This week in Trump’s America: Week 1

Bust a move.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

If there’s one thing we know about President Trump, it’s that he excels at bluster. Often, he creates distractions that crowd out the real news and the issues that impact real Americans. Here at ThinkProgress, we are dedicated to holding Trump accountable and sorting out the signal from the noise — but even just a few days into his presidency, there is already a lot of noise.

So we’re launching a weekly roundup to help you sort it all out. What did the White House do? What important news flew under the radar? Which promises did Trump break while he was busy having his latest tantrum? What lies did the Trump administration tell?

Each Friday, we’ll provide you with a guide to what happened over the past seven days in America under President Trump’s leadership.

  • One of Trump’s first executive actions was an order to “ease the burdens” of the Affordable Care Act, which was rather vague. On Thursday, we saw the first example of that, when Trump cut all advertising to encourage Americans to enroll in health insurance before the enrollment period ends on Tuesday.
  • Trump reinstated what’s known as the “global gag rule,” a ban on federal funding for any international group that provides information to women about abortion services. Unlike the previous version, Trump’s order does not include exemptions for hospitals and clinics that don’t actually provide abortions themselves, nor for facilities that treat women with complications from illegal or unsafe abortions.
  • Trump issued executive memorada to move the stalled Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines forward.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/823950814163140609

  • Trump signed an executive order taking action on issues related to immigration, including initiating plans to build his oft-promised wall with Mexico, threatening “sanctuary cities” with federal funding cuts, building additional detention centers, and publishing a weekly list of undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.
  • Trump prepared a draft of an executive order halting refugee resettlement and suspending travel to the United States from the Muslim-majority countries Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.
  • According to Politico reporting, the executive orders that Trump signed this week — which were spearheaded by senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and chief strategist Steve Bannon — were so hastily prepared that they may be unenforcable or even illegal.
  • Trump removed the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation economic agreement that none of the presidential candidates supported.
  • Trump wasted no time in profiting off the presidency. Initiation fees at Mar-a-Lago are doubling, and his hotel chain announced an expansion to triple the number of Trump-branded hotels across the country.
  • Drone strikes were carried out in Yemen just hours after Trump was sworn in and throughout the weekend, though they were not attacks that he had to personally approve.
  • John Gore, Trump’s pick to serve as deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, has only ever fought civil rights cases as the lawyer defending the people accused of violating civil rights laws.
  • CKE Restaurants, the company overseen by Trump’s Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder, received 33 legal complaints from workers on Thursday, including four allegations of sexual harassment, 22 complaints about wage and hour violations, and seven unfair labor practices charges.
  • Trump is already exacerbating one of the world’s biggest conflicts by repeatedly promising to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This week, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) warned they will cease to recognize Israel if he follows through.

Trump made 663 promises on the campaign trail, and in his first week, he’s already broken quite a few of them:

  • “Day one” promises: Of the 36 things Trump promised would happen on “day one,” he only kept two of them: a federal hiring freeze (that will increase costs and reduce transparency) and a moratorium on new regulations. He’s fulfilled a few more since then, but a week later, his unfulfilled “day one” promises include: cancelling billions in climate change spending for the United Nations, proposing a constitutional amendment creating Congressional term limits, getting “all of the criminal immigrants out,” ending gun-free zones in schools and on military bases, and canceling every “unconstitutional” Obama administration executive action.
  • A diverse cabinet: Trump promised that his cabinet would “absolutely” look like America and definitely include at least one person who is Hispanic. It doesn’t, and most of them are white and male.
  • Pay for play: Despite Trump’s promise not to appoint political donors to negotiate with other countries, he did just that when he selected New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to serve as ambassador to the UK.

The Trump administration has already proven in week one that it will be unconventional — in a lot of problematic ways. Here’s where the United States strayed from its democratic norms this week:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/823937936056008704

