Presidency of Donald Trump

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President Donald Trump

The presidency of Donald Trump began at noon EST on January 20, 2017, the day that Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States,[1] succeeding Barack Obama. Trump, a Republican, was a businessman from New York City at the time of his victory in the 2016 presidential election over Democrat Hillary Clinton. His running mate, former Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, took office as the 48th Vice President of the United States on the same day. Trump's term in office is set to end on January 20, 2021, though he is eligible for election to a second term and has declared his intention to run.

During his time in office, Trump has issued 24 presidential orders and several memoranda. Some of these executive orders have been blocked by federal courts. Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 7, 2017.

Elections

2016 elections

Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, taking 304 of the 538 electoral votes. Five other individuals received electoral votes from faithless electors.

The Republican ticket of businessman Donald Trump of New York and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana won the 2016 election, defeating the Democratic ticket of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. Trump won 304 electoral votes compared to Clinton's 227,[2] though Clinton won a plurality of the popular vote.[3]

Trump is the fifth person to win the presidency but lose the popular vote, after John Quincy Adams (1824),[lower-alpha 1] Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), and George W. Bush (2000).[4][5] Although Republicans lost a net of two seats in the Senate elections and six seats in the House elections, they maintained their majorities in both houses for the 115th Congress.[6] Trump claimed that massive amounts of voter fraud in Clinton's favor occurred during the election, and he called for a major investigation after taking office.[7]

After the election, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky retained his position as Senate Majority Leader, while Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York replaced the retiring Harry Reid of Nevada as Senate Minority Leader.[8] Democrat Nancy Pelosi retained her position as House Minority Leader,[9] while Republican Paul Ryan retained his position as Speaker of the House.[10]

2018 midterm elections

Midterm elections will be held on November 6, 2018. All 435 House seats and one third of the Senate (Class I) will be up for election.

Indications of 2020 presidential campaign

Trump signaled his intent to run for a second term by filing with the FEC within hours of assuming the presidency.[11][12] This transformed his 2016 election committee into a 2020 reelection one.[13] The early timing of the beginning of the campaign was highly unorthodox. Trump marked the official start of the campaign with a campaign rally in Melbourne, Florida on February 18, 2017, less than a month after taking office.[14] By February 1, 2017, the campaign had already raised over $7 million.[15]

Transition period and inauguration

Prior to the election, Trump named Chris Christie as the leader of his transition team.[16] After the election, Vice President-elect Mike Pence replaced Christie as chairman of the transition team, while Christie became a vice-chairman alongside Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former presidential candidate Ben Carson, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.[17] Trump's transition team launched the website Greatagain.gov.[18] Trump and his transition team began choosing key personnel for his administration following his election victory.[19]

Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017, shortly after Pence was inaugurated as vice president. Accompanied by his wife, Melania Trump, Donald Trump was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.[20] In his seventeen-minute inaugural address, Trump sounded a populist note, condemning federal politicians who he argued prospered while jobs and factories left the country.[20] Trump promised that "[e]very decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American factories."[20] At age 70, Trump became the oldest person to assume the presidency,[21] and the first without prior government or military experience.[22]

Personnel

The Trump-nominated Cabinet
Office Name Term
President Donald Trump2017–present
Vice President Mike Pence2017–present
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson2017–present
Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin2017–present
Secretary of Defense James Mattis2017–present
Attorney General Jeff Sessions2017–present
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke2017–present
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue2017–present
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross2017–present
Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta2017–present
Secretary of Health and
Human Services
Tom Price2017–present
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos2017–present
Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development
Ben Carson2017–present
Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao2017–present
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry2017–present
Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin2017–present
Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly2017–present
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus2017–present
Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency
Scott Pruitt2017–present
Director of the Office of
Management and Budget
Mick Mulvaney2017–present
Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley2017–present
United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer2017–present
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats2017–present
Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency
Mike Pompeo2017–present
Administrator of the
Small Business Administration
Linda McMahon2017–present

Cabinet

Days after the presidential election, Trump announced that he had selected RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as his Chief of Staff, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.[23] Priebus and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon were named as "equal partners" within the White House power structure, although Bannon will not be a member of the Cabinet.[24] Aside from the vice president and the chief of staff, the remaining Cabinet-level positions require Senate confirmation.

