It was quite a week.
From when Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States last Friday through the end of this week, news broke from the White House at a rapid-fire pace unlike anything seen previously.
Trump signed executive orders en-masse, most of which cemented concrete action on his most prominent campaign promises. He also allowed access into his White House, providing interviews to The New York Times, ABC, and Fox News, among others.
At the same time, doubled-down on his anti-media rhetoric, stirring controversy over falsehoods he spread related to the size of his inauguration crowd and beliefs he held that millions voted illegally in the November election, costing him the popular vote.
“President Donald Trump has signature moments every hour,” Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist and president of the Potomac Strategy Group, told Business Insider in an email.
Here’s how the week that was — the first of Trump’s presidency — went down:
The first full day of the Trump presidency was highlighted by nationwide — and international — marches in opposition to him. The Women’s March in Washington, DC, one of the largest political demonstrations in history, saw a larger crowd gather than did for his inaugural ceremony the day before.
The march, coupled with a swathe of reporting about the size of the inaugural crowd from the prior day, led Trump to make a pair of questionable decisions on day one.
speaking to CIA employees while standing in front of a wall honouring operatives who were killed in the line of duty, he raged against the “dishonest media” and complained of coverage that showed underwhelming crowds during the inauguration after he said he would be fully committed to the intelligence community.
“We had a massive field of people … Packed,” he told CIA employees. “I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field.”
“As you know, I have a running war with the media,” he continued. “They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
Soon after, Trump’s White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, blasted media outlets during an impromptu Saturday briefing where he took no questions.
Shouting at the reporters present, Spicer falsely said the crowd was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in-person and around the globe.” It sparked a global meme that even made its way into the professional sports world.
Day two began Trump taking to Twitter to express his thoughts on both the protests from Saturday and the ratings from his inauguration.
“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly,” he wrote, posting in a subsequent tweet that, “Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don’t always agree, I recognise the rights of people to express their views.”
A slew of Trump advisers took to the Sunday shows to defend Trump’s crowd size assertions, with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway telling NBC’s Chuck Todd that the administration was simply providing “alternative facts” about the inauguration crowd.
In a separate interview with ABC, Conway said “people didn’t care” about Trump not releasing his tax returns, and said they would not be released. She later walked back that claim, returning to the Trump campaign line about the taxes being under audit.
Trump, in addressing a swearing in ceremony for his senior staff, held up the letter he received from President Barack Obama, praising it but assuring that he would not be telling “the press what’s in the letter.”
At a reception for law enforcement and security officials at the White House, Trump gave a warm greeting to FBI Director James Comey, who became a focal point of the campaign mostly due to the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Several major executives, including Tesla and SpaceX Ceo Elon Musk, met with Trump to start his first full weekday as president. In the meeting, Trump said he was looking to cut regulations “by 75%” and impose a “very major border tax.”
An ethics watchdog group also filed the first major lawsuit against Trump for his refusal to either divest his businesses or place them into a true blind trust. Lawyers involved in the suit hoped to get Trump’s tax returns through discovery, as well. Asked in the Oval Office of the filing, Trump dismissed the lawsuit as being “totally without merit.” The White House came out and claim Trump resigned from his businesses.
Trump signed a very consequential executive order on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, pulling the US out of the landmark trade agreement that was the centrepiece of Obama’s “pivot to Asia” in foreign policy. He also ordered a federal hiring freeze, and reinstated what was known as the “Mexico City policy,” banning federal funding from any foreign NGO that discusses abortion as a family planning option.
Spicer held his first formal press briefing with questions, and told reporters “sometimes we can disagree with the facts.”
During a Monday night meeting with congressional leaders, Trump repeated a claim of his from the transition period: that millions of illegal votes were cast during the November election. He previously asserted that those votes were what cost him the popular vote, which he lost to Clinton by nearly 3 million ballots.
Trump started the day meeting with the CEOs of the three largest American automakers — Ford, General Motors, and Fiat-Chrysler, pushing them to open additional manufacturing plants in the US. He also signed an executive order to move forward with the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, as well as meet with Senate leaders to discuss his options to select for the Supreme Court vacancy.
More fallout continued from his renewed, false voter fraud claims, with several Republicans expressing dismay that he was revisiting them. Spicer was grilled during Tuesday’s briefings over the claims, and said the administration would “maybe” consider launching an investigation into Trump’s unfounded beliefs that millions voted illegally.
Late Tuesday, it was reported that Trump was expected to sign sweeping executive orders regarding immigration from a number of Muslim-majority countries, and his heavily promoted wall along the southern border with Mexico.
