Donald Trump’s presidency is unprecedented for plenty of reasons — perhaps the biggest being he’s the first president in American history to have never previously held elected office, served in the U.S. military, or occupied any other public position.
Trump made it clear from the beginning of his campaign that he wasn’t going to follow the normal rules or tone of politics. And since winning the election, he has continued to defy precedents set by the 44 presidents who came before him.
We’re keeping track of all the ways that Trump’s presidency veers from the norm, both in policy and in rhetoric, starting Nov. 9, the day he became president-elect. We’re also highlighting the ways in which policymakers and pundits normalize Trump’s abnormal actions, words, and policies.
Day 22 — Nov. 30
The art of the Carrier deal
It appears Trump has succeeded in keeping a major campaign promise by negotiating a deal to keep the Carrier air-conditioning manufacturing plant in Indiana from shutting down. The company said Tuesday it reached a deal with the president-elect to stay in the state rather than moving 1,000 jobs to Mexico.
The company will receive significant incentives to stay in Indiana, likely in the form of corporate tax breaks, reported CNBC. Trump first announced he was negotiating with the company on Thanksgiving Day. Carrier’s plan to shut down two Indiana factories, announced in February, had been a major talking point for during his campaign.
It’s unusual for an incoming president to negotiate a deal with an individual company like this, especially before even taking office. The job of presidents is generally to pass policy on a national level rather than picking random private entities to negotiate with on a case by case basis.
Trump campaigned on the promise of bringing back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt. While preventing those 1,000 Carrier jobs from being outsourced is significant, it doesn’t change the fundamental economic forces that have caused those kind of jobs from going overseas for the past half-century.
Day 21 — Nov. 29
Donald Trump suggests people who burn the American flag should lose their citizenship
President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter — his preferred mode of expression — Tuesday morning to suggest jail time and loss of citizenship for Americans found guilty of burning the nation’s flag, an act the Supreme Court has ruled a constitutionally protected form of free expression.
Following Trump’s surprise victory three weeks ago, videos have been circulating online of students setting the stars and stripes aflame as a form of protest against his election. Flag burning has been a frequent target of conservative culture warriors in decades past, but stripping people’s citizenship as a penalty is new.
Asked about the tweet on CNN this morning, Trump’s communications director Jason Miller argued that flag burning should be “illegal.” Anchor Chris Cuomo pressed Miller that “it is a protected Constitutional right — can we agree on that?” Either in defiance or ignorance of the past Supreme Court ruling, Miller replied “no, we completely disagree.”
Trump also retweeted a 16-year-old supporter, who criticized CNN’s Jeff Zeleny for failing to find evidence of Trump’s claims of voter fraud. The teen user also claims Trump added “bad reporter” onto the end of his original tweet.
Day 20 — Nov. 28
Kellyanne Conway defends Trump for refusing daily intelligence briefings
Kellyanne Conway told CNN Sunday that Donald Trump is receiving intelligence information “from a number of sources.” She was responding to a question about why the president-elect has been turning down daily briefings from the intelligence community.
As reported by the Washington Post last week, Trump has broken from recent precedent by not making time for the classified briefings. He received two of them in the first two-and-a-half weeks after Election Day, whereas past presidents-elect have participated in them every day.
Conway said Trump has also received intelligence information during phone calls and meetings with world leaders, though it’s unclear how far those exchanges would have gone beyond congratulating Trump on his victory. Presidents-elect typically receive standard briefings from the State Department before communicating with other heads of state. Trump chose not to receive these briefings.
Trump claims millions voted illegally — without evidence to back it up
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted claims Sunday night that he had, in fact, won the popular vote and that millions of people voted illegally — without providing any evidence to back it up.
Clinton’s lead in the popular vote surpassed two million last week.
Reports of at three least million illegal immigrants voting in the U.S. election are floating around pro-Trump and conspiracy theory websites, including an article published on Infowars — a site that infamously calls Sandy Hook was a hoax — on November 14.