On November 18, Trump announced his first Cabinet designee, choosing Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General.[25] Trump continued to name designees for various positions in November, December, and January. Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was announced as the nominee for Secretary of Agriculture on January 19, completing Trump's initial slate of Cabinet nominees.[26] Trump is the first incoming president to benefit from the 2013 filibuster reform, which eased the use of cloture on executive and lower-level judicial nominees, reducing the amount required to invoke from an absolute supermajority of three-fifths to a bare majority.[27]

By February 8, 2017, President Trump had fewer cabinet nominees confirmed than any other president except George Washington by the same length of time into his presidency.[28][29] On February 8, 2017, President Trump formally announced his cabinet structure, elevating the Director of National Intelligence and Director of the CIA to cabinet level. The Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, which had been added to the cabinet added by Obama in 2009, was removed from the cabinet. Once all cabinet positions are filled, Trump's cabinet will consist of 24 members – the most since Bill Clinton.[30]

Notable non-Cabinet positions

White House staff

Security and international affairs

Domestic affairs

Federal Reserve Board

1Appointed by Barack Obama; term ends in January/February 2018,[32] and Trump intends to "most likely" appoint a replacement.[33]

2Appointed by Barack Obama; term ends in June 2018.

Judicial nominees

Trump took office with a Supreme Court vacancy, which arose after the February 2016 death of Antonin Scalia. During his campaign, Trump released two lists of potential nominees to fill the vacancy caused by Scalia's death.[34] On January 31, 2017, Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.[35] Gorsuch's appointment was confirmed on April 7, 2017 after a 54-45 vote.[36] Prior to this nomination, 60 votes had been required for Supreme Court nominees to be moved to a confirmation vote over a filibuster, via invoking cloture. The 60-vote total previously needed to advance the vote was not met due to Democratic opposition. To allow the nomination to proceed, the "nuclear option" was deployed, requiring only a simple majority, 51 votes, for cloture for a nominee.[37]

The United States Courts of Appeals have several vacancies and the United States District Courts also have dozens of vacancies for President Trump to fill.[38]

First 100 days

Trump being sworn in as President

The first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency began when he was sworn in at noon on January 20, 2017, and ended on April 29, 2017.

On his first day in office, Trump signed an executive order directing all federal agencies to minimize the "unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" of the Affordable Care Act.[39] Trump also ordered a freeze on all new regulations that agencies had been working on during the previous administration.[39] On January 23, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an unratified free trade agreement. That same day, Trump signed another order re-instating the Mexico City Policy and a third order that placed a freeze on federal hiring.[40] On January 24, Trump signed another series of executive actions, including an executive order designed to fast-track "high-priority infrastructure projects", as well as two presidential memoranda supporting the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.[41] On January 25, Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to begin building a wall on the Mexican-American border.[42] On January 27, Trump banned former government officials from lobbying agencies they had worked at for a five-year period.[43] On January 31, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.[35] On February 3, Trump signed an order designed to loosen many of the financial regulations imposed by the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.[44] On February 13, National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn resigned from his position after misleading key officials about the nature of his telecommunications with Russian diplomats.[45]

Trump accomplished few of his major commitments from the 100 day plan he campaigned on during the election.[46][47][48][49] He also had the lowest 100 day approval rating of any president since polling began.[50]

During his 100 days in office, his administration decided to stop publishing its visitor log, which had been maintained by the Secret Service. This was done based on the belief that revealing the logs would be a security risk. There is a lawsuit seeking to unveil the visitor logs.[51]

Immigration order

On January 27, Trump signed an executive order which indefinitely suspended admission of refugees fleeing the Syrian Civil War, suspended admission of all other refugees for 120 days, and denied entry to citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. The order also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations by giving priority to refugees of other religions over Muslim refugees.[52] Later, the administration seemed to reverse a portion of part of the order, effectively exempting visitors with a green card.[53][54] Two Iraqi nationals detained upon arrival filed a complaint.[55] Several federal judges issued rulings that curtailed parts of the immigration order, stopping the federal government from deporting visitors already affected.[54] On January 30, Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she stated she would not defend the order in court; Yates was replaced by Dana Boente, who stated the Justice Department would defend the order.[56]

