Trump Administration

Presidency of Donald Trump
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg
In office
January 20, 2017 – present
CabinetSee list
Preceded byObama presidency
Other information
SeatWhite House, Washington, D.C.
Political partyRepublican

The presidency of Donald Trump began at noon EST on January 20, 2017, when Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, succeeding Barack Obama. A Republican, Trump was a businessman and reality television personality from New York City at the time of his 2016 presidential election victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, he won the Electoral College vote, 304 to 227.[1] As of the end of his first year in office, opinion polls have shown Trump to be the least popular president in the history of modern American presidential opinion polling.[2]

Upon taking office, Trump advocated for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but repeal legislation failed in the Senate in July 2017; since then, he has taken action to weaken the provisions of it and continues to press Congress for its repeal. He repealed environmental protections intended to address anthropogenic climate change such as the Clean Power Plan and withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation. Trump also withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, issued a controversial executive order denying entry into the U.S. to citizens of certain countries, and withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement. Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, signed letters of intent to sell US$110 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia, and enacted tariffs on steel and aluminum imports that triggered retaliatory tariffs from Canada, the European Union, and China.

Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch to a vacant seat on the Supreme Court was confirmed by the Senate in April 2017. In December 2017, Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which lowered most individual income tax rates on a temporary basis and dramatically lowered corporate and estate taxes.

After Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey in 2017, a special counsel was appointed to take over an existing FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and related matters, including coordination or links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The investigation has resulted in several indictments and guilty pleas involving Trump campaign advisors and staff. Trump has stated that there was no reason for Russia to interfere in the elections, has given credence to Russian president Vladimir Putin's denial of such interference, and has repeatedly criticized the special counsel investigation.


2016 presidential election[]

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.

On 9 November, 2016, Republicans Donald Trump of New York and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana won the 2016 election, defeating Democrats 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, though Clinton won a plurality of the popular vote.[3] 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.[4]

Trump is the fifth person to win the presidency but lose the popular vote, the others being John Quincy Adams (1824),[2] Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), Benjamin Harrison (1888), and George W. Bush (2000).[5][6] He is also the fourth president to lose his home state in the election he won.[7]

Trump made false claims that massive amounts of voter fraud - - up to 5 million illegal votes - in Clinton's favor occurred during the election, and he called for a major investigation after taking office. Numerous studies have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.[8][9][10] In May 2017 he created a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, headed by Kris Kobach, the Republican secretary of state of Kansas, who has been a leading advocate of the idea that there is widespread voter fraud. The commission was highly controversial, and many states refused to respond to its demand for detailed information on individual voters. In January 2018 the commission was dissolved without producing any results.[11]

Transition period and inauguration[]

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and President-elect Donald Trump, November 17, 2016

Prior to the election, Trump named Chris Christie as the leader of his transition team.[12] 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.[13] Trump's transition team launched the website[14]

Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017. Accompanied by his wife, Melania Trump, Donald Trump was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.[15] In his seventeen-minute inaugural address, Trump struck a dark tone with a broad condemnation of contemporary America, pledging to end "American carnage" and saying that America's "wealth, strength and confidence has dissipated".[16][17] Trump repeated the "America First" slogan that he had used in the campaign and promised that "[e]very decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American factories".[15] At age seventy, Trump surpassed Ronald Reagan and became the oldest person to assume the presidency,[18] and the first without any prior government or military experience.[19]


The Trump Cabinet
PresidentDonald Trump2017–present
Vice PresidentMike Pence2017–present
Secretary of StateRex Tillerson2017–2018
Mike Pompeo2018–present
Secretary of TreasurySteven Mnuchin2017–present
Secretary of DefenseJames Mattis2017–present
Attorney GeneralJeff Sessions2017–2018
Matthew Whitaker (acting)2018–present
Secretary of the InteriorRyan Zinke2017–present
Secretary of AgricultureSonny Perdue2017–present
Secretary of CommerceWilbur Ross2017–present
Secretary of LaborAlexander Acosta2017–present
Secretary of Health and
Human Services
Tom Price2017–2017
Alex Azar2018–present
Secretary of EducationBetsy DeVos2017–present
Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development
Ben Carson2017–present
Secretary of TransportationElaine Chao2017–present
Secretary of EnergyRick Perry2017–present
Secretary of Veterans AffairsDavid Shulkin2017–2018
Robert Wilkie2018–present
Secretary of Homeland SecurityJohn F. Kelly2017–2017
Kirstjen Nielsen2017–present
Chief of StaffReince Priebus2017–2017
John F. Kelly2017–present
Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency
Scott Pruitt2017–2018
Andrew Wheeler (acting)2018–present
Director of the Office of
Management and Budget
Mick Mulvaney2017–present
Ambassador to the United NationsNikki Haley2017–present
United States Trade RepresentativeRobert Lighthizer2017–present
Director of National IntelligenceDan Coats2017–present
Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency
Mike Pompeo2017–2018
Gina Haspel2018–present
Administrator of the
Small Business Administration
Linda McMahon2017–present

The Trump administration has been characterized by high turnover, particularly among White House staff. By the end of Trump's first year in office, 34 percent of his original staff had resigned, been fired, or been reassigned.[20] As of early March 2018, 43 percent of senior White House positions had turned over. Both figures set a record for recent presidents—more change in the first 13 months than his four immediate predecessors saw in their first two years.[21]

On September 5, 2018, The New York Times published an anonymous opinion article entitled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration."[22] Written by an individual The Times described as "a senior official in the Trump administration," the author asserted that "many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations." The author continued, "we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic," adding, "The root of the problem is the president’s amorality." Trump said of the author on Twitter that "the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!"[23]


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.[24] Priebus and Senior Counselor Steve Bannon were named as "equal partners" within the White House power structure, although Bannon was not an official member of the Cabinet.[25] Aside from the vice president and the chief of staff, the remaining Cabinet-level positions required Senate confirmation. On November 18, Trump announced his first Cabinet designee, choosing Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of Attorney General.[26] 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.[27]

Chief of Staff John F. Kelly

In February 2017, 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 by Obama in 2009, was removed from the cabinet. Trump's cabinet consists of 24 members, more than Barack Obama at 23 or George W. Bush at 21.[28] 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.[29] His final initial Cabinet-level nominee, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, was confirmed on May 12, 2017.[30]

In July 2017, John F. Kelly, who had served as Secretary of Homeland Security, replaced Priebus as Chief of Staff.[31] Bannon was fired in August 2017, leaving Kelly as one of the most powerful individuals in the White House.[32] In September 2017, Tom Price resigned as Secretary of Health and Human Services amid criticism over his use of private charter jets for his personal travel. Don J. Wright replaced Price as acting Secretary of Health and Human Services.[33] Kirstjen Nielsen succeeded Kelly as Secretary in December 2017.[34] Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired via a tweet in March 2018; Trump appointed Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson and Gina Haspel to succeed Pompeo as the Director of the CIA.[35] In the wake of a series of controversies, Scott Pruitt resigned as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in July 2018.[36] Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler is slated to serve as acting administrator beginning July 9, 2018. At the time of Pruitt's resignation, he is the fifth member of Trump's cabinet to resign or be fired since Trump took office.[37][38]

Since taking office, Trump has made two unsuccessful cabinet nominations. Andrew Puzder was nominated for the position of Secretary of Labor in 2017, while Ronny Jackson, who had previously served as the president's physician, was nominated as Secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2018. Each withdrew their name from consideration after facing opposition in the Senate.[39]

Notable non-Cabinet positions[]

1Appointed by Barack Obama

Notable departures[]

In the first 13 months of the administration of Donald Trump, the White House staff had a higher turnover than the previous four presidents had in the first two years of their respective administrations. By March 2018, White House staff turnover was estimated at 43%.[41][42]

Name Office or role Fired or resigned Date announced Days with the administration Reasons behind departure
Jeff Sessions Attorney General Resigned November 7, 2018 Mr. Session's retires at the Presidents request, to be replaced by Matthew Whitaker.[43]
Scott Pruitt Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Resigned July 5, 2018 Numerous scandals[44]
David Shulkin Secretary of Veterans Affairs Fired March 28, 2018 Trump replaces embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary with White House physician[45]
H. R. McMaster National Security Advisor Resigned March 22, 2018 H. R. McMaster resigns. John Bolton named Trump's new National Security Advisor[46]
Andrew McCabe Deputy Director of the FBI Resigned, claims to have been fired March 16, 2018 Sessions fires McCabe before he can retire[47]
Steve Goldstein Under Secretary for State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Fired March 13, 2018 Top State Department aide fired after contradicting White House account of Tillerson ouster[48]
Rex Tillerson Secretary of State Fired March 13, 2018 Trump fires chief diplomat Tillerson after clashes, taps Pompeo[49]
John McEntee Personal Aide to President Trump Fired March 13, 2018 Longtime Trump aide fired over security clearance issue[50]
James Schawb Spokesperson for ICE Resigned December 3, 2018 ICE spokesman resigns, citing fabrications by agency chief, Sessions about California immigrant arrests[51]
Gary Cohn Top Economic Advisor Resigned July 3, 2018 Top economic adviser Gary Cohn leaves White House in wake of tariff rift[52]
Hope Hicks White House Communications Director Resigned February 27, 2018 Hope Hicks, one of Trump's closest confidants and longest-tenured aide, is resigning[53]
Josh Raffel Spokesperson for Jared and Ivanka Trump Resigned February 27, 2018 Top White House aide linked to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner is leaving[54]
David Sorensen White House Speechwriter Resigned November 2, 2018 Second WH official resigns over domestic abuse allegations[55]
Rachel Brand Justice Department Official Resigned October 2, 2018 Rachel Brand, 3rd ranking official at Justice Dept., is stepping down[56]
Rob Porter White House Aide Resigned July 2, 2018 385 White House aide denies abuse allegations but resigns[57]
Brenda Fitzgerald CDC Director Resigned January 31, 2018 CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigns[58]
Taylor Weyeneth White House Drug Office Policy Official Resigned January 25, 2018 340 Former Trump campaign aide leaving drug office after questions about credentials[59]
Rick Dearborn White House Deputy Chief of Staff Resigned December 21, 2017 383 White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Dearborn is resigning[60]
Carl Higbie Chief of External Affairs, CNCS Resigned November 19, 2018 153 Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigns as public face of agency that runs AmeriCorps after KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments on the radio[61]
Omarosa Manigault Newman White House Aide Resigned/Fired [62] December 13, 2017 364 Omarosa Is Leaving Her White House Role[63]
Dina Powell Deputy National Security Adviser Resigned August 12, 2017 304 Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser, to depart Trump White House[64]
Tom Price HHS Secretary Resigned September 29, 2017 232 HHS Secretary Tom Price resigns amid criticism for taking charter flights at taxpayer expense[65]
Keith Schiller Director of Oval Office Operations Resigned September 20, 2017 244 Longtime Trump aide Keith Schiller tells people he intends to leave White House[66]
Sebastian Gorka White House Counterterrorism Adviser Resigned[67]/Fired [68] August 25, 2017 211 Sebastian Gorka Is Forced Out as White House Adviser, Officials Say[68]
Carl Icahn Special Adviser to the President on Regulatory Reform Resigned August 18, 2017 209 Billionaire Carl Icahn steps down as adviser to President Trump[69]
Steve Bannon White House Chief Strategist Fired August 18, 2017 209 Stephen Bannon Out at the White House After Turbulent Run[70]
Anthony Scaramucci White House Communications Director Fired July 31, 2017 11 Anthony Scaramucci removed as White House communications director[71]
Reince Priebus White House Chief of Staff Fired July 28, 2017 188 Reince Priebus Is Ousted Amid Stormy Days for White House[72]
Sean Spicer White House Press Secretary Resigned July 21, 2017 181 Sean Spicer Resigns as White House Press Secretary[73]
Walter Shaub Office of Government Ethics Director Resigned July 19, 2017 181 Ethics Office Director Walter Shaub Resigns, Saying Rules Need To Be Tougher[74]
Tera Dahl Deputy Chief of Staff, National Security Council Resigned June 7, 2017 166 Bannon ally leaves the National Security Council after less than six months[75]
Michael Dubke White House Communications Director Resigned May 30, 2017 89 Dubke resigns as White House communications director[76]
James Comey FBI Director Fired May 9, 2017 110 F.B.I. Director James Comey Is Fired by Trump[77]
Vivek Murthy Surgeon General Resigned* April 24, 2017 Trump Administration Dismisses Surgeon General Vivek Murthy[78]
K. T. McFarland Deputy National Security Advisor Resigned September 4, 2017 118 F.B.I. Director James Comey Is Fired by Trump[77]
Katie Walsh Deputy Chief of Staff Resigned March 30, 2017 68 McFarland to Exit White House as McMaster Consolidates Power[79]
Michael Flynn National Security Advisor Resigned [80]/Fired [81] February 13, 2017 23 Flynn resigns amid controversy over Russia contacts[80]
Sally Yates Acting Attorney General Fired January 31, 2017 11 Trump fires acting AG after she declines to defend travel ban[82]

Firing of Michael Flynn[]

On February 13, 2017, Trump fired Michael Flynn from the post of National Security Adviser[83] on grounds that he had lied to Vice President Pence about his communications with the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.[84] Flynn was fired amidst the ongoing controversy concerning Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and accusations that Trump's electoral team colluded with Russian agents. In May 2017, Sally Yates testified before the Senate Judiciary's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism that she had told White House Counsel Don McGahn in late January 2017 that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials and warned that Flynn was potentially compromised by Russia.[85] Flynn remained in his post for another two weeks and was fired after The Washington Post broke the story. Yates was fired by Donald Trump on January 30 because "she defiantly refused to defend his executive order closing the nation's borders to refugees and people from predominantly Muslim countries".[86]

Firing of James Comey[]