It cites a pair of tweets by Gregg Phillips, the founder of VoteStand which calls itself “America’s first online fraud reporting app.” While Phillips has yet to release evidence for the claims, PolitiFact investigated the report and concluded that it was false. Snopes also debunked it last week.
A link on conservative news aggregation site, The Drudge Report, helped the Infowars’ story’s reach, and Trump has used Infowars as a source before, according to the New Yorker.
Day 19 — Nov. 27
Trump and his team respond to recount efforts in three key states
Donald Trump and his team are taking notice of a formal request to recount the vote in Wisconsin as well as mounting efforts in Pennsylvania and Michigan. All three states, which Trump won by a slim margin, helped propel him to victory.
The president-elect took to Twitter Saturday night and Sunday morning to decry the recounts, led by the Green Party’s Jill Stein and joined by Hillary Clinton’s campaign Saturday.
Over the course of nine posts, Trump first called the recount process a “Green Party scam” before quoting Clinton’s response at the debates when asked whether she would accept the results of the election, regardless of the outcome, as well as her concession speech.
Trump’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway also put out a statement in light of Clinton joining the Wisconsin recount.
“What a pack of sore losers,” Conway wrote. “It turns out Team Hillary and their new BFF Jill Stein can’t accept reality.”
“The people have spoken,” she concluded. “Time to listen up. #YesYourPresident.”
Stein initiated the recount efforts after a group of computer scientists and election lawyers noted statistically significant discrepancies between the number of votes cast electronically and paper ballots. As of Sunday morning, she raised over $6 million. Her campaign estimates the cost of a recount in all three states at $7 million.
Day 15 — Nov. 23
Trump Foundation admits to violating IRS rules
The Donald J. Trump Foundation has admitted to violating the Internal Revenue Service’s “self-dealing” rules, which bar the leaders of a charity from using it to enrich their family or their businesses, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reported.
Tax forms from 2015 uploaded to the nonprofit tracking service GuideStar show that the Trump Foundation checked a box saying it had transferred “income or assets to a disqualified person,” according to Fahrenthold. (Here’s more on the IRS’s definition of a ”disqualified person”, a group that also includes foundation managers and big contributors.) Still, it’s unclear exactly what those income or assets were or if they could result in a fine for the Trump Foundation.
While any charitable organization admitting to self-dealing violations is unusual, over the last year, Farenthold has reported multiple abnormalities in Trump’s giving.
The president-elect has suggested, over the years, that he had given many millions to charity, but a months-long investigation was able to verify that he personally gave $7.8 million since the early 1980s. “The Post found that Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given — or had claimed other people’s giving as his own,” Farenthold reported.
Trump also spent more than $250,000 of his charitable foundation’s money to “to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses,” Farenthold reported.
Farenthold called over 350 charities to verify that Trump had given away his own money. Evidence of actual charitable giving was hard to come by:
Additionally, Trump spent $20,000 of his charity’s money to buy a six-foot-tall portrait of himself.
Day 14 — Nov. 22
Trump won’t “lock her up” after all
Trump’s former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway confirmed to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the new administration will not pursue further investigations into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified documents by passing them through her private email server or allegations against the Clinton Foundation.
“I think he’s thinking about many different things as he prepares to become president of the United States and things that sound like the campaign aren’t among them,” Conway said.
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly said Clinton’s use of her private email server was illegal and threatened to imprison her once he was in office. His supporters often chanted “lock her up” in response at campaign events.
Trump lobbies for Nigel Farage as U.S. Ambassador
Donald Trump broke diplomatic protocol Monday night when he suggested, via Twitter, that Great Britain should appoint U.K. Independent Party and Brexit leader Nigel Farage as their ambassador to the United States.
Heads of states do not normally intervene, at least publicly and especially not with allies, in decisions regarding whom other nations send as their ambassador.