National Security Council

On January 28, Trump reorganized the National Security Council in an executive measure, removing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence from their permanent status on the Principals Committee, and elevating the Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, to permanent status on the committee.[57] The new arrangement was widely criticized, with Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor, calling it "stone cold crazy."[58][59][60][61] The reorganization also placed the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development as a permanent member of the Deputies Committee, winning moderate praise.[62] Bannon was removed from the National Security Council on April 5 after H.R. McMaster replaced Flynn as the National Security Adviser.[63]

Cost of trips

According to several reports, Trump's and his family's trips in the first month of his presidency cost the US taxpayers nearly as much as former President Obama's travel expenses for an entire year. By mid-February, since his inauguration, the Trumps' trips have cost about 11.3 million dollars, while Obama's average yearly expenses spent on travel was 12.1 million dollars, according to the conservative group Judicial Watch. When Obama was president, Trump frequently criticized him for taking vacations which were paid for with public funds.[64] Former Secret Service employees have described the task of protecting the Trump family's business and private travels as a "logistical nightmare".[65]

The Washington Post reported that Trump's atypical lavish lifestyle is far more expensive to the taxpayers than what was typical of former presidents and could end up in the hundreds of millions of dollars over the whole of Trump's term.[65]

Military action in Syria

File:Trump Syria Meeting.jpg
Trump meeting with his national security team after ordering missile strikes in Syria

It was first reported on April 4, 2017, that the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad had launched a chemical attack on civilians in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the rebel-held territory of Idlib Province. The Trump administration initially responded by saying the attacks were "not something that any civilized nation should sit back and accept or tolerate.”[66] The following day, April 5, Trump held a press conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Rose Garden of the White House where he stated his "attitude toward Syria and Assad, has changed very much." Trump also said “It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that was so lethal,” then that “crosses many lines, beyond a red line, many many lines” referencing President Obama's ultimatum to the Syrian regime in 2013.[67] On Thursday April 6, Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles toward Shayrat Air Base where the chemical attacks are believed to have been launched. Shortly after giving the order, Trump addressed the nation saying, "It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread or use of deadly chemical weapons."[68] Several protests were held in the United States demonstrating against the attack.[69]

Relationship with the media

Trump's presidency started with a disagreement with the media. On his first day in office, he attacked the media for understating the size of the crowd at his inauguration. At a media event at CIA headquarters on his first day in office, Trump called the media "among the most dishonest human beings on earth". Trump's Press Secretary, Sean Spicer later held a press conference at the White House where he scolded reporters, saying that the inauguration crowd had been the biggest in history, which photographs clearly showed to be false.[70]

On February 16, less than a month into his presidency, Trump held a press conference claiming that the media was not speaking for the people, but for special interests. He claimed that they were dishonest, out of control and doing a disservice to the American people.[71] The following day he called the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN the "the enemy of the American People" on Twitter.[72]

On February 24, 2017, Breitbart and others published a specific complaint enunciated by the president about news media's reliance on anonymous sources for some of its news. The report noted also that "members of [the President's] White House team regularly demand anonymity when talking to reporters".[73] Four days later, a BuzzFeed report detailed Trump's own request to be quoted only as a "senior administration official" at a "private meeting with national news anchors", with the internet media website citing "attendees at the meeting".[74]

Also on February 24, 2017, the Trump administration blocked reporters from The New York Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico from attending an off-camera briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer.[75] Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press chose not to attend the briefing in protest at the White House’s actions.[76] The New York Times described the move as "a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps," and the White House Correspondents' Association issued a statement of protest.[76][75]

Trump also disagreed with the media over its coverage of Russian interference in the presidential election and administration's links to Russia. On March 4, Trump made a series of Tweets which claimed that then President Obama had wiretapped the Trump campaign headquarters at Trump Tower during the presidential election. Following these claims, Trump frequently accused the media of not reporting on his claims.[citation needed]

Use of Twitter

Trump continued the use of Twitter from the Presidential Campaign. Trump has continued to personally tweet from @realDonaldTrump, his personal account, while his staff tweet on his behalf using the official @POTUS account. His use of Twitter has been unconventional for a president initiating controversy and becoming news in their own right.[77]

