On several occasions, Donald Trump acted contrary to traditional expectations of the president, contravening the constitution and political norms.
Washington Post notes that "Article II of the Constitution describes the [presidential] office in just a handful of paragraphs. To a remarkable extent, the presidency is shaped by unwritten traditions and expectations that historians and political scientists call “norms” — what political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt call the “soft guardrails” of American democracy."
WaPo notes several instances where US President Donald Trump broke these so-called "norms." Most Presidents since Jimmy Carter have "used blind trusts or other means to separate themselves from active control or ownership of assets to assure the public that they would not make decisions out of financial self-interest." However, even though Trump gave the day-to-day management of his empire to his sons, he insisted on staying informed and maintaining ownership. He had visited his properties more than 280 times as of late October, according to a Washington Post tally, thus raising his businesses' profiles. The Secret Service and other government agencies have paid at least $2.5 million for rooms and other expenses at Trump's properties. His campaign and fundraising committee has paid $5.6 million more in fees for events, according to Post reporting.
Trump has also violated the domestic and foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution by accepting and encouraging foreign governments to pay to stay at Trump resort properties without Congressional approval, notes the New Yorker. There were several lawsuits where he claimed that he is violating the emoluments clause, but all of them were dismissed because courts could not establish a constitutional case against the president.
More examples of his breaking these norms include but are not limited to, 'not releasing his tax returns,' 'interfered in Department of Justice investigations,' 'often insulting allies and leaders of other nations,' 'politicizing the military.' While many former Presidents have also broken some of these norms and traditions and violating them does not constitute a crime or is against the Constitution, no president has broken them at the same magnitude as Trump.
In 2019, Trump’s faced impeachment for abuse of power, triggered by a phone call in which he told Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, that he would release U.S. aid to Ukraine, but that Zelensky should “do us a favor, though,” and investigate the son of his political opponent Joe Biden for corruption.
Another time when Trump seemed to have broken norms was when following weeks of negotiations with the Democratic-led House of Representatives on a large coronavirus-led spending bill failed to produce an outcome, Trump signed an executive action that allowed him to get what he wants without regard for constitutional strictures that have bound every American president since George Washington.
After House Democrats (and some House and Senate Republicans) declined to include funding for constructing a wall along the US-Mexico border in legislation to keep the government open through the end of the 2019 fiscal year, Trump declared that a national emergency existed along the US-Mexico border. He proposed that approximately $8bn (£6.1bn) in funds meant for other parts of the government could be used for the wall, which was one of his signature campaign promises in 2016 and remains a staple of his campaign rhetoric. Such a directive to move money appropriated for one purpose to fund a programme which Congress explicitly declined to fund is, strictly speaking, prohibited by the US Constitution’s express declaration that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law."
Most recently, Trump has repeatedly undermined the integrity of the US election by going into the election predicting fraud and illegitimate results and subsequently spreading baseless theories of voter fraud after the election result. He also did not accept the prospect of a peaceful transfer of power and has did not concede immediately once elections were called.