On May 9, 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. In explaining his decision to fire Comey, the administration cited Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email controversy.[87] In firing Comey, Trump relied on a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that criticized Comey for publicly announcing that the case involving Hillary Clinton's emails would not be prosecuted. Rosenstein argued that Comey overstepped his role and that the Justice Department determines whether a case should be prosecuted.[88] However, many critics of Trump accused him of using Comey's handling of the Clinton investigation as a pretext for Comey's dismissal; instead, these critics argue that Comey was dismissed due to his investigation into the Trump administration's ties with Russia.[89] Governance experts said that the firing of Comey was highly significant and abnormal, with the action raising concerns about checks and balances in American democracy broadly.[90] Days after firing Comey, Trump stated that he would have fired Comey regardless of Rosenstein's recommendations, describing Comey as a "showboat".[91] In a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador to the US, Trump asserted Comey was a "nut job" and that this would relieve pressure off of him regarding his relationship with Russia.[92] In the aftermath of Comey's firing, various news outlets compared the firing to the "Saturday Night Massacre", a constitutional crisis that occurred during Richard Nixon's administration.[93][94][95]

Comey had prepared seven detailed memos, four of which contained classified information, documenting most of his meetings and telephone conversations with President Trump.[96] He provided some of the memos to his friend Daniel Richman, who then released the substance of the memos to the press. Trump has asserted the memos Comey gave Richman contained classified information, although this has not been publicly verified.[97] Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he created written records immediately after his conversations with Trump because he "was honestly concerned that he [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting".[98] The Times noted that contemporaneous notes created by FBI agents are frequently relied upon "in court as credible evidence of conversations".[96] In his memo about a February 14, 2017, Oval Office meeting, Comey says Trump attempted to persuade him to abort the investigation into General Flynn.[96]

Judicial nominees[]

On January 31, 2017, Trump nominated federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy which arose after the February 2016 death of Antonin Scalia and which had not been filled under the then-president Obama because of Republican obstruction.[99] Gorsuch's appointment was confirmed on April 7, 2017, in a 54–45 vote.[100] Prior to this nomination, the support of three-fifths of the Senate had effectively been required for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominees due to the Senate filibuster. However, the Senate's Republican majority changed the rules for the filibuster via the so-called "nuclear option," and the confirmation of Supreme Court justices now requires only a simple majority vote.[101]

In June 2018, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, widely considered to be the key swing vote on the Supreme Court, announced his retirement.[102][103] On July 9, 2018, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to fill the vacancy caused by Kennedy's impending retirement.[104] During the confirmation process, Kavanaugh was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford, currently a professor in clinical psychology at Palo Alto University, while they were both in high school. On October 6, the Senate voted 50–48 to confirm Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.[105]

By August 2018, Trump had appointed 24 judges to the United States courts of appeals, more than any other president in the first two years of a presidential term.[106] Compared to President Obama, Trump has nominated fewer non-white and female judges.[107] Bloomberg News noted that Trump's judicial nominees tended to be young and favored by the conservative Federalist Society.[99]

First year[]

Month Events
January 2017
President Trump's Inaugural Address, January 20, 2017
  • Began presidency when sworn in on January 20, 2017.
  • Directed all federal agencies to minimize the "unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" of the Affordable Care Act.[108]
  • Froze any work on new regulations that agencies had started during the previous administration.[108]
  • Withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an unratified free trade agreement, re-instated the Mexico City policy against funding abortion advocacy abroad, and froze federal hiring.[109]
  • Decided to fast-track "high-priority infrastructure projects", and supported the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.[110]
  • Directed the Department of Homeland Security to build part of a new wall on the Mexico–United States border, to the extent of available funding.[111]
  • Banned former government officials from lobbying agencies where they had worked, for a five-year period.[112]
  • Nominated conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to fill a Supreme Court vacancy;[113] Gorsuch was confirmed and took office in April 2017.[114]
  • Issued Executive Order 13769, referred to as "The Muslim Ban", which restricted the immigration of Syrian refugees and members of certain Muslim majority nations.[115]
February 2017
Trump with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe
March 2017
Donald and Ivanka Trump with Jared Kushner and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
April 2017
President Trump and Jordanian King Abdullah II
May 2017
President Trump during the 43rd G7 summit in Taormina, Italy
June 2017
President Trump announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, June 1, 2017
July 2017
President Trump giving remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree, July 25, 2017
August 2017
President Trump taking part in the Hurricane Harvey response
  • Instructed the Pentagon to develop a policy on transgender service members, notably considering their individual combat deployability, and curtailing subsidies for medical treatment or operations.[146]
  • Pardoned Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted for contempt of court.[147]
  • Barred the U.S. financial system from dealing in new bonds and stocks issued by the Venezuelan government and its state oil company PDVSA.[148]
  • Re-allowed the sale of surplus military equipment to local and state police agencies.[149]
  • Donated $1 million of personal funds to recovery efforts in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.[150]
September 2017
President Trump with South Korean President Moon Jae-in
October 2017
Trump and kids during Halloween
  • Announced U.S. withdrawal from the UNESCO, citing an "anti-Israel bias".[158]
  • Declared a nationwide public health emergency about the opioid crisis, ordering all federal agencies to take measures to prevent related deaths.[159]
  • Advocated an end to the Green Card Lottery program following a terrorist attack in New York City committed by a recipient of the program.[160]
November 2017
President Trump and his staff on Air Force One
  • Signed $250 billion worth of binding and non-binding gas, aviation, communications and food-crop deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping.[161][162]
  • Reinstated North Korea to the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, from which it had been removed in October 2008.[163]
  • Retweeted anti-Muslim propaganda posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of British far-right organization Britain First and convicted criminal.[164]
December 2017
President Donald and First Lady Melania Trump's official 2017 Christmas portrait

Leadership style and philosophy[]

False and misleading statements[]

As president, Trump has made a large number of false statements in public speeches, remarks, and in tweets.[171][172][173][174] Trump uttered "at least one false or misleading claim per day on 91 of his first 99 days" in office according to The New York Times,[171] and 1,628 total in his first 298 days in office according to the "Fact Checker" analysis of The Washington Post, or an average of 5.5 per day.[175] The Post fact-checker also wrote, "President Trump is the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered... the pace and volume of the president's misstatements means that we cannot possibly keep up."[176] After 466 days in office, 3,001 false or misleading claims had been documented, and it had risen to an average of 6.5 per day from 4.9 during Trump's first 100 days in office.[177] By August 2018, the pace of the false statements had seemed to have increased substantially. In June and July alone 968 new incidences had been noted, and a total of 4,229 "false or misleading" statements had by then been recorded in his tenure. Immigration issues led the subject list at that point, with 538 recorded mendacities.[178]

Maria Konnikova, writing in Politico Magazine, wrote: "All Presidents lie.... But Donald Trump is in a different category. The sheer frequency, spontaneity and seeming irrelevance of his lies have no precedent.... Trump seems to lie for the pure joy of it. A whopping 70 percent of Trump's statements that PolitiFact checked during the campaign were false, while only 4 percent were completely true, and 11 percent mostly true."[179]

Senior administration officials have also regularly given false, misleading or tortured statements to the media.[180] By May 2017, Politico reported that the repeated untruths by senior officials made it difficult for the media to take official statements seriously.[180]

Trump's presidency started out with a series of falsehoods initiated by Trump himself. The day after his inauguration, he falsely accused the media of lying about the size of the inauguration crowd. Then he proceeded to exaggerate the size, and Sean Spicer backed up his claims.[181][182][183] When Spicer was accused of intentionally misstating the figures, Kellyanne Conway, in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, defended Spicer by stating that he merely presented "alternative facts".[181] Other notable claims by Trump which fact checkers rated false include the claim that his electoral college victory was a "landslide"[184][185][186] and that Hillary Clinton received 3-5 million illegal votes.[187]

In April 2017, after Trump was asked if he stood by his unproven allegation that his "sick" and "bad" predecessor Barack Obama had wiretapped him, Trump replied: "I don't stand by anything."[188][189][190]

On September 13, 2018, The Washington Post reported that "President Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims."[191]

At a November 3, 2018 rally in Montana, Trump asserted, "I'm the only one that tells you the facts."[192]

Rule of law[]

Shortly before Trump secured the 2016 Republican nomination, The New York Times reported that "legal experts across the political spectrum say" Trump's rhetoric reflected "a constitutional worldview that shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law," adding "many conservative and libertarian legal scholars warn that electing Mr. Trump is a recipe for a constitutional crisis."[193] A group named “Originalists Against Trump” declared in October 2016, "Trump’s long record of statements and conduct have shown him indifferent or hostile to the Constitution’s basic features."[194] As the Trump presidency unfolded, numerous prominent conservative Republicans expressed similar concerns that Trump's perceived disregard for the rule of law betrayed conservative principles.[195][196][197][198][199] The Times reported in November 2018 that more than a dozen members of the conservative-libertarian Federalist Society — which had been instrumental in selecting Trump's appointments to federal courts — "are urging their fellow conservatives to speak up about what they say are the Trump administration’s betrayals of bedrock legal norms."[200]

Relationship with the media[]

Trump speaks to reporters on the White House South Lawn in November 2018
President Donald Trump talking to the press, March 21, 2017, before signing S.422, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act, in the Oval Office

Early into his presidency, the administration developed a highly contentious relationship with the media, repeatedly describing it as the "fake news media" and "the enemy of the people".[201] Through August 2018, at least three journalists received threatening phone calls from men calling them the enemy of the people, with one suspect being arrested by the FBI for making death threats.[202][203][204] Trump both privately and publicly mused about taking away critical reporters' White House press credentials (despite, during his campaign, promising not to do so once he became President).[205] At the same time, the Trump White House gave temporary press passes to far-right pro-Trump fringe outlets, such as InfoWars and The Gateway Pundit, which are known for publishing hoaxes and conspiracy theories.[205][206][207]

On his first day in office, Trump falsely accused journalists of understating the size of the crowd at his inauguration, and called the media "among the most dishonest human beings on earth". Trump's clams were notably defended by Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, who claimed that the inauguration crowd had been the biggest in history, a claim disproven by photographs.[208] Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway then defended Sean Spicer when asked about the falsehood, saying that it was an "alternative fact", not a falsehood.[181]

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.[209] On February 17, 2017, Trump tweeted, "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" [210][211] Trump's first press conference was also the last (as of May 2018). For comparison, Barack Obama had held 11 solo press conferences by the end of his first year, George W. Bush held five, and Bill Clinton held 12.[212]

Also in February, Trump objected to news media's reliance on anonymous sources for some of its news. 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".[213]

On February 24, the administration blocked reporters from The New York Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, Los Angeles Times and Politico from attending an off-camera briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press chose not to attend the briefing in protest at the White House's actions. 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.[214][215]

In March, all major U.S. television networks declined to air a paid campaign ad placed by the 2020 Trump campaign which included a graphic claiming that mainstream media is "fake news". In a statement, CNN said that they refused the ad per policy because it was false to state that mainstream media is fake news. Lara Trump, daughter-in-law to Trump and adviser for his campaign, called the rejection a "chilling precedent against free speech rights."[216]

The relationship between Trump, the media, and fake news has been studied. One study found that between October 7 and November 14, 2016, while 1 in 4 Americans visited a fake news website, "Trump supporters visited the most fake news websites, which were overwhelmingly pro-Trump" and "almost 6 in 10 visits to fake news websites came from the 10% of people with the most conservative online information diets".[217][218] Brendan Nyhan, one of the authors of the study by researchers from Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and the University of Exeter, stated in an interview: "People got vastly more misinformation from Donald Trump than they did from fake news websites".[219]

In May 2018, Trump tweeted that "91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake)." The Washington Post described this Trump making it "explicit" that negative coverage on him has to be fake.[220] Also that month, journalist Lesley Stahl recounted that after Trump won the 2016 presidential election, he had told her that he kept attacking the media to "demean" and "discr", "so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you".[221]

Also in May 2018, Trump attacked The New York Times on their coverage of a White House briefing on the 2018 North Korea–United States summit. Trump claimed that the anonymous "senior White House official" that the newspaper quoted "doesn't exist", instructing: "Use real people, not phony sources". Following Trump's claim, journalists provided audio evidence of the official being introduced as Matt Pottinger of the National Security Council, with White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah insisting that Pottinger's anonymity was required. The White House's invitation for the briefing to journalists also surfaced.[222][223][224]

The Boston Globe called for a nationwide refutation of Trump's "dirty war" against the media, with the hashtag #EnemyOfNone. Over 300 news outlets joined the campaign. The New York Times called Trump's attacks "dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy" and published excerpts from dozens of further publications. The New York Post wrote, "It may be frustrating to argue that just because we print inconvenient truths doesn't mean that we're fake news, but being a journalist isn't a popularity contest. All we can do is to keep reporting." The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, "If the press is not free from reprisal, punishment or suspicion for unpopular views or information, neither is the country. Neither are its people"[225]

On August 16, 2018 the Senate unanimously passed a resolution affirming that "the press is not the enemy of the people,"[226] marking the second time the Senate had unanimously rebuked Trump within a month.[227]

In August 2018, Trump began accusing internet companies Google, Facebook and Twitter of suppressing conservative viewpoints and positive information about him. On his Twitter account, he posted a brief video asserting that Google had promoted President Barack Obama's State of the Union addresses on its home page, while not promoting his.[228] Buzzfeed News and others noted that Google had, in fact, promoted Trump's 2018 address.[229] Although Google did not promote Trump's January 2017 address to a joint session of Congress, it also did not promote Obama's February 2009 address, as neither were technically State of the Union addresses.

In October 2018, Trump praised US representative Greg Gianforte for assaulting political reporter Ben Jacobs in 2017.[230] According to analysts, the incident marked the first time the President has "openly and directly praised a violent act against a journalist on American soil".[231] Later that month, as CNN and prominent Democrats were targeted with bombs, Trump initially condemned the bomb attempts but shortly thereafter blamed the "Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News" for causing "a very big part of the Anger we see today in our society."[232]

In a May 2017 interview with NBC News anchorman Lester Holt, Trump stated he was thinking of "this Russia thing" when he decided to fire FBI Director James Comey.[233] Trump's statement raised concerns of potential obstruction of justice.[234] In May 2018 Trump denied firing Comey because of the Russia investigation.[235] In August 2018 Trump tweeted that "Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia," followed by his attorney Jay Sekulow asserting in September 2018 that NBC had ed the Trump interview.[236][237] Neither Trump nor Sekulow produced evidence that the tape had been modified.

