Donald Trump outlines his plan for the first 100 days of his presidency on November 21, 2016.
One of Trump’s major accomplishments, made as part of a “100-day pledge“, was the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Structurally, President Trump had the advantage of a Republican Party majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, but was unable to fulfill his major pledges in his first 100 days and had an approval rating of between 40 and 42 percent, “the lowest for any first-term president at this point in his tenure”. Although he tried to make progress on one of his key economic policies—the dismantling of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act—his failure to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the first 100 days was a major setback. He reversed his position on a number of issues including labeling China as a currency manipulator, NATO, launching the 2017 Shayrat missile strike without congressional approval, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), renomination of Janet Yellen as Chair of the Federal Reserve, and the nomination of Export-Import Bank directors. Supporters claim he is the first to have been elected President in present times who has held neither military or political office and therefore faced a steep learning curve. Trump’s approval among his base is high, with 96% of those who voted for him saying in an April 2017 poll that they would vote for him again.The first 100 days of Donald Trump‘s presidency began with his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, which occurred at noon on January 20, 2017. The 48th Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, was inaugurated on the same day. The 100th day of Trump’s presidency was April 29, 2017. Trump first announced his plan for the first hundred days of his presidency in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on October 23, 2016, before the election.
Near the end of the 100 days, the Trump administration introduced a broad outline of a sweeping tax reform focusing on deep tax cuts. While it is intended to encourage economic growth, there were concerns from some members of the United States Congress about raising the national deficit. In spite of the sharp decline in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2017—representing the weakest quarterly economic growth in three years—the S&P 500 was near an all-time high, representing a 12% rise from the first quarter of 2016, as investor confidence remained elevated. Although Trump had to concede to delay funding for the U.S.–Mexico border wall he had promised, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown a few days before the end of the first 100 days, his rhetoric may have contributed to a sharp drop in the number of illegal crossings at the Mexico–United States border.
Trump signed 24 executive orders in his first 100 days, the most executive orders of any President since World War II. He also signed 22 presidential memoranda, 20 presidential proclamations, and 28 bills. About a dozen of those bills roll-back regulations finalized during the last months of his immediate predecessor Barack Obama‘s presidency using the Congressional Review Act. Most of the other bills are “small-scale measures that appoint personnel, name federal facilities or modify existing programs.” None of Trump’s bills are considered to be “major bills”—based on a “longstanding political-science standard for ‘major bills’.” Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said that “based on a legislative standard”— which is what the first 100 days has been judged on since the tenure of President Franklin Roosevelt, who enacted 76 laws in 100 days including nine that were “major”—”Trump is really pretty low down on the list.”
Trump pledged to do the following in his first 100 days:
- Appoint judges “who will uphold the Constitution” and “defend the Second Amendment“
- Construct a wall on the southern U.S. border and limit illegal immigration “to give unemployed Americans an opportunity to fill good-paying jobs”
- Re-assess trade agreements with other nations and “crack down” on companies that send jobs overseas
- Repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare)
- Remove federal restrictions on energy production
- Push for an amendment to the United States Constitution imposing term limits on Congress
- Eliminate gun-free zones
- Formulate a rule on regulations “that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated”
- Instruct the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “develop a comprehensive plan to protect America’s vital infrastructure from cyberattacks, and all other form of attacks.”
- Label China a “currency manipulator”
- Enforce rules and regulations for China’s unfair subsidy behavior. Instruct the U.S. trade representative to bring trade cases against China, both in U.S. and at the WTO.
- Use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of 45% tariffs consistent with Section 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to stop China’s illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets.
The first 100 days began with the inauguration on January 20, 2017, at 12:00 pm. This was the third presidential online portal transition and the first to transition social media accounts such as Twitter. As Trump took the oath of office, the official @POTUS Twitter account switched to President Trump with previous tweets archived under @POTUS44. All 13 million followers of the POTUS account during Obama’s administration slowly transitioned as well.
On February 8, when Trump formally announced his 24-member-cabinet—the largest cabinet of any President so far—fewer cabinet nominees had been confirmed than any other president except George Washington by the same length of time into his presidency. Trump’s reorganization of the cabinet removed the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers that President Obama had added in 2009. The Director of National Intelligence and Director of the CIA were elevated to cabinet-level. During the transition period, Trump had named a full slate of Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominees, all of which require Senate confirmation except for White House Chief of Staff and the vice presidency.
By April 29, almost all of his nominated cabinet members had been confirmed, including Secretaries of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury) Steven Mnuchin, DefenseJames Mattis, Justice Jeff Sessions, the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, Health and Human Services HHS Tom Price, Housing and Urban Development) HUD Ben Carson, Transportation Elaine Chao, Energy Rick Perry, Education Betsy DeVos, Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, Homeland Security John Kelly, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Mike Pompeo, UN Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Scott Pruitt, Small Business Administration Linda McMahon, Management and Budget OMB Mick Mulvaney, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Only two were awaiting confirmation—Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Council of Economic Advisers CEA Kevin Hassett.
