Donald Trump’s first month in office: Four weeks of fights, chaos and dysfunction from a 'fine-tuned machine'
Russia and 'fake news' dominates Trump press conference
17 February 2017 • 4:48am
Donald Trump has battled the courts over a controversial immigration order, waged war with the media and intelligence community, sparked diplomatic crises with friends and foes alike, and has lost his national security adviser amid controversy - all in a whirlwind four weeks. While critics have painted the first month as chaotic and dysfunctional, the president insists the "administration is running like a fine-tuned machine". Many cabinet posts have been filled after bitter confirmation hearings, though one candidate pulled out amid the rancour. He has waded into foreign affairs, hosting a number of foreign leaders, including Theresa May. With an avalanche of executive actions, public statements and tweets, the Republican's four weeks have consisted of a flurry of self-inflicted wounds and poorly executed policy.
Immediately tackles ObamacareMr Trump's first act as president last Friday was to take steps to weaken Obamacare. Just hours after taking the Oath of Office and before heading out to his inauguration balls, Mr Trump signed an executive order on the Affordable Care Act that directed government departments to scale back as many aspects of the Affordable Care Act as possible. It was a symbolic first act in his quest to entirely dismantle Obamacare.
What is an executive order?
Inauguration crowd size, 'alternative facts' and attacks on the media
The crowd size on the Washington Mall for Mr Trump's inauguration last Friday was far smaller than for Mr Obama's 2009 swearing-in: a fact, proven by multiple aerial photographs, that the new president apparently struggled to accept.
The Trump administration accused the media of "deliberately" under-estimating the size of the crowd and Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, produced figures for the number of people that used the Washington train system on the day that later proved to be inaccurate. Kellyanne Conway, one of the president's key aides, defended the claims by saying Mr Spicer had merely used "alternative facts".
Trump slams the worldwide women’s marches against himThe day after Mr Trump's inauguration, women and men took to the streets to protest in cities across America and around the world. It is thought as many as five million people in total marched to protest at Mr Trump's perceived misogynistic stance on issues such as abortion. The president responded to the historic marches by tweeting that he was “under the impression that we just had an election!”
Takes immediate action on abortion
Mr Trump reinstated a ban on Monday on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option. Mr Obama had ended the ban in 2009. The new president signed the reinstatement directive at a ceremony in the White House surrounded by his key aides - all of whom were men.
Credit:AFP/GETTY IMAGES/SAUL LOEB
"Women's health and rights are now one of the first casualties of the Trump administration," said Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington. "The global gag rule has been associated with an increase in unsafe abortions and we expect that Trump's global gag rule will cost women their lives."
Trump withdraws the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
In a move that distances America from its Asian allies, Mr Trump made good on another campaign pledge - to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. The president said the executive order he signed on Monday was a "great thing for the American worker".
The Obama administration spent years negotiating the Pacific Rim pact. However, Mr Obama never sent the accord to Congress for ratification, making Mr Trump's actions Monday largely symbolic.
Trump orders 'immediate construction' of the border wall with MexicoMr Trump sent shockwaves around the world when he announced during his campaign that he planned to build a multi-billion dollar border wall between the US and Mexico. In the first week, he promised "immediate construction" would begin on the border wall and repeated he would ensure Mexico itself paid for it.
Donald Trump signs executive order to build wall with Mexico
The White House said Mexico may be forced to reimburse America for the wall's construction, estimated at $15 billion, through an aggressive 20 per cent tax on all its exports to the United States. Enrique Pena Nieto, the Mexican president, cancelled a summit with Mr Trump in Washington next week as relations between the two countries hit a new low
Theresa May the first foreign leader to visitAt the end of his first week in office, Theresa May became the first foreign leader to meet Mr Trump at the White House. The president told Mrs May he believes Brexit will be a "wonderful thing" for Britain and opened the door to new trade deals as the two leaders held hands at the White House.
Donald Trump and Theresa May hold hands ahead of joint press conference
In a joint press conference at the White House, Mr Trump said: "Great days lie ahead for our two peoples and our two countries. "On behalf of our nation, I thank you for joining us here today as a really great honour."
When Theresa May met Teresa May
Mrs May made a point of emphasising that during their talks, Mr Trump had given strong backing to Nato, an alliance that the president has previously called obsolete.
