Yes, All This Happened. Trump’s First 2 Weeks As President
President Trump’s first two weeks in office have been a sprint, not the start of a marathon. If the rapid pace and, sometimes, hourly developments of executive orders, news, controversies and more have left you exhausted, you’re not alone. If you’re finding it hard to remember just everything that’s transpired too, we’re here for that, too.
Here’s a quick recap of the highlights — and lowlights — of the first 14 days of Trump’s nascent presidency.
Saturday, January 21
On his first full day as president, Trump goes to the CIA to try and mend fences with the intelligence agency he repeatedly maligned during the campaign and the transition. (He blamed the media for creating the feud, but his own tweets disprove that). While standing before a memorial at the agency, he argued over the crowd size at his inauguration, making false assertions which run counter to aerial photos of the event and NPR’s own reporters on the ground. He also claims it stopped raining during his inaugural address, when it did not.
Hours later, new press secretary Sean Spicer makes his first appearance in the White House briefing room to double down on those falsehoods about crowd size. He cites wrong numbers for Metro usage in D.C. and also falsely says that floor coverings used for the first time on the National Mall made photos show where there were gaps, when in fact such coverings had been used before. After delivering his fiery broadside, Spicer left without taking any questions.
While all that was happening, the Women’s March on Washington protesting Trump and his policies toward women drew thousands and thousands of people — and the second highest Metro ridership day ever, second only to President Obama’s first inauguration. Protests weren’t just limited to D.C., though — similar events happened across the country that also drew massive crowds. And the protests even went worldwide, happening on all seven continents.
Sunday, January 22
The White House should have been in clean-up mode after Saturday’s first rocky day in office, but instead on the Sunday shows they doubled down on false claims about crowd size and more. Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway argued on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Spicer had simply provided “alternative facts” when making his arguments — a moniker that looks primed to persist throughout the Trump administration.
Monday, January 23
The biggest news happened when Trump met that evening with both Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, reviving his unfounded claims that there were between 3 and 5 million illegal votes cast in the 2016 election that caused him to lose the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton. This would continue to be an issue for the rest of the week (see more below).
Trump also signed an executive order reinstating the “Mexico City Policy,” a global gab rule which prohibits international non-governmental organizations (NGO) that provide or talk about abortion services from receiving federal funding. He also signaled his intent to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement and instituted a federal hiring freeze except for the military.
Spicer had his second outing with the press, still in a largely defensive crouch. He blamed the press for trying to “undercut the tremendous support” for Trump and doubled down on his insistence that Trump’s was the most-watched inauguration ever, though given difficulty in counting streaming numbers, that’s hard to back-up.
Ethics experts filed a lawsuit in court alleging that the president was in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution because of his overseas businesses
Tuesday January 24
Spicer repeated Trump’s unfounded assertions that there was widespread voter fraud during the U.S. elections but provided no further proof of why the president believed that.
Trump approved construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline, which had both been stopped during the Obama administration amid outcry from environmental groups. Other executive orders directed the Commerce Department to review how federal regulations might be impeding U.S. manufacturers.
Wednesday, January 25
Trump signed two executive orders keeping one of his top campaign promises, ordering the U.S. government to begin construction of a wall along the southern border with Mexico. He asserted that while the U.S. government would have to front the money, Mexico would pay it back. (Mexican leaders have said they will not.) Trump also directed Homeland Security and the Justice Departments to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities.
In his first interview as president, Trump doubled-down (tripled-down?) on his unproven belief that there were millions of illegal voters. “You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion,” he told ABC’s David Muir.
Studies Trump cited offer no proof of such voter fraud. And he also incorrectly claimed it was illegal to be registered in two states; it’s not illegal unless someone votes in two states, because often voter rolls are not quickly updated. In fact, it turned out some Trump aides and family members were registered in multiple states.
Thursday, January 26
Trump traveled to Philadelphia to address the GOP congressional retreat, where he delivered a relatively on-message speech promising Obamacare repeal, to crack down on violent crime, and touted his executive actions on immigration and trade.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a planned trip to the U.S. amid Trump’s continued assertion that the country would repay the U.S. for the border wall. One possibility to recoup the investment from Mexico that the White House floated was a 20-percent import tax, which, as NPR’s Scott Horsley reported, “would effectively saddle U.S. consumers with a significant portion of the wall’s cost, estimated at $15 billion or more.”
Trump gives his second interview to a friendly source, Fox News’s Sean Hannity. He again boasts of his crowd sizes during his inauguration and talks about the (still unproven) allegations that there were millions of illegal votes cast in November.