James Mattis was confirmed on January 20 as Secretary of Defense by a vote of 98–1. Mattis had previously received a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947, which requires a seven-year waiting period before retired military personnel can assume the role of Secretary of Defense. John Kelly was confirmed as United States Secretary of Homeland Security on the first day by a vote of 88–11. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson was sworn in as Secretary of State by Vice-President Mike Pence on February 1. Trump nominated Tillerson for the position as top U.S. diplomat (the equivalent of a foreign minister) on December 13, 2016. He was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 23, 2017, and by the full Senate in a 56–43 vote. Nikki Haley was confirmed as UN Ambassador with a Senate vote of 96 to 4.
On January 26, 2017, when Tillerson visited the United States State Department, Undersecretaries Joyce Anne Barr, Patrick F. Kennedy, Michele Bond, and Gentry O. Smith all simultaneously resigned from the department. Former State Department chief of staff David Wade called the resignations “the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember.” The Trump administration told CNN the officials had been fired and the Chicago Tribune reported that several senior state department career diplomats left the State Department, claiming they “had been willing to remain at their posts but had no expectation of staying.”
On February 10, Tom Price was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), a “$1 trillion government department”. HHS includes National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Price, who is a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, will oversee its repeal and replacement. He has published articles in the “small, conservative medical association”, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, to which he belongs, that opposes mandatory vaccination and continue to argue that the vaccines causes autism, a “discredited conspiracy theory that Trump has long espoused”. In response to questions from Senators at the hearing as to whether he believes autism is caused by vaccines, he responded, “I think the science in that instance is that it does not”.
Steve Mnuchin, who was nominated by Trump in November 2016, was finally confirmed on February 13, 2017, as Secretary of the Treasury department after lengthy confirmation hearings.
On February 16, the Senate voted 54 to 46 to advance Scott Pruitt‘s nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. On February 16, a District Court Judge in Oklahoma, Aletia Timmons, ordered Pruitt to “turn over thousands of emails related to his communication with the oil, gas and coal industry” in a case brought to court by the Center for Media and Democracy. Lawmakers had criticized Pruitt who sued the EPA 14 times on behalf of the State of Oklahoma.
Trump nominated Alexander Acosta as Secretary of Labor on February 16, when his first nominee Andrew Puzder stepped down under a wave of criticism for having employed an illegal immigrant as a former housekeeper, for his “remarks on women and employees at his restaurants” and for his “rancorous 1980s divorce”.
Notable non-Cabinet positions
According to a database compiled by the Washington Post in collaboration with the Partnership for Public Service, as of April 27, 473 of the 554 key executive branch nominations that require Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation, had not yet been appointed, including “Cabinet secretaries, deputy and assistant secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsel, heads of agencies, ambassadors and other critical leadership positions.” Only three of the 119 Department of State executive branch positions have been filled and only one position in the Department of Defense—the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis—has been filled out of 53 key positions. Trump has not yet nominated anyone for 49 of these positions. On February 28, in an exclusive interview Tuesday with Fox & Friends, said, “a lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint, because they’re unnecessary to have….You know, we have so many people in government, even me. I look at some of the jobs and it’s people over people over people. I say, ‘What do all these people do?’ You don’t need all those jobs…Many of those jobs I don’t want to fill. I say, isn’t that a good thing? That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. We’re running a very good, efficient government.”
Prior to taking office, Trump named several important White House advisers to positions that do not require Senate confirmation, including Stephen K. Bannon as his “senior counselor and chief West Wing strategist” and Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, with a mission “as equal partners to transform the federal government.” Other important advisers outside of the Cabinet include (Counselor to the President) Kellyanne Conway, Senior Advisor (National Security Advisor) Michael Flynn (replaced by H. R. McMaster) and (National Trade Council) Director Peter Navarro. (Homeland Security Adviser) Thomas P. Bossert, (Regulatory Czar) Carl Icahn, (White House Counsel) Donald F. “Don” McGahn II, and (Press Secretary) Sean Spicer.
Michael T. Flynn served as Trump’s National Security Advisor from January 20 until his resignation on February 13, 2017. He set a record for the shortest tenure as National Security Advisor in American history. The Justice Department warned the Trump administration that Flynn, who had a “well-established history with Russia”, may have been “vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.” Flynn had “mischaracterized his communications” with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence regarding U.S. sanctions on Russia. Flynn’s phone calls had been “recorded by a government wiretap” and several days after Flynn was named as Trump’s Advisor, Sally Yates, who was then acting attorney general, warned the White House that “Flynn was susceptible to blackmail by the Russians because he had misled Mr. Pence and other officials”. According to a February 14 article by The New York Times, it was unclear why the White House did not react to Yates’ warning in early January. There were also questions about how much was known in early January by Bannon, Pence, Spicer, and Trump. Yates was fired on January 30, in an unrelated incident.
On February 20, 2017, Trump named “warrior-scholar deemed an expert in counter insurgency”, Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, to replace Flynn as National Security Advisor. Trump overruled McMaster’s attempt to replace 30-year-old NSC aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Mike Flynn appointee, with Linda Weissgold, when Bannon and Kushner intervened on Cohen-Watnick’s behalf on March 11–12. Cohen-Watnick gathered classified files on intelligence information on U.S. persons.
On January 28, 2017, Trump signed a Memorandum, the Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council which restructured the Principals Committee—the senior policy committee—of the National Security Council, assigning a permanent invitation to Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist, while at the same time withdrawing the permanent invitations of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence. On April 5, the 75th day of Trump’s presidency, under guidance from Army Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor (NSC advisor) who replaced Mike Flynn, Trump removed Bannon, who has no security experience, from the National Security Council’s principals committee.
