Donald Trump celebrates his 73rd birthday today.
As with most of his presidency so far, he marks his birthday fighting controversies on several fronts, notably over comments he made in an interview with ABC that he would take intelligence on a political opponent offered by a foreign power rather than report it to the FBI.
House Democrats continue to investigate his alleged misdemeanours even after the Mueller report found no evidence of collusion with Russia, his border wall is unfinished, his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving his side, counsellor Kellyanne Conway could soon follow and, to top it all, his “friendship tree” has died on the White House Lawn.
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Mr Trump was marking his birthday today in low-key style, holding meetings with cabinet members and treating himself to an interview with Fox and Friends. The presenters on his favourite cable news show are guaranteed to give him an uncritical and flattering hearing, ensuring a warm, fuzzy birthday feeling for the 45th president of the United States
While the president has celebrated his past two birthdays in office in restrained fashion – preferring to deflect attention towards the US Army’s anniversary instead, with uncharacteristic modesty – The Donald once partied far more extravagantly in his days as a billionaire real estate tycoon and the toast of 1980s New York.
His 42nd birthday in 1988, for instance, featured a “15-foot spaceship zooming from the stage to hover amid smoke and flashing lasers above the birthday boy and his wife Ivana”, according to The Washington Post, as well as magicians, dancers performing to Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and congratulatory telegrams read out by celebrities including Liza Minnelli and Billy Crystal.
In 1993, when he turned 47, Mr Trump was treated to a “Renaissance Man” party by his second wife Marla Maples. He was depicted as a king brandishing a sword on the invitations while the Crystal Ballroom of the Trump Doral Hotel in Miami, Florida, was decked out with banners depicting his “kingdoms”, namely his casinos and resorts. Guests were promised dancing and live jousting.
For his 50th in 1996, he was presented with a chocolate cake decorated with a portrait of himself as Superman, a dollar sign emblazoned on the Man of Steel’s chest in place of the signature “S” as he flew past Trump Organisation properties dotting the Big Apple skyline. Waiters in white gloves served champagne and strawberries while a violin trio greeted guests at the door of Trump Tower.
These events were attended by such luminaries as Pamela Anderson in 2005 and Carmen Electra in 2007, star guest at the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
His first birthday in the Oval Office was marred by a shooting at a Republican congressional baseball game in Virginia in which House majority whip Steve Scalise and three others were injured. But a cult in India, the Hindu Sena, did throw a party in his honour, hailing him, as is their belief, as “the saviour of humanity” and a “messiah against Islamic terror”.
Last year he had a cake three days early with the government of Singapore while in town for his summit with Kim Jong-un, receiving congratulatory tweets from senior members of his administration like vice president Mike Pence and secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
Don Jr also gave him a shout-out on Fox and Friends, saying: “You’re getting absolutely no presents as I figured five grandchildren was enough.”
President Trump was the oldest man to take office at 70 years and 220 days when he was inaugurated in January 2017. Only Ronald Reagan at 69 and William Henry Harrison, 68, come close, with the vast majority of American presidents aged between 50 and 59. As for the youngest, Theodore Roosevelt was 42 when he first entered the Oval Office in 1901, John F Kennedy was 43, Ulysses S Grant and Bill Clinton were both 46 and Barack Obama was 47.
Of these, several have celebrated their birthdays in high style. Franklin D Roosevelt, for instance, held a toga party on 30 January 1934 to mark his 52nd.
First lady Nancy Reagan surprised her husband Ronald at the podium on 4 February 1983 while he was addressing reporters on defence spending to present him with a cake, two days before he turned 72. The assembled press corps immediately broke out into a chorus of “Happy Birthday”.
But JFK being serenaded by Marilyn Monroe at Madison Square Garden on 19 May 1962 remains the benchmark by which all such occasions are judged.