- Politics and Social Issues»
- United States Politics
President Trump's First 100 Days
President Trump's First 100 Days
So how is President Donald Trump doing as the 100 day mark approaches?
President Trump is under a criminal espionage investigation. No other president in the history of this nation has ever managed to accomplish this within his first 100 days in office. In fact, no other president in the history of this nation has ever managed to accomplish this at any point during his tenure in the Oval Office.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the Russian government meddled in the presidential election campaign of 2016. All 13 of this nation’s intelligence agencies have reached this conclusion; furthermore, private computer forensic firms have reached the same conclusion. The computer systems of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) were hacked by Russian agencies; confidential information was leaked; and emails were spread in an effort to embarrass Hillary Clinton and other members of the Clinton campaign. Yet even now, President Trump (who has no special training in Information Technology or forensic computer hacking investigations) continues to insist that it is very difficult to know who engaged in a particular act of hacking after the fact – something which simply is not true.
The Director of the F.B.I., James Comey, rocked the nation on March 20 by announcing that the Department of Justice had opened a counterintelligence investigation to determine the extent and nature of the Russian government's efforts to meddle in the November 2016 presidential election, that the Department of Justice was also investigating whether any collusion had occurred between members of Donald Trump's election campaign (by implication including Trump himself) and the Russian government, and whether any conduct rising to the level of criminal activity had been committed by any member(s) of Trump's election campaign (again, by implication including Trump himself).
Director Comey also announced, categorically, that no evidence whatsoever existed to support President Trump's bellicose assertions, made via a tweetstorm, that ex-President Barack Obama had "wiretapped" Trump Tower during the course of the presidential election. President Trump responded to this inconvenient response by asserting that the term "wiretapping" referred to relatively old technology, and that ex-President Obama may have used other, more current, forms of surveillance (Kellyanne Conway helpfully explained that "microwaves" may have been involved in this effort).
President Trump was forced to fire his National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn (who also worked with Trump throughout Trump's election campaign), less than a month after Flynn had been tapped to fill this position, due (ostensibly) to the fact that Flynn had lied to Vice President Michael Pence about the nature and content of a telephone conversation Flynn had initiated with the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, while still a private citizen, before President-Elect Trump had been inaugurated as President. Following his inauguration, Vice President Pence broadcasted this lie to the nation.
(Vice President Pence (ostensibly) did not know that this was a lie, and was a mere innocent caught in the crossfire of Flynn's machinations with Kislyak (and, of course, with Russian President Vladimir Putin); the writer leaves it to the reader to infer whether or not Pence knew that he was being lied to.)
It is one thing for members of incoming Administrations to reach out and contact ambassadors of other nations in order to greet them and to establish cordial relations; however, we only have one Administration at a time in this country, and an incoming Administration may not undermine the foreign policy of an outgoing Administration until the new president has been sworn in. A statute named the Logan Act, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953, expressly prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments which are in dispute with the United States. Yet this is precisely what Flynn had done – he had discussed the lifting of sanctions against Russia which President Obama had implemented following Russia's illegal annexation and occupation of the Ukraine and Crimea, essentially promising the Russian government that President-Elect Trump would lift those sanctions upon becoming President.
Anybody who knows anything at all about Donald Trump's management style knows that nobody in Trump's employ would dare make a policy change of such magnitude without first obtaining Trump's explicit approval. Although no direct proof has (yet) been presented linking Trump himself to the content of this telephone call, it would certainly not be unreasonable to infer that Trump was fully aware of the content of this telephone call (it would also not be unreasonable to infer that Trump in fact instructed Flynn to offer these assurances to the Russian Ambassador).
This would perhaps explain why President Vladimir Putin took no retaliatory action whatsoever when President Obama expelled some 35 Russian diplomats suspected of being spies from the United States in late December 2016, after it had been definitively established that the Russian government, at the instructions of officials at the highest levels (i.e., Russian President Vladimir Putin), had engaged in hacking against the Democratic National Committee and had engaged in other efforts to undermine the integrity of the presidential and other elections of November 2016; furthermore, President-Elect Trump tweeted his praise to Putin for showing such restraint ("Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!" Trump tweeted immediately following Putin's announcement that Russia would not retaliate by expelling American diplomats from Russia).
The Department of Justice released a statement that Flynn had lied to the F.B.I. about the content of his telephone call to Ambassador Kislyak during the course of a formal interview conducted on January 24. Flynn had denied to the F.B.I. that he had discussed the lifting of sanctions against Russia with Kislyak, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies (a transcript of the telephone conversation would also certainly have been made by the Russians).
Lying to the F.B.I. is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and / or a fine of up to $5,000.00 (in some cases, more) – however, it is unlikely that Flynn will be prosecuted under this provision of the United States Code (18 U.S.C. § 1001) because of the manner in which he may parse the definition of the word "sanctions," and because he ended the interview by stating that he could not remember everything that had been discussed during the course of his telephone conversation with Ambassador Kislyak. (Clearly, Flynn is no fool, and has a talent for survival.)
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed President Trump that Flynn was now compromised and was a potential blackmail target, and as such, could be coerced into acting in the interests of the Russian government. Yet President Trump waited almost a month before firing Michael Flynn. The writer wonders why – but can only hypothesize.