Trump also went on an evening tweetstorm, ripping CNN as “FAKE NEWS” while praising Fox News. Following a segment on Chicago during Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s show, Trump tweeted that he would “send in the Feds!” if “Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on.”
He also tweeted that, “among many other things,” Wednesday would be the day when “we will build the wall!”
Following up on questions about whether the administration would investigate Trump’s voter fraud falsehoods, the president opened up Wednesday morning by announcing, on Twitter, there would be a “major investigation” into those claims.
The Dow soon after hit the 20,000 mark many had been anticipating since late 2016, and Trump tweeted his appreciation.
“Great!” he wrote.
He also signed off on an executive order to star construction of the wall, and issue sweeping immigration policy targeting sanctuary cities and “aliens” in the country. He told ABC News the construction of the wall would begin “in months.”
Trump also declared that torture “absolutely works.”
Asked about his voter fraud claims, Trump insisted that millions potentially voted illegally, but not one of those votes was cast for him. He reassured the interviewer, ABC’s David Muir, that an investigation would take place.
Muir questioned whether Trump thought a planned executive action to temporarily halt immigration from the litany of Muslim-majority countries would cause more anger, Trump completely shot down the idea.
“Anger?” Trump said. “There’s plenty of anger right now. How can you have more?”
“David, David — I mean, I know you’re a sophisticated guy,” he later added. “The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What, you think this is going to cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place.”
The New York Times reported a story Trump told congressional leaders at the Monday meeting, pertaining to voter fraud. According to the Times, Trump said legendary German golfer Bernhard Langer was a supporter who tried to cast a ballot in Florida on Election Day. Trump said Langer was told he could not vote, while two other people “who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote,” were able to cast provisional ballots, the Times wrote.
But as Langer later said, he did not tell Trump of the story, rather, someone else told Langer of the incident. Langer then said he relayed it to another friend who shared it with someone who had White House ties. An intriguing game of phone tag, as it was.
Following Trump’s decision to sign off on the wall, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto condemned the move, sparking the start of the Trump administration’s first international tiff.
He also went off on Mexico, saying that if the country was “unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.”
By mid-day, Peña Nieto announced he was no longer going to be coming to Washington to meet with Trump the following week. Spicer announced shortly after the administration was considering implementing a 20% border adjustment tax on Mexican imports.
Trump addressed the Republican lawmaker retreat in Philadelphia, giving an off-the-cuff speech that elicited reactions from the audience.
His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, called The Times to ask the press to “keep its mouth shut” and “listen.”
Similar to Thursday, Trump began the day tweeting about a topic that was covered on the morning cable news shows. After Gregg Phillips went on CNN to discuss his group, “VoteStand,” which he claimed would show millions of illegal votes in the coming months, Trump tweeted he was looking “forward to seeing final results of VoteStand. Gregg Phillips and crew say at least 3,000,000 votes were illegal. We must do better!”
Trump’s major meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May was the headline event from the day — Trump’s first meeting as president with a world leader. The two spoke about reaffirming the “special relationship” between the two countries, and took a couple of questions from the press. In one answer, Trump said he would allow Defence Secretary James Mattis to “override” him when it comes to torture, although he added that he personally believes torture works in interrogations.
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump agreed with Bannon’s Thursday assessment that the media was “the opposition party.”
He then attended the swearing in ceremony for Mattis and signed a pair of executive orders, one to put in motion his plans to build up the military, and the other being the order to, for a few months, restrict people from a series of Muslim-majority countries from coming into the United States, in addition to all refugees.
What it meant
Mackowiak said three things will matter after Trump’s first week in office: The executive orders and their economic impact in the first quarter, the US-UK relationship and the eventual trade deal between the nations, and the path forward with the border wall.
“There is a lot at stake with all of these issues,” Mackowiak said. “It was a bumpy first week at times, but President Trump is delivering on his promises. Will his promises work out in such a way that people feel their lives are better?”
Greg Valliere, the chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, wrote in an analyst’s note that the week was “a first week unlike any other.”
He also wrote that, for much of the Trump agenda, it will take some substantial time before it is enacted.
“We emphasised all week that it will take far longer to get Trump’s priorities enacted than he has promised, and that still appears to be a major take-away as the week ends,” he wrote. “The impatient markets will have to live with a glacial climate in [Washington, DC]; the markets will just have to wait — Trump will get much of his agenda enacted, later rather than sooner.”
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