His tweets have been reported as ill-considered, impulsive and vengeful.[78][79] often being made late at night or in the early hours of the morning. His tweets about a Muslim ban were successfully used against his administration to halt two versions of travel restrictions from Muslim-majority countries.[80] He has used Twitter to threaten and intimidate his political opponents and potential political allies needed to pass bills. While Trying to pass the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, Trump attacked the Conservative Freedom Caucus whose votes he needed.[78][79] At times his tweets have been frivolous, such as when he mocked Arnold Schwarzenegger's ratings on The Celebrity Apprentice.[77] His attacks also frequently focused on Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the Presidential election and his predecessor, Barack Obama.[81]

Many tweets appear to be based on stories that Trump has seen in the media, including conservative news agencies such as Breitbart. One notable example is the Trump Tower wiretapping allegations which appeared to come from a rumor in the media. Despite a lack of evidence for the claims, Trump continued to push the claim in the media and through Twitter.[81] Other examples of controversies include the Inauguration crowd-size estimate discrepancy, and early contacts with Australia, Mexico, and Iran.

Trump has used Twitter to selectively promote news that reflects positively on his administration, and criticize news that reflects negatively on it. For example, he often promotes good polling, but dismisses poor polling as inaccurate and rigged, despite coming from reputable sources. He used job creation data to evidence the success of his administration while he had criticized the same data under the Obama administration. He often uses Twitter to attack mainstream media organizations calling them and any unflattering news stories 'fake media'.

One analysis of Trump's Twitter habits over the course of a week was advanced by his friend and early supporter, publisher Christopher Ruddy, in March 2017. Ruddy told Politico that Friday night and Saturday fit with "the news cycle ... when other news organizations aren’t pushing too much new. He realizes that Saturday is a free media day for him.”[82]

Policies

Domestic policy

Abortion

Trump, in his first few days in office, signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City policy that requires all foreign non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning in other countries.[83]

Criminal justice

On February 7, 2017, during a meeting with sheriffs, President Trump reiterated false assertions he made during the campaign about crime rates in the United States such as "the murder rate ... is the highest it’s been in 47 years.”[84][85][86][87][88] In that same meeting, when a sheriff complained about how "a state senator in Texas... was talking about legislation to require conviction before we could receive that forfeiture money", Trump responded to laughter, "Who is the state senator? Do you want to give his name? We'll destroy his career."[89]

The next day, President Trump correctly said that the crime rate had increased "by double digits" in American cities in 2016.[90]

Economy

Shortly before Trump's election, the United States had an unemployment rate of 4.9% and a Federal Reserve-projected GDP growth rate of 1.8% for 2016 (adjusted for inflation).[91] With a GDP of $17.9 trillion according to a 2015 World Bank estimate, the US represented just under a quarter of the GDP of the world economy.[92] After hovering around 18,000 on election day 2016, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 20,000 shortly after Trump took office.[93]

During the 2016 campaign, Trump proposed $1 trillion in investments in infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and airports.[94]

One of the Trump administration's first actions was to indefinitely suspend a cut in fee rates for mortgages that the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had announced under the Obama administration. The cut in fee rates would have saved individuals with lower credit scores around $500 per year on a typical loan.[95]

Education

In March 2017, the Trump administration revoked a memo issued by the Obama administration, which provided protections for people in default on student loans.[96]

Environment and energy

While President-elect, Trump sought quick ways to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, a 2015 climate change accord reached by 200 nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, defying broad global backing for the plan.[97]

In its first few days, the Trump administration instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) "to remove the website's climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research, as well as detailed data on emissions".[98] Anticipating political interference that could result in loss of government data on climate, scientists had already started to source links and copy the data into independent servers. They also collaborated with the Internet Archive on its End of Term 2016 project, an effort, that runs during every presidential transition, that finds and archives valuable pages on federal websites.[99] Following the National Park Service's retweets of messages that negatively compared the crowd sizes at Obama's 2009 inauguration to Trump's inauguration, the new administration asked the Interior Department's digital team to temporarily stop using Twitter, which the agency later stated was because of hacking concerns.[100] In addition, on January 24, 2017, the Trump administration instituted a temporary media blackout for the EPA, which prevents EPA staff from issuing press releases or blog updates, posting to official EPA social media, or awarding new contracts or grants. The transition team clarified that this was to make sure the messages going out reflect the new administration's priorities.[101][102][103] On February 3 the Trump administration ended its earlier freeze on EPA contract and grant approvals, and the appearance of some EPA press releases that week indicated the media blackout was partially lifted.[104]