Flynn's security clearance has been revoked pending the outcome of the full counterintelligence investigation currently being conducted by the F.B.I.
Matters got worse for Flynn on April 25, when House Oversight Committee members Jason Chaffetz (R. – Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D. – Maryland) (two men who could not be located further apart in terms of ideological distance) jointly announced that Flynn had failed to disclose payments he had received from the Russian government for his speaking engagements in that country, and for payments that he had received from the Turkish government for work that he had undertaken through the Netherlands-based firm Inovo BV.
On September 15, 2016, Flynn signed a contract with Inovo BV requiring Flynn to lobby on appropriations bills for the U.S. Departments of State and Defense. Flynn’s duties also called for keeping his client informed about “the transition between President Obama and President-Elect Trump.”
Although Inovo BV is a Dutch-owned company, Inovo BV is a front organization for Inovo Turkije, which profits from contracts with the Turkish government. Ekim Alptekin, a close associate of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, founded both Inovo BV and Inovo Turkije. Alptekin has business ties to Russia, including a 2009 aviation financing deal negotiated with – none other than Vladimir Putin! Alptekin has in recent years helped to coordinate Turkish lobbying in Washington with Dmitri “David” Zaikin, a Soviet-born former executive in Russian energy and mining companies who also has had dealings with Putin’s government.
(Isn't it strange how Russia keeps turning up whenever Flynn's name, or the name(s) of his business associate(s), is / are mentioned?)
This unusual arrangement, in which Alptekin and Zaikin have helped steer Turkish lobbying through various groups since at least 2015, raises questions about both the agenda of the two men and the source of the funds used to pay the lobbyists. Although Turkey is a NATO ally, President Erdogan has grown increasingly authoritarian and friendly with Putin. The hiring of Flynn by Alptekin came at a time when Flynn was working for Trump’s campaign and Putin’s government was under investigation for meddling in the U.S. presidential election.
Flynn was required by law to seek and to receive permission from the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Army prior to traveling to those countries to engage in those activities and to collect those payments. In so doing, Flynn quite literally became a foreign agent. Flynn recently (retroactively) filed paperwork with the Department of Justice registering himself as a foreign agent who was paid in 2016 (while working on Trump’s election campaign) to do work that could benefit the Russian and Turkish governments; filing after the fact, however, constitutes a blatant violation of federal law.
The White House is required to vet all new employees before hiring them. Because Flynn had been out of military service for more than two years upon being hired as National Security Advisor, he would have had to apply for a security clearance all over again. Sean Spicer announced that the White House takes the position that innocent mistakes and oversights were involved in hiring Flynn. Yet the question remains: what did President Trump know about General Michael Flynn and the content of his conversations with the Russian government, and when did President Trump know about it?
Furthermore, Chaffetz and Cummings had submitted a request to the White House for all documentation pertaining to Flynn’s application for a security clearance. They received a letter back from the White House informing them that the White House would not send these documents to the House Oversight Committee. More specifically, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short stated in this reply to the Committee that it would not comply with this request, referring some requests to the Department of Defense, alleging that the office doesn't have custody of some of the other documents, or simply stating that "we are unable to accommodate" others.
Flynn was required by law to notify the government of his work and remuneration by Turkish firm and the Russian governments when applying for his security clearance in 2016; however, both Congressmen stated that they had found no evidence indicating that Flynn had complied with the law in this regard. Legal experts have stated that Flynn now faces the very real possibility of prison time for his failure to notify the government of his ties to the Russian and Turkish governments; furthermore, Flynn, as a career military official, had to have known of this requirement.
More to the point – while the Russian government was actively meddling in the American presidential election campaign, one of then-candidate Trump’s most senior election campaign officials – a very senior U.S. intelligence operative and career military man – was working as a foreign agent for the Russian government.
On March 30, Flynn offered to furnish the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the F.B.I. with information relevant to criminal activity by senior members of the Administration in exchange for immunity from any criminal prosecution. All three of the above investigative bodies have (as of this time) refused to entertain this offer. During the course of the presidential campaign, Flynn himself had stated (with respect to a junior Clinton aide’s request for immunity from prosecution) that people do not request immunity unless they are guilty of criminal activity. In Flynn's case, given his own standards as expressed by this statement, one could be forgiven for abandoning the American presumption of innocence. Yet Flynn was one of the most vigorous promoters of the "Lock her up!" chant at Trump election campaign rallies. Hypocrisy is an expensive teacher.
On April 27, we learned from the Inspector-General of the Pentagon that this government department has opened its own investigation of Lieutenant-General Flynn. Thus, four (four) government agencies are now investigating Flynn for his failure to register as a foreign agent who worked as such for the Russian and Turkish governments at the same time that the Russian government was pursuing efforts to undermine the integrity of the 2016 presidential (and other) elections. These agencies include the F.B.I., the Department of Defense, the House Intelligence Committee, and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Turning to President Trump's legislative agenda, we can observe the following:
President Trump's first two substantive Executive Orders – attempts to prohibit persons from several Muslim-majority countries (first seven, then six) from entering the United States for a period of 90 days, and suspending the refugee program for Syrians indefinitely (first attempt) and then for 120 days (second attempt) – were both declared probably unconstitutional by several U.S. District Courts, and one of the U.S. Courts of Appeals.
The first, more ambitious Executive Order sought to prevent persons possessing