  • “Alternative facts”: On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway introduced us to “alternative facts,” which is when reality and all available evidence point in one direction but the Trump administration says something else.
  • “America first!”: In Trump’s inauguration speech, he championed the isolationist concept of putting “America First” in a context all too similar to the eponymous anti-Semitic organization that opposed the U.S. getting involved with World War II.
  • Erasing science: The Trump administration seems particularly interested in applying a political filter to science. In the first week, climate change was erased from the White House website and all Obama-era climate policy was erased from the State Department website. They put a freeze on all EPA grants and contracts, banned various agencies from communicating with the public (including a social media blackout for the Department of Energy’s renewable energy team), and even briefly banned the Department of Agriculture from publishing research.
  • Crackdown on protesters: Prosecutors are pursuing felony charges against 200-plus protesters, journalists, and legal observers after an Inauguration Day round-up, without trying to distinguish innocent bystanders from window-breakers. Republican lawmakers in ten different states also suddenly think it’s a good idea to criminalize peaceful protests.
  • State Department exodus: On Wednesday, the State Department’s entire senior level of management officials resigned en masse. It’s not yet clear why they all left, but it’s the largest simultaneous departure the department has ever experienced, so it doesn’t look good.

There’s a lot of debate about whether to use the word “lie” to describe the falsehoods Trump and his spokespeople keep repeating, especially because of their insistence that he believes these things to be true. But they seem to be doing something worse than lying, which is intentionally insisting upon falsehoods even in the face of overwhelming evidence — so as to sow confusion.

We want to hold Trump accountable for all of his administration’s lies, even the ones that seem to stem entirely from his ego.

  • 3–5 million illegal votes: Trump’s insistence that millions of votes were cast illegally has no evidence to support it, but it will conveniently help him target cities that voted against him and encourage more states to pass laws that suppress voter turnout, which tend to help Republicans and hurt Democrats.
  • Violence in Chicago: To support his belief that there’s “horrible ‘carnage’” in Chicago, Trump claimed this week that two people were shot and killed somewhere in the city while President Obama was giving his farewell address on January 10. According to the Chicago police, however, there were no fatal shootings on January 10, and no shootings whatsoever while Obama’s speech was taking place.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/824080766288228352

  • Biggest inauguration turnout ever: This claim was the foundation for the White House’s war on the press this week. Sean Spicer’s claims of both bigger in-person turnout and virtual tune-in are both unsupportable by the available evidence. Nevertheless, Trump boasted, “We caught them in a beauty” — implying journalists’ totally accurate reporting of the event was wrong — “and I think they’re going to pay a big price.” That was apparently after he’d called the acting National Park Service director demanding additional pictures that painted a more flattering impression of the crowd size.
  • “Day one”: At the first White House press briefing on Monday, Sean Spicer said at least twelve times that it was “day one” of the Trump administration, despite the fact that Trump had actually taken presidential actions on Inauguration Day. Monday was, in fact, day four.
  • Standing ovation at the CIA: Trump claimed he got a standing ovation when he spoke to the CIA on Saturday (day negative two?). People standing and clapping only counts as significant if the audience is sitting and is so inspired that they rise to their feet. Trump’s audience at the CIA never actually sat, a point Trump even admitted in his interview with ABC on Wednesday.

Check out ThinkProgress’ video recap of all of this week’s lies:

No one is immune from Trump’s predilection for umbrage, and it now seems that his administration will magnify his tantrums as part of their jobs. This week, TIME Magazine reporter Zeke Miller bore the brunt of Trump’s rage after making a mistake in the White House pool report about whether the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. The administration seized on the error as a quintessential example of how the press is both unreliable and biased against Trump. His surrogates repeated the stories in interview for days on end.

In fact, Sean Spicer used a White House briefing to attack Miller for not apologizing — days after Spicer himself had accepted his apology.

Because of the incessant grilling, TIME issued an extended statement Tuesday regarding Miller’s mistake, immediate correction, and repeated apologies. “The President and White House aides have cited this mistake as an example of ‘deliberately false reporting,’” managing editor Nancy Gibbs wrote. “It was no such thing.”

In his interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday, Trump was still complaining about the bust incident. “What they are saying is that I am a racist. It’s a very serious charge,” he complained. He also unwittingly admitted he didn’t even know if it was there or not. “I got very angry at my people and said, ‘Who took that bust out?’ because it wasn’t there. And they said it was never moved. It was in the same exact spot.”

It’s only been one week since we could say that Donald Trump is president of the United States, but it’s been a long one. If you made it to the bottom of this round-up, we thought we’d reward you.

Many were captivated by the Women’s March flashmob organized by the singer MILCK, who connected with women from across the country to rehearse and perform her original song, “Quiet.” This week, Samantha Bee invited MILCK on her show to perform the song along with the GW Sirens and Capital Blend:

See all our Trump weeks in review.Look ahead to Week 2. →→