The U.K. rejected Trump’s proposal Tuesday. “We have first rate ambassador in Washington,” said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson while speaking at the House of Commons. “There is no vacancy.”
Farage has recently become a strong political ally to Trump. The UKIP leader stumped for the president-elect during his campaign, introducing him at a rally in Mississippi and attempting to spin reporters after the second presidential debate.
Day 13 — Nov. 21
Trump speaks to foreign leaders about his business interests, according to latest reports
In meetings with foreign leaders since winning the presidency, Trump made mention of his personal business interests in their respective countries, according to two separate reports published Monday.
The New York Times reported that Trump held a meeting with Brexit-leader and political ally Nigel Farage and his cohorts, in which he vocalized his opposition to wind farms off the coast of Scotland, expressing worry that such construction would harm the views of one of his golf courses.
The Times’ scoop emerged the same day that Talking Points Memo surfaced a prominent Argentine journalist’s report that Trump used a customary, congratulatory call with President Mauricio Macri of Argentina to push support for a building project underway in Buenos Aires. Though Marci denied the report through a spokesman on Monday, additional conflict of interest issues were raised when during an interview with Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, the Argentine president acknowledged Ivanka Trump’s presence on the same phone call.
The latest reports follow revelations that Trump and his family entertained Indian business partners and developers since winning the presidency, and that the president-elect registered eight companies in Saudi Arabia during his campaign.
Both reports once again introduced tough questions about how President-elect Trump will square with businessman Trump, who has interests around the world, and whose family, namely his daughter Ivanka, remain active in Trump Organization and his presidential transition team. Not yet inaugurated, Trump’s decision to leave his business to his family instead of an independent manager or in a “blind trust,” has ethics experts throughout D.C. distraught by the continued business interest allegations as they attempt to make sense of the many potential violations.
Trump registered foreign companies during his campaign
President-elect Donald Trump registered eight companies connected to Saudi Arabia in August 2015, just as his campaign was getting under way, according to The Washington Post. The revelation raises further questions of how Trump will separate his public and private work.
Tracking Trump’s business conflicts is becoming a full-time job. The Trump Organization has multiple business interests abroad: 16 in India, 13 in the United Arab Emirates, nine in China, and eight in Saudi Arabia, according to unaudited financial disclosures reviewed by The Washington Post. So far, Trump has refused to put those holdings in a “blind trust,” as is tradition for sitting presidents. He’s also continuing to take meetings with business partners, as he did with Indian developers of Trump Tower Mumbai the week after his election.
Even if he does ultimately cede control to his children, they, too, have taken on roles in the transition, and it’s unclear how involved they’ll be in the Trump Administration.
Signs are popping up that these foreign partners plan to leverage the Trump brand as well. The website for the planned Trump Tower Mumbai is headlined, “Donald J. Trump the man, the icon.” After Trump was elected, the developer of the project, India’s Lodha Group, declared: “Congratulations Mr. President-elect. The Trump name is rising high in Mumbia, too.”
Day 12 — Nov. 20
Trump is still mad about musical Hamilton, also mad at Saturday Night Live
Trump was evidently still displeased by the Hamilton debacle on Sunday morning. Around 6:30 a.m. E.T., he tweeted again about the hit Broadway musical, this time calling it “overrated.”
Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of Trump on SNL also seemed to rub the president-elect the wrong way. The skit was Baldwin’s first return to screen since the election, and he portrayed Trump as gormless and dumbfounded by his new presidential duties.
Day 11 — Nov. 19
Trump unleashes tweetstorm directed at the cast of Hamilton
Trump criticized the cast of Hamilton via Twitter Saturday morning after they made an appeal at the end of Friday’s performance to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was sitting in the orchestra section.
Brandon Dixon, an openly gay and HIV-positive member of the cast, implored Pence to uphold the “inalienable rights” of “the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious” about the newly elected administration.