In February 2017, President Trump and Congress removed a rule that required the oil, gas and mining industries to disclose how much they paid foreign governments.[105] The industries claimed the rule gave global rivals a competitive edge, although EU, Canadian, Russian, Chinese and Brazilian energy firms are bound by similar requirements.[105][106][107] Supporters of the rule claimed it kept payments to foreign nations in government coffers, not private pockets, and generally avoided bribes and graft.[105][106][107]

A few days later, Trump signed into law a Congressional Review Act resolution invalidating the Stream Protection Rule implemented by the Obama administration a few months prior. The regulation was intended to prevent coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams, and to lessen the impact of coal mining on groundwater and surface waters. Trump declared that he was "continuing to keep my promise to the American people to get rid of wasteful regulations."[108][109][110][111]

On March 28, Trump issued an executive order aimed at reversing multiple Obama administration policies meant to tackle climate change. Trump said he was "putting an end to the war on coal", removing "job-killing regulations" and "restrictions on American energy" to make "America wealthy again". Trump ended the moratorium on federal coal leasing, revoked several Obama executive orders including the Presidential Climate Action Plan, and also removed guidance for federal agencies on taking climate change into account during National Environmental Policy Act action reviews. Trump also ordered reviews and possibly modifications to several directives, such as the Clean Power Plan, the estimate for the "social cost of carbon" emissions, carbon dioxide emission standards for new coal plants, methane emissions standards from oil and natural gas extraction, as well as any regulations inhibiting domestic energy production.[112][113][114]

In April 2017, the Trump administration halted a rule which limited dumping by power plants of toxic wastewater containing metals like arsenic and mercury into public waterways.[115] The move drew condemnation from environmental groups.[115]

Health care

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare" or the ACA) elicited major opposition from the Republican Party from its inception, and Trump called for a repeal of the law during the 2016 election campaign.[116] On taking office, Trump promised to pass a healthcare bill that would result in better and less expensive insurance that would cover everyone.[94] In March 2017, Trump endorsed the American Health Care Act, a bill proposed by House Republicans that would repeal the individual mandate and make several other major changes to the ACA.[117] Opposition from several House Republicans, including members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and the centrist Tuesday Group, led to the defeat of the bill on March 24, 2017.[118] After Trump and Speaker Ryan canceled a House vote on the AHCA, Trump stated that the "best thing politically is to let Obamacare explode.”[119]

Immigration

Prior to taking office, Trump promised to deport the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States and to build a wall along the Mexico–United States border.[120] Trump later stated that in certain areas fencing would be acceptable.[121] On January 25, 2017, Trump signed Executive Order 13767 Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, which directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to begin work on a wall.[122] In February 2017, Reuters reported that an internal report by the Department of Homeland Security estimated that Trump's proposed border wall would cost $21.6 billion and take 3.5 years to build. This estimate is far higher than estimates by Trump during the campaign ($12 billion) and the $15 billion estimate from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.[123] Other experts and analyses have estimated a total cost of up to $25 billion, with the cost of private land acquisitions and fence maintenance pushing up the total cost further.[124]

LGBT policy

On January 31, 2017, Trump announced that his administration would keep intact the 2014 executive order that protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors.[125]

In February 2017, the Trump administration rescinded an Obama directive (interpreting gender identity under Title IX) aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity.[126][127]

Cannabis policy

On February 23, 2017, Sean Spicer during a White House press conference stated that the United States Department of Justice may seek greater enforcement of cannabis legislation at the federal level against states who sponsor and distribute recreational marijuana. Spicer stated that President Trump supports the legalization of medical marijuana for those who are suffering with a medical condition. He also stated that the administration believed there was a link between recreational marijuana use and opiate abuse.[128]

Taxation

During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised major federal tax cuts.[129] Trump's plan calls for a move from seven income tax brackets to three, cutting rates and lowering the top bracket from $415,050 to $112,500.[129] Trump's plan would also cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent and eliminate the estate tax.[129] A 20% border-adjustment tax is also under consideration.[130][131] President Trump will also announce a major tax cut reform on April 26, 2017.