Trump’s 36-year-old son-in-law, Jared Kushner is Trump’s Senior Advisor alongside Stephen Miller. “In his January interview with the Times of London, Trump said that Kushner would be in charge of brokering peace in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He is also a “top adviser on relations with Canada, China and Mexico.” On April 3, Kushner accompanied the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. and Homeland Security Advisor Thomas P. Bossert to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi “to discuss the fight against the Islamic State and whether the United States would leave troops in Iraq afterward.” Trump named Kushner as head of the White House Office of American Innovation, (OAI), established on March 29 and mandated to use ideas from the private-sector to overhaul all federal agencies and departments in order to “spur job creation”. One of the OAI’s first priorities is to modernize the technology of departments such as Veterans Affairs. In his new position, Kushner will work with Chris Christie, who will chair the newly established “President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis” in response to Trump’s pledge to combat opioid abuse.
On January 28, in his eleventh Presidential Memoranda, “Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council”, White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, was designated as a regular attendee to the National Security Council (NSC)′s Principals Committee, a Cabinet-level senior interagency forum for considering national security issues, in a departure from the previous format in which this role is usually held for generals. While at first there was some confusion over meeting attendees, Priebus clarified on January 30, that defense officials could attend the meetings. On April 5, the 75th day of Trump’s presidency, under guidance from Army Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor (NSC advisor) who replaced Mike Flynn, Trump removed Bannon, who has no security experience, from the National Security Council’s principals committee.
On February 2, Time published an article about Bannon as potentially, the second most powerful man in the world, illustrated with a cover labeling him as the “Great Manipulator.” After only a fortnight into Trump’s presidency, NPR described Bannon as “the power behind the throne” and the “gray eminence behind much of what Trump was prioritizing”, rivalling Kushner’s and Priebus’ roles. Mike Pence affirmed in a PBS NewsHour report that only Trump was “in charge”.
Bannon and Steve Miller have been called the “architects” of the inaugural address, executive orders, including the controversial travel and refugees EO, and presidential memoranda.
In an often-cited October 8, 2015, lengthy profile entitled “This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America” by Joshua Green, a senior national correspondent for Bloomberg News, Green described how Breitbart News with Bannon at its helm, had “championed Trump’s presidential candidacy” and helped “coalesce a splinter faction of conservatives” who were irate over the way in which Fox News had treated Trump. Green quoted then-Senator Jeff Sessions as an admirer of Breitbart, which was “extraordinarily influential”, with many radio hosts “reading Breitbart every day”. Trump cited Breitbart News to vindicate his claims.
Stephen Miller, Trump’s Senior Advisor, was Jeff Sessions’ communications director when he served as Senator for Alabama. Thirty-one-year old Miller, Bannon, and Andrew Bremberg sent over 200 executive orders to federal agencies for review before January 20. Miller has been an architect behind the inaugural address and the most “contentious executive orders” including Executive Order 13769.
In a February 12 interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopolous, when asked to provide evidence “for Trump’s “unfounded allegations” where former Senator Kelly Ayotte lost her bid for election, and Trump narrowly lost to Clinton in 2016, Miller suggested Stephanopolous interview Kansas Senator, Kris Kobach, who relied upon a 2012 Pew Research Center study in his voter fraud claims. The day before the interview a Federal Election Commission Commissioner called on Trump to provide evidence of what would “constitute thousands of felony criminal offenses under New Hampshire law.”
Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs investment banker and executive, took office on January 20, as Trump’s Director of the National Economic Council, (NEC), a position which did not require Congressional confirmation, By February 11, 2017, The Wall Street Journal described Cohn as an “economic-policy powerhouse” in Trump’s administration and The New York Times called him Trump’s “go-to figure on matters related to jobs, business and growth.” While the confirmation of Trump’s December 12, 2016, nominee for Secretary of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, was delayed until February 13 by Congressional hearings, Cohn filled in the “personnel vacuum” and pushed “ahead on taxes, infrastructure, financial regulation and replacing health-care law.” In November, Trump considered offering Cohn the position as Secretary of Treasury. If Cohn had stayed at Goldman Sachs, some believed he would have become CEO when Lloyd Blankfein vacated that office and his $285 million severance package “raised eyebrows” according to CNN. Bannon and Cohn disagree on the border-adjustment tax, the centerpiece of Paul Ryan‘s controversial tax reforms presented on February 17, which includes a 20% import tax, export subsidies and a 15% reduction in corporate tax rates that would, among other things, pay for the Mexican wall, which according to a The Washington Post study, would cost $25 billion and which Trump stated would cost $12 billion.
United States Domestic Policy Council
The Domestic Policy Council (DPC) consists of Trump and Andrew Bremberg as Directors with Paul Winfree as Deputy Assistant. Council attendees include Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, Tom Price, John F. Kelly, David Shulkin, Ryan Zinke, Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Elaine Chao, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Steven Mnuchin, and-when appointed—the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Agriculture. Additional attendees include Scott Pruitt, Mick Mulvaney (Director of the Office of Management and Budget), Gary Cohn, and—when appointed—the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Congressional Research Service describes DPC’s role as analyses of domestic policies and social programs including “education, labor and worker safety; health-care insurance and financing; health services and research; aging policy studies; Social Security, pensions and disability insurance; immigration, homeland security, domestic intelligence and criminal justice; and welfare, nutrition and housing programs.”
