Week 15 in Trump’s America: pondering the Civil War
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Week 15, in one sentence: President Donald Trump reached his 100th day as president; avoided a government shutdown by compromising with Democrats on a spending bill; signed an executive order that loosens regulations on offshore drilling; placed a “very friendly” phone call to accused mass murderer and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and invited him to the White House; golfed again; was corrected by his national security adviser about South Korea paying for the U.S. missile defense system; pondered why the Civil War happened; got so upset by a journalist’s questions about his wiretapping allegations that he abruptly ended the interview; called Kim Jong Un “a pretty smart cookie”; turned on the U.S. missile defense system in South Korea; gave Jared Kushner another job — to make friends with Silicon Valley; called for a “good shutdown” of the government; signed an executive order to restore “religious liberty”; returned to New York City (briefly); and finally got enough House Republicans on his side to pass an Obamacare replacement bill.
Congress avoids a shutdownDay 99 — April 28
After a weeklong feud between Trump and Democrats, Congress voted to keep the government open … for seven more days, briefly postponing a potential government shutdown.
Trump signed another executive order that he hopes will encourage offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans by opening up millions of acres of federal water for oil and gas leasing. It’s a complete reversal of a decision made by Barack Obama in the final days of his presidency.
Trump shamed North Korea for “disrespecting” China after the Hermit Kingdom launched a ballistic missile that crashed almost immediately.
While the State Department reportedly already looks like a ghost town, Rex Tillerson wants to cut another 2,300 jobs there — or 9 percent of the department’s workforce, sources told Bloomberg. The layoffs would come as part of Trump’s plan to slash the budget by 30 percent.
100 days of TrumpDay 100 — April 29
In celebration of reaching his 100-day milestone, Trump held a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he spent much of his speech railing against his favorite nemesis: the media.
“Their priorities are not my priorities, and not your priorities,” Trump said. “If the media’s job is to be honest and tell the truth, the media deserves a very, very big fat failing grade.”
Trump also had a phone call he described as “very friendly” with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Trump invited Duterte — who’s accused of mass murder over extrajudicial killings in the Philippines’ brutal drug war — to visit the White House.
Trump golfs (yet again) Day 101 — April 30
Trump spent most of the day at one of his golf courses in Virginia. The president, who was a vehement critic of Obama’s golfing, is golfing at a much higher rate than any of the last three presidents: Trump has spent almost one-fifth of his presidency at golf courses.
During an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” the president’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, admitted the administration has “looked at” changing libel laws. While Priebus didn’t go into specifics, it’s a tactic Trump previously said he’d use in his war with the “fake” media.
Just days after Trump ruffled feathers by publicly saying South Korea would cough up $1 billion to fund the U.S. missile defense system, national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster calmly corrected his boss. McMaster confirmed the U.S. would, in fact, front the bill for the system, known as THAAD, according to a statement released by the South Korean government.
A day of bad press Day 102 — May 1
Trump had a tough day with his old foe: the media.
The president triggered widespread criticism when he pondered why the Civil War happened. He also said that Andrew Jackson would have stopped the Civil War if he had “been a little bit later.” Andrew Jackson died 16 years before the war began. Trump clarified in a tweet that he meant Jackson “saw it coming and was angry.”
Trump got so upset after “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson questioned him about his wiretapping allegations that he walked away from the interview. Dickerson asked if the president stood by his assertion that Obama was “sick” and “bad” for allegedly wiretapping Trump Tower.
“You don’t have to ask me,” Trump said before ending the interview and sitting down at his Oval Office desk.
The president also called Kim Jong Un “a pretty smart cookie” during the interview’s first segment.
Trump signed an executive order that gives Jared Kushner yet another job — along with his roles as senior adviser, shadow diplomat, and more. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser will launch a group called the American Technology Council to encourage collaboration between the White House and Silicon Valley to “transform and modernize” how the government “uses and delivers digital services.” In other words: Get tech companies to love the White House. The council will invite top tech CEOs to attend a summit in June, but at least one major company — Uber — won’t attend.
One of Trump’s most controversial advisers, Sebastian Gorka, is reportedly leaving the White House. Gorka is a former Breitbart News editor and counterterrorism specialist with a history of alleged ties to far-right, Nazi groups in Hungary.