Government size and deregulation

Trump has strongly favored a smaller-sized federal government and deregulation through his policies as president. In the first six weeks of his tenure, Trump abolished over 90 regulations.[132][133] On February 14, 2017, Trump became the first president in sixteen years to sign into law a Congressional Review Act disapproval resolution. The Act had only been used once before.[134]

On January 23, 2017, in a Presidential Memorandum, Trump ordered a temporary government-wide hiring freeze[135][136] of the civilian work force in the executive branch, which is managed by the Office of Personnel Management. This prevented federal agencies, except for the offices of the new presidential appointees, national security, the military and public safety, from filling vacant positions.[137][138]

On January 30, 2017, Trump signed Executive Order 13771, which directed federal agencies to repeal two existing regulations for every one new regulation, and to do so in such a way that the total cost of regulations does not increase.[139][140] On February 24, 2017, Trump signed an order requiring all federal agencies to create task forces to look at and determine which regulations hurt the U.S. economy.[141] Reuters described the order as "what may be the most far reaching effort to pare back U.S. red tape in recent decades."[141]

On February 28, 2017, Trump announced he did not intend on filling many of the governmental positions that were still vacant, as he considered them unnecessary.[142] According to CNN on February 25, nearly 2,000 vacant governmental positions existed.[143]

Foreign policy

Afghanistan

Trump took office while the United States remained involved in the War in Afghanistan, which began in 2001 and is the longest war in American history.[144] At the end of the Obama administration, roughly 8,400 soldiers, focused on training and counter-terrorism operations, were deployed in Afghanistan.[145]

Australia

Trump's first phone call as president with the Australian Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull, took place in February and lasted around 25 minutes.[146] During the call, Trump disagreed with Turnbull about a deal made during President Obama's presidency. The agreement aims to take about 1,250 asylum seekers into the United States, who are currently located on Nauru and Manus Island by Australian authorities.[147] On Twitter, February 2, 2017, Trump tweeted that the refugee agreement was a "dumb deal"[148] Notwithstanding the disagreement Vice President Mike Pence, while on a visit to Australia in April 2017, stated the United States will abide by the deal.[149]

China

During the transition phase, Trump became the first president or president-elect since 1979 to speak directly to the President of Taiwan.[150] This called into question whether President Trump will continue to follow the long-standing One-China policy of the United States regarding the political status of Taiwan.[150]

At the end of January 2017, China moved its long-range nuclear-capable missiles closer to the Russian border, where they would be in reach of the United States.[151] The Independent wrote that the action was "apparently in response to President Donald Trump's 'agression.'"[151]

Mexico

On January 26, 2017, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a meeting with Trump in Washington.[152] Trump had tweeted earlier that morning[153] that it would be better to skip the meeting if the Mexican government continued to insist that Mexico would not pay for a proposed United States-Mexico border wall Trump promised to build.[154] This came amid existing tensions over the proposed wall.[155]

Middle East

Iraq and Syria

Trump took office while the United States remained involved in a military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS, the Islamic State or Daesh), a Salafi jidahist unrecognized state that gained control of parts of Iraq and Syria following the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War.[156] There were roughly 4,500 American soldiers in Iraq as of February 2016.[157] Under Obama, the United States also backed the Free Syrian Army against the Syrian government in the Syrian Civil War.[158]

Iran

Trump took office after Barack Obama signed the Iran deal, which Trump described as one of the "worst deals ever made".[159] His concern has been shared by many Republicans in Congress, including Senators Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.[citation needed]

On February 3, Trump and the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, "sparred on Twitter" over sanctions and Executive Order 13796.[160] Trump tweeted that Iran was "playing with fire" after the country conducted a ballistic missile test earlier in the week.[161]