Withdrawal of Affordable Care Act
Within the first hours of Trump’s presidency, he signed his first executive order, Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal (EO 13765) to fulfill part of his pledge to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was part of a series of steps taken prior to 2017 to repeal and defund the ACA, including most recently, the FY2017 budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 3, that contained language allowing the repeal of ACA through the budget reconciliation process. A CBO report estimated 18 million people would lose their insurance and premiums would rise by 20% to 25% in the first year after repealing Obamacare. Uninsured could reach 32 million by 2026, while premiums could double. The order states what Mr. Trump made clear during his campaign: that it is his administration’s policy to seek the “prompt repeal” of Obamacare. During his Fox News interview with Bill O’Reilly airing before the Super Bowl, Trump announced that the timeline for replacing Obamacare had to be extended and that a replacement would probably not be ready until 2018. Republicans are limited as to how much of ACA they can undo as they do not have a 60-vote majority in the Senate. They also “must balance the interests of insurers and medical providers”. According to the March 13, 2017 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on the budgetary impact of the Republican bill to repeal and replace ACA over the coming decade, there would be a $337 billion reduction in the federal deficit and an estimated loss of coverage to 24 million more Americans. The Republican health-care plan was unveiled on March 6 and faced opposition from both moderate and conservative Republicans, such as the House Freedom Caucus. The American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), a bill to repeal and replace the ACA, was withdrawn in Congress on March 24, 2017 due to lack of support from within the Republican caucus.
In his first 100 days, President Trump set the tone of harsh immigration policies by signing executive orders to set in motion travel bans and restrictions on refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, increased immigration enforcement including deportations, and expanded efforts to prevent illegal entry into the United States by building a wall along the Mexico-United States border. While the numbers of people deported were very similar to those in 2016, the categories of people targeted for deportations was broadened during this period, which meant that many more people are at a heightened risk of deportation. Secretary Kelly clarified that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.” By April 3, according to ICE, there had been 35,604 removals in January and February 2017 compared to 35,255 in the same period in 2016. But the “tough rhetoric” and some “high-profile Ice operations” widely cited in the media resulted in widespread fear and panic within immigrant communities.
In an AP April 20 interview, Trump said that, “The dreamers should rest easy”. There are 800,000 young people protected by Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DREAMERS) who came to the U.S. as children and are living there illegally. Some of these “dreamers” in interviews with The Associated Press on April 21, said they “were not comforted by Trump’s pledge” particularly since the April 18 deportation of 23-year-old “dreamer”, Juan Manuel Montes. Trump supporters who are “immigration hard-liners”, such as NumbersUSA and Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, feel deceived by Trump’s softening stance on DREAMERs arguing that “[h]is promise on DACA was pretty clear and unequivocal”.
Travel ban and refugee suspension
Map of countries affected by Executive Order 13769. Collectively, the order applies to over 200 million people (approximate population of the seven countries) while about 90,000 people from these countries currently hold a US immigrant or non-immigrant visa
On January 27 at 4:42 p.m, Trump signed Executive Order 13769, entitled “Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” which temporarily suspends the U. S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days and denies entry to citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. The suspension for Syrian refugees is for an indefinite period of time. The Economist described the order as “drafted in secret, enacted in haste and unlikely to fulfill its declared aim of sparing America from terrorism” with “Republican allies” lamenting that a “fine, popular policy was marred by its execution.” Notably Saudi Arabia was not on the list though most of the 9/11 hijackers were from there. See Provisions of Order 13769.
On February 4, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the State Department suspended all actions to implement the week-old EO in response to the February 3 ruling by federal judge James Robart which blocked the EO. According to CNN and the Los Angeles Times, the architects behind the order, were Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. White House officials deny that it was written without input from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). It was argued that these 7 countries ranked among the lowest 15 out of the 104 countries evaluated by the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index in 2016 based on the “number of countries that their citizens can travel to visa-free.” For example, Germany ranks the highest at 177 points, Afghanistan the lowest of all 104 at 25.:3 The order also calls for an expedited completion and implementation of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System for all travelers coming into the United States. The first legal challenge against the EO was filed on January 28, and within two days there were dozens of ongoing lawsuits in the United States federal courts. By February 3, federal judge, James Robart temporarily blocked the week-old EO which opened American airports to visa holders from the seven targeted countries. At the international level legal concerns have been raised by the UN, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, who claimed that “discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law.” On January 30, in a telephone call to Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel explained that his EO “ran counter to the duties of all signatory states” to the Geneva Refugee Convention “to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds”.
Thousands protested at airports and other locations throughout the United States. Critics of the ban include most Democrats and several top Republican Congressmen,former President Obama, the Council on American–Islamic Relations, over a dozen state attorneys general, thousands of academics, Nobel laureates,technology companies Iran, France, Germany, and 800,000 petitioners in Britain. Supporters of the ban include 82% of GOP voters, Paul Ryan, Bob Goodlatte, Czech President Miloš Zeman, and members of the European far right. According to an IPSOS online poll conducted on January 31, in response to the question, “Do you agree or disagree with the Executive Order that President Trump signed blocking refugees and banning people from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S.?”, 48% of the 1,201 Americans polled agreed with the statement (23% of the 453 Democrats, 82% of the 478 Republicans, and 44% of the Independents polled).
