How Smart Is Trump? A History of the President's Weird Obsession With IQ

Donald Trump
How likely is it that Donald Trump has ever had his own IQ score calculated? Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Minutes before claiming that Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski was "bleeding badly from a face-lift" when she and co-host Joe Scarborough visited him at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump referred to Brzezinski as "low I.Q. Crazy Mika." The president was upset that he has been criticized on the MSNBC program.

I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2017

Related: Donald Trump's strange relationship with apologies

Trump is known for dishing out vicious insults to those who speak ill of him, and attacking an enemy's IQ is one of his most classic burns. Let's peruse the president's Twitter history for some examples.

  • In April 2013, he tweeted that Hardball host Chris Matthews "must have the lowest IQ on television" for "telling people that domestic terrorists are from the right."
  • Also in April 2013, he corrected a user who said his IQ was probably somewhere between that of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. "Much higher than both," Trump responded.
  • A month later, he reiterated his contention that his IQ is higher than Obama's.
  • In May 2013, he retweeted someone's remark that Trump's IQ was higher than that of "idiot Jon Stewart," adding, "That's true. And by a lot."
  • Two days later, he attacked a random Twitter user who asked him if an IQ of 60 was good.

"@A11_Seeing_Eye: @realDonaldTrump @DAM615 Does an IQ of 60 count as being smart?" No, sadly you are very dumb-but probably born that way.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2013
  • May 2013 was a busy month for Trump when it came to IQ-related tweets. On the 26th, he retweeted someone's comment that he had a higher IQ than "idiot Lord Sugar," referring to British businessman Alan Sugar, "which is why Trump has much more money." Trump was pleased. "True on both fronts!" he replied.
  • In January 2015, he retweeted someone's praise for Trump and Ted Cruz, which included the comment that "the country's been run by low I.Q. people for years."
  • In July 2015, he attacked Rick Perry, now his administration's energy secretary, saying that Perry "failed on the border" and that he "should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate."
  • In December 2015, he wondered why The Washington Post has "low IQ people."
  • Also in December 2015, he tweeted that right-leaning journalist Rick Wilson was "dumb as a rock" and that he "shouldn't be allowed on television unless given an I.Q. test."

Trump also once said that he has a "much higher I.Q." than both political strategist Karl Rove and conservative political commentator George Will.

Just as much as Trump bashes others for their low IQs, he touts his own score, which he claims is "one of the highest."

Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2013

Want him to prove it?

"@newnonny: @realDonaldTrump @sroyboyk prove it. And while you're at it, prove your alleged IQ as well." The highest, asshole!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2013

Is there any truth to Trump's claim that he has an astronomical IQ? Short for "intelligence quotient," it can be measured by various standardized tests. But there doesn't appear to be any evidence that Trump has taken any of them, or that his IQ score has been registered.

Trump's reliance on IQ as a way to prove his intelligence amounts to nothing more than a salesman's trick. Intelligence is abstract, so floating something relatively concrete like an IQ score lends his claims of intelligence a false sense of legitimacy. In January, Trump said at a congressional leadership luncheon that his Cabinet has "by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled." He of course has no idea what the IQ scores of his Cabinet members actually are, but saying they are high at least sounds more legitimate than simply saying the members are smart. Ironically, one of the members of Trump's high-IQ Cabinet is Perry, whose IQ Trump questioned during the campaign.

There isn't much hard evidence to suggest Trump possesses any sort of objective intelligence. He received only an undergraduate degree—not an MBA—from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He attended that prestigious school for only two years, transferring from Fordham University in the Bronx. In her 2001 book The Trumps, Gwenda Blair writes that Trump's grades at Fordham were "respectable" and that his admission to Wharton was due to a family connection to the admissions officer and his family's wealth, according to The Washington Post. Wharton does not list Trump as graduating with any honors.

Trump's IQ score, then, is a mystery, and it could be that he's never actually had it calculated. As with health care, foreign policy, climate science and the benefits of exercise, when it comes to measuring his own intelligence, ignorance is bliss for President Trump.