Trump expressed his disappointment that Pence had been “harassed” during his trip to the theater.
The tweets drew criticism and even ridicule from Trump’s critics, while his supporters rallied behind the hashtag #BoycottHamilton.
A New York Times reporter noted that Trump sent out another Hamilton-related tweet Saturday evening but quickly deleted it.
Trump and his children meet with Indian businesspeople, reportedly about brand expansion
In his first week as president-elect, Donald Trump met with three Indian business partners who are constructing a Trump-branded apartment complex outside of Mumbai, The New York Times reported Saturday. The executives also met with Trump’s children who have been heavily involved in Trump’s presidential transition. The three executives flew from India for the meeting and later told Indian newspapers that they discussed expanding the Trump brand in India.
During the campaign, Trump promised that he would separate himself from his businesses to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest. He repeatedly criticized the Clinton Foundation as a “pay-for-play” institution because big donors were given access to high ranking government officials. But the meeting with Indian executives is the latest example that keeping his campaign trail vow is perhaps more complicated than he imagined.
Trump said that he would hand over complete control of his businesses to his children, instead of the more traditional blind trust which an independent manager would oversee. If the Trump crew continues to be in charge, it’s unclear how they can avoid ethical questions, especially if they continue to serve as some of their father’s chief confidantes and advisers in the political realm.
Presidents themselves are exempt from the federal government’s conflict of interest laws but his children would not be. Ivanka Trump raised the specter of conflict of interest on Thursday evening when she joined her father during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Before the meeting with the Indian executives became public, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called for Trump to liquidate his entire stake in his company and put the cash in a real blind trust.
Day 10 — Nov. 18
Trump’s cabinet appointments get KKK stamp of approval
David Duke, a former Klu Klux Klan imperial wizard and avowed conspiracy theorist, was thrilled:
Sessions is one of the most conservative and anti-illegal immigration members of the Senate. He made headlines in 2013 by helping to kill a comprehensive immigration reform bill. The Senate Judiciary committee, where he now sits, refused to confirm him for a federal judgeship in 1986 because of past racist remarks. Pompeo, a tea party Republican who came to Congress in 2010, has made controversial comments about Muslims and is an outspoken critic of the Iran deal and a supporter of enhanced government surveillance.
Trump must personally pay $1 million in Trump University settlement
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Friday afternoon that he had reached a $25 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit involving real-estate seminars delivered at Trump University. The settlement ends a nearly three-year suit that alleged Trump misled the people who enrolled in the seminars at the unaccredited for-profit school and failed to deliver on promises of “real estate secrets” that would make them rich.
Trump himself has to pay $1 million in penalties, something no other president-elect has had to do before taking the oath of office.
The Trump University case is far from the end of Trump’s legal woes. He still has around 75 pending cases, according to an analysis by USA Today, involving everything from allegedly failing to pay employees at his golf courses to a $4 million libel suit.
“This is an extremely unusual situation,” Stephen Kaufman, an expert in political and election law told Insurance Journal earlier this month regarding Trump’s legal issues. “Certainly no presidential candidate in modern times has potentially come to the Office of President with such a litigation cloud hanging over his head.”
Day 9 — Nov. 17
Ivanka Trump meets Japan’s prime minister
Ivanka Trump, who is the executive vice president of the Trump Organization, sat in on a meeting between her father and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump Tower. Her attendance quickly raised questions about a potential conflict of interest — namely whether the Trump administration could separate the business interests of the corporations overseen by his family members from his access to world leaders.
Ivanka Trump has repeatedly said she is only interested in playing a dutiful daughter for her dad’s administration. She doesn’t have a choice — a 1967 anti-nepotism law prohibits public officials, including the president, from hiring or promoting a relative within the government.
The Trump family is already toeing the line. Three of his adult children — Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. — are preparing to take over control of the Trump Organization once their father is sworn in. All three also sit on the executive committee of Trump’s White House transition team.