On the evening of January 30, Trump replaced acting Attorney General Sally Yates with Dana Boente. Spicer’s statement described Yates as an “Obama administration appointee” who had “betrayed the Department of Justice” by “refusing to enforce a legal order.” In the Senate, Chuck Schumer, called her firing a Monday Night Massacre in reference to Nixon‘s firing of his attorney general, referred to as the Saturday Night Massacre during Watergate. Trump also replaced DHS‘s ICE Chief Daniel Ragsdale with Thomas Homan as Acting Director in the evening of January 30.
In a live interview with Chris Wallace on January 29, Fox News Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, justified the list of 7 countries by claiming that the countries were originally identified as a threat in the Terrorist Prevention Act passed by Congress in 2015. HUD’s Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, was extended amid some controversy in February 2016, when it revoked the privilege of traveling to the States without a visa to people who “had recently traveled to Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan,” as they were considered to be high-risk. A spokesman for former president Obama issued a statement stating, “The president [Obama] fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” In his final press statement as president, Obama stated, “There’s a difference between [the] normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” and stated his intention to speak out if a situation is serious enough. Obama encouraged Americans to protest the issue.
In response to a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued in the case of State of Washington v. Trump, the Department of Homeland Security said on February 4 that it had stopped enforcing the portions of the executive order affected by the judgment, while the State Department activated visas that had been previously suspended. The restraining order was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 9, 2017.
On March 15, a United States Federal Judge, Derrick Watson of the District Court of Hawaii, issued a 43-page ruling which blocked Trump’s revised March 6 executive order 13780 on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment‘s Establishment Clause by disfavoring a particular religion. The temporary restraining order was converted to a preliminary injunction by Judge Watson on March 29. On an April 18 airing of the Mark Levin Show Jeff Sessions commented, “We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.”
High-profile ICE operations
On February 8, 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 35-year-old Guadalupe García de Rayos, when she attended her required annual review at the ICE office in Phoenix, and deported her to Mexico the next day based on a removal order issued in 2013 by the Executive Office for Immigration Review.Immigrant advocates believe that she is one of the first to be deported after the EO was signed and that her deportation “reflects the severity” of the “crackdown” on illegal immigration. ICE officials said that her case went through multiple reviews in the immigration court system and that the “judges held she did not have a legal basis to remain in the US”. In 2008, she was working at an amusement park in Mesa, Arizona when then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered a raid that resulted in her arrest and felony identity theft conviction for possessing a false Social Security number. Arpaio was a subject of several controversies during his tenure as sheriff. In 2015 the U.S. Department of Justice partially settled a lawsuit filed against Arpaio for unlawful discriminatory police conduct, alleging that Arpaio had overseen the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history. ICE officials in Los Angeles released a report on February 10, 2017, that about 160 foreign nationals were arrested in a five-day operation. Of those, 150 had criminal histories, and of the remaining arrests, five had final orders of removal or were previously deported. Ninety-five percent were male. Under Trump’s EO, the definition of criminal is much more “sweeping” than Obama’s, which “prioritized expulsion of undocumented immigrants who threatened public safety or national security, had ties to criminal gang activity, committed serious felony offenses or were habitual misdemeanor criminal offenders” and a single immigration officer decides. On the morning of February 14, ICE officials entered the Des Moines, Washington family home of 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina on an arrest warrant for Ramirez’ father, who was taken into custody. Ramirez, who has no criminal record, entered the United States illegally as a child, and was later able to get a legal work permit through the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, was placed in detention in the Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma, Washington. According to ICE, Ramirez was detained based on “his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety”. According to Ramirez’s lawyer, Ramirez “unequivocally denies” these allegations and claimed ICE agents “repeatedly pressured” Ramirez to “falsely admit” gang “affiliation.” “The case raises questions about what it could mean for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.”
U.S.–Mexico border wall proposal
President Trump signs an executive order at a ceremony at DHS Headquarters
While visiting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on January 25, President Trump signed his third executive order Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (EO 13767) under the (INA), the Secure Fence Act, and the (IIRIRA) for the construction of a Mexican border wall to deter illegal migration and smuggling of illegal products. The existing Mexico–United States barrier is not one continuous structure, but a series of physical walls and physical and “virtual” fences monitored by the United States Border Patrol. The proposed wall which would be a “a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier” along the entire length of the border, which Trump estimated in 2016 would cost $10 billion to $12 billion, and by January 27 was estimated to be $20 billion, to be initially paid by Congress. Trump plans on eventually negotiating a reimbursement from the Mexican government. While the Executive Order entitled “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements“, contains no information of payment, it requests federal agency reports by late March 2017 which “identify and quantify all sources of direct and indirect Federal aid or assistance to the Government of Mexico on an annual basis over the past five years, including all bilateral and multilateral development aid, economic assistance, humanitarian aid, and military aid.”
On January 27, Forbes cautioned that the 20% Mexican Import Tariff on all imported goods announced by Spicer to pay for the 1,933-mile (3,111 km) frontier wall would be “paid by Americans”. GOP donors, Brothers Charles and David Koch, and their advocacy group, Americans For Prosperity, oppose Paul Ryan’s ‘Buy American’ Tax Plan, which they claim would add a “whopping tax hike of more than $1 trillion on American families and small businesses over 10 years.” The import tariff would raise prices at Wal-mart, for example, directly impacting lower income families.