Following a contentious Trump press conference on November 7, 2018 in which CNN reporter Jim Acosta was criticized by Trump and press secretary Sarah Sanders for perceived disruptive behavior, including an alleged assault on a White House intern as she attempted to take a microphone from Acosta, the White House revoked Acosta's press pass. CNN sued Trump and several of his aides six days later, asserting that Acosta's due process and First Amendment rights had been violated.[238] The case was heard by Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee to the District Court for the District of Columbia who ruled on November 16th that Acosta's due process rights had been violated and his press pass must be restored. Kelly made no ruling on the First Amendment issue.[239] Sanders faced criticism for tweeting a video clip that originated from Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars purporting to prove the alleged assault, which differed from original video of the incident, resulting in a misleading impression that Acosta had aggressively thrust his hand at the intern.[240][241][242] Later asked if the video had been altered, Trump aide Kellyanne Conway replied, "That’s not altered, that’s sped up," likening it to a television replay of a sporting event.[243]

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.[244] The Trump administration has described Trump's tweets as "official statements by the President of the United States".[245] A federal judge ruled in May 2018 that Trump's blocking of other Twitter users due to opposing political views violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and that he must unblock them; however, according to a plaintiff, Trump has yet to comply with the unblocking order.[246] The administration has appealed the court's ruling.[247]

Twitter activity of Donald Trump from his first tweet in May 2009 to September 2017. Retweets are not included.

His tweets have been reported as ill-considered, impulsive, vengeful,[248][249] and bullying,[250][251][252][253][254][255] often being made late at night or in the early hours of the morning. His tweets about a Muslim ban were successfully turned against his administration to halt two versions of travel restrictions from Muslim-majority countries.[256] 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 House Freedom Caucus, whose votes he needed.[249] Trump repeatedly used belittling nicknames such as Little Marco, Lyin' Ted, and Crooked Hillary for his opponents during his campaign and continued the practice once elected, such as Sneaky Dianne Feinstein and Dicky Durbin. He used the nickname "Rocket Man" for Kim Jong Un of North Korea both in tweets and at a United Nations meeting.[257][258]

Many tweets appear to be based on stories that Trump has seen in the media, including far-right news websites such as Breitbart, and television shows such as Fox & Friends.[259][260] One notable example is the Trump Tower wiretapping allegations which appeared to originate in an unsubstantiated claim by Andrew Napolitano on Fox News.[261] Despite a lack of evidence for the claims, Trump continued to push the claim in media and through Twitter.[257][262]

Trump has used Twitter to attack federal judges who have ruled against him in court cases.[263] Trump has also used Twitter to criticize officials within his own administration, including then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, then-National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and at various times Attorney General Jeff Sessions.[264] Tillerson was eventually fired via a tweet by Trump.[265] Trump has also tweeted that his Justice Department is part of the American "deep state";[266] that "there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State" Departments;[264] and that the special counsel investigation is a "WITCH HUNT!"[267] In August 2018, Trump used Twitter to write that Attorney General Jeff Sessions "should stop" the special counsel investigation immediately; he also referred to it as "rigged" and its investigators as biased.[268][269][270]

Domestic policy[]


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.[271]

The administration geared HHS funding towards abstinence education programs for teens rather than the comprehensive sexual education programs that the Obama administration funded.[272]

Criminal justice[]

Trump has signed new anti-sex-trafficking legislation on April 16, 2018

In November 2017, the New York Times summarized the Trump administration's "general approach to law enforcement" as "cracking down on violent crime", "not regulating the police departments that fight it", and overhauling "programs that the Obama administration used to ease tensions between communities and the police."[273]

Trump pays tribute to fallen police officers, May 15, 2017

In July 2017, the Department of Justice reinstated the use of asset forfeiture, which is the practice of seizing the property of crime suspects who have not been charged or convicted with a crime. This meant that local authorities in the 24 states that banned the practice or limited its use so that it could now seize property from individuals who have not even been charged with a crime if the property is forwarded to the federal government.[274] Previously, in February 2017, when a sheriff complained about a state senator who proposed legislation to end asset forfeiture, Trump responded, "Who is the state senator? Do you want to give his name? We'll destroy his career."[275]

In a July 2017 speech to police officers, Trump appeared to advocate police brutality, stating "And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, 'Please don't be too nice'", and, "Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over. I said, 'You can take the hand away, O.K.?'" His remarks drew loud applause and laughter.[276] The speech was condemned by law enforcement authorities.[277]

Less than two years into his presidency, ABC News found 16 criminal violent cases where alleged perpetrators echoed Trump's rhetoric as president. ABC News found no such cases during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.[278]

Presidential pardons and commutations[]

Trump has issued a number of presidential pardons. In August 2017, he pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of contempt of court for failing to comply with court orders to stop racially profiling Hispanics.[279] In March 2018 he pardoned Kristian Saucier, a sailor convicted for taking pictures aboard a nuclear submarine.[280] In April 2018, Trump pardoned Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury in the investigation of the leak of the covert identity of Central Intelligence Agency officer Valerie Plame Wilson.[279] In May 2018, Trump granted a posthumous pardon to black heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson, who had been convicted in 1913 for taking his white girlfriend across state lines, per the "moral purity" Mann Act of 1910.[281] That same month, Trump pardoned conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza, who was convicted of illegal campaign contributions in a 2012 Senate race.[279] The New York Times remarked that Trump took no action on more than 10,000 pending applications and that he solely used his pardon power on "public figures whose cases resonated with him given his own grievances with investigators."[279] In June 2018, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson, a 63-year old who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense, after Kim Kardashian met Trump to lobby for her cause.[282] In July 2018, Trump pardoned two Oregon ranchers who were convicted of intentionally setting fires on public land in Oregon, and whose prison sentences prompted armed protestors led by Clive Bundy to violently seize the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon for 41 days in 2016.[283]

Drug policy[]

In May 2017 departure from the Obama DOJ's policy to reduce long jail sentencing for minor drug offenses, Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to seek maximum sentencing for drug offenses.[284] According to The New York Times, the action ran "contrary to the growing bipartisan consensus coursing through Washington and many state capitals in recent years — a view that America was guilty of excessive incarceration and that large prison populations were too costly in tax dollars and the toll on families and communities."[284]

In January 2018 move that created uncertainty regarding the legality of recreational and medical marijuana, Sessions rescinded federal policy that had barred federal law enforcement officials from aggressively enforcing federal cannabis law in states where the drug is legal.[285] The Trump administration's decision contradicted then-candidate Trump's statement that marijuana legalization should be "up to the states".[286] That same month, the Department of Veterans Affairs said that it would not research cannabis as a potential treatment against PTSD and chronic pain; veterans organizations had pushed for such a study.[287]


Economic indicators and federal finances under the Obama and Trump administrations
$ represent U.S. trillions of unadjusted dollars
Year Unemploy-
GDP[289][290] RGDP %[291][292] U.S. Government[293]
Receipts Outlays Deficit
ending Dec 31 (Calendar Year) Sep 30 (Fiscal Year)[3]
2013* 7.4% $16.663 1.8% $2.775 $3.455 - $0.680
2014* 6.2% $17.348 2.5% $3.021 $3.506 - $0.485
2015* 5.3% $17.947 2.9% $3.250 $3.688 - $0.439
2016* 4.9% $18.566 1.6% $3.268 $3.852 - $0.585
2017 4.4% $19.831 2.2% $3.316 $3.982 - $0.665
2018 est 3.9% $20.411 3.2% $3.340 $4.173 - $0.832

Prior to Trump's election, the American economy had been expanding for over seven years, with steady growth in employment, a declining unemployment rate, and steadily rising home values, stock values and household income/wealth. Trump's economic policies centered around tax cuts, deregulation, trade protectionism and immigration reduction. As candidate and president, Trump claimed his policies would spur much higher GDP growth, stating in December 2017, "I see no reason why we don't go to 4, 5, even 6 percent,"[294] figures that economists generally consider impossible to achieve on a sustained basis.[295][296] In July 2018, Trump stated, "We have added 3.7 million new jobs since the election, a number that is unthinkable if you go back to the campaign. Nobody would have said it." During the 19 months since the election, nearly 3.7 million jobs were created; during the 19 months prior to the election, 4.3 million jobs were created.[297] Trump also stated, "More than 10 million additional Americans had been added to food stamps, past years. But we’ve turned it all around." SNAP participation had been steadily declining since December 2012.[298][299]

During the 2016 campaign, Trump proposed $1 trillion in infrastructure investments.[300] In February 2018, Trump released a $1.5 trillion federal infrastructure plan, but left the details of the plan for Congress to solve, including how to pay for it. Congress showed little enthusiasm for the plan.[301][302]

One of the administration's first actions was to indefinitely suspend a cut in fee rates for HUD mortgages implemented by the Obama administration. The cut in fee rates would have saved individuals with lower cr scores around $500 per year on a typical loan.[303]

In September 2017, the DOJ announced it would not defend in courts a mandate that would have extended overtime benefits to more than 4 million workers.[304]

Nominee Steven Mnuchin delivers his opening statement before the Senate Finance Committee at the confirmation hearing for him to become Secretary of the Treasury.

In September 2017, the administration proposed a tax overhaul. The proposal would reduce the corporate tax rate to 20% (from 35%) and eliminate the estate tax. On individual tax returns it would change the number of tax brackets from seven to three, with tax rates of 12%, 25%, and 35%; apply a 25% tax rate to business income reported on a personal tax return; eliminate the alternative minimum tax; eliminate personal exemptions; double the standard deduction; and eliminate many itemized deductions (specifically retaining the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions).[305][306] It was unclear from the details offered whether a middle-class couple with children would have seen a tax increase or decrease.[307]

Trump and Vice-President Pence met with key automobile industry leaders, January 24, 2017

According to fact-checkers, Trump's assertion that the plan would not benefit wealthy people such as himself was false, as the elimination of the estate tax (which only applies to inherited wealth greater than $11 million for a married couple) benefits only the heirs of the very rich (such as Trump's children), and there is a reduced tax rate for people who report business income on their individual returns (as Trump does).[308][307][309][310] If Trump's tax plan had been in place in 2005 (the one recent year in which his tax returns were leaked), he would have saved $31 million in taxes from the alternative minimum tax cut alone.[307] If the most recent estimate of the value of Trump's assets is correct, the repeal of the estate tax could save his family about $1.1 billion.[311] Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued that the corporate income tax cut will benefit workers the most; however, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, Congressional Budget Office and many economists estimated that owners of capital would benefit vastly more than workers.[312]

According to The New York Times, the plan would result in a "huge windfall" for the very wealthy, it would not benefit those in the bottom third of the income distribution and it lacked sufficient details to ascertain if middle class Americans will see their taxes rise or fall.[313][305] The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that the richest 0.1% and 1% would benefit the most in raw dollar amounts and percentage terms from the tax plan, earning 10.2% and 8.5% more income after taxes respectively.[314] Middle-class households would on average earn 1.2% more after tax, but 13.5% of middle class households would see their tax burden increase.[314] The poorest fifth of Americans would earn 0.5% more.[314] A preliminary estimate by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that the tax plan would add more than $2 trillion over the next decade to the federal debt,[315] while the Tax Policy Center found that it would add $2.4 trillion to the debt.[314]

During President Trump's first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Trump announced an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, May 2017

In January 2018, ProPublica analyzed specific claims made by President Trump about job creation in companies during the first year of his presidency; Trump claimed that 2.4 million jobs had been or would be created as a result of his policies. ProPublica found that only 136,000 new jobs were created, and that only 63,000 of those jobs could be potentially attributed to Trump's policies.[316]

For the first year when the Trump administration was fully in charge of the budget, the fiscal year of 2018, the federal government was on track to borrow nearly a trillion dollars; "this is the first time borrowing has jumped this much (as a share of GDP) in a non-recession time since Ronald Reagan was president." The budget shortfall was primarily due to the GOP's 2017 tax reform.[317]

During his tenure, Trump repeatedly sought to intervene in the economy in ways to determine corporate winners and losers.[318] This was a shift from Republican orthodoxy. Trump, for example, sought to compel power grid operators to buy coal and nuclear energy, and sought tariffs on metals to protect domestic metal producers.[318] Trump also publicly attacked Boeing and Lockheed Martin, sending their stocks tumbling.[318][319] Trump repeatedly singled out Amazon for criticism and advocated steps that would harm the company, such as ending a mutually lucrative arrangement between Amazon and the US Postal Service and raising taxes on Amazon.[318][320][321] Trump linked his criticism of Amazon to the fact that Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, which Trump has derided as "fake news".[320][321] Trump expressed vociferous opposition to the merger between Time Warner (the parent company of CNN) and AT&T.[322]

In March 2018, Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, triggering a series of tit for tat tariffs and threatened additional tariffs from multiple nations, which by June 2018 had escalated into what some characterized as a trade war[323] The trade dispute disrupted global commerce, with the New York Times noting that "shipments are slowing at ports and airfreight terminals around the world. Prices for crucial raw materials are rising. At factories from Germany to Mexico, orders are being cut and investments delayed. American farmers are losing sales as trading partners hit back with duties of their own."[324] By June 2018, negative effects of the Trump tariffs policy had begun to ripple through the American economy, in particular the agriculture sector.[325][326][327] In July 2018, China retaliated with a $34 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods.[328][329] Trump had signaled that he might impose an additional $200 billion in tariffs if China imposed their own tariffs, with the potential for a further $200 billion, in an escalating trade war.[330]

Upon taking office, Trump halted trade negotiations with the European Union on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which had been under way since 2013.[331][332] In May 2018, Trump initiated a trade conflict with the EU by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum,[333] for which the EU retaliated in June with tariffs of their own,[334] with Trump threatening to escalate the conflict with additional tariffs.[335] In July 2018, Trump and the EU declared a truce of sorts, announcing they would enter into negotiations for an agreement similar to the TTIP.[332]

