100 days of Trump – a Chronicle perspective

0

Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s historic first 100 days, that mark has been used as a time to judge a new presidency. By that time, a little over three months, it is fair to analyze the actions of the president and his administration and form initial conclusions on quality and productivity. While President Trump has called this timeline a “ridiculous standard,” media outlets and Americans across the nation will be reflecting on the commander-in-chief’s actions thus far—including us here at the Chronicle. Here are the milestones, in no particular order, that we think best sum Trump’s presidency since the “most attended inauguration in history.”

Court challenges

President Trump has not had the easiest time in court; since his inauguration, the administration has lost two major appeal cases attempting to overturn injunctions placed on executive orders by federal judges. The first loss came on Feb. 9 when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide temporary restraining order (TRO) on Executive Order 13769, popularly referred to as the “Muslim Ban.” Issued just one week after the order’s signing, the TRO ceased and reversed actions taken under direction from the order, including the return of travel visas and release of detained foreigners.

Despite quick judiciary intervention and bipartisan disagreement with the order from Congress, the Trump administration rolled out a revised version with Executive Order 13780 on March 6. This one took two days longer for the courts to act, with both Judge Derrick Watson of the District Court for the District of Hawaii and Judge Theodore Chuang of the District Court for the District of Maryland issuing TRO’s on March 15, which turned to indefinite preliminary injunctions, effectively ending the order until further court decisions.

The administration is expected to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, where Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch was recently confirmed to replace the late Antonin Scalia, giving the president good odds for a favorable ruling.

Federal dismantling

Trump, like presidents in the past, has been in the midst of forming and proposing a budget to Congress. A preliminary version of the 2018 federal budget was released by the administration on March 16 and included 62 program cuts across several agencies. The most noted cuts come in the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency. These proposed cuts are often hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars that are distributed as the agencies see fit or are instructed.

The latter two agencies mentioned are under serious threat of complete removal. President Trump has been adamant about pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, a 194-nation collaboration to cut greenhouse gas emissions. A $1.3 billion fund package titled the Global Climate Change Initiative, proposed by President Barack Obama as part of the Paris Agreement, is one of the proposed cuts within the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development by Trump. This cut would significantly hinder the United States’ exploration into clean, renewable energy, and damage international relations.

On top of this, the EPA is facing a 33 percent budget cut, as well as being tasked with rewriting itsCJon rules on carbon emissions to be looser and ceasing the consideration of climate change before making decisions, all per an executive order signed in March. Now, it is not unusual for presidents to propose cuts, regardless of party. However, the nature of President Trump’s cuts are questionable, if not alarming.

Currently, Congress has yet to bring a budget to the floor, much less pass one. They and the president have not seen completely eye-to-eye since his inauguration, despite Congress being a Republican majority. Whether Trump’s proposals are implemented remains to be seen, but the budget will, and should, stay on Americans’ radar.

Marches and protests

The right to assemble, which really means to march or protest, may never been exercised so often as these past 100 days. It would seem a great number of people are angry, disturbed or in outright disagreement with the president, as millions have taken to protesting throughout Trump’s first three months. The string of protests began the day after inauguration with the Women’s March on Washington, which saw 600,000 participants in Washington D.C. alone and an estimated total of 4 million across the nation, making it the largest protest in U.S. history.

Just a week later, following the signing of Executive Order 13769 (“Travel Ban”), thousands gathered to protest at JFK International Airport; this initial protest sparked dozens to occur at other major U.S. airports. On Feb. 4, thousands of people in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto and London participated in protests against the same executive order and in shows of solidarity with immigrants.

On Feb. 16, a protest titled “Day Without Immigrants” took place, during which thousands of immigrant workers took to the streets with the aim of demonstrating the importance of immigration. This protest caused dozens of businesses in different states to close down for the day, and numerous employees were fired for participating in the protest and missing work. A few days later, in rather ironic fashion, the “Not My Presidents Day” march took place, where protesters aimed to show that while Trump was literally the president, he did not truly represent the values of American citizens.

Most recently, the March for Science occurred on April 22, in response to decreased funding in science programs and heightened skepticism by the Trump administration on topics such as climate change. The march saw participants in over 600 cities worldwide with millions turning up including popular members of the scientific community such as Bill Nye and key speakers such as U.S. House of Representatives member Bill Foster. There have been dozens more occurring throughout the 100 days and covering dozens of topics related to the Trump administration. They undeniably have global participation and extraordinary collaboration. Whether you agree with them or not, these protests show a serious rift between a significant portion of the American people and their leader, President Trump.

Military action

Just 10 days after the inauguration, the president got a somber reminder of the great responsibility that comes with being commander-in-chief when he lost a soldier for the first time.

It was a raid that targeted an Al Qaeda safe house in Yemen, originally devised by the Obama administration, but carried out under Trump’s watch. Unfortunately, the raid was plagued by a series of missteps that ultimately saw American forces to lose the element of surprise, the loss of a $75 million Osprey aircraft, more than a dozen civilian casualties, and ultimately, the death of Navy SEAL Team Six member William Owens.

Trump’s reaction to the operation quickly came under fire, as he appeared unable to take responsibility for the events in Yemen, instead dishing the blame off to his generals. In an interview with “Fox and Friends,” Trump said, “This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do. They came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I would — I believe. And they lost Ryan.”

Owen’s father, a veteran, refused the chance to meet with Trump, instead criticizing him for a senseless mission.

But since that time, Trump seems to have regained his senses, highlighted by two significant strikes that perhaps signals a more hawkish direction for the administration compared to the past eight years of Obama.