Israel and the Palestinian Authority

During the transition phase, Trump designated David Friedman, a strong supporter of Israeli settlements and a skeptic of the two-state solution, as his nominee for United States Ambassador to Israel.[162] Trump also pledged to move the Embassy of the United States to Jerusalem, a city contested between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.[163]

North Korea

North Korea first tested nuclear weapons in 2006, further straining U.S. and North Korean relations. Shortly after Trump took office, North Korea launched five ballistic missiles towards Japan, and North Korea claimed that the launches were practice strikes against U.S. bases in Japan.[164] After the missile launches, the U.S. began installing a missile defense system in South Korea.[165]

Russia

File:Trump speaking with Putin oval office.jpg
Trump speaking to Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Oval Office on January 28, 2017.

President-elect Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin over phone on November 14 to discuss future efforts to improve the U.S.-Russia ties and the settlement of Syrian crisis among others.[166] It is widely believed that both leaders have intentions to cooperate on some strategic and regional issues. While Senators such as John McCain and Marco Rubio raised concerns,[167] Representatives like Dana Rohrabacher defend this approach as some believe defeating radical Islam and deterring China are more urgent priorities.[168]

Yemen

In 2015, a multi-sided Yemeni Civil War commenced, and the Obama administration supported the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and launched drone strikes against AQAP, the branch of al-Qaeda active in Yemen.[169] On January 29, 2017, the U.S. military conducted the Yakla raid against AQAP leaders stationed in Yemen. After the raid resulted in several civilian casualties, the Yemeni government asked that the United States do a reassessment of the raid and asked that Yemen be more involved in future military operations.[170] A week-long bombing blitz by the United States in Yemen in March 2017 surpassed the annual bombing total for any year during Obama’s presidency.[171]

Trade

During the 2016 campaign, Trump called for a re-negotiation of free trade agreements, including NAFTA, a free trade agreement among the United States, Canada, and Mexico that entered into force in 1994. Trump also strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free trade agreement among several nations that border the Pacific Ocean.[172] Shortly after taking office, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the TPP.[40] The Trump administration created the National Trade Council to advise the president regarding trade negotiations, and Trump named professor Peter Navarro as the first Director of the National Trade Council.[173]

Ethics

Lobbying reform

During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to "drain the swamp in Washington D.C.", and he proposed a series of ethics reforms.[174] Among his proposals was a five-year ban on serving as a lobbyist after working in the executive branch.[174] Trump's transition team also announced that registered lobbyists would be barred from serving in the Trump administration.[175]

Potential conflicts of interest

President Trump's presidency has been marked by significant potential for conflict of interest stemming from Trump's substantial business interests. In the lead up to his inauguration, Trump sought to assure voters that he would manage his conflicts of interest and removed himself from the day to day operations of his businesses.[176] Trump placed his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. at the head of this businesses claiming that they would not communicate with him regarding his interests. However critics noted that this would not prevent him from having input into his businesses and knowing how benefit himself, and Trump continued to receive quarterly updates on his businesses.[177] As his presidency progressed, he failed to take steps or show interest in further distancing himself from his business interests resulting in numerous potential conflicts.[178] Eventually he dropped his attempts to avoid conflicts of interest.[179]

Upon becoming president, Trump had business interests that were far more extensive than any previous president. This posed significant potential for conflicts of interest. While past presidents placed their business interests in blind trusts to prevent conflicts of interest, Trump's businesses were large, complex and intrinsically tied to him as a public personality. Therefore, it would have been impossible to sell his businesses and transfer his wealth into a blind trust without major losses.

Many ethics experts found Trump's plan to address conflicts of interest between his position as president and his private business interests to be entirely inadequate; Norman L. Eisen and Richard W. Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyers for Barack Obama and George W. Bush, respectively, stated that the plan "falls short in every respect."[180] Unlike every other president in last 40 years, Trump did not put his business interests in a blind trust or equivalent arrangement "to cleanly sever himself from his business interests." Eisen stated that Trump's case is "an even more problematic situation because he's receiving foreign government payments and other benefits and things of value thats expressly prohibited by the Constitution of the United States" in the Foreign Emoluments Clause.[180]