The New York Times reported on August 5, 2018 that two major American steel companies with close ties to senior Trump administration officials had succeeded in blocking requests from 1,600 American manufacturing companies for waivers of the steel tariffs, compelling them to purchase more expensive American steel. Nucor had financed a documentary made by Peter Navarro, Trump's Director of the White House National Trade Council, and US Steel had previously been represented in legal matters by Trump's trade representative Robert Lighthizer and his deputy Jeffrey Gerrish.[336][337]

A July 2018 paper, which used the synthetic control method, found no evidence that Trump had an impact on the US economy during his 18 months in office.[338]

Consumer protections[]

In October 2017, Vice President Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to reverse a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule that placed limits on mandatory arbitration and made it easier for aggrieved consumers to pursue class actions against banks. Financial firms lobbied for years against the rule; the Associated Press characterized the reversal as a victory for Wall Street banks.[339][340]

In December 2017, the Trump administration scrapped a proposed rule from the Obama administration that airlines disclose baggage fees.[341] The Trump administration dramatically reduced enforcement of regulations against airlines; the fines levied by the administration in 2017 were less than half of what the Obama administration did the year before.[342]

Under Mick Mulvaney's tenure the CFPB reduced enforcement of rules that protected consumers from predatory payday lenders.[343][344]


U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Trump visit Saint Andrew's Catholic School in Orlando, Florida, March 3, 2017

In March 2017, the Trump administration revoked an Obama administration memo which provided protections for people in default on student loans.[345] In September 2017, the Department of Education announced that it would cancel agreements with the CFPB to police student loan fraud.[346] In August 2018, Seth Frotman, the CFPB student loan ombudsman, resigned, accusing the Trump administration of undermining the CFPB's work on protecting student borrowers.[347]

In September 2017, the Trump administration scrapped an Obama administration guidance on how schools and universities should combat sexual harassment and sexual violence. DeVos criticized the guidance for undermining the rights of those accused of sexual harassment.[348]

In May 2018, a New York Times investigation found that DeVos had marginalized an investigative unit within the Department of Education which under Obama investigated predatory activities by for-profit colleges. The unit had been scaled down from a dozen employees to three, and had been repurposed to process student loan forgiveness applications and focus on smaller compliance cases. An investigation started under Obama into the practices of DeVry Education Group, which operates for-profit colleges, was halted in early 2017, and the former dean at DeVry was made into the supervisor for the investigative unit later that summer. DeVry paid a $100 million fine in 2016 for defrauding students.[349] In August 2018, the administration rescinded a regulation that restricted federal funding and financial aid to for-profit colleges unable to demonstrate that college graduates had a reasonable debt-to-earnings ratio after entering the job market.[350]

Election integrity[]

On the eve of the 2018 mid-term elections, Politico described the Trump administration's efforts to combat election propaganda as "rudderless". At the same time, U.S. intelligence agencies warned about "on-going campaigns" by Russia, China and Iran to influence American elections.[351]

Environment and energy[]

2017 Trump rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Trump hold a placard that reads "TRUMP DIGS COAL"

By July 2018, the administration had overturned or was in process of rolling back 76 environmental regulations.[352] A 2018 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that that in the first six months of Pruitt's tenure as EPA head the agency adopted a pro-business attitude unlike that of any previous administration. The study argued that the EPA "moved away from the public interest and explicitly favored the interests of the regulated industries." The study found that the agency was vulnerable to regulatory capture and that the consequences for public and environmental health could be far-reaching.[353] The Washington Post summarized Pruitt's leadership of the EPA in 2017 as follows, "In legal maneuvers and executive actions, in public speeches and closed-door meetings with industry groups, he has moved to shrink the agency's reach, alter its focus, and pause or reverse numerous environmental rules. The effect has been to steer the EPA in the direction sought by those being regulated. Along the way, Pruitt has begun to dismantle former president Barack Obama's environmental legacy, halting the agency's efforts to combat climate change and to shift the nation away from its reliance on fossil fuels."[354] In December 2017, a New York Times analysis of EPA enforcement data found that the Trump administration had adopted a far more lenient approach to enforcing federal pollution laws than the Obama and Bush administrations. The Trump administration brought fewer cases against polluters, sought a lower total of civil penalties and made fewer requests of companies to retrofit facilities to curb pollution. According to the New York Times, "confidential internal E.P.A. documents show that the enforcement slowdown coincides with major policy changes ordered by Mr. Pruitt's team after pleas from oil and gas industry executives."[355]

Moments after Trump's inauguration, the White House removed all references to climate change on its website, with the sole exception of mentioning Trump's intention to eliminate the Obama administration's climate change policies.[356] By April, the EPA had removed climate change material on its website, including detailed climate data and scientific information.[357][358] Anticipating political interference that could result in loss of government data on climate, scientists had already sourced links and copied the data into independent servers.[359]

In January 2017, the administration instituted a temporary media blackout for the EPA, saying that this was to make sure the messages going out reflected the new administration's priorities.[360] In February 2017, the 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.[361] The EPA hired an opposition research firm associated with the Republican Party for $120,000 in a no-bid contract to investigate EPA employees who had expressed criticism of the management of the EPA under Pruitt's tenure.[362] In March 2018, leaked memos showed that EPA employees had been issued guidelines to use climate change denial talking points in official communications about climate change.[363] In October 2018, the EPA disbanded a 20-expert panel on pollution which advised the EPA on the appropriate threshold levels to set for air quality standards.[364]

In February 2017, Trump and Congress removed a rule that required oil, gas and mining firms to disclose how much they paid foreign governments. 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.[365][366] The administration withdrew from the international Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). EITI was aimed at fighting corruption by requiring the disclosure of payments and donations made by oil, gas and mining companies to governments.[367]

The official portrait of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator.

The administration invalidated the Stream Protection Rule, a regulation 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.[368] The administration rolled back regulations which limited dumping by power plants of toxic wastewater containing metals like arsenic and mercury into public waterways,[369] Obama-era regulations on coal ash (carcinogenic leftover waste produced by coal plants),[370] and an Obama-era executive order on protections for oceans, coastlines and lakes which was enacted after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[371] The EPA sought to repeal a regulation which required oil and gas companies to restrict emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.[372] In July 2018, the EPA granted a loophole allowing a small set of trucking companies to skirt emissions rules, allowing the firms to produce trucks that emit 40 to 55 times the air pollutants of other new trucks.[373]

In March 2017, Trump issued an executive order 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.[374]

That same month, the EPA rejected a ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which the EPA's own agency staff had recommended banning due to extensive research showing adverse health effects on children. In August 2018, a federal court ordered the EPA to ban the pesticide, because EPA heads had ignored conclusions of the EPA's own scientists.[375]

In June 2017, Trump announced U.S. withdrawal 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.[138]

The administration suspended a number of large research programs, such as a $1 million National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study on the public health effects of mountaintop removal coal-mining,[376] a $580,000 NAS study intended to make offshore drilling safer,[377] a multimillion-dollar program that distributed grants for research the effects of chemical exposure on children,[378] and $10-million-a-year research line for NASA's Carbon Monitoring System.[379] The administration unsuccessfully sought to kill aspects of NASA's climate science program.[379]

In August 2017, the administration rolled back regulations requiring the federal government to account for climate change and sea-level rise when building infrastructure.[380]

By October 2017, the EPA exped the process for approving new chemicals and made the process of evaluating the safety of those chemicals less stringent. Officials and longtime scientists at the EPA expressed concerns that the agency's ability to stop hazardous chemicals was being compromised.[381] Internal emails showed that Pruitt's aides in early 2018 prevented the publication of a health study showing that some toxic chemicals endanger humans at far lower levels than the EPA previously characterized as safe.[382] The aides said that the study would be a "potential public relations nightmare" and would attract the attention of the public, media and Congress.[382] The chemical in question was present in high quantities around a number of military bases, including in the ground water.[383] The non-disclosure of the study and the delay in public knowledge of the findings may have prevented the government from updating the infrastructure at the bases and individuals who lived near the bases from avoiding the tap water.[383] In June 2018, the EPA scaled back its health and safety risk assessments of chemicals.[384]

Trump signing the Presidential memoranda to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. January 24, 2017

In December 2017, the administration sharply reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah by approximately two million acres, making it the largest reduction of public land protections in American history.[385] Shortly afterwards, Interior Secretary Zinke advocated for downsizing four additional national monuments and change the way that six additional monuments were managed.[386]

In December 2017, President Trump - who had repeatedly called scientific consensus on climate a "hoax" before becoming President - for the first time as President called into question climate change by falsely implying that cold weather at the end of December meant that climate change was not occurring.[387]

In January 2018, the administration singled out the state of Florida as an exemption from the administration's offshore drilling plan. The move stirred controversy because it came after the Governor of Florida, Republican Rick Scott (who was considering a 2018 Senate run), complained about the offshore drilling plan. The move raised ethical questions because Trump owns a resort in Florida and because Florida is a swing state that Trump would like to win in the 2020 presidential election. NBC News said that the decision had the appearance of "transactional favoritism" and that it was likely to lead to lawsuits.[388]

That same month, the administration enacted 30% tariffs on solar panels. The American solar energy industry is highly reliant on foreign parts (80% of parts are made abroad); as a result, the tariffs could raise the costs of solar energy, reduce innovation and reduce jobs in the industry — which in 2017 employed nearly four times as many American workers as the coal industry.[389][390][391] Bloomberg News described the move as the Trump administration "most targeted strike on the [renewables] industry" in a series of actions taken to undermine renewables.[390]

In April 2018, Pruitt announced a policy change within the EPA whereby EPA regulators would be prohibited from considering scientific research unless the raw data of the research was made publicly available. This would limit EPA regulators' use of much environmental research, given that participants in many such studies provide personal health information which is kept confidential.[392] The EPA cited two bipartisan reports and various nonpartisan studies about the use of science in government to defend the decision. However, the authors of those reports dismissed that the EPA followed their instructions, with one author saying, "They don't adopt any of our recommendations, and they go in a direction that's completely opposite, completely different. They don't adopt any of the recommendations of any of the sources they cite."[393]

In June 2018, David Cutler and Francesca Dominici of Harvard University estimated conservatively that the Trump administration's modifications to environmental rules could result in over 80 000 additional U.S. deaths and widespread respiratory ailments.[394] In August 2018, the Trump administration's own analysis showed that the administration's loosening of restrictions on coal plants could cause up to 1,400 premature deaths and 15,000 new cases of respiratory problems.[395]

In July 2018, the administration proposed to change the Endangered Species Act to eliminate automatic protections for threatened plant and animal species, and make it easier to remove species from the list.[396]

Government size and regulations[]

The New York Times found in November 2018 that the administration had "presided over a sharp decline in financial penalties against banks and big companies accused of malfeasance," relative to the Obama administration.[397]

In the first six weeks of his tenure, Trump suspended — or in a few cases, revoked — over 90 regulations.[398] In January 2017, Trump ordered a temporary government-wide hiring freeze of the civilian work force (excluding staff in the military, national security, public safety and offices of new presidential appointees). In February 2017, said he did not intend to fill many of the governmental positions that were still vacant, as he considered them unnecessary;[399] there were nearly 2,000 vacant government positions.[400] The hiring freeze was lifted in April 2017.[401]

In early 2017, Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to slash two existing regulations for every new one (without spending on regulations going up).[402] A September 2017 Bloomberg BNA review found that due to unclear wording in the order and the large proportion of regulations that it exempts, the order had had little effect since it was signed.[403] The Trump OMB released an analysis in February 2018 indicating that the economic benefits of regulations significantly outweigh the economic costs.[404]

In July 2018, the administration ended the requirement that nonprofits, including political advocacy groups who collect so-called "dark money", disclose the names of large donors to the Internal Revenue Service.[405]


In February 2017, the administration rolled back an Obama-era regulation prohibiting gun ownership among the approximately 75,000 individuals who received Social Security checks due to mental illness and who were deemed unfit to handle their financial affairs.[406]

In March 2018, Trump instructed the DOJ to ban bump stocks.[407]

Health care[]

CBO estimated in May 2017 that the Republican AHCA would reduce the number of persons with health insurance by 23 million during 2026, relative to current law.[408]

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.[409] On taking office, Trump promised to pass a healthcare bill that would cover everyone and result in better and less expensive insurance.[300]

Alex Azar WWSG Photo

Congressional Republicans made two serious efforts to repeal the ACA. First, in March 2017, Trump endorsed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a Republican bill to repeal and replace the ACA.[410] Opposition from several House Republicans, including both moderate and conservatives, led to the defeat of this version of the bill on March 24, 2017.[410] At the time, Trump stated that the "best thing politically is to let Obamacare explode".[411] Several weeks later on May 4, the House narrowly voted in favor of a new version of the AHCA to repeal the ACA, sending the bill to the Senate for deliberation.[410] Over the next weeks the Senate made several attempts to create a repeal bill; however, all the proposals were ultimately rejected in a series of Senate votes in late July.[410] Trump reacted by alternately urging Congress to keep trying and threatening to "let Obamacare implode".[412] The individual mandate was ultimately repealed in December 2017 by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The CBO estimated in May 2018 that the repeal of the individual mandate would increase the number of uninsured by 8 million and that individual healthcare insurance premiums increased by 10% between 2017 and 2018.[413]

Trump repeatedly expressed a desire to "let Obamacare fail", and the Trump administration has been accused of trying to "sabotage Obamacare" by various actions.[414][415] The open enrollment period was cut from 12 weeks to 6, the advertising budget for enrollment was cut by 90%, and organizations helping people shop for coverage got 39% less money.[416][417] In September 2017, the administration ordered HHS regional directors not to participate in state open enrollment events, as they had in previous years.[418] A September 2017 report by the (CBO) found that ACA enrollment at health care exchanges would be lower in 2018 and future years than its previous forecasts due to the Trump administration's cuts to advertisement spending for enrollment, a smaller enrollment window, and less outreach. The CBO also found that insurance premiums would rise sharply in 2018 due to the Trump administration's refusal to commit to continuing paying ACA subsidies, which added uncertainty to the insurance market and led insurers to raise premiums for fear they will not get subsidized.[416][419] In June 2018, the administration sided with a lawsuit to overturn the ACA, including protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.[420] On October 4, 2018, Trump stated “Some of the Democrats have been talking about ending (coverage for) pre-existing conditions,” and 20 days later he tweeted “Republicans will totally protect people with Pre-Existing Conditions, Democrats will not!”[421] Politifact rated Trump's statement about Democrats as “Pants on Fire,” also noting that eighteen attorneys general and two governors, all Republicans, filed a federal lawsuit in February 2018 that would end coverage for pre-existing conditions, and that the Trump administration had chosen to not challenge the suit.[422][423]