Trump signs controversial immigration orderDonald Trump signed an executive order, which barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and imposed a 90-day suspension on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, triggering widespread protests and causing confusion for travellers around the world.
The countries designated as "areas of concern" are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. During his campaign, Trump discussed the idea of banning Muslims from entering the country to protect against terrorist threats.
Travel ban falloutMr Trump's second week started where it left off from the first - with fallout from his controversial travel ban dominating the next seven days. Protesters took to the streets and airports, as affected travellers began being stopped by airlines from boarding flights. The was also significant confusion surrounding the rollout of the order, with differing interpretations of the order among government agencies and airlines.
The week ended with the travel ban being thrown into doubt by a judge who ruled it was unlawful. US District Judge James Robart upheld cases brought by two states - Washington and Minnesota - and granted an order effectively suspending the order issued by Mr Trump on January 27. His ruling contradicted a judgment in Boston.
Heated phone call with TurnbullRelations with all Australia became strained when it was reported that Mr Trump told his Australian counterpart that he had spoken with four other world leaders before him and that “This was the worst call by far.”
Turnbull remains tight-lipped over Trump phone call
The president, who reportedly blasted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a deal agreed with the Obama administration for the US to resettle some of the refugees held in remote Pacific island camps, abruptly ended Saturday's call, which was expected to last an hour, after just 25 minutes. Australian government officials, who said reports of the call was "substantially accurate", described the conversation as "robust", ABC News reported.
Warning over Israeli settlementsIn a surprise move, the Trump administration warned Israel against the construction of new settlements. President Donald Trump had previously offered his firm support to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister and signalled he could be more accommodating towards settlement projects than his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. “While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal,” the White House said in a statement.
Threat to MexicoThe row with Mexico continued as emerged that Mr Trump threatened to send US troops to Mexico to deal with "bad hombres down there" in a call with President Enrique Peña Nieto, according to a partial transcript of the call seen by the Associated Press. "You have a bunch of bad hombres down there," Mr Trump told Mr Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt seen by the AP. "You aren't doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn't, so I just might send them down to take care of it." The White House and the Mexican foreign ministry both denied that Mr Trump made the threat.
Donald Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court justice
Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch for a lifetime job on the US Supreme Court. The president picked the 49-year-old federal appeals court judge, amid much fanfare, to restore the court's conservative majority and help shape rulings on divisive issues such as abortion, gun control, the death penalty and religious rights. True to style, the former host of reality TV show The Apprentice brought a touch of theatrical suspense to proceedings. "Was that a surprise? Was it?" Mr Trump said after bringing the Judge and his wife alongside him at the podium.
Trump's travel ban overruled
Mr Trump suffered the biggest defeat of his presidency as a court refused to reinstate his executive order banning refugees and restricting travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries. Furious at the unanimous decision by a panel of three judges to uphold the halt placed on his travel ban, he indicated he would now make good on a pledge to take the case to the Supreme Court. “See you in court, the security of our nation is at stake!” he tweeted in capital letters.
Earlier in the week, Mr Trump's nominee for the US Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, described the president's Twitter attacks on the judiciary as "demoralising" and "disheartening," a spokesman for Gorsuch says.
Summit with AbeMr Trump met Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, at the White House, before travelling to Florida to play golf with him. At a news conference in the White House, Mr Trump and Me Abe focused on areas of common ground, with the US president setting aside campaign pledges to force Tokyo to pay more for US defence aid and the Japanese leader promising to help the United States to create jobs. But the biggest talking point proved to be the "awkward" handshake. The encounter lasted a full 19 seconds and afterwards Mr Abe appeared to grimace.
Japan PM endures 'awkward' handshake with Trump
Warren rebuked as Sessions confirmed
Senator Elizabeth Warren earned a rare rebuke by the US upper chamber for quoting Coretta Scott King during the debate on the confirmation of senator Jeff Sessions. The Massachusetts Democrat ran afoul of the chamber's arcane rules by reading a three-decade-old letter from Dr Martin Luther King's widow written in opposition to senator Jeff Sessions' failed judicial nomination three decades ago.
The US senate eventually voted to confirm Mr Sessions as the next attorney general despite fierce Democratic opposition.
Trump and Conway discuss NordstromMr Trump accused Nordstrom, the upmarket department store, of treating his daughter "so unfairly" by pulling Ivanka Trump brand products off the shelves. The president slammed the store on Twitter, describing his daughter as a "great person" who was "always pushing me to do the right thing" and did not deserve to see her business suffer.
Mr Trump was ridiculed online for using his presidential pulpit to attack a department store. Meanwhile, his aide Kellyanne Conway urged people to buy Ivanka's clothing and jewellery line, a possible violation of government ethics rules.
Call with Xi JinpingMr Trump backed down over his confrontational stance towards Beijing, committing to the ‘One China policy’ in his first phone call with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, since taking office. In a move that was certain to ease tensions between the United States and China, the US president “agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honour our ‘one China’ policy,” the White House said.
The “lengthy telephone conversation” was “extremely cordial” and the two leaders “extended invitations to meet in their respective countries,” the statement added.
Trouble brewing for FlynnThe Washington Post reports White House national security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed US sanctions against Russia with Moscow's ambassador during the month before Mr Trump took office. Mr Flynn had previously denied discussing sanctions.
Travel ban row rumbles onThe Trump administration said in court documents it wants a pause in the legal fight over its ban on travellers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, so it can issue a replacement ban as it strives to protect the nation from terrorism. Details of the new proposal were not provided in the filing or at a wide-ranging news conference by President Donald Trump. But lawyers for the administration said in the filing that a ban that focuses solely on foreigners who have never entered the US - instead of green card holders already in the U.S. or who have travelled abroad and want to return - would pose no legal difficulties.
Donald Trump to replace travel ban order
Response to North Korea missile
Mr Trump said the United States stood fully behind Japan in the aftermath of North Korea's latest missile launch - a restrained response given his campaign vows to take a tougher line with Pyongyang. Meanwhile, his handling of the incident came under congressional scrutiny as a watchdog panel asked the White House to explain reports that Mr Trump dealt with a sensitive foreign policy issue in view of club guests. Photos taken by private guests in the public dining area of the Mar-a-Lago golf resort showed Mr Trump and Mr Abe conferring and looking at documents while surrounded by their aides following Pyongyang's missile launch.
Trump appears to crash wedding after North Korea missile statement
Michael Flynn, mr Trump's national security adviser, resigned from his post after less than one month in office following reports that he had misled Vice-President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia. Mr Flynn's contact with Russia's ambassador has been described as "potentially illegal" due to the 1799 Logan Act, which bans private US citizens from negotiating with countries with which the US is in dispute.
Mr Trump subsequently declared war on his own intelligence agencies over "un-American" and scandalous leaks, that his aides had been in "constant communication" with Russian intelligence officials during the presidential campaign.
Trump meets Trudeau
In his third meeting with a foreign leader, Mr Trump met Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, at the White House - and once again the focus was on the handshake. According to some students of body-language, Mr Trudeau appeared to deliberately "cut off Trump's leverage" to deter any strong-arming one-upmanship. One Twitter user called it "the biggest display of dominance in the history of Canada".
Trudeau meets Trump at the White House
Mr Trump’s nominee for labour secretary withdrew, making him the first of the president's cabinet picks to fall. Andy Puzder, a fast food executive, faced opposition from Democrats over employment practises at CKE foods, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. The president's troubles continued when his pick to replace Mr Flynn reportedly turned down the job. Retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward was said to have concerns about the "obvious dysfunctionality" in the White House.
Middle East policy confusion
Confusion over Mr Trump’s Middle East policy deepened as the US ambassador to the UN appeared to contradict him by saying America “absolutely” supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr Trump overturned decades of US policy when he said he was open to the idea of giving up on a Palestinian state and supporting a one-state solution if both Israelis and Palestinians agreed on it. But less than 24 hours later, Mr Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley said the two-state solution “is what we support”.
Netanyahu: US has no better ally than Israel
Extraordinary news conference
Capping a month packed with controversy, Mr Trump launched an extraordinary attack on the news media in a wide-ranging, wild 75-minute press conference. The president insisted his team was running "like a fine-tuned machine" and lampooned the mainstream media that he said was peddling "fake news". “I open the paper and I see stories of chaos, chaos,” he said. “It’s the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite not being able to get my cabinet approved.”
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