Week 4 in Trump’s America: Flynn resigns, more links to Russia, and a wild press conference
Week 4, in one sentence: Donald Trump played a round of golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; discussed national security issues in front of Mar-a-Lago diners and staff; brushed off ties to Russia — again — after national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned; had his first meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; saw yet another legal blow to his immigration ban; faced more mounting allegations about his ties to Russia after a New York Times report said members of his presidential campaign had repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officials; met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu one day after appearing to abandon U.S. support of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine; saw Andrew Puzder withdraw from the nomination for labor secretary after a series of scandals; attacked the media in a wild press conference; promised another immigration ban; announced plans to nominate his first Hispanic Cabinet pick; claimed to have an “outstanding” pick to replace Michael Flynn, but that pick turned down the job hours later; made Chris Christie order meatloaf; and insisted everything was running just fine.
Trump meets Shinzo Abe
Day 23 — Feb. 11: Donald Trump hosted a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the two played a round of golf at Trump’s resort in Florida. Black plastic covered the doors and windows overlooking the golf course, blocking journalists from witnessing the meeting.
Blunder at Mar-a-Lago
Day 24 – Feb. 12: Donald Trump apparently discussed national security issues (specifically, North Korea’s test-firing of a ballistic missile) on a Mar-a-Lago terrace full of diners and staff. Photographs posted on social media appeared to show aides swarming Trump’s table and using their phones’ flashlights to help the president and Abe read documents.
U.S. immigration officials arrested hundreds of undocumented residents in a series of raids across at least six states over several days. It was the first major crackdown since Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 25 vowing to ramp up immigration enforcement activity.
Day 25 – Feb. 13: Trump’s beleaguered national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned after admitting he misled Vice President Mike Pence and discussed sanctions with Russia before Trump took office. The timeline of Flynn’s resignation raises all kinds of red flags for the White House.
Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a joint news conference in Washington, and Trudeau refused to criticize Trump.
A federal judge in Virginia dealt perhaps the strongest blow yet to Trump’s attempt to keep residents of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. The judge said the state attorney general’s challenge to the ban would likely succeed under the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment.
Russia, Russia, Russia
Day 26 – Feb. 14: Bombshell leaks from inside the White House claim that senior members of Trump’s campaign team were in regular contact with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, directly contradicting statements by the president and his team. Trump has been dogged by controversy over his and his staff’s ties to Russia. Trump himself called on Russian hackers to find and release Hillary Clinton’s emails during a campaign event last summer.
The Senate’s second-ranking Republican joined other GOP lawmakers earlier that day calling for an investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia.
Trump reportedly still uses an unsecured Android phone, and two senators called for an investigation.
VICE NEWS’ COVERAGE:
Trump meets Netanyahu, and Puzder withdraws
Day 27 – Feb. 15: Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House for their first sit-down, and the two leaders were all smiles and handshakes. Just the day before, Trump’s White House announced a major policy shift that seemed to abandon the U.S.’s long-standing commitment to a two-state solution.
Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of labor, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, withdrew from the confirmation process after scrutiny of his personal and professional life made some Republican senators reluctant to confirm him. They’d watched a decades-old episode of “Oprah” about “high-class battered women” in which Puzder’s ex-wife appeared incognito accusing him of abuse. Puzder had admitted to employing an undocumented housekeeper, and he has a history of supporting machine replacement of workers.
Trump’s wild press conference
Day 28 – Feb. 16: Trump attacked the media and dismissed suggestions of a White House in crisis during a bizarre, 80-minute press conference. “I’m really not a bad person, by the way,” he said. (See the key moments here.)
How can the leaks be real but the news be fake?
Here's Trump's response: pic.twitter.com/Q83lqLiKOU
— VICE News (@vicenews) February 16, 2017
During the news conference, Trump promised a new immigration order tailored to bypass the court decision blocking his current ban.
Trump also announced plans to nominate Alexander Acosta for labor secretary. Acosta would be the first Hispanic member of Trump’s Cabinet.
Military veteran Robert Harward — Trump’s “outstanding” candidate to replace Michael Flynn as national security adviser — rejected the offer for the job hours after Trump alluded to Harward during this news conference.
Everything is fine
Day 29 – Feb. 17: Donald Trump kicked off his day Friday by thanking his supporters for “all of the nice statements” he received regarding his performance at Thursday’s press conference.
“Rush Limbaugh said one of greatest ever,” Trump tweeted.
The Associated Press reported that Trump’s White House was considering a mobilization of as many as 100,000 National Guard troops in 11 states to “round up unauthorized immigrants,” according to a draft memo. Governors in the 11 states would have a choice to participate or not, the memo said.
Chris Christie said Trump made him order meatloaf while dining at the White House.
‘‘This is what it’s like to be with Trump,’’ the New Jersey governor quipped. ‘‘He says, ‘There’s the menu, you guys order whatever you want.’ And then he says, ‘Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.’ ’’
This week in POTUS tweets:
The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story – RUSSIA. Fake news!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
I know Mark Cuban well. He backed me big-time but I wasn't interested in taking all of his calls.He's not smart enough to run for president!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2017
Thank you for all of the nice statements on the Press Conference yesterday. Rush Limbaugh said one of greatest ever. Fake media not happy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017