In October 2017, the administration ended subsidy payments to health insurance companies, saying that they are "moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market".[424] The decision was expected to raise premiums in 2018 for middle-class families by an average of about 20% nationwide and cost the federal government nearly $200 billion more than it saved over a ten-year period.[425] People with lower incomes would be unaffected because the ACA provides tax crs that ensure their out-of-pocket insurance costs remain stable.[425] The administration made it easier for businesses to use health insurance plans that are not covered by several of the ACA's protections, such as to protect individuals with preexisting conditions.[426] During the 2018 mid-term election campaign, Trump said that "all Republicans", him included, supported protections for individuals with preexisting conditions; at the time, the administration had supported attempts both in Congress and in the courts to roll back the ACA (and its protections for preexisting conditions).[427][426]

In October 2017, the administration modified a requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies had to cover birth control methods free of charge to women so that any company or nonprofit could opt out of the requirement if they had religious or moral objections to birth control.[428] Survey results indicate that more than 10% of companies with more than 200 employees would opt out of birth control coverage if they had the option to whereas the administration said that no more than 120,000 women would be affected.[429] In justifying the action, the administration said that contraceptive use caused harms, such as risky sex behavior, cited the potential side effects of contraceptives, and asserted that the relationship between contraceptive use and unintended pregnancy was uncertain and complex.[429] Indiana University professor of pediatrics Aaron E. Carroll noted "there is ample evidence that contraception works, that reducing its expense leads to more women who use it appropriately, and that using it doesn't lead to riskier sexual behavior."[429]

In December 2017, the administration reduced enforcement of penalties against nursing homes that harm residents.[430]

In February 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it would cut 80% of its efforts to stop infectious-disease epidemics worldwide due to budget cuts.[431]

As a candidate and throughout his presidency, Trump said he would cut the costs of pharmaceuticals. During his first seven months in office, there were 96 price hikes for every drug price cut.[432] In May 2018, Trump announced that he would not allow Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices from pharmaceutical companies, abandoning a promise he made as candidate.[433]

Opioid epidemic[]

Donald Trump at the 15th Annual Opioid Takeback Day

In September 2017, Trump nominated Tom Marino to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy and become the nation's drug czar.[434] In October 2017, Marino withdrew his name from consideration after a joint Washington Post and 60 Minutes investigation found that Marino had been the chief architect of a bill that crippled the enforcement powers of the DEA and worsened the opioid crisis in the United States.[434]

In November 2017, it was announced that Kellyanne Conway would lead White House efforts to combat the opioid epidemic; Conway had no experience or expertise on matters of public health, substance abuse, or law enforcement.[435] Conway sidelined drug experts and opted instead for the use of political staff. In February 2018, Politico wrote that the administration's "main response" to the opioid crisis had "so far has been to call for a border wall and to promise a "just say no" campaign."[435]

In October 2017, the administration declared a 90-day public health emergency over the opioid epidemic and pledged to urgently mobilize the federal government in response to the crisis. On January 11, 2018, 12 days before the declaration ran out, Politico noted that "beyond drawing more attention to the crisis, virtually nothing of consequence has been done."[436] The administration had not proposed any new resources or spending, had not started the promised advertising campaign to spread awareness about addiction, and had yet to fill key public health and drug positions in the administration.[436] In January 2018, The Washington Post reported that one of the top officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is tasked with multibillion-dollar anti-drug initiatives and curbing the opioid epidemic, was a 24-year old campaign staffer from the Trump 2016 campaign who lied on his CV and whose stepfather went to jail for manufacturing illegal drugs; after the administration was contacted about the official's qualifications and CV, the administration gave him a job with different tasks in the ONDCP.[437]

Housing and urban policy[]

In December 2017, The Economist described the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), led by Ben Carson, as "directionless".[438] Most of the top HUD positions were unfilled and Carson's leadership was "inconspicuous and inscrutable".[438] Of the policies that HUD was enacting, The Economist wrote, "it is hard not to conclude that the governing principle at HUD is to take whatever the Obama administration was doing, and do the opposite."[438] Under Carson's tenure, HUD scaled back the enforcement of fair housing laws, and halted several fair housing investigations started by the Obama administration.[439] In March 2018, HUD removed the words "inclusive" and "free from discrimination" from its mission statement.[439]

In June 2017, the administration designated Lynne Patton, an event planner who had worked on the Trump campaign and planned Eric Trump's wedding, to lead HUD's New York and New Jersey office (which oversees billions of federal dollars).[440]

Disaster relief[]

President Trump signs the Hurricane Harvey relief bill at Camp David, September 8, 2017

Hurricane Harvey[]

On August 28, 2017, the Category 4 Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeastern Texas, and caused 40-60 inch rainfall and massive flooding in the Houston area. The next day, Trump visited Corpus Christi, Texas near where Harvey made landfall, and then visited the Austin, Texas Emergency Operations Center.[441] During the Corpus Christi visit he praised the work of FEMA administrator Brock Long, Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and praised the crowd size.[441] Politico wrote that during his visit, "the president didn't meet a single storm victim, see an inch of rain or get near a flooded street."[441] In September, Trump personally donated $1 million designated for hurricane relief to twelve organizations, in what Glenn Thrush called "one of the largest financial commitments made by a sitting president to a charitable cause".[442] On September 8, Trump signed into law H.R. 601, which among other spending actions designated $15 billion for Hurricane Harvey relief.[443]

Hurricane Irma[]

On September 10, two weeks after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana, the Category 4 Hurricane Irma hit the southwestern tip of Florida and then moved up Florida Gulf coast causing extensive damage and prolonged power outages. Trump visited the damage area and relief efforts on September 14, promising full financial backing for the state's recovery.[444]

Hurricane Maria[]

On September 20, 2017, Puerto Rico was struck by Category 4 Hurricane Maria, causing widespread devastation, knocking out the power system and phone towers, destroying buildings, and causing widespread flooding. The Trump administration came under criticism for a delayed response to the humanitarian crisis on the island.[445][446] Politicians on both sides of the aisle had called for immediate aid for Puerto Rico, and criticized Trump for focusing on a feud with the NFL instead.[447] Trump did not comment on Puerto Rico for several days while the crisis was unfolding.[445] According to The Washington Post, the White House did not feel a sense of urgency until "images of the utter destruction and desperation — and criticism of the administration's response — began to appear on television."[448] Trump later dismissed the criticism, saying he was "very proud" of an "amazing" response[446] and that efforts to distribute necessary supplies and services were "doing well". The Washington Post noted, "on the ground in Puerto Rico, nothing could be further from the truth."[448] Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital San Juan, repeatedly criticized US relief efforts, saying that they were not reaching the people who needed the aid; on September 29 she made a desperate plea for help, saying that people are "dying, starving, thirsty".[449] Trump responded by criticizing Puerto Rico officials, saying that they had "poor leadership ability" and "want everything to be done for them", and repeatedly pointing out Puerto Rico's debt crisis.[449] On September 28 the Army dispatched Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan to Puerto Rico to assess the situation and see how the military could be more effective in helping.[450]

In January 2018, FEMA officially ended its humanitarian mission in Puerto Rico; at the time of FEMA's departure, one third of Puerto Rico residents still lacked electricity and some places lacked running water.[451] A March 2018 Politico analysis of the administration's response indicated that the administration and Trump himself showed far more attention to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and that the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was slower and weaker.[452] An academic study by the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that the number of hurricane-related deaths during the period September 20, 2017 to December 31, 2017 was around 4,600 (range 793-8,498)[453] The official death rate due to Maria reported by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is 2,975; the figure was based on an independent investigation by George Washington University commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico.[454] Trump claimed, without evidence, that the official death rate was wrong and that the Democrats were trying to make him "look as bad as possible". Other Republicans, such as Paul Ryan and Florida governor Rick Scott distanced themselves from Trump's statements.[455]

California wildfires[]

In November 2018, while California was experiencing was one of its most destructive wildfires, Trump blamed the fires on "gross" and "poor" "mismanagement" of forests by California, saying that there was no other reason for these wildfires. The New York Times described Trump's claims as misleading, noting that the fires in question were not "forest fires", that most of the forest was owned by federal agencies, and that climate change in part contributed to the fires.[456]


Trump has repeatedly characterized illegal immigrants as criminals, although multiple studies have found they have lower crime and incarceration rates than native-born Americans.[457] 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.[458] In January 2017, Trump signed an executive order directing the DHS Secretary to begin work on a wall.[459] An internal DHS report estimated that Trump's wall would cost $21.6 billion and take 3.5 years to build (far higher than the Trump 2016 campaign's estimate ($12 billion) and the $15 billion estimate from Republican congressional leaders).[460] Other analyses estimated a total cost of up to $25 billion, with the cost of private land acquisitions and fence maintenance pushing the total cost up further.[461] In August 2017, the transcript of the January 2017 phone call between Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was leaked; in the phone call, Trump conceded that he would fund the border wall, not by charging Mexico as he promised during the campaign, and implored the Mexican President to stop saying publicly that the Mexican government would not pay for the border wall.[462] In January 2018, the administration proposed spending $18 billion over the next 10 years on the wall, more than half of the $33 billion spending blueprint for border security.[463] Trump's plan would reduce funding for border surveillance, radar technology, patrol boats and customs agents; experts and officials say that these are more effective at curbing illegal immigration and preventing terrorism and smuggling than a border wall.[463]

In February 2017, Trump stated, "According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country." Fact-checkers found that most of those convictions were for cases of terrorism that did not occur in America but were prosecuted in America, and many other cases involved non-violent offenses like fraud or immigration violations.[464][465][466][467] Moreover, an April 2017 analysis by the Government Accountability Office found that between September 12, 2001 and December 31, 2016, 73% of violent extremist incidents resulting in deaths were perpetrated by far right wing violent extremist groups, while 27% were perpetrated by radical Islamist violent extremists.[465]

The administration embraced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act in August 2017. The RAISE Act sought to reduce legal immigration levels to the U.S. by 50% by halving the number of green cards issued, capping refugee admissions at 50,000 a year and ending the visa diversity lottery.[468]

In August 2017, the administration terminated a program that granted temporary legal residence to unaccompanied Central American minors. 2,714 individuals would need to renew their legal residence status through other more difficult immigrant channels.[469] In November 2017, the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) granted to 60,000 Haitians following the 2010 Haiti earthquake was revoked.[470] In January 2018, the administration announced that approximately 200,000 Salvadorans, who were given Temporary Protected Status in the U.S. after a series of devastating earthquakes in 2001, would have their residency permits revoked; which means that they will have to leave the country, seek new permits or stay as undocumented immigrants.[471] The Salvadorans are parents to an estimated 190,000 U.S.-born children.[470] In October 2018, a federal judge blocked the administration's attempt to deport the TPS recipients, citing what the judge said was Trump's racial "animus against non-white, non-European immigrants."[472]

An analysis released by Trump's Department of Health and Human Services in September 2017 was found to have removed earlier findings that refugees entering America had a $63 billion net positive effect on tax revenues between 2005 and 2014, with the final report counting only the costs that refugees incur.[473] In July 2018, Sessions rescinded a DOJ guidance on refugees and asylum seekers' right to work, thus prohibiting them from working in the United States.[474]

In October 2017, Secretary of Defense Mattis added additional background checks for non-citizens who served in the military and extended the time that the service members had to serve before they could receive necessary paperwork to pursue US citizenship. As a result of these changes, the number of service members who applied for citizenship through their service declined by 65% in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018.[475]

In December 2017, the administration announced that it would make it illegal for spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the United States.[476]

In January 2018, Trump was widely criticized after referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations in general as "shithole countries" at a bipartisan meeting on immigration. Multiple international leaders condemned his remarks as racist.[477]

By February 2018, arrests of undocumented immigrants by ICE increased by 40% during Trump's tenure. Arrests of noncriminal undocumented immigrants were twice as high as during Obama's final year in office. Arrests of undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions only increased slightly.[478]

In March 2018, the Commerce Department announced that it would add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Experts noted that the inclusion of such a question would likely result in severe undercounting of the population and faulty data, as undocumented immigrants would be less likely to respond to the census.[479] Blue states, especially California, are therefore likely to get less congressional apportionment and fund apportionment than they would otherwise get, because they have larger undocumented populations.[480] In response, Xavier Becerra, California's attorney general, announced his attention to sue the administration over the decision.[479] Similar suits were filed in New York, Washington D.C., and several cities. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and immigrants' rights organizations sued in June 2018.[481]

In July 2018, experts noted that due to the administration's strict border security policy, there was an increase in criminality and lawlessness along the US-Mexico border. There was a strengthening of ties between human smugglers, organized crime and corrupt local law enforcement along the US-Mexico border, and that organized crime groups were preying on asylum seekers who were prevented by US authorities from filing for asylum.[482]

During the 2018 mid-term election campaign, Trump sent nearly 5,600 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border for the stated purpose of protecting the United States against a caravan of Central American migrants.[483] The Pentagon had previously concluded that the caravan posed no threat to the U.S. The border deployment was estimated to cost as much as $220 million by the end of the year.[484] With daily warnings from Trump about the dangers of the caravan during the mid-terms, the frequency and intensity of the caravan rhetoric declined dramatically after election day.[485]

Period Refugee Program[486][487]
2018 45,000
2019 30,000

Family separation policy[]

June 2018 protest against the Trump administration family separation policy, in Chicago, Illinois.

