Donald J Trump has been the scary orange president of the USA for [almost] 6 months at this point. There are various ways in which his style of leadership and the things he does are just unacceptable, and we need to remember at least some of them, and not allow this approach to become normal. So here is the list for the months of his presidency so far …
Day 3: Jan 22
Donald Trump and his aides spent an extraordinary first weekend in office falsely claiming that his swearing-in ceremony on Friday had been attended by a record number of people. The crowds for both of Barack Obama’s inaugurations were clearly much bigger & there are photographs to prove it. When challenged White House Secretary Sean Spicer made several statements confirming Trump’s assertion, but contradicted by the photographs and transit data; and when confronted Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House aide, told NBC press the White House had “alternative facts”.
Day 6: Jan 25
Donald Trump signed an executive order to start the Mexico boarder wall.
Day 7: Jan 26
Donald Trump announced his opinion that torture works and his willingness to use water boarding.
Day 8: Jan 27
Marking a draconian shift in US policy, Donald Trump issued an executive order denying refugees and immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries entry to the United States. This indefinitely closes US borders to refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in war-torn Syria.
Day 11: Jan 30
Over the weekend (28 & 29 Jan) the travel ban executive order was overturned in US courts. Also US Attorney General Sally Yates blocked the travel ban; and has now been sacked by order of Donald Trump. But the travel ban was lifted & now (30 April) is still not in place. From memory I think it was effective for less than 24 hours. Nonetheless Donald Trump, during the week commencing 30 Jan, described it as great, and working really well
Day 28: Feb 17
Donald Trump gave a 77 minute almost uninterrupted press statement in which he described his presidency as a well tuned machine, running really well. In truth of course, he has:
- governed by executive order, a kind of legislative last resort which previous presidents have hardly ever used.
- governed by tweet.
- Not managed to get anything at all implemented so far; been roundly criticised by other world leaders; failed to form a cabinet.
Day 34: Feb 24
Trump excluded several media outlets (known to be generally critical of his presidency) from the regular White House press briefing. The Q&A session took place off camera before only an ‘expanded pool’ of journalists in Sean Spicer’s West Wing office. While prior administrations have occasionally held background briefings with smaller groups of reporters, it is highly unusual for the White House to cherry-pick which media outlets can participate in what would have otherwise been the press secretary’s televised daily briefing. The briefing has become indispensable viewing for journalists trying to interpret the often contradictory statements coming out of the Trump administration.
Day 42: 4 March
Trump accused Obama of phone surveillance during the 2016 presidential campaign. It would be illegal for a sitting president (Obama) to order a wire tap. Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic member of both the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, told CNN she had not seen any evidence that Obama had tapped Trump’s phone.
“It’s all rather shocking to me that a sitting president” (Trump) @would make this kind of an allegation about a former president without any proof whatsoever,” she said. “I believe it’s patently false.”
There was definitely a Trump quiet period during March. To fill the gap while we wait for more news here are my three favourite observations. Trump’s physical appearance: either the plughole in an orangutan enclosure, or maybe the winner of a Cheesy Wotsit Look-a-like contest (Ross Nobel, June 2017). More interestingly someone said during last year’s election campaign: those who dislike Trump take him literally but not seriously; while those who vote for him take him seriously but not literally.
Day 67: Mar 29:
Nepotism: Trump makes a new appointment: “Assistant to the President”. It’s his daughter, Ivanka Trump. Her appointment came after a number of ethical concerns had been raised about Ivanka being a member of her father’s ‘inner circle’ & having access to sensitive material without the usual controls that apply to Federal Officers. Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, is already “Senior Adviser to the President”, his appointment was in January.
Day 75: Apr 6
On 4 April President / dictator Bashar al-Assad carried out a devastating chemical weapons attack in Northern Syria, killing large numbers of civilian men, women and children with – it is now widely accepted – sarin nerve gas. Two days later the US used 59 Tomahawk missiles launched from two destroyers in the Eastern Med to destroy one of Assad’s bases, taking out aircraft, storage facilities, ammunition, fuel, air defence and radar systems.
Day 81: Apr 12
Trump announced “an armada”: the USS Carl Vinson (aircraft carrier) + a destroyer, a cruiser and a submarine, dispatched to North Korea. There seemed to be some confusion as, a week later, the ships were said to be in Australia. Nonetheless they were eventually routed to North Korea and on 18 April were joined by two more aircraft carriers, bringing the total to 270 aircraft.