The Washington Post reported on April 25, that Trump had agreed to delaying funding for the construction of the wall until September to avoid a government shutdown.
On January 25, Trump signed an executive order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States”, to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General and their departments and agencies to increase the enforcement of immigration laws which included the hiring of 10,000 “additional immigration officers.” His order requires the cooperation of state and local authorities. The order states “sanctuary jurisdictions” including “sanctuary cities” who refuse to comply will not be “eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary”. Some officials claim that the “U.S. Constitution bars the federal government from commandeering state officials or using federal funds to “coerce” states into doing the bidding of Washington.” Mayors of New York, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle have expressed concerns about the Order and do not want to “change the way their cities treat immigrants.” Jeff Sessions is considered to be an “inspiration” for Trump’s anti-immigration policies. On August 31, 2016, Trump laid out a 10-step plan as part of his immigration policy where he reiterated that all illegal immigrants are “subject to deportation” with priority given to illegal immigrants who have committed significant crimes and those who have overstayed visas. He noted that all those seeking legalization would have to go home and re-enter the country legally. In a meeting with concerned mayors, Sessions explained that the Executive Order merely directs cities to enforce the preexisting thirty-year-old law, 8 U.S.C. 1373 which means that “there is no sanctuary city debate.” On April 25, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III sided with San Francisco and Santa Clara in their lawsuit against the Trump administration effectively blocking EO targeting so-called sanctuary cities. Justice Orrick said that the president “has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending”.
Trump’s appointment of a conservative justice, Neil Gorsuch, his reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, and his signing H.J. Res. 43—HHS Title X Funding for Planned Parenthood Rule are in keeping with his pro-life policy. On January 23, Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum on the Mexico City Policy regarding federal funding to foreign NGOs. This is a key point in the abortion debate as foreign NGOs that receive US federal funding will no longer be able to offer, promote or perform abortion services as part of family planning in their own countries using non-U.S. government funds. Forbes claimed this could “potentially affect $9.5 billion” in programs that reach “225 million women globally”.
On April 13, Trump quietly signed H.J. Res. 43—HHS Title X Funding for Planned Parenthood Rule— reversing Obama’s December 2016 regulation which had mandated that Title X recipients—like states local and state governments—distribute federal funds for services related to contraception, sexually transmitted infections, fertility, pregnancy care, and breast and cervical cancer screening to qualified health providers, regardless of whether they also perform abortions”. Bloomberg noted that although this was “one of the few opportunities” Trump has had in his first 100 days to enact legislation, he signed this bill in private. The Obama rule never came into effect as it was blocked by a federal judge. Republicans want to cut off federal funding from health-care organizations such as Planned Parenthood that perform abortions. Proponents of the bill claim it supports states’ rights over federalist rights. The bill was passed under the procedures of the Congressional Review Act. In the Senate Vice-President Pence cast a tie-breaking vote. This will be an issue at the end of the first 100 days as Congress tries to avoid a government shutdown. In FY2014 Planned Parenthood clinics received $20.5 million of the $252.6 million distributed under the Title X Family Planning grant program.
The proposed American Health Care Act, announced by Congressional Republicans in March 2017, would have made Planned Parenthood “ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements or federal family planning grants”.
Suspended reduction of Federal Housing Mortgage Insurance Premium rates
Within the first hours of Trump’s presidency, he “suspended indefinitely” the reduced “Mortgage Insurance Premiums for loans with Closing/Disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017”, known as the Federal Housing Administration‘s (FHA) Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) Rates managed under the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It is “effective immediately”. Obama’s rate cut would have lowered borrowing costs for first time and low income house buyers.
The policy statement also nullified the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 which would have “prevent some Americans with disabilities from purchasing or possessing firearms. This was enacted following the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting in which Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 17 others armed with two semi-automatic pistols.It also nullified Obama’s Executive Order, Fair Pay and Safe Workspaces, which required contractors seeking federal contracts to disclose all recent employee-related violations.
On January 24, Trump signed his second Executive Order entitled Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects (EO 13766)  which is part of a series of five executive orders to date. This Order was part of a series “designed to speed environmental permitting and reviews” as ” major infrastructure projects trigger an array of overlapping environmental and natural resource laws and requirements”.
On April 19, Trump signed a bill that extended the VA’s Choice beyond August. The 2014 Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act was enacted in by the Obama administration in response to the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014.
Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade (FDT)
The main group advising the President on foreign affairs and national security is the National Security Council (NSC) which coordinates national agencies such as the secretaries of defense and state; the secretaries of the army, navy, and air force.
On April 10, The Wall Street Journal described Trump’s foreign policy as moving away from the “America First”, “isolationist” policies towards more “mainstream” and “conventional” tendencies under the more stabilizing influence of Tillerson, Mattis, McMaster, Ross and Kushner.
On the first day of Trump’s presidency, the White House website had posted a 220-word description of its foreign policy. It was protectionist with a focus on “America First” as was his inaugural address. His three top priorities were to defeat ISIS, to rebuild the military and to embrace diplomacy.