In May 2018, the administration announced it would separate children from parents caught unlawfully crossing the southern border into the United States. Parents were routinely charged with a misdemeanor and jailed; their children were placed in separate detention centers with no established procedure to track them or reunite them with their parent after they had served time for their offence, generally only a few hours or days.[488] Later that month, Trump falsely accused Democrats of creating that policy, despite it originating from his own administration, and urged Congress to "get together" and pass an immigration bill.[489] Members of Congress from both parties condemned the practice and pointed out that the White House could end the separations on its own; Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said, "President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call."[490] The Washington Post quoted a White House official as saying that Trump's decision to separate migrant families was to gain political leverage to force Democrats and moderate Republicans to accept hardline immigration legislation.[491]

Six weeks into the implementation of the "zero tolerance" policy, at least 2,300 migrant children had been separated from their families.[492] The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians and the American Psychiatric Association condemned the policy, with the American Academy of Pediatrics saying that the policy was causing "irreparable harm" to the children.[493][491] The policy was extremely unpopular, more so than any major piece of legislation in recent memory.[494] Images of children held in cage-like detention centers, interviews of sobbing mothers who had no idea where their children were and had not heard from them for weeks and months, and an audio of sobbing children resulted in an outrage calling the practice "inhumane," "cruel" and "evil."[492] On June 30, a national protest drew hundreds of thousands of protesters from all 50 states to demonstrate in more than 600 towns and cities.[495] All four living former First Ladies of the United StatesRosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama—condemned the policy of separating children from their parents.[496] Amidst the growing outrage, DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen falsely claimed on June 17, "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period."[497]

On June 20, 2018, amid worldwide outrage and enormous political pressure to roll back his policy, Trump signed an executive order to end family separations at the U.S. border, unilaterally reversing his policy.[492] He had earlier said that "you can't do it through an executive order."[492] As the result of a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, on June 26, U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the family-separation policy.[498][499] In his opinion, Sabraw wrote that the federal government "readily keeps track of personal property of detainees in criminal and immigration proceedings", yet "has no system in place to keep track of, provide effective communication with, and promptly produce alien children." The injunction required the government to reunite separated families within 30 days except where not appropriate.[498][499]

On July 26, the administration said that 1,442 children had been reunited with their parents while 711 remain in government shelters because their cases are still under review, their parents have criminal records, or they are no longer in the United States. Administration officials state that 431 parents of those children have already been deported without their children. Officials said they will work with the court to return the remaining children, including the children whose parents have been deported.[500][501]

Immigration order[]

Trump signing Executive Order 13769 at the Pentagon as the Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense James Mattis look on, January 27, 2017

During his first nine months in office, Trump issued several directives aimed at restricting entry of certain people into the United States. Each directive was challenged in court.

On January 27, 2017, Trump signed an executive order which indefinitely suspended admission of asylum seekers 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.[502] Later, the administration seemed to reverse a portion of part of the order, effectively exempting visitors with a green card.[503] After the order was challenged in the federal courts, several federal judges issued rulings enjoining the government from enforcing the order.[503] 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 DOJ would defend the order.[504]

A new executive order was signed in March which places limits on travel to the U.S. from six different countries for 90 days, and by all refugees who do not possess either a visa or valid travel documents for 120 days.[505] The new executive order revoked and replaced the former Executive Order 13769 issued in January.[506]

On June 26, the Supreme Court partially stayed certain injunctions that were put on the order by two federal appeals courts earlier, allowing the executive order to mostly go into effect. On October 10 the Court dismissed the case, saying that the orders had been replaced by a new proclamation, so challenges to the previous executive orders are moot.[507]

On September 24, 2017, Trump signed a proclamation that placed limits on the six countries in the second executive order and added Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.[508] On October 17, 2017, Judge Derrick Watson, of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii issued another temporary restraining order in response to a petition by the state of Hawaii.[509] On December 4, 2017, the Supreme Court allowed the September 2017 travel restrictions to go into effect while legal challenges in Hawaii and Maryland are heard. The decision effectively bars most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea from entry into the United States along with some groups of people from Venezuela.[510]

LGBT policy[]

On January 31, 2017, Trump said his administration would keep intact the 2014 executive order that protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors.[511] However, in March 2017, the Trump administration rolled back key components of the Obama administration's workplace protections for LGBT people.[512] The Trump administration rescinded requirements that federal contractors prove that they are complying with the LGBT workplace protections, which makes it difficult to tell if a contractor had refrained from discriminatory practices against LGBT individuals.[512] LGBT advocates argued that this was a signal that the Trump administration would not enforce workplace violations against LGBT people.[512]

In February 2017, the Trump administration rescinded an Obama directive (interpreting gender identity under Title IX) that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity.[513]

In March 2017, the administration rolled back efforts to collect data on LGBT Americans.[514] The HHS removed a question about sexual orientation in a survey of the elderly.[514] The U.S. Census Bureau, which had planned to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity in the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey, scrapped those plans in March 2017.[515] In December 2017, the CDC was reportedly prohibited from using the term "transgender";[516] the CDC Director denied the report.[517]

On July 26, 2017, Trump tweeted that transgender individuals would not be allowed "to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military", citing the alleged "disruption" and "tremendous medical costs" of having transgender service members.[518] However, a RAND study of 18 countries that allow transgender individuals to serve in the military found "little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness".[519] Also, according to Scientific American, studies have shown that the medical costs for transgender service members would be "minimal".[520] According to the Rand Corporation, about 4,000 active-duty and reserve service members were transgender in 2016.[518] The ban was blocked by a federal court.[521] In March 2018, Trump announced a new policy on transgender service members, namely a ban on those with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, which would effectively be a ban on most transgender service members.[522] The policy was stayed in Karnoski vs. Trump (Western District of Washington) on April 13, 2018, when the court ruled that the 2018 memorandum essentially repeated the same issues as its predecessor order from 2017, that transgender service members (and transgender individuals as a class) were a protected class entitled to strict scrutiny of adverse laws (or at worst, a quasi-suspect class), and ordered that matter continue to a full trial hearing on the legality of the proposed policy.[523]

In July 2017, the DOJ argued in court that federal civil rights law did not ban employers from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation. The Obama administration had decided that it did.[524]

In September 2017, the DOJ filed a brief on behalf of a baker who was found to have violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex couple. The Washington Post described the decision as part of "a series of steps the Trump administration has taken to rescind Obama administration positions favorable to gay rights".[525]

In October 2017, Sessions ordered the DOJ to no longer side with transgender plaintiffs in workplace discrimination lawsuits invoking the Civil Rights Act.[526]


The administration marginalized the role of science in policymaking. It was the first administration since 1941 not to name a White House science advisor. While preparing for talks with Kim Jong Un, the White House did not do so with the assistance of a White House science adviser or senior counselor trained in nuclear physics. The position of chief scientist in the State Department or the Department of Agriculture was not filled. The administration nominated Sam Clovis to be chief scientist in the Agriculture Department, but he had no scientific background and the White House later withdrew the nomination. The administration successfully nominated Jim Bridenstine, who had no background in science and rejected the scientific consensus on climate change, to lead NASA. The Interior Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Food and Drug Administration disbanded advisory committees.[527]

In March 2017, the Energy Department prohibited the use of the term "climate change".[528] In December 2017, the administration sent a list to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on words that the agency that was prohibited from using in its official communications.[516] These words included "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based," "science-based," "vulnerable," "entitlement," and "diversity."[516] The Director of the CDC denied these reports.[517]

Veterans affairs[]

Prior to David Shulkin's firing in April 2018, The New York Times described the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a "rare spot of calm in the Trump administration". Shulkin built upon changes started under the Obama administration to do a long-term overhaul of the VA system.[529] In May 2018, legislation to increase veterans' access to private care was stalled, as was a VA overhaul which sought to synchronize medical records.[530] In May 2018, there were reports of a large number of resignations of senior staffers and a major re-shuffling.[529]

In August 2018, ProPublica reported that group of three wealthy Mar-a-Lago patrons, who had no experience in the military or the government, formed an "informal council" that strongly shaped VA decision-making. The trio, which VA staff referred to as "the Mar-a-Lago Crowd", spoke to VA staff daily, and provided instructions on policy and personnel decisions at the agency.[531]

During the 2018 mid-term election campaign, Trump repeatedly and inaccurately took cr for the Veterans Choice Program, saying it was his "greatest idea" and that it took 44 years for the law to pass. The law in question was signed by President Obama in 2014.[532]

Voting rights[]

Under the first 18 months of the administration, the DOJ "launched no new efforts to roll back state restrictions on the ability to vote, and instead often sides with them."[533]

Trump has repeatedly, without evidence, alleged that there is widespread voter fraud, and did so specifically for both the 2016 elections and the 2018 mid-term elections.[534] In May 2017, the administration created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (commonly referred to as the Voter Fraud Commission), with the stated purpose to review the extent of voter fraud. The commission was created in the wake of Trump's false claim that millions of unauthorized votes cost him the popular vote in the 2016 United States presidential election. It was chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, while the vice chair and day-to-day administrator was Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, best known for promoting restrictions on access to voting. The commission began its work by requesting each state to turn over detailed information about all registered voters in their database. Most states rejected the request, citing privacy concerns or state laws.[535]

Multiple lawsuits were filed against the commission. In November 2017, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democratic member of the commission, said that Kobach was refusing to share working documents and scheduling information with him and the other Democrats on the commission. He filed suit, and in December a federal judge ordered the commission to hand over the documents.[536] In January 2018, the Trump administration disbanded the commission, and informed Dunlap that it would not obey the court order to provide the documents because the commission no longer existed. In the announcement disbanding the commission, Trump blamed states for not handing over requested voter information to the commission, while still maintaining that there was "substantial evidence of voter fraud", an assertion which is contrary to existing research and expert assessments, which have shown voter fraud to be extremely rare.[537][538][539] Election integrity experts argued that the commission was disbanded because of the lawsuits, which would have led to greater transparency and accountability in the commission and thus prevented the Republican members of the commission from producing a sham report to justify restrictions on voting rights.[536] In January 2018, it was revealed that the Commission had, in its requests for Texas voter data, specifically asked for data that identifies voters with Hispanic surnames.[540]

White nationalists and Charlottesville rally[]

On August 13, 2017, Trump condemned violence "on many sides" after a gathering of hundreds of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, the previous day (August 12) turned deadly. A white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 others.[541] According to Sessions, that action met the definition of domestic terrorism.[542] During the rally there had been other violence, as some counter-protesters charged at the white nationalists with swinging clubs and mace, throwing bottles, rocks, and paint.[543][544][545] Trump did not expressly mention Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, or the alt-right movement in his remarks on August 13,[546] but the following day (August 14) he did denounce white supremacists.[547] He condemned "the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups".[548] Then the next day (August 15), he again blamed "both sides".[549]

Many Republican and Democratic elected officials condemned the violence and hatred of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and alt-right activists. Trump came under criticism from world leaders[550] and politicians,[551][546] as well as a variety of religious groups[552] and anti-hate organizations[553] for his remarks, which were seen as muted and equivocal.[551] The New York Times reported that Trump "was the only national political figure to spread blame for the 'hatred, bigotry and violence' that resulted in the death of one person to 'many sides'",[551] and said that Trump had "buoyed the white nationalist movement on Tuesday as no president has done in generations".[554] White nationalist groups felt "emboldened" after the rally and planned additional demonstrations.[542]

Foreign policy[]

A controversial hiring freeze was in place at the State Department from April 2017[555] to May 2018.[556] During Rex Tillerson's tenure as Secretary of State (February 2017–March 2018), he implemented drastic budget cuts, pushed out a large amount of Senior Foreign Service officers, and left many senior positions in the State Department and ambassador postings vacant.[557][556]


Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, April 2017

As candidate and as president, Trump repeatedly criticized members of NATO for inadequately funding their share of defense spending, calling for them to meet their commitments to spend 2% of their GDP.[558][better source needed] At the July 2018 NATO summit, Trump called for members to double their spending commitment to 4% of GDP.[559] Trump also falsely asserted that many NATO members "owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they’re delinquent".[560] He also called Germany "captive to Russia" after criticizing it for supporting the Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline and pointing out that former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is a top executive at the Russian-government-controlled company that runs the pipeline.[561] NATO members expressed consternation about Trump's confrontational tone.[562] As Trump was arriving at the summit, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 97-2 for a resolution in support for NATO,[563] and during the day of Trump's remarks the Republican-controlled House passed a similar resolution by unanimous voice vote.[564] Despite offering criticism of NATO, Trump signed a 23-page resolution along with the other members that promoted unity and criticized Russia for the annexation of Crimea.[559] During a press conference following the summit, Trump asserted that America spends 4.2% of its GDP on NATO,[565][better source needed] providing 70% to 90% of NATO's total funding.[566][better source needed] However, total American defense spending was 3.8% of GDP in 2017[567] and the American share of NATO funding is estimated at 22.1% during 2018-19.[568][improper synthesis?]

