Eye on 45
A biweekly rundown of news items out of the Trump White House and Congress
Friday (Feb. 10) marks three weeks from the day Donald Trump moved into the White House, and what a rocky start to his presidency it has been. Beginning with this issue, CN&R is launching this special report, Eye on 45, as in the 45th president of the United States. We expect to compile it biweekly for the foreseeable future, to give readers an idea of what is taking place under the Trump administration.
Much has happened over the last few weeks. Trump and his staff have maintained a breakneck pace in crafting executive orders, had trouble acclimating to public protests, and been combative with everyone from the media and longtime government personnel to foreign leaders and U.S. representatives.
Here’s just a snapshot:
Jan. 20: Inauguration Day. Trump is sworn in as president and gives a speech filled with populist rhetoric and dark undertones (e.g., “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”). Hours later at the Oval Office, in a toothless yet symbolic move, he signs his first executive order (EO), which calls for the government to unravel the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). That ball remains in Congress’ court.
Jan. 21: On his first full day, a Saturday, while millions of Women’s March participants demonstrate throughout the world, Trump gives a speech at CIA headquarters, ostensibly to win over members of the intelligence community after repeatedly criticizing the agency for its investigation concluding that Russia attempted to influence the election in his favor. During the talk, among other things, Trump contradicts media reports on the size of the crowd at the inauguration.
Later that day, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer, during the administration’s first press briefing, lambasts the media for its coverage of the inauguration, specifically taking issue with reports that fewer people had attended the event than had attended either of President Obama’s two swearing-in ceremonies. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period—both in person and around the globe,” Spicer states.
Jan. 22: Speaking with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd about Spicer’s comments a day earlier, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway defends his statements by calling them “alternative facts.”
Jan. 23: Despite having no substantive proof, the president charges that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote only because 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally—and all of those supposedly fraudulent votes were cast in her favor.
POTUS signs an EO that revives the so-called “Mexico City” policy, which withholds U.S. federal funding from NGOs that offer or even simply discuss abortion services.
Jan. 24: Trump signs five executive directives. Among them is a memorandum calling for the fast-tracking of major infrastructure projects, paving the way for the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, both of which were held up over environmental concerns during the Obama administration. “This is about streamlining the incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible, permitting process,” Trump says.
Jan. 25: POTUS signs two EOs. The first calls on the Department of Homeland Security to begin building a nearly 2,000-mile-long wall on the border of the U.S. and Mexico. The second calls for increased deportation of undocumented immigrants, plus a 10,000-strong increase in immigration enforcement officers. It also threatens to hold back federal funding from sanctuary cities—municipalities that vow to protect such immigrants.
Jan. 26: Following Trump’s assertion that Mexico would repay the U.S. for the cost of the wall, the president of that country, Enrique Peña Nieto, cancels his planned trip to the States. POTUS then floats the idea of an import tax on Mexican goods—a plan that experts note would thrust the cost of the wall into the laps of American consumers.
Following an ABC interview the previous day in which the president suggested he’s open to bringing back waterboarding, POTUS appears on Fox News and echoes his take that he believes the now-outlawed practice works.
Jan. 27: Trump signs perhaps his most controversial EO—a directive barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) from entering the U.S. for 90 days. This includes those with valid visas as well as permanent residents (i.e., those with green cards). The order also calls for a four-month ban on refugees, and an indefinite hold on Syrian refugees.
Jan. 28: Responding to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU over the ban, a federal judge issues a stay on deportations of those with visas.
POTUS elevates Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, to the National Security Council, an unprecedented move that critics in both parties say jeopardizes its nonpartisan nature.
Jan. 29. Trump gives the green light to a raid in Yemen that results in the death of a U.S. Navy SEAL, along with civilians, including 15 women and children, at least one of them American.
Jan. 30: Trump fires acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who refused to defend his travel ban.
He also signs an executive order calling for two regulations to be killed for every new one enacted.
Jan. 31: Trump nominates a conservative federal appellate court judge for the Supreme Court.
In light of arguments the travel ban is unconstitutional because it targets a religious group, Press Secretary Spicer attempts to walk back the idea that it’s a ban. This, despite Trump’s own words: “Donald J. Trump is calling for total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
Feb. 2: The president announces he intends to repeal a federal law that prohibits nonprofits, including religious groups, from participating in politics.
During a call with Mexican President Peña Nieto, POTUS threatens to use the military to deal with his country’s “bad hombres,” reports the Associated Press.
Feb. 3: Trump signs two executive orders related to consumer protections. The first is a review of Dodd-Frank financial regulations, a precursor to undoing that Wall Street reform enacted after the financial crisis leading to the Great Recession. Another EO puts the brakes on a rule requiring financial advisers to work in the best interests of their clients.
A federal judge out of Seattle temporarily halts the travel ban nationwide based on a separate ACLU lawsuit.
Feb. 4: Trump attacks the judge who blocked his travel ban, calling him a “so-called judge.”
Feb. 5: In an interview with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, after the host of The O’Reilly Factor called Vladimir Putin a “killer,” Trump says: “We have a lot of killers, got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?”
Feb. 7: Vice President Mike Pence casts the tie-breaking vote in the Senate that approves the confirmation of controversial secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos, a wealthy GOP donor who gave millions to the Trump campaign and critics consider wholly unqualified for the job.