Day 82: Apr 13
MOAB : Massive Ordinance Air Blast (known in the US Air Force as “Mother of all bombs”) – at 21 thousand pounds it’s the biggest non-nuclear weapon – was dropped on an extensive complex of caves, bunkers and mine fields set up by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan. About 36 suspected militants were killed. There is a statement that the intervention had been in the planning stage for months, but no confirmation that it was initiated by the Barack Obama presidency.
Day 109: May 10
“You’re fired” says Donald Trump to James Comey, head of the FBI. The disturbing thing is that Comey was leading an investigation into links between Donald Trump’s election campaign & Russia. Any intervention into any American presidential election by any foreign power is illegal. Donald Trump’s assertion that James Comey’s dismissal is not related to the investigation is undermined by a statement Trump wrote in the letter officially informing Comey of his dismissal. He wrote: ‘appreciative of Comey informing him on three separate occasions that he is not under investigation by the agency’ (that’s Donal Trump himself, not under investigation, his campaign team certainly was). The Whitehouse’s reason for sacking James Comey was that he was ‘not able to effectively lead the Bureau & a new leader was required who could ‘restore public trust and confidence’. N.B. on 12 May Donald Trump denied the FBI any access to Whitehouse recordings of meetings; & on 20 May Trump says “that Russian thing” is off his back, he’s under a lot less pressure. See also Day 201.
Day 132: Jun 2
Donald Trump withdrew USA from the Paris Accord on Climate Change. The only three countries in the world not signed up to the Paris Accord are now USA, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia.
Day 136: Jun 6
Following an Islamist terrorist attack in London on Saturday June 2, Donald Trump has criticised Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Muslim of Asian descent, for his response. Khan tweeted on Sunday that there was ‘no cause for alarm’ – in reference to the increased police presence on the streets – also a reference to Londoners’ determination to carry on with life despite the terrorist attack. Trump attacked that statement in a tweet of his own in which he suggested London’s Muslim Mayor thought that terrorist killings were not a cause for alarm. When Khan’s press office responded Trump tweeted again, using the phrase ‘pathetic excuse’.
Day 201: Jul 11
Donald Trump Junior (the president’s son) has been forced to release emails as part of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election. The emails reveal he eagerly embraced what he was told was a Russian government attempt to damage Hillary Clinton’s election campaign.
The stunning disclosure raised questions over whether campaign laws were broken and why senior Trump associates failed to report a hostile act by a foreign power. British-born music promoter Rob Goldstone brokered a meeting between Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya & Donald Trump Jr. Goldstone wrote in the exchange of 3 June 2016: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump.” Seventeen minutes later, Trump Jr welcomes this with the reply: “If it’s what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer.” So the meeting was set up. But this week, describing that meeting, Donald Jr said that as soon as he realised there was no information coming to him that would incriminate Hilary Clinton, he terminated the meeting.
Day 207: July 17
Trump is bringing in a new law which forbids the police from ‘non-cooperation’ with the immigration authorities. What this means is that from September, the police will be required to check the immigration papers of anyone they suspect of being an immigrant. For decades this has not been the case – with the result that Texas alone now has 10 million Hispanics, not all of whom have immigration papers, but many of whom have American spouses and American children. There has been a crackdown on undocumented immigrants for many years – Barack Obama deported over 3 million. But Obama’s policy put criminals at the top of the priority list, while Trump has recently issued an executive order putting non-criminals on the same footing as criminals; and the number of non-criminals deported this year is more than twice as many as the same period last year. In Texas there are now police road-blocks with boarder-control officers. Joseph, a schoolboy, and a US citizen, is now afraid to go to school. “I tell him: ‘It’s OK love, you go to that bus,'” said Maria, his mother. “But he’s told me I’m scared I’m going to come back and you’re not going to be in the house.”
End of Log for now:
It’s clear the frequency of newsworthy things is dropping off. Perhaps that’s because Donald J Trump is finding it harder to do crazy stuff; perhaps because he’s getting more sensible; perhaps because the news media is not focusing on him quite so much as it did in January & February. I will continue to post Trump Log blogs whenever he, or his team does anything particularly striking.