Ahead of a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, on July 15, Trump stated in an interview with CBS Evening News that he thought that "the European Union is a foe" for "what they do to us in trade",[569] after being asked to identify United States' biggest foe globally. In the same interview Trump also named China and Russia as "foes".[570]

Trump has threatened NATO ally Turkey with economic sanctions over its detention of the evangelical Christian pastor Andrew Brunson in a case that has strained Turkey–United States relations. On August 1, 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Turkey's justice and interior ministers.[571]


In May 2017, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Europeans cannot rely on United States' help anymore.[572] This came after Trump had said the Germans were "bad, very bad" and threatened to stop all car trade with Germany.[573] In July 2018, Trump has criticized the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany.[574]

United Kingdom[]

President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May meet at the White House, January 27, 2017

In July 2018 Trump made a "working visit" to the UK following the NATO summit. On his way there, Trump criticized Theresa May for her handling of Brexit — a matter that had caused her government to teeter in recent days — and complimented Boris Johnson, a pro-Brexit adversary of May, saying he "would be a great prime minister." Trump later denied he had criticized May, and then complimented her.[575] He stated that efforts of the UK to maintain close ties with the EU could jeopardize any future trade deal with America.[576] He attended a formal dinner with May and other dignitaries, and met the Queen. Discussions about Brexit and trade were on the agenda.[577] His visit was greeted with large protests, most of which were kept away from him as he spent his time at country estates instead of in London.[578]


Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 2017 G20 Hamburg summit in Hamburg

During the campaign and continuing during his presidency, Trump repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin and expressed his desire for better relations with Russia.[579][580] As of June 2018 the two had spoken by phone eight times, and they have briefly met in person on two occasions.[581]

On taking office Trump indicated he would be open to lifting existing sanctions on Russia,[582] and he reportedly ordered the State Department to look into doing so, but no sanctions were actually lifted.[583] On March 25, 2017, his administration imposed new sanctions against eight Russian companies in connection with the Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Act.[584] In July 2017 Congress passed a bill imposing new sanctions and giving Congress the power to block any effort by the White House to weaken sanctions on Russia. Trump opposed the bill but signed it because it had passed both houses by a veto-proof majority.[585][586] In a signing statement he indicated that he might choose not to enforce certain provisions of the legislation that he deemed unconstitutional.[587] On March 26, 2018, as part of international support for the UK's reaction to the poisoning in Britain of a Russian expatriate and his daughter, the U.S. ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closure of a Russian consulate in Seattle.[588] After the expulsions were announced, Trump complained to his staff that the number 60 was too high.[589]

The U.S. and Russia clashed repeatedly over the civil war in Syria, in which Russia actively supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while a U.S.-led coalition has conducted air strikes against Syrian government forces as well as ISIL-linked groups. On February 7, 2018, a U.S. air and artillery strike on a pro-government formation in eastern Syria killed multiple Russian mercenary troops. The incident was described as "the first deadly clash between citizens of Russia and the United States since the Cold War" and an ″an episode that threatens to deepen tensions with Moscow″.[590][591] On April 7, 2017, the U.S. conducted cruise-missile strikes on the Syrian Shayrat Airbase as a response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack.[592][593] The strikes were condemned by Russia as an "act of aggression".[594]

Putin-Trump summit[]

Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 2018 Russia–United States summit in Helsinki

A summit between Trump and Putin took place in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018, four days after the US Justice department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in US 2016 elections and hacking the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign.[595] During an interview beforehand with CBS on Saturday, July 14, 2018, Trump stated he was going to go into the meeting with "low expectations".[596]

Trump and Putin spoke privately for more than two hours, with no aides present except two translators. No agenda was published for their discussion, and no communiqué was issued afterward. Some issues were touched on at the press conference immediately following the private discussion. Both leaders said they had discussed the Syrian civil war and extension of the START treaty.[597] When asked about Russia's interference in the 2016 election, Trump said that "Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial" and that he did not "see any reason why it would be" Russia, contradicting American intelligence agencies' unanimous findings on the matter.[598][599][600] This echoed his earlier comment in November 2017, when Trump said he believed Putin was being sincere in denying interfering in the American election.[601]

In the following days, no followup announcements were made by U.S. sources, but Russian sources issued multiple statements about what they said were agreements made at the summit, thus "shaping a narrative of the meeting with no confirmation or alternative account from the Trump administration."[602] White House and Pentagon spokesmen said they were not aware of any new agreements.[603]

Immediately following their private discussion, Trump said the two-hour meeting was a "good start".[604] However, the summit drew bipartisan criticism in the United States over Trump's refusal to condemn Russia for interfering in the 2016 elections.[605] Democrats universally condemned Trump's performance; House minority leader Nancy Pelosi called it a "sad day for America."[606] Some Republicans in Congress strongly criticized Trump: Senator Bob Corker claimed Trump "made us look like a pushover", Senator Ben Sasse called Trump's remarks "bizarre and flat-out wrong", while Senator Tim Scott wondered if "today was a step backwards".[607] Others including Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell reaffirmed support for the U.S. intelligence community without directly condemning Trump.[607] Newt Gingrich, a longtime Trump supporter, said Trump's statements about the U.S. intelligence community were "the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected — immediately".[608] 2012 Republican Candidate for President Mitt Romney[609] and 2008 Republican candidate for President John McCain both strongly criticized Trump; Romney said Trump's siding with Putin rather than U.S. intelligence agencies was "disgraceful and detrimental to our democratic principles", while McCain called the summit "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."[610] Republican Senator Rand Paul was the lone voice in the Senate to support Trump in the matter,[611] stating, "They also said he shouldn't meet with Kim and this is an extraordinary thing about President Trump that should be lauded and not belittled is that he is willing to meet with adversaries to try to prevent us from having World War 3."[612] A few Republican members of the House of Representatives also made supportive comments.[613] U.S. media reaction was almost universally negative, even from many commentators on Fox News who normally support the president.[605][614][615][616]

Hours after the summit, Trump was interviewed by Sean Hannity, where he reiterated that a "very, very strong" Putin denied any collusion.[617] After widespread criticism, the next day Trump said in a prepared statement that he had misspoken in his post-summit remarks, and that he really meant: "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" that interfered. Trump also agreed with the American intelligence agencies' conclusions that Russia interfered.[618] However, Trump immediately added that the interference "could be other people also. A lot of people out there."[619]


During the transition phase, Trump became the first president or president-elect since 1979 to speak directly to the President of Taiwan. This called into question whether Trump would continue to follow the long-standing one-China policy of the United States regarding the political status of Taiwan.[620]

President Trump with Chinese President Xi Jinping with their spouses, April 2017

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. The Independent wrote that the action was "apparently in response to President Donald Trump's 'aggression.'"[621]

On August 14, 2017, Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate whether China was stealing U.S. technology and intellectual property. The investigation would look at Chinese practices that force American companies to disclose their proprietary intellectual information so they can do business in China. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying suggested prospects of a trade war would emerge if the U.S. decided to pursue the case, stating, "There is no future and no winner in a trade war and both sides will be the losers".[622][623] In January 2018 Trump imposed tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines from China.[624][625] In March he imposed another $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports.[626] In April China responded with tariffs on multiple imports from the U.S.[627] In May the Trump administration imposed tariffs on another $50 billion worth of Chinese imports and in June another $50 billion worth.[628][629] China imposed retaliatory tariffs in June and July.[630][631] Analysts proclaimed the situation had become a trade war.[632]

In May 2018, Trump announced that he was working with China's leader Xi Jinping to prevent the collapse of the Chinese social media firm ZTE, with Trump saying "too many jobs in China lost." ZTE had been fined $1.2 billion and sanctioned by the United States after the firm traded with Iran and North Korea when those countries were under sanctions.[633] Trump's move came within two days of an Agence France-Presse report that the Chinese government had invested $500 million in MNC Lido City, a planned theme park in Indonesia that since 2015 had plans to feature a hotel and golf course developed by The Trump Organization, and since 2016 had been receiving loans from the Chinese state-owned company Sinosure.[634]

North Korea[]

President Trump meets with USPACOM officials at Camp H. M. Smith in Hawaii, November 2, 2017

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.[635] After the missile launches, the U.S. began installing a missile defense system in South Korea.[636] During the campaign and the early days of his presidency, Trump advocated getting China to rein in its ally North Korea.[637] In April 2017 he said, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you."[638]

In July 2017, North Korea tested two long-range missiles, identified by observers as intercontinental ballistic missiles potentially capable of reaching Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland.[639] In August, Trump significantly escalated his rhetoric against North Korea, saying that further provocation against the U.S. will be met with "fire and fury like the world has never seen".[640] In response Kim Jong-un threatened to direct its next missile test toward Guam. Trump doubled down on his "fire and fury" warning, saying, "maybe that statement wasn't tough enough" and adding that if North Korea took steps to attack Guam, "Things will happen to them like they never thought possible."[641]

In June 2017, Rex Tillerson announced that North Korea had released Otto Warmbier, an American university student who had been detained by North Korea for 17 months prior.[642] When he was returned to the United States, Warmbier was unresponsive and had suffered from extensive brain damage that he has sustained while in North Korea captivity; he died days later.[643]

In March 2018, Trump accepted an invitation to a face-to-face summit with Kim Jong Un; the date and location for the encounter was set on June 12 and in Singapore.[644] In April 2018, Mike Pompeo was sent to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong Un.[645] South Korean president Moon Jae-in cred President Trump with facilitating rapprochement on the Korean peninsula. Moon also stated that Trump should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts and "maximum pressure" approach to North Korean missile tests.[646]

Trump meets with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un at the 2018 North Korea–United States summit in Sentosa Island

In May 2018, Trump cancelled the Singapore face-to-face. It came amid a recent return of bellicose rhetoric from North Korea and expressions of disapproval by their government of denuclearization demands made by the Trump administration. The cancellation took the South Korean government by surprise.[647][648] On June 1, 2018, Trump announced that the meeting was "back on" for June 12 in Singapore.[649] At its conclusion the two leaders signed a joint statement, agreeing to security guarantees for North Korea, new peaceful relations, reaffirmation of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, recovery of soldiers' remains, and follow-up negotiations between high-level officials. In addition, immediately following the summit, Trump unilaterally announced that the US would discontinue "provocative" joint military exercises with South Korea and would "eventually" withdraw troops stationed there.[650][651][652]

Upon returning from the summit, Trump made a number of exaggerated and premature statements about his achievements.[653] On June 13, 2018, Trump tweeted that "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea" and that Americans can "sleep well tonight!"[654] Nine days later, Trump provided a "Notice Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to North Korea," which extended the Executive Order 13466 of 2008 by one year, reaffirming "the current existence and risk of the proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat."[655][656] Later that June, American intelligence and North Korea analysts had determined North Korea was increasing nuclear fuel production at secret sites, with the intelligence indicating they see "a regime positioning itself to extract every concession it can from the Trump administration — while clinging to nuclear weapons it believes are essential to survival." One such official stated, "There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S."[657][658] The Washington Post reported on July 30, 2018 that American intelligence was seeing indications that North Korea was constructing new ICBMs at a facility near Pyongyang.[659]

Following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's third trip to Pyongyang for negotiations with North Korea in July 2018, he described the talks as "productive," while the North Korean state-run news agency KCNA derided a "gangster-like mindset" by the Trump administration and said the talks were "regrettable".[660][661] CNN quoted a source familiar with the negotiations as saying the White House felt the meeting went "as badly as it could have gone."[662] Pompeo announced on August 23, 2018 that he would return to North Korea the following week for a fourth round of talks.[663] The following day, Trump tweeted that he had asked Pompeo to not make the trip because he felt "we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."[664]

Middle East[]

Iraq and Syria[]

Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, March 20, 2017

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.[665] There were roughly 4,500 American soldiers in Iraq as of February 2016.[666] Under Obama, the United States also backed the Free Syrian Army against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.[667]

In the first unilateral military action by the United States targeting Ba'athist Syrian government forces during the Syrian Civil War,[668] Trump authorizes a missile strike against Shayrat Airbase in direct response to the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack.[668]

It was reported in July 2017 that Trump had ordered a "phasing out" of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)'s support for anti-Assad Syrian rebels.[669]

In August 2017, senior State Department official Brett H. McGurk stated that the Trump administration had "dramatically accelerated" the U.S.–led campaign against ISIL, citing estimates that almost one-third of the territory taken from ISIL "has been won in the last six months". McGurk favorably cited "steps President Trump has taken, including delegating decision–making authority from the White House to commanders in the field".[670] According to Airwars,[671] the strikes of US-led coalition killed as many as 6,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria in 2017.[672]

Military action in Syria[]
Trump meeting with his national security team after ordering missile strikes in Syria

In April 2017, reports surfaced 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.[673][674] Trump responded by ordering the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles toward Shayrat Air Base where the chemical attacks are believed to have been launched.[675]


Protests after Trump's decision to withdraw from JCPOA, around former U.S. embassy in Tehran, May 8, 2018

Trump took office after Barack Obama signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or "Iran nuclear deal"), which Trump described as one of the "worst deals ever made".[676]

On February 3, Trump and the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, "sparred on Twitter" over sanctions and Executive Order 13796. Trump tweeted that Iran was "playing with fire" after the country conducted a ballistic missile test earlier in the week.[677]

The Trump administration stated that Trump personally lobbied dozens of European officials against doing business with Iran during the May 2017 Brussels summit; this likely violated the terms of the JCPOA, which expressly states that the U.S. may not pursue "any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran". The Trump administration certified in July 2017 that Iran had upheld its end of the agreement.[678]

In May 2018, Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, the signature foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration. Trump said that he would reimpose the economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted in 2015 as part of the agreement. In response, Iran announced that it would restart uranium enrichment. Trump had long expressed hostility towards the agreement and had on several previous occasions been persuaded by White House aides not to withdraw. However, by May 2018, Trump faced less internal resistance, as more hawkish advisors, such as Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, had come to play a more prominent role in the administration. Trump's withdrawal was supported by Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu but widely condemned by European leaders.[679] Prior to Trump's withdrawal, European leaders had in principle agreed to the toughest of Trump's demands to "fix" the Iran deal; Trump walked away from the deal anyway.[680]

Israel and the Palestinian Authority[]

Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, February 15, 2017

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.[681]

On December 6, 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and promised to relocate the Israeli U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move considered too risky by his predecessors.[682] On May 14, 2018, the embassy was opened in Jerusalem; the move gave rise to clashes on the border of Gaza and Israel, leading to 58 deaths in what was the deadliest day since the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.[683]

In January 2018, the Trump administration withheld more than half of the funds to the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. The US was the largest donor to UNRWA before that point. In June, according to emails obtained by Foreign Policy magazine, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner pressed Jordan to strip more than 2 million Palestinians of their refugee status so that UNRWA would no longer need to operate there. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticized the policy and accused the US of trying to liquidate the issue of the Palestinian refugees before negotiations between Israel and Palestinians. Critics of UNRWA point to the agency's policy of granting refugee status to the descendants of refugees as well. In August, the Trump administration reiterated its calls for a change of mandate of UNRWA and called its financial situation "unsustainable".[684][685] In late August 2018, the Trump administration cut off all aid to UNRWA.[686]