Upon taking office, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sued Trump. In the pending case of CREW v. Trump, the group, represented by a number of constitutional scholars,[181] alleges that Trump is in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause (a constitutional provision that bars the president or any other federal official from taking gifts or payments from foreign governments), because his hotels and other businesses accept payment from foreign governments.[182][183] CREW separately filed a complaint with the General Services Administration (GSA) over Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.; the 2013 lease that Trump and the GSA signed "explicitly forbids any elected government official from holding the lease or benefiting from it."[184] The GSA said that it was "reviewing the situation."[184]

In February 2017, Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway, in an appearance from the White House briefing room to Fox & Friends, promoted the "wonderful" clothing line of Ivanka Trump, saying: "I'm going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online." Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub, in a letter to the White House Counsel's office, wrote that "there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted...Therefore, I recommend that the White House investigate Ms. Conway's actions and consider taking disciplinary action against her."[185] Under federal ethics regulations, federal employees are barred from using their public office to endorse products.[185] Conway's promotion of Ivanka Trump's product line was criticized by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah (who said Conway's conduct was "absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong"), and the House Oversight Committee ranking Democratic member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland (who said the conduct was "a textbook violation of federal ethics rules").[185]

Since 2006, before he became president, Trump repeatedly lost cases in Chinese courts seeking to trademark his name, so as to brand it for construction services. Beginning in 2016, however, Trump's fortunes within the Chinese bureaucracy turned, and the Chinese Trademark Review and Adjudication Board, which had previously denied Trump's claim, granted it. In February 2017, the Associated Press reported that "Ethics lawyers from across the political spectrum say the trademarks present conflicts of interest for Trump and may violate the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign governments unless explicitly approved by Congress."[186]

Ties to Russia

Several of Trump's top advisers, including Paul Manafort and Michael T. Flynn who had official positions before Trump replaced them, have strong ties to Russia.[187][188] American intelligence sources have stated with "high confidence" that the Russian government attempted to intervene in the 2016 presidential election to favor the election of Trump,[189] and that members of Trump's campaign were in contact with Russian government officials both before and after the presidential election.[190] Trump has repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin.[191] For these reasons, there has been intensive media scrutiny of Trump's relationship to Russia.[192]

Trump has said, "I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.”[193] Trump hosted the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, in partnership with Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov. On many occasions since 1987, Trump and his children and other associates have traveled to Moscow to explore potential business opportunities, such as a failed attempt to build a Trump Tower Moscow. Between 1996 and 2008 Trump's company submitted at least eight trademark applications for potential real estate development deals in Russia. However, as of 2017 he has no known investments or businesses in Russia.[192][194] Some of his real estate developments outside Russia have received a large part of their financing from private Russian investors, sometimes referred to as "oligarchs". In 2008 his son Donald Trump Jr. said "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets" and "we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia".[187][195][196]

During his confirmation hearings before the Senate, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated under oath that he had not had contact with the Russian government during the 2016 election.[197] However, in March 2016 Sessions stated that, during the campaign, he had twice met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.[198] Following the disclosure, Sessions promised to recuse himself from any investigation regarding connections between Trump and Russia.[199]

Approval ratings

At the time of the 2016 election, polls by Gallup found Trump had a favorable rating around 35% and an unfavorable rating around 60%, while Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton held a favorable rating of 40% and an unfavorable rating of 57%.[200] 2016 was the first election cycle in modern presidential polling where both major-party candidates were viewed so unfavorably.[201][202][203][204] By January 20, 2017, Inauguration Day, Trump's approval rating average was 42%, the lowest rating average for an incoming president in the history of modern polling.[205] After one week in office, RealClearPolitics gave Trump a polling average of 44 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval, with a Quinnipiac poll registering a low of 36 percent approval and a Rasmussen poll registering a high of 55 percent approval.[206] On March 27, Donald Trump's approval rating fell to an all-time low of 36%, two points lower than the all-time low of Barack Obama.[207]

See also

Notes

  1. In 1824, there were six states in which electors were legislatively appointed, rather than popularly elected, so it is uncertain what the national popular vote would have been if all presidential electors had been popularly elected.

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Preceded by
Obama
Trump Presidency
2017–present
Incumbent