At the time Trump took office, military spending had reached its highest peak ever Trump requested $30 billion for FY 2017 which ends in September and an increase of $54 billion to Defense Department for FY 2018. The $639 billion in FY2018 would result in deep cuts to many other departments including the State Department, the diplomatic arm of the administration.
After Trump’s April 12 first face-to-face meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump announced that he had changed views about NATO. Trump had previously complained that NATO was “obsolete” as it did not fight terrorism. On March 18, Trump called on NATO’s member nations to contribute more to NATO. After the White House meeting, Trump realized that NATO has been engaged in combating groups like ISIS. Trump will maintain the “US commitment to NATO while reiterating its member nations must step up their military financing”.
On January 29, Trump authorized the first military operation of his Presidency—a raid by US commandos on Al-Qaeda in Yakla, Baida in Yemen. At least 14 jihadists were killed in the raid, as well as 10 civilians, including children. The raid also resulted in the death of Chief Petty Officer William Owens a 36-year-old Virginia-based Navy SEAL, the first U.S. combat casualty in Trump’s presidency.
According to the New York Times, Owen’s death “came after a chain of mishaps and misjudgments that plunged the elite commandos into a ferocious 50-minute firefight that also left three others wounded and a $75 million aircraft deliberately destroyed.”
On April 6, 2017, Trump ordered a missile strike on Shayrat Air Base near Homs, in Syria. 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched from the USS Ross (DDG-71) and USS Porter (DDG-78) from the Mediterranean Sea.
On April 8, four days after North Korea had test-fired a ballistic missile, an announcement by the United States Pacific Command (PACOM) commander was posted via U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs stating that PACOM had ordered the USS Carl Vinson supercarrier to “sail north and report on station in the Western Pacific Ocean”. It was a premature announcement that led to a “glitch-ridden sequence of events”—a result of confusion created by a “miscommunication” between the “Pentagon and the White House.” On April 8 and April 9, media outlets such as Fox News, RT, CNN, USA Today, BBC and others had published the erroneous announcement that warships were heading to the Korean Peninsula within the context of escalating US-North Korean tensions. In an interview with FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo that aired on April 12, President Trump warned, “We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.” By April 17 North Korea’s deputy United Nations ambassador accused the United States of “turning the Korean peninsula into “the world’s biggest hotspot” and the North Korean government stated “its readiness to declare war on the United States if North Korean forces were to be attacked.” On April 17 the Defense News broke the story that the Carl Vinson and its escorts were 3,500 miles from Korea engaged in scheduled joint Royal Australian Navy exercises in the Indian Ocean. According to Dana White, the Pentagon’s chief spokeswoman, the Carl Vinson was heading north on April 18. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 19, that the incident sparked both “criticism and ridicule” as some felt “duped by Trump.” In the article, Hong Joon-pyo, a candidate in the 2017 South Korean presidential election, was quoted as saying, “What President Donald Trump said was important for the national security of South Korea. If that was a lie, then during Trump’s term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says.”
On April 13 the United States dropped a ‘mother of all bombs’ (MOAB) in the Nangarhar Province Afghanistan—the first use of the bomb on the battlefield. On April 8 Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar was killed during an operation against ISIS in Nangarhar Province.
The most consequential shift in Trump’s defense policy was the April 6 cruise-missile launch at a Syrian air base.
On January 23, Trump fulfilled a campaign pledge by signing an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). According to the BBC, Trump had pledged to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and he signed an executive order on the TPP his first few days. However, the EO was largely symbolic since the deal has not been ratified by a divided US Congress.” The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), was a trade agreement between the United States and eleven Pacific Rim nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam that would have created a “free-trade zone for about 40 percent of the world’s economy.”
On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that directed federal agencies to implement a “Buy American, Hire American” strategy. The executive order directs federal agencies to implement a new system that favors higher-skilled, higher-paid applicants. The order is the first initiative in response to a key pledge made by Trump during his presidential campaign to promote a ‘Buy American, Hire American.’ The EO is intended to order federal agencies to review and propose reforms to the H-1B visa system. Through the executive order, Trump states his broad policy of economic nationalism without having to go through Congress. Cabinet secretaries from Departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State will “fill in the details with reports and recommendations about what the administration can legally do.” Trump argued that the EO would “end the ‘theft of American prosperity’, which he said had been brought on by low-wage immigrant labor.”
On March 31, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on trade. One examines forms of “trade abuse,” taking a country-by-country as well as product and industry look over 90 days at cheating, law enforcement, and currency misalignment by foreign countries that causes U.S. trade deficits. President Trump said the order ensures “that we fully collect all duties imposed on foreign importers that cheat, the cheaters.” Another to strengthen anti-dumping rules and countervailing duties. The order directs Homeland Security, Commerce, and Treasury departments to ensure enforcement and “those who break the rules will face severe consequences”.
Trump—who had been dismissive of the Export-Import Bank (ExIm)—made an about-face on April 15 by nominating Scott Garrett as head of the ExIm breaking a deadlock that had prevented the Bank from operating since 2014. Although Trump had privately made known that he would not side with “conservative Republicans, including those in his own administration”, who wanted to “cripple” the ExIm in February, he did not announce it publicly until April 13, when he told The Wall Street Journal that he would fill two seats of ExIm’s five-seat board which would allow the Bank to make loans greater than $10 million. Trump had been one of ExIm’s harshest critics. Conservatives call it the ‘Bank of Boeing’ and an ‘epicenter of crony capitalism’. Its supporters such as Boeing and General Electric Co, claim that it facilitates trade worth billions of dollars in exports helping hundreds of businesses. Prior to making the announcement, Trump held two significant meetings related to ExIm—an April 3 formal visit with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who is negotiating for billions of dollars in ExIm financing and an April 11 meeting with Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney. Sisi also met with Lockheed Martin and General Electric CEOs during his visit to the U.S. in April.