Trump with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, May 20, 2017

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.[687] 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.[688] 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.[689]

Trump administration voiced support for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[690] U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis asked President Trump to remove restrictions on U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia.[691]



Trump and President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, October 2, 2017

When Trump took office in January 2017, the United States were involved in the War in Afghanistan since 2001, the longest war in American history.[692] The US then had 8,400 American troops in Afghanistan. Most of them participated in the NATO mission Resolute Support, intended to train and advise the Afghan government troops (in their (civil) war against Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIL-in-Khorasan[693]); 2,000 American troops were charged with fighting against terror groups such as ISIL-in-Khorasan.[694][695] By August 2017, the American force in Afghanistan was estimated at 10,000 troops.[696] On August 21, 2017, Trump announced expansion of the American presence in Afghanistan, without giving details on how.[697]


President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, May 4, 2017

Trump's first phone call as President with the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, took place in February and lasted around twenty-five minutes.[698] During the call, Trump disagreed with Turnbull about a deal made during Barack Obama's presidency. The agreement called for the United States to review approximately 1,250 asylum seekers for entry into the United States. The refugees are currently held on Nauru and Manus Island by Australian authorities.[699] On February 2, 2017, Trump tweeted that the refugee agreement was a "dumb deal".[700] 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.[701] Trump and Turnbull met on May 4 in New York City aboard USS Intrepid to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. This was their first face-to-face meeting.[702]


On June 16, 2017, Trump announced that he was cancelling the Obama administrations deals with Cuba, while also expressing that a new deal could be negotiated between Cuba and United States.[703]


Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the 2017 G20 Hamburg summit

On January 26, 2017, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a meeting with Trump in Washington. Trump had tweeted earlier that morning 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. This came amid existing tensions over the proposed wall.[704]


In August 2017, Trump stated publicly that he is "not going to rule out a military option" to confront the autocratic government of Nicolás Maduro and the deepening crisis in Venezuela.[705] Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López immediately criticized Trump for his statement, calling it "an act of supreme extremism" and "an act of madness".[706] President Maduro's son, Nicolás Maduro Guerra, stated during the 5th Constituent Assembly of Venezuela session that if the United States were to attack Venezuela, "the rifles would arrive in New York, Mr. Trump, we would arrive and take the White House".[707] The AP has reported that around the same time, Trump repeatedly asked his advisors about invading Venezuela, as senior administration officials sought to dissuade him; he also brought the subject up with several South American leaders.[708]

In May 2018, following an election which Maduro won amid widespread allegations of fraud, Trump imposed new economic sanctions on Venezuela.[709]


White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro in Oval Office in January 2017

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.[710] Shortly after taking office, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the TPP.[109] 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.[711] In April 2017, Trump imposed a tariff on Canada's softwood lumber industry, following complaints from dairy farmers in Wisconsin about Canada's dairy pricing policy.[712]

The Trump administration announced a deal with China in May 2017 where China would increase imports of US beef, speed up its approvals of genetically modified products and allow foreign-owned financial groups to offer cr rating services in China while the United States would allow imports of cooked poultry meat from China, encourage exports of liquid natural gas to China, and tacitly endorse Beijing's geopolitical and economic "Silk Road" plan.[713] The deal was seen as evidence of a de-escalatory approach to China, unlike the rhetoric of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.[713] The Trump administration described the deal as "gigantic" and "Herculean".[714] However, according to Financial Times, "Close watchers of the US-China relationship quickly raised questions about the deal, pointing out that most of Beijing's key promises had been made before or were in line with China's existing international commitments."[713] Financial Times noted, "To some former US officials, Trump advisers, business executives and other close watchers of the US-China relationship, however, this was a poor deal in which Beijing had simply reheated old promises. They say it raises questions about the Trump administration's strategic wherewithal and the very negotiating muscle the president has so often touted."[714] Other experts criticized the deal for giving away too many concessions to China than what the United States got in return.[715][716][717][718]

Trade conflicts[]

In March 2018 Trump said he would impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports from most countries. At first he suggested Canada, Mexico, and the European Union could be exempt, but on June 1 he said the tariffs would apply to them also.[719] The EU immediately announced retaliatory tariffs, and Canada and Mexico said they would do the same.[720] In the lead-up to the June 2018 G-7 Summit in Quebec, Trump surprised allies by suggesting that Russia should be readmitted to the group; Russia had been expelled in 2014 following its invasion of Crimea.[721] Trump's posture at the G7 conference was contentious, with the possibility of a trade war looming in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs.[722] In a press conference, Trump said his goal was the elimination of all tariffs between the member nations, and he threatened to end all trade with countries that do not dramatically reduce tariffs and other trade barriers.[723] Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, voiced concern that Trump was undermining the rules-based international order.[724] At the end of the conference Trump refused to sign the joint communique, blaming his decision on negative comments made by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.[725]


During the 2016 campaign, Trump promised to "drain the swamp in Washington D.C.", and he proposed a series of ethics reforms.[726] However, according to federal records and interviews, there has been a dramatic increase in lobbying by corporations and hired interests during Trump's tenure, particularly through the office of the Vice-President Mike Pence.[727] About twice as many lobbying firms contacted Pence, compared to previous presidencies, among them representatives of major energy firms and drug companies.[727] In many cases, the lobbyists have charged their clients millions of dollars for access to the vice president, and then have turned around and donated the money to Pence's political causes.[727]

Among his proposals was a five-year ban on serving as a lobbyist after working in the executive branch.[726] Trump's transition team also announced that registered lobbyists would be barred from serving in the Trump administration.[728] However, an Obama era ban on lobbyists taking administrative jobs was lifted[729] and at least nine transition officials became lobbyists within the first 100 days.[730]

One of Trump's campaign promises was that he would not accept a presidential salary. In keeping with this pledge, Trump donated the entirety of his first two quarterly salaries as president to government agencies.[731]

Potential conflicts of interest[]

Trump's presidency has been marked by significant public concern about conflict of interest stemming from his diverse business ventures. In the lead up to his inauguration, Trump promised to remove himself from the day-to-day operations of his businesses.[732] Trump placed his sons Eric Trump 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 to benefit himself, and Trump continued to receive quarterly updates on his businesses.[733] 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.[734]

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 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".[735] 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 that's expressly prohibited by the Constitution of the United States" in the Foreign Emoluments Clause.[735]

In January 2018, a year into his presidency, a survey found that he "continues to own stakes in hundreds of businesses, both in this country and abroad."[736]

After Trump took office, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, represented by a number of constitutional scholars, sued him[737] for violations 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.[737][738][739] 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".[740] The GSA said that it was "reviewing the situation".[740] By May 2017, the CREW v. Trump lawsuit had grown with additional plaintiffs and alleged violations of the Domestic Emoluments Clause.[741][742][743] In June 2017, attorneys from the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs had no right to sue[744] and that the described conduct was not illegal.[745] Also in June 2017, two more lawsuits were filed based on the Foreign Emoluments Clause: D.C. and Maryland v. Trump,[746][747] and Blumenthal v. Trump, which was signed by more than one-third of the voting members of Congress.[748] United States District Judge George B. Daniels dismissed the CREW case on December 21, 2017, holding that plaintiffs lacked standing.[749][750]

In February 2017, Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway promoted the clothing line of Ivanka Trump in a TV appearance from the White House briefing room. Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub requested disciplinary action in a letter to the White House Counsel's office.[751] Under federal ethics regulations, federal employees are barred from using their public office to endorse products.[751]

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, "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."[752]

Saudi Arabia[]

Protest against U.S. involvement in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, New York City, 2017

The famine in Yemen since spring 2017 is threatening over 17 million people.[753] After November 5, 2017, the famine in Yemen worsened because the Saudi Arabia, with the help of the United States, tightened the blockade of Yemen.[754][755] In November 2017, Senator Chris Murphy accused the U.S. government of complicity in the war crimes committed in Yemen by the Saudi-led military coalition, saying: "Thousands and thousands inside Yemen today are dying. ... This horror is caused in part by our decision to facilitate a bombing campaign that is murdering children and to endorse a Saudi strategy inside Yemen that is deliberately using disease and starvation and the withdrawal of humanitarian support as a tactic."[756]

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and an emissary for two Gulf monarchies. In August 2016, Trump Jr. had a meeting with envoy representing Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates. The envoy offered help to the Trump presidential campaign.[757] The meeting included Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, Joel Zamel, an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince.[758][757] Donald Trump also registered eight new businesses in Saudi Arabia during the election campaign.[759]

In March 2018, The New York Times reported that George Nader turned Trump's major fundraiser Elliott Broidy "into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates...High on the agenda of the two men...was pushing the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson", a top defender of the Iran nuclear deal in Donald Trump's administration, and "backing confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar".[760]

In October 2018, amid widespread condemnation of Saudi Arabia for the killing, and possible murder, of prominent Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration pushed back on the condemnation. Trump said, "here we go again with you're guilty until proven innocent," drawing a parallel to what he believed were unsubstantiated sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Trump said that the Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman denied any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.[761]


Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller on July 20, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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,[762] and that members of Trump's campaign were in contact with Russian government officials both before and after the presidential election.[763] In May 2017, the United States Department of Justice appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate "any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".[764] Because of the Russian interference and subsequent investigation, many members of Trump's administration have come under special scrutiny regarding past ties to Russia or actions during the campaign. 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.[765] Several others had meetings with Russians during the campaign which they did not initially disclose.[766][767][768]

Trump himself hosted the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, in partnership with Russian-Azerbaijani 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.[769][770] Trump said in 2017, "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."[771] 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".[765][772][773]

During his January 2017 confirmation hearings as the attorney general nominee before the Senate, then-Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was asked by Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) if he had been "in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?" Sessions' single word response was "No", which raised questions about what appeared to be deliberate omission of two meetings he had in 2016 with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Sessions later amended his testimony saying he "never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign".[768] He said that in March 2016, he had twice met with Ambassador Kislyak, and "stood by his earlier remarks as an honest and correct answer to a question".[774] Officials with the DOJ stated that when Sessions met with Kislyak, it was not as a Trump campaign surrogate, rather it was "in his capacity as a member of the armed services panel".[768] Following his amended statement, Sessions recused himself from any investigation regarding connections between Trump and Russia.[775]

In May 2017, Donald Trump discussed highly classified intelligence in an Oval Office meeting with the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak, providing details that could expose the source of the information and the manner in which it was collected.[776][777][778][779][780][781] The intelligence was about an ISIS plot. A Middle Eastern ally provided the intelligence which had the highest level of classification and was not intended to be shared widely.[776] The New York Times reported that "Mr. Trump's disclosure does not appear to have been illegal - the president has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it was a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship".[776] The White House, through National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, issued a limited denial, saying that the story "as reported" was not correct,[782] and stated that no "intelligence sources or methods" were discussed.[783] McMaster did not deny that information had been disclosed.[782][784] The following day Trump stated on Twitter that Russia is an important ally against terrorism and that he had an "absolute right" to share classified information with Russia.[785][786]

In October 2017, former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI regarding his contacts with Russian agents. During the campaign he had tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to set up meetings in Russia between Trump campaign representatives and Russian officials.[787][788] The guilty plea was part of a plea bargain whereby Papadopoulos cooperates with the Mueller investigation.[789]

In February 2018, when Special Counsel Mueller indicted more than a dozen Russians and three entities for interference in the 2016 election, Trump's response was to assert that the indictment was proof that his campaign did not collude with the Russians.[790] The New York Times noted that Trump "voiced no concern that a foreign power had been trying for nearly four years to upend American democracy, much less resolve to stop it from continuing to do so this year."[790] A day after the indictment, Trump used the FBI's alleged failure to stop the Stoneman Douglas High School shooter to call for the end to investigations of Russian interference in the 2016.[791]

In July 2018, the special counsel's office indicted 12 Russian intelligence operatives and accused them of conspiring to interfere in the 2016 US elections, by hacking servers and emails of the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign.[792] The indictments were made before Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki, in which Trump supported Putin's denial that Russia was involved and criticized American law enforcement and intelligence community (subsequently Trump partially walked back some of his comments).[793] A few days later, it was reported that Trump had actually been briefed on the veracity and extent of Russian cyber-attacks two weeks before his inauguration, back in December 2016, including the fact that these were ordered by Putin himself.[793] The evidence presented to him at the time included text and email conversations between Russian military officers as well as information from a source close to Putin. According to the report, at the time, in the classified meeting, Trump "sounded grudgingly convinced".[793]

Transparency and data availability[]

The Washington Post reported in May 2017, "a wide variety of information that until recently was provided to the public, limiting access, for instance, to disclosures about workplace violations, energy efficiency, and animal welfare abuses" had been removed or tucked away. The Obama administration had used the publication of enforcement actions taken by federal agencies against companies as a way to name and shame companies that engaged in unethical and illegal behaviors.[794]

The Trump administration stopped the Obama administration policy of logging visitors to the White House, making it difficult to tell who has visited the White House.[794][795] Nathan Cortez of the Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law, who studies the handling of public data, said that the Trump administration, unlike the Obama administration, was taking transparency "in the opposite direction".[794]

Cost of trips[]

Gallup approval polling

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, while Obama's average yearly expenses spent on travel was $12.1 million, according to the conservative group Judicial Watch.[citation needed] When Obama was president, Trump frequently criticized him for taking vacations which were paid for with public funds.[796] Former Secret Service employees have described the task of protecting the Trump family's business and private travels as a "logistical nightmare".[797]

The Washington Post reported that Trump's atypically 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.[797]

Elections during the Trump presidency[]

Republican seats in Congress
Congress Senate House
115th[4] 52 241
116th 52 198

2018 mid-term elections[]

In the 2018 mid-term elections, Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate.[798]

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%.[799] 2016 was the first election cycle in modern presidential polling in which both major-party candidates were viewed so unfavorably.[800][801][802][803] 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.[804]

See also[]


  1. ^ A small portion of the 115th Congress (January 3, 2017 – January 19, 2017) took place under President Obama.
  2. ^ 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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