He also tells Hannity he continues to believe waterboarding works and talks about bringing it back, though it is outlawed in the U.S. as torture. His new Defense Secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis, has said he does not believe waterboarding is effective and has reiterated it is illegal, as have top GOP congressional leaders such as Speaker Paul Ryan.
Friday, January 27
Trump signs an executive order which blocks travelers from seven countries, all of which are Muslim-majority — Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia — from entering the U.S. for 90 days. New refugee admissions are suspended for 120 days, while Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. There’s confusion at airports whether or not the ban includes those with valid U.S. visas, green cards or people from those countries who are permanent residents. Protests begin at airports as travelers are detained.
Trump hosted his first foreign leader at the White House — British Prime Minister Theresa May. She pushed for a future trade deal with the U.S. The two held a joint press conference, where May said Trump had reaffirmed his support for NATO — though he has questioned whether the U.S. should be in the alliance in the past.
The annual anti-abortion event the March for Life draws thousands more demonstrators to the national mall. Vice President Pence and Kellyanne Conway both spoke.
Saturday, January 28
Protests continue at airports across the country amid confusion over Trump’s travel ban. Immigration attorneys begin offering their services pro bono. Late on Saturday, a federal judge issued a stay on the deportations of valid visa holders after they have landed in the U.S. in response to an ACLU lawsuit.
Trump reshuffles the National Security Council, elevating controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon to be a permanent member of the principals committee, giving him equal billing with other Cabinet-level officials. The director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are typically permanent members, will now only attend when pertinent issues are being discussed.
Trump calls several foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also has a tense call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, though details won’t be reported on this until later in the week. The president tells Turnbull it was “the worst call by far” that he (Trump) has had that day and the two clash on the Obama administration’s deal to accept refugees from the country.
Trump signs several executive orders — an ethics order banning administration appointees from ever lobbying foreign governments and from federal lobbying for five years after they leave office. He also directs the administration to develop a “comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS.”
Sunday, January 29
A U.S. Navy SEAL is killed during a raid in Yemen targeted against al-Quaida militants, the first military casualty of Trump’s administration. Later in the week, questions are raised over how the operation — which also is believed to have killed several civilians — was carried out.
Protests continue at airports over the Trump administration’s travel ban.
Monday, January 30
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (a holdover from the Obama administration) announces she will direct Justice Department lawyers not to defend Trump’s travel ban. Hours later, the president fires her and replaces her with Dana Boente, the top federal prosecutor in suburban Virginia, as the interim attorney general until his nominee, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is confirmed by the Senate.
More Republicans continue to speak out against Trump’s travel ban, voicing concern over its implementation. Former President Obama breaks his silence since leaving office, saying through a spokesman that “American values are at stake.”
Trump signs an executive order that says for every regulation the executive branch proposes, two others must be repealed.
Tuesday, January 31
Trump nominates federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The evening ceremony in the White House’s East Room is arranged for suspense, which gives it the aura of a reality TV show in some ways. Conservatives praise his pick, which was a major campaign issue after Senate Republicans refused to take up President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, for much of 2016.
Wednesday, February 1
National Security Adviser Michael Flynn makes a surprise appearance at the daily press briefing to announce that the Trump administration is putting Iran “on notice” after the country conducted a ballistic missile test.
Trump and daughter Ivanka travel to Dover Air Force Base for the return to the U.S. of the remains of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed over the weekend in the Yemen raid.
The AP reports that during a call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto last week, Trump threatens to send in the U.S. military to stop the “bad hombres down there.” Mexico denies the remarks.
Thursday, February 2
The Celebrity Apprentice creator Mark Burnett introduces Trump at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. During his remarks, Trump called out the low ratings of the NBC reality show he once hosted, and criticized the new host, action star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “And I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings, OK,” the president said.
Trump also pledges at the breakfast to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt religious groups from wading into politics.
Friday, February 3
A federal judge in Seattle temporarily halted Trump’s executive order on immigration and travel from some Muslim-majority countries. The order is effective nationwide.
New sanctions are announced against Iran, following up on the administration’s earlier threat against the country.
Trump signs two executive orders directing the review of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations and halting implementation of another federal rule which mandates financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients.
Saturday, February 4
Airlines resume allowing travelers once affected by Trump’s travel ban to come to the U.S.
Trump, who is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., for the weekend, tweets that, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” He later adds on Twitter that because of the “terrible decision” that “many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country.”