Day 8 — Nov. 16
A pro skateboarder, a boxer, and an NFL owner walk into Trump Tower
A steady stream of visitors has made its way to Trump Tower in New York to pay homage and offer advice to the new president-elect. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, world-famous boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., and pro skateboarder Billy Rohan all were spotted in Trump Tower on Wednesday.
The transition is still stalled
Vice President-elect Mike Pence signed the initial required paperwork to officially commence the presidential transition on Nov. 15, but the Trump team still must provide “the names of the individuals they have authorized to represent their transition efforts across the government,” according to a White House spokesperson.
Until the Trump team submits those names, they cannot begin briefings with federal departments.
Trump bans lobbyists from his White House
Trump campaigned on a promise to “drain the swamp” of D.C. and to rid all lobbyists from working in his White House. On Wednesday, his transition team announced that anyone interested in a White House job would need to sign a pledge renouncing any lobbying ties and agree not to enter lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.
“By signing below I hereby certify that I am not currently registered and reporting as a federal lobbyist as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act as amended or as a compensated lobbyist at the state level in any state,” the pledge reads.
While getting lobbyists out of the president’s inner circle may help cut down on the influence of special interests, a lobbyist ban also significantly limits the number of experienced professionals eligible to work for Trump.
President Obama also campaigned on a promise to close the revolving door between his administration and lobbyists. Obama’s rules prohibited anyone who had worked in his administration in the previous two years to then go and lobby their former department, although they could still lobby any other part of the federal government. Plenty of exceptions to Obama’s lobbying restrictions still existed, in part, because the government relies on industry experts and vice versa.
Day 7 — Nov. 15
Trump gets defensive about losing the popular vote
The Trump transition is at a standstill because of unsigned paperwork
Trump’s transition effort has stalled and team members have not begun standard briefings with at least a dozen federal departments in the week since Election Day. To ensure a smooth transition, federal departments prepare briefing material for the president-elect’s “landing teams.” But several meetings with Trump’s team have been canceled because members, the New York Times reported, are haggling over language in the paperwork required to begin the transfer of power.
Teams supporting both Trump and Hillary Clinton signed the required paperwork before Election Day to ensure that the transition could start immediately, according to an administration official. But Trump replaced the head of his transition, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, after the election with Mike Pence, who was then required to re-sign the paperwork. In a transition where every day counts, Pence has gone five days without signing.
Day 6 — Nov. 14
Trump reportedly tries to get his kids top-secret security clearances
CBS News reports that someone on Trump’s team tried to get top security clearances for three of his adult children, all of whom have been involved in the transition effort and his campaign. His kids are not government workers, which makes it unusual but not illegal for them to have top-secret access. Trump cannot formally hire his family members as employees in his White House because of anti-nepotism laws.
Trump would deny the report in a tweet the following Wednesday:
Ivanka Trump’s company tries to use her father’s victory to sell $10,000 bracelets
Following the Trump family’s Sunday night interview on 60 Minutes, the vice president of sales for Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry sent a “style alert” to journalists promoting the bracelet Ivanka wore on the CBS news program. The $8,800 to $10,800 bracelet is Ivanka’s “favorite bangle from the Metropolis Collection,” the email read.
Numerous conflicts of interest are on the horizon as Trump’s children try to grow their businesses and support their father’s presidency.
During the campaign, Trump’s children regularly helped their own businesses by choosing Trump companies and vendors for campaign expenses. Ivanka’s company also advertised the dress she wore during the Republican convention, causing Nordstrom and Macy’s online stores to sell out of the item.
Day 5 — Nov. 13
Trump has a meltdown about the New York Times on Twitter
Trump seemed to be referring to a letter the Times sent subscribers on Nov. 13 thanking them for their loyalty and promising to report with “the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team.” The letter did not include an apology.
The paper responded to Trump’s Twitter meltdown by saying that subscriptions had increased four-fold since the election.