Shut it down! Day 103 — May 2
The president expressed his frustration with the spending bill and even called for a “good shutdown” of the government to fix the “mess.”
“We either elect more Republican Senators or change the rules now to 51 percent,” Trump tweeted.
Speaking at the Women for Women International charity luncheon, Trump’s archnemesis Hillary Clinton savaged his performance as president thus far. Clinton said that Trump “should worry less about the election and,” putting her hand to her mouth as if shouting so he could hear, “my winning the popular vote.” Clinton accepted personal responsibility for her loss but also blamed FBI Director James Comey’s October letter about her email server and WikiLeaks’ campaign to humiliate her. Trump tweeted that day that Comey was “the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton.”
The U.S. switched on the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea and flew strategic bombers over the region — actions North Korea said were pushing the Korean Peninsula to “nuclear war.”
Jared Kushner failed to disclose more conflicts of interest. The Wall Street Journal revealed that Trump’s son-in-law has a stake in the real estate startup Cadre, which is partly owned by George Soros, Peter Thiel, and Goldman Sachs.
Comey at me, bro Day 104 — May 3
Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and said he was “mildly nauseous” at the idea that he’d swayed the 2016 presidential election. Comey does, however, stand by his decision to announce that FBI was reopening an investigation into Clinton’s email server in October. Democrats have been furious with Comey over his choice to announce the Clinton investigation while keeping quiet about the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.
Thirteen House Democrats wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that demanded information about law enforcement’s secretive surveillance of social media. Law enforcement routinely monitors Facebook and Twitter to keep tabs on activist groups like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street. Some arrests have even been made.
A recent Trump hire in the State Department — Steven Munoz — has been accused of sexual assault five times, ProPublica revealed.
Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, appeared in an advertisement for a Trump Tower in thePhilippines until the video was taken down this week from the project’s official website.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the administration’s “America First” foreign policy will require foreign partnerships with countries that don’t share U.S. “values,” triggering an outcry from human rights groups that the Trump administration is OK with ignoring abuses abroad if the situation benefits the U.S.
Bye-bye, Obamacare Day 105 — May 4
The dismantling of Obamacare officially began when the House hastily passed the GOP’s second attempt at repealing and replacing it. House Republicans headed over to “a big press conference at the beautiful Rose Garden” with Trump to celebrate. The American Health Care Act would replace Obamacare’s taxes and subsidies with age-based tax credits and bring funding cuts to programs like Medicaid. The bill would also be a disaster for women’s health: Trumpcare considers sexual assault, C-sections, domestic abuse, pregnancy, and postpartum depression as pre-existing conditions.
But the bill faces a long road to ratification. Prominent Senate Republicans voiced concern over the legislation, which hasn’t yet received a score from the Congressional Budget Office. Senate Health Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander said he sees the bill as a first draft, and the Senate is working on its own bill.
Congress finally approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, avoiding a government shutdown threatened by Democrats until at least September. The bill includes $15 billion more for the Pentagon, another $1.5 billion to border security funds, and $120 million in additional funding to protect the first family, including Trump’s adult jet-setting kids and at least three residences.
Trump signed an executive order that seeks to restore “religious liberty.” The order, however, doesn’t do much: It instructs federal agencies, like the IRS, to respect religious and political speech “to the extent permitted by law.” An earlier draft was rumored to allow religious organizations to discriminate against LGBTQ people, but those provisions didn’t make the final cut.
Trump made an appearance in his hometown, New York City, for the first time since the inauguration. Protests against Trump popped up around the city. The president was originally scheduled to spend about six hours in Manhattan, but he only briefly visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, to meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Trump later boasted that he scrapped the NYC visit to save the country money (even though he’s on pace to outspend all eight years of Obama’s travel in just one year) and avoid a big disruption. Instead, he’s staying in New Jersey at his Bedminster golf resort.
This week in POTUS’ tweets:
…Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election. Perhaps Trump just ran a great campaign?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2017
The Democrats, without a leader, have become the party of obstruction.They are only interested in themselves and not in what's best for U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2017
Mainstream (FAKE) media refuses to state our long list of achievements, including 28 legislative signings, strong borders & great optimism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 29, 2017