In the wake of Assad’s chemical attack against his own people, President Trump sent a strong message, delivered in the form of 59 tomahawk cruise missiles. The missiles targeted the airbase the planes involved in the chemical attack originated from.

Five short days later, the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB)—one of the largest non-nuclear explosives in the world—was dropped on an ISIS target in Afghanistan. Multiple reports said at least 90 militants were killed in the strike.

Russian interference in election

At a time of heightened tensions between Russian and the U.S., the idea of a campaign being assisted by a foreign entity seems that much more dangerous. Russian interference took several shapes during the campaign. Part of it was hacking the Democratic National Committee’s email server, revealing the communication between the party and their favored candidate, eventually leading DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman’s resignation. Russians also played a role in manipulating the American people through the interjection of dozens of “fake news” stories that boosted Trump’s popularity at Clinton’s expense.

But perhaps worse in many Americans’ eyes is the idea that this was not merely an outsider trying to affect the outcome; rather, the focus has been on Trump officials who apparently had contact with Russia prior to the November election.

In mid-February, Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned in the wake of the realization he had misled several White House officials — including Vice President Pence — about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.

Furthermore, it’s possible Flynn broke federal law when he failed to disclose his business ties to Russia when he was attempting to get security clearance to work in the White House. Specifically, it was was the $45,000 he received from the Russian government to give a speech.

Firing of attorney general 

During the fallout from his first travel ban, Trump found himself at odds with the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, who had announced lawyers from the Justice Department would not defend his ban.

Trump moved quickly and swiftly, firing the Obama administration former deputy attorney general, and then quickly releasing a statement stating, “Ms. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on immigration.”

Perhaps above all, Yates’ dismissal provides a good example of the danger that looms for officials who disagree with Trump.

Alternative facts

Perhaps as a way to try and create a narrative of President Trump’s election signaling a mandate from the American people — which is a hard feat to accomplish given the fact that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton — White House press secretary Sean Spicer confidently told reporters that Trump’s inauguration day crowd was the largest to ever witness an inauguration. “Period.”

Spicer also said this was the first time ground coverings were laid down to protect the National Mall (false, they were used in 2013), gave incorrect information regarding the amount of people who took D.C. Metro public transit, and incorrectly claimed it was the first time fences went as far back as they did (which was refuted by the Secret Service).

The problem: aerial photos from the day clearly show more people at Obama’s inauguration in 2008. But, instead of admitting defeat, Kellyanne Conway poured gas on the fire when she went on “Meet the Press” and informed Chuck Todd that Spicer had simply given “alternative facts.” Probably not the best things to happen on Day Two of the new administration.

But the size of his inauguration day crowd isn’t the only time an obvious flat out lie has come out of the White House in the past 100 days. The administration has managed to fabricate not one, but two tragedies.

First, Kellyanne Conway referenced an apparent attack in Bowling Green when defending the merits of a Muslim travel ban. Conway said two Iraqi refugees were the masterminds behind the attack, which “most people don’t know because it didn’t get covered.”

Next, Trump appeared to also make reference to an attack that never existed, this time in Sweden. The president was delivering a speech on immigration and refugees when he said, “You look at what’s happened last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” To answer his question, not a whole lot of people would believe it, probably because nothing happened there like he made it sound.

Sean Spicer also made a similar mistake, though perhaps not quite to the same extent. During one week, Spicer, on three separate occasions, seemingly said Atlanta instead of Orlando when referencing the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

Executive orders and travel bans

While Trump has experienced some difficulty in working with Congress, he’s had no problem taking unilateral action. At 100 days, Trump has signed 78 executive actions covering a wide range of topics from abortion to the environment.

Four days after taking office, Trump signed actions designed to expand oil pipelines in America, specifically the Keystone XL and Dakota Access, both of which Obama refused to move along given the environmental factors and opposition by Native American groups. Elsewhere, Trump signed a measure stipulating that for every one new piece of regulation proposed, two existing ones must repealed. Trump’s Feb. 3 measure that reviewed Wall Street regulations was of special concern to Democratic leadership after Obama signed new regulations in the wake of the housing market crash. Trump also reinstated the Reagan-era global gag order that blocks non-government organizations (NGOs) from disseminating information about abortion.

But of course, Trump’s most well-known executive orders were his travel bans. A week into office, Trump signed his first travel ban, providing the U.S. with a 90-day ban of immigrants from seven Middle Eastern, Muslim-majority states.

On March 6, after the courts successfully held his ban in limbo, Trump unveiled his second attempt at a ban. Nearly identical to the first one, this time Iraq was removed from the list of countries blocked for 90 days. Meanwhile, all refugees were barred entry for 120 days.

Low approval rating

At the beginning of a president’s term, they typically experience something of a honeymoon phase. During this time, the American people are generally much more supportive of the president, which shows in the polls. At 100 days, 42 percent of Americans approve the job Trump is doing, while 52 percent disapprove.

By contrast, eight years ago Obama’s approval rating was above 60 percent mark. This should probably be of some concern for Trump who owns the lowest approval rating at the 100-day mark since modern polling began during the ’50s according to CNN.

Failure on Healthcare Act

The reason why FDR was so successful in his first 100 days was because of his ability to get legislation through Congress, and to do so quickly. FDR would not have been able to accomplish even a fraction of his legislative agenda had it not been for a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. Trump, too, holds a majority in the House and Senate, yet hasn’t found the same level of success of FDR.

Most notably, the Republicans have been unable to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which has been a main focus of Republicans since the law was passed seven years ago. Yet in the past 100 days, the House hasn’t even attempted to vote on a healthcare bill, all too aware they lack the necessary votes.

Contributing reporting by Caleb Lundquist

Share.

About Author

Leave a Reply