Trump appoints Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon as his chief strategist
Trump tapped Steve Bannon, the controversial architect of the final stretch of Trump’s campaign, to serve as chief strategist, one of the most senior positions in the White House, alongside chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Like his boss, Bannon has zero experience in government; he most recently ran the right-wing website Breitbart News, which Bannon proudly described as a “platform for the alt-right.” Bannon helped amplify white nationalist ideology while he was in charge of the site. He is virulently anti-immigration, and his ex-wife accused him of not wanting their kids to go to school with Jewish students.
Bannon told a reporter for The Daily Beast at a party that he’s a “Leninist” who wants “to destroy” the country.
President Obama’s chief strategist was David Axelrod, who held an outsized influence on his administration.
Trump doesn’t want to be paid for being the president
During an interview with 60 Minutes, Trump was asked if he would accept the $400,000 presidential salary.
“I think I have to by law take $1, so I’ll take $1 a year. But it’s a — I don’t even know what it is,” Trump said. When CBS News’ Lesley Stahl told him the figure, Trump said, “No, I’m not gonna take the salary. I’m not taking it.”
Trump made similar statements on the campaign trail. But he doesn’t have a choice in whether he gets paid or not — a mandatory statute in Article II of the Constitution sets presidential compensation. Trump can, however, give the money back to the Treasury or to a cause of his choosing, which is what Presidents John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover did with their salaries.
Day 2 — Nov. 10
Trump starts ditching the press pool
Presidents typically let a small group of journalists, known as a “protective pool,” follow their every movement and report on their whereabouts to the general public. Trump has not set up a formal pool, forcing a group of reporters to camp out in Trump Tower to monitor who’s coming and going.
Not only has Trump refused to set up a formal pool, but he also managed to ditch the informal one on two occasions since becoming president-elect. The first was two days after the election, when he went to the White House to meet with President Obama. He would do it again the following Tuesday, when he went out to a steak dinner after his spokesperson told reporters he was in for the night.
The lack of access has unsurprisingly frustrated journalists accustomed to covering the White House. The White House Correspondents’ Association issued a statement saying its members were “deeply concerned” by Trump’s rejection of a protective pool. “In addition to breaking with decades of historical precedent and First Amendment principles, this decision could leave Americans blind about his whereabouts and well-being in the event of a national crisis,” the statement continued.
Trump seems unaware of some of the basic duties of an incoming president
The amount of work involved in being the leader of the world’s biggest superpower apparently came as a surprise to Trump. In a meeting with President Obama just two days after the election, he was taken aback by what lay ahead of him in setting up a new White House, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Mr. Obama walked his successor through the duties of running the country, and Mr. Trump seemed surprised by the scope,” the paper reported. Trump’s own aides were “unaware that the entire presidential staff working in the West Wing had to be replaced at the end of Mr. Obama’s term.”
Trump complains (without evidence) about “professional protestors”
Trump seemed to have an abrupt change of heart the next day:
Day 1 — Nov. 9
Trump puts a climate denier in charge of the transition for the Environmental Protection Agency
Climate scientists are at a near unanimous consensus that the Earth is warming and humans are responsible. Trump appeared to eschew the widespread agreement and put Myron Ebell, a leading denier of man-made climate change, in charge of the transition for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ebell will have tremendous influence on staffing the agency, which could roll back many environmental regulations, including those on carbon emissions. Ebell has argued for expanding logging on federal lands, allowing for more oil and gas exploration, and permitting additional coal mining. He has also dismissed climate scientists for “cooking the data” on global warming.
Trump boasts about his business success on .gov transition website
The Trump team eventually deleted the list of properties the evening of November 11 but left the opening line: “The Trump organization owns some of the world’s top properties.”
VICE News will file regular updates on just how not normal Trump’s presidency is. Check back for more.
Olivia Becker, Alex Thompson, Tess Owen, Christina Sterbenz, and Nick Miriello contributed to this report.