First 180 Days of the Trump Administration - July
20, 2017, 6-Month Anniversary
July 20, 2017 marked the
six-month anniversary of the Trump Administration, and, according to
the White House, progress was being made on many fronts. Trump
was "bringing accountability back to government...spurring job
creation...cutting down job killing regulations...opening up American
energy..." and the list went on (+).
However, a look at the news
suggested a White House in chaos and under siege,
raising serious questions about the prospects of Trump's
Trump remained Trump, still Tweeting, still lying, still preoccupied by
slights. The Washington Post reported
Comey's testimony on Capitol Hill, and Donald Trump, Jr.'s June 2016
meeting with Russians dominated the news for days on end, undermining
Republican efforts to move on agenda items such as health care and tax
On May 9, Trump unexpectedly
fired FBI Director James
Comey, shocking Washington, and leading to renewed calls for a special
counsel for the Russian investigation. On May 15 the Washington
Post reported, "Trump
revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and
ambassador." On May 16 reports surfaced that in a February
meeting President Trump had asked Comey to end his investigation of
Michael Flynn, and Comey had documented that in a memo. On May 17
Deputy Attorney General Rod J.
Rosenstein announced the appointment of former Department of
Justice official and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III as special
to be the watchword, and there were
many reports suggesting a shakeup of senior staff was imminent.
There was even talk of the possibility of impeachment or invoking the
25th Amendment (>).
Meanwhile Trump was preparing for his first
overseas trip, leaving on
May 19 for eight days in Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, a NATO
summit in Brussels and a meeting of the Group of Seven in Sicily.
While Trump was overseas, the Administration issued its budget proposal
On June 1 Trump announced his decision to pull the United States out of
the Paris Agreement on climate change, declaring, "The Paris
Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our
sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent
disadvantage to the other countries of the world." Whille climate
change skeptics and growth advocates heralded the move, which fulfilled
a campaign promise, the announcement drew widespread criticism both
domestically and internationally (+).
On June 8 parts of Washington, DC and the country came to a
standstill as former FBI
Director James Comey testified before the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence for almost three hours [PDF].
the RNC chair stated, "The president was never under investigation.
There's been no obstruction of justice, no investigations have been
impeded, and there's been no proof of Russian collusion." The DNC
chair stated, "Comey’s testimony just gave us the clearest and most
yet that President Trump lied to the American people and is likely
under investigation for obstruction of justice – a serious and
disturbing charge." Trump tweeted the next day, "Despite so many
false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW,
Comey is a leaker!"
While Trump decried the "witch hunt," special counsel Robert Mueller
built a team of top-notch attorneys for an investigation
that will likely drag on for years. (Recall that Ken Starr
started investigating Whitewater in Aug. 1994, but his investigation
grew to cover a whole range of matters and he issued a final report on
Sept. 11, 1998). Mike Huckabee wrote on June 19, "Indeed, it’s
smelling more and more like a hoax concocted to hamstring and
delegitimize Trump while covering up Hillary’s embarrassing loss."
But the Russia related stories kept coming out (1, 2). The week of July 10 was dominated by news that Donald Trump Jr., along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, had met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in the heat of the campaign on June 9, 2016 as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump."
Trump also continued (1, 2) to be
hit for inadequately separating himself from his business
magazine's June 19 issue (out on June 8) featured a cover story on "The
Swamp Hotel." On June 12 the attorneys general of the District of
Columbia and Maryland, building on the earlier work by Citizens for
Resposibility and Ethics in Washington, filed suit charging Trump with
violating the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the
Constitution. The lawsuit stated that, "President Trump's
myriad international and domestic business entanglements make him
vulnerable to corrupt
influence and deprive the American people of trust in their chief
executive's undivided loyalty [PDF]."
Despite the seige, the administration sought to keep its agenda
moving forward (+).
26 energy week). Trump made a
steady trickle of nominations to fill positions in his
On the political front, on June 28 at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave., Trump held his first fundraiser for his 2020 re-election campaign; according to news accounts the event brought in nearly $10 million.
Much attention focused on Trump's July 7 bilateral meeting with
Russian President Vladamir Putin during the G20 Summit in Hamburg;
would Trump press Putin on the subject of Russian interference in the
2016 U.S. election? The meeting lasted two hours and 15 minutes,
much longer than expected. A second, initally undisclosed meeting
with Putin during dinner reportedly lasted nearly an hour.
One thing to be said about the first six months of the Trump Administration was that it set a bar of very low expectations, leaving nowhere to go but up. The situation is the opposite of President Obama; he came in with sky-high expectations and never was able to meet them.