A February 2 report by The Washington Post claimed that US President Donald Trump berated the Australian, Prime Minister Turnbull during one of Trump’s first phone calls made to foreign officials. Trump stated that the 2016 asylum deal was an attempt to export the next Boston bombers to the United States. The contentious deal involves a 2016 agreement between the Obama administration and Australia whereby the U.S. would resettle 1,250 refugees held in controversial offshore immigration detention facilities—Manus and Naura islands. In return, Australia would ‘resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.” Later that day, Trump explained that while he respected Australia, they, along with many other countries, were “terribly taking advantage” of the United States. The following day, Australian Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey was sent to the White House and held meetings with White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Preibus. Spicer described the phone call as “very cordial”. The 25-minute phone call on January 28, was described as “acrimonious” by Reuters and Trump’s “worst call by far” with a foreign leader by the Washington Post. During a joint news conference with Prime Minister Turnbull, Vice-President Pence—who was on a “10-day, four-country trip” in April to the Pacific Rim, announced that even if the United States did not “admire the agreement”, Trump had made it clear that the United States would honour the 2016 agreement to resettle refugees. Turnbull responded, “whatever the reservations of the president are”, the decision “speaks volumes for the commitment, the integrity of President Trump, and your administration, sir, to honour that commitment.” “The US is Australia’s most important security partner, while China is its most important trading partner.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Trump in Washington DC in February 2017. Trudeau said that “The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern”, referring to Trump’s “refugee ban” – Executive Order 13769. The two leaders emphasized the importance of the two countries’ ongoing relationship, with Trudeau adding that “there are times when we have differed in our approaches. And that’s always been done firmly and respectfully,”. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that, “It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations.” as he announced stiff tariffs up stiff tariffs of up to 24% on Canadian lumber on April 24 as dairy product trade fell through. The Canada–United States softwood lumber dispute has been since ongoing since the 1980s making it one of the longest trade disputes between the two countries, as well as one of the largest. Trump is under pressure to begin renegotiating NAFTA, the trade deal between Canada, Mexico and the US. On April 25, Canada’s International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and soft lumber industry representatives promoted trade with China in Beijing in response to what is perceived as U.S. protectionist policies.
The Mar-a-Lago summit meeting on April 6 and 7 between Trump and President Xi Jinping of China, during the first 100 days of the new US administration was heralded by The Telegraph as the “most significant bilateral summit in decades.” The South China Morning Post reported that—in spite of differences regarding Taiwan, the South China Sea and the most urgent issue—North Korea’s nuclear programme—”the summit between the US and Chinese presidents had both symbolic and tangible successes.” During the April 7–8 visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump acknowledged that international relations are much more complicated than he had imagined. In regards to North Korea, he had hoped to negotiate better trade deals with China in exchange for China dealing with the nuclear threat from North Korea. In an interview with Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib Trump said, “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy. I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.” Trump also affirmed that North Korea was the United States’ “biggest international threat”.
The BBC reported on April 19 that China “was ‘seriously concerned” about nuclear threats” as tensions between North Korea and the United States escalated with a “war of words” between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un and the Trump administration. Recent threats included Vice-President Mike Pence statement that the period of “strategic patience” was over and his April 19 statement that the US “would meet any attack with an ‘overwhelming response.’ North Korea recently warned of “full-out nuclear war if Washington takes military action against it.” Trump has called for China to rein in North Korea, but China Daily reported that “Washington must be aware of the limitations to Beijing’s abilities, and refrain from assuming that the matter can be consigned entirely to Beijing alone.” China Daily considered the U.N. Security Council statement adopted on April 20 condemning North Korea’s recent attempted missile launch, as an indication that the Trump administration is considering a “diplomatic solution.”
In an April 12 interview with Wall Street JournalTrump said he had changed his mind and he would not label China a currency manipulator, which had been one of his 100-day pledges. By April he believed that China had not been manipulating its currency for months. He did not want to “jeopardize” talks with the Chinese “on confronting the threat of North Koreas.” Early in Trump’s presidency, the world’s largest financial newspaper, Nikkei Asian Review, had reported on February 1, that Trump had labelled China and Japan as currency manipulators.
The Trump administration confirmed its commitment to defend Japan against China’s claims to the Senkaku Islands in the (the East China Sea) through the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan during a U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis‘s visit to Japan on February 4. By February 9, US-Chinese relations—the most important bilateral relationship—had remained strained, President Xi Jinping and Trump had not spoken and this had “drawn increasing scrutiny.” Xi was concerned by the December 2, 2016, phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to Trump and Trump’s questioning of the One China policy. On February 10, Trump and Xi Jinpin spoke on the phone for the first time since Donald Trump took office, during which Donald Trump committed to honoring the One China policy at Xi’s request.
During the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on January 17–20, China’s President