 2024 for charges stemming from the January 6, 2021 insurrection and alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Whether or not Trump gets convicted in any of these cases, the Constitutional requirements actually don't prevent a presidential candidate from running for office if they have a criminal record. Per ABC News, Trump has continued to proclaim his innocence while vowing to continue his run for the 2024 election — even if he does so from behind bars. 

When asked by a "Meet the Press" reporter (via Sky News) whether or not he feared for a future prison sentence, Trump responded: "No I don't really. I don't even think about it." He went on to add, "These are banana republic indictments. These are third-world indictments."

He awkwardly held up a Bible as police attacked peaceful protestors

In one of the most highly publicized moments of his presidency, Donald Trump stood outside St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington D.C. holding a Bible. He did so not only shortly after police used tear gas and flash grenades to disperse protestors along his route to the parish, but soon after Trump himself threatened military action against them. At the time, peaceful protestors were demonstrating after the death of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who'd kneeled on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes in May 2020.

Trump stood in front of the church holding the holy book, saying, "We have a great country. That's my thoughts. ... It's coming back strong, it'll be greater than ever before." Many criticized the photo-op and took to X to share their thoughts. "Trump holding up a Bible like a man who has never seen one before," tweeted MSNBC reporter Joe Scarborough, for example.

Future President Joe Biden also chimed in that September, saying during a CNN town hall: "A president stands out there when people are peacefully protesting in front of the White House. ... He gets the military to go in for tear gas, move people physically, move them out of the way so he can walk across to a Protestant church and hold a Bible upside down." While The New York Times confirmed the Bible was indeed held right-side-up, the then-Democratic nominee didn't miss a chance to take a jab at his competitor.

Donald Trump played golf while Joe Biden was named president

Many wondered where exactly Donald Trump would be when the results of the 2020 election were called. The then-Republican candidate and soon-to-be ex-POTUS was shaking off his nerves by golfing of all things, as photographers spotted Trump getting in some tee time when it was announced that Joe Biden had won with 81 million votes and a 4.5% margin.

Trump's decision to take to the green during the tense election call was considered hypocritical by many, considering the fact that he's often openly slammed former President Barack Obama for supposedly spending too much time golfing during his presidency. "He may play more golf than any human being in America, and I'm not sure that's good for the President," Trump previously claimed in 2015 (via CNN). However, according to data collected by the same outlet, Obama spent a reported 98 days golfing three years into his two-term presidency, compared to Trump's 248 during that same amount of time.

In addition to Trump's seemingly contradictory statements, the former reality star's golf habit also cost taxpayers millions. Though USA Today noted toward the end of his term that the exact figure is unclear, $141 million was the rumored estimated total by October 2020. Prior to this, HuffPost reported that, because Trump owned such a sprawling capital in golf courses worldwide, he may have actually profited off some of the taxpaying dollars that contributed to paying for his golf trips.

Did the former president refuse to denounce white supremacy?

Donald Trump has long been championed by several far-right conservative groups. One such circle? The Proud Boys. In 2018, the ADL dubbed them as "a right-wing extremist group with a violent agenda" that promotes hateful ideologies such as misogyny, xenophobia, and white supremacy. As such, heads turned when they got a special shout-out from Trump during the first 2020 presidential debate. "Proud Boys — stand back and stand by," Trump responded when asked if he condemns white supremacist groups, as noted by The New York Times

Trump's senior campaign advisor, Jason Miller, later explained what he supposedly meant by this comment, claiming that Trump was "very clear he wants them to knock it off." But it's worth noting that much of Trump's political momentum has been generated from far-right extremists, with the ex-POTUS remaining careful when publicly addressing potentially dangerous political groups. Indeed, Proud Boys members proceeded to celebrate Trump's remark, calling it an endorsement and reporting a resulting increase in membership.

While the former president has denounced white supremacy, he allegedly shared an angry phone call with former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan after the latter took to X in 2017 to condemn a group of Neo-Nazis who had incited a fatal riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. "You're not in the foxhole with me!" Trump reportedly told Ryan, per Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's 2021 tell-all book "Peril" (via Insider). "... These people love me. These are my people. I can't backstab the people who support me."

Melania Trump wouldn't hold her husband's hand

Is there any love left in Melania and Donald Trump's marriage? Some say it's questionable — particularly given the number of times she's seemingly refused his attempts at holding her hand. Numerous videos have shown the former model appearing to move her hand away from her husband, including this 2020 video captured by the Independent as the couple descended the steps of Air Force One. Trump seemed to make multiple attempts to hold his wife's hand, but she appeared to move it away from him and instead cling to her dress.

The moment made the rounds on social media, with X users having a field day with the clip. "Welcome to the resistance @FLOTUS," one user tweeted. "She's voting for Biden," another wrote. Meanwhile, another defended Melania, writing in part: "You can't hold a woman's hand when she is holding her handbag!" Either way, it's certainly not the only time the former first lady was caught on video seemingly refusing her husband's hand-holding attempts. There are even video compilations of the Slovenian native posted to YouTube with captions like: "All The Times Melania Trump Snubs Donald Trump By Slapping at His Hand." 

It begs some questions: Is it the wind? Is she too busy clinging to her Birken? Or was being the first lady during the Trump presidency as exhausting as it seemed? With her husband campaigning for reelection in 2024, as of this writing, all eyes will be on Melania yet again (and her hand-holding antics) if Donald gets another turn in the White House. 

He called Jim Acosta a 'rude terrible person'

It's no secret that Donald Trump has had his fair share of squabbles with reporters over the years — especially ones who work for CNN. But the former president reached his breaking point with CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta after the two came to blows during a heated press conference in November 2018. At the time, the issue at hand was the Central American migrant caravan, in which thousands of citizens from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador had fled their home countries to seek refuge in the United States.

During the press conference, Acosta pressed Trump for referring to individuals trekking across the border as an "invasion." Trump defended himself with, "I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference in opinion." He later added, "You should let me run the country. You run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better." A Trump aide attempted to take the microphone from Acosta, but he continued talking. "CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them," Trump added, before concluding, "You are a rude, terrible person."

Though he eventually put down the mic per Trump's request, it wasn't before the White House accused the correspondent of placing his hands on the staffer. The incident led to the revoke of Acosta's press pass, which in turn led to CNN suing the White House, claiming that footage of the incident was edited. While Acosta's pass was later reinstated, the exchange lives on as a media moment many can't forget.

Donald Trump's questionable tweets regarding the January 6th riot

When thousands of individuals took part during the January 6, 2021 insurrection, many wondered what then-President Donald Trump was doing during the attack. A hoard of protestors had gathered outside the Capitol, eventually breaking down police barriers to enter the esteemed building. In the midst of the unprecedented violence, seven people lost their lives, including a police officer. Nearly 150 other police officials were injured in attempting to sequester the intruders.

All eyes were on Trump following the incident, with many claiming his tweets and a rally held nearby beforehand had incited the riot. "Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election," Trump wrote on X in December 2020, for example, while beginning his "Stop the Steal" campaign, which called for an overturning of the election results. "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th," he added, referencing the day that Congress would certify Joe Biden as president-elect. "Be there, will be wild!"

Trump later released a since-deleted video on X (via CNN). "I know your pain," he began, before doubling down on baseless claims of a stolen election. "... But you have to go home now, we have to have peace. We have to have law and order." The platform formerly known as Twitter temporarily banned Trump just days later. Capitol intruder Stephen Ayres testified during the January 6th House Committee's investigation that he felt Trump encouraged the riot, saying, "​​He basically put out, you know, come to the 'Stop the Steal' rally, you know, and I felt like I needed to be down here."