In case you’ve been sleeping for the last 100 days, rest assured the rest of the world hasn’t. Here are 10 of the biggest developments in the administration of President Donald Trump since his inauguration on Jan. 20.
North Korea. The president brought all 100 members of the Senate to the White House Wednesday in an extraordinary briefing amidst heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. It’s not clear whether a preemptive strike by the U.S. is imminent, but Trump deployed the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Philippine Sea near North Korea this week.
The Neil Gorsuch confirmation. Although the conservative Gorsuch replaces another conservative on the court, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the pick is widely seen as a potential watershed moment for the court. It sets up Trump to significantly alter the court’s makeup if another vacancy occurs and establishes a precedent for changing how justices are confirmed to the nation’s highest court. In clearing the path for Gorsuch’s nomination, Republicans voted to end the practice of filibustering Supreme Court nominations, all but assuring that a president’s pick for the court will be confirmed.
Travel bans thwarted. One of Trump’s big campaign promises unraveled after his executive orders targeting visa applications from selected Muslim countries were blocked in the courts. After the first ban was held up, Trump issued a narrower order that too was suspended. The court actions followed major disruptions at a number of airports around the world as confusion abounded over enforcement of the efforts to limit immigration from countries that the president declared dangerous to American citizens.
Obamacare repeal withdrawn. Another setback for the Trump administration occurred when the repeal bill championed by the president was withdrawn because of defections by a number of Republicans, including the conservative Freedom Caucus. The caucus and its founder, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, announced support this week for a slightly revised bill, but it’s not clear if the new measure will appeal to moderate Republicans in the House and Senate.
Taxes. This is clearly a work in progress, but Trump this week unveiled what he called the largest tax cut in history. Democrats immediately denounced the plan as a giveaway to the rich – and to Trump – while others pointed to its potential impact on the deficit. Although details of the plan are still sketchy, many small businesses came out in favor and tax critic Grover Norquist was quoted in the New York Times calling it “a thing of beauty.”
Russia. Depending on how this plays out, this could easily rise on the list. Russian ties cost Trump his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, over Flynn’s misleading statements about his calls to the Russian ambassador. Alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election is also being investigated on Capitol Hill. After making positive statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin during the campaign, Trump seems to have pivoted some, saying recently that U.S. relations with Russia may be at a “all-time low.”
Syria. The U.S. military launched cruise missiles on a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria that is widely believed to have been ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Although the U.S. has bashed the Russian-backed Assad many times in recent years, the missile attack is the first time the U.S. has launched missiles against his regime.
Tweets and executive orders. Despite efforts by some to curb Trump’s practice of declaring policy through Twitter, he’s hardly slowed down since becoming president. A series of tweets this week took on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where a California judge blocked his order calling for penalties to so-called sanctuary cities. Trump’s executive orders have been wide-ranging, from his order this week to review designations of national monuments to his widely criticized order to undermine climate change policies, which he signed in the presence of coal miners. Trump’s predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, was often criticized by Republicans for his executive orders, though if Trump continues at his current pace, he will far surpass the number signed by Obama.
Media War. Presidents often do battle with the people who cover them, but Trump has taken it a step further, declaring many stories critical of him as “fake news.” White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon even labeled the press the “opposition party” during a speech. Many news organizations have fought back with vigorous news coverage and a campaign to counteract criticism from the White House. In one such example, The Washington Post added four words to its masthead that say: Democracy Dies in Darkness.
Forgotten amidst the constant flow of news. Mike Pence became the first vice-president in history to cast a tie-breaking vote to confirm a cabinet nominee when the Senate deadlocked 50-50 over the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a trip to Washington over Trump’s call for Mexico to pay for the border wall. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, declared that Adolph Hitler did not use chemical weapons. OK, that last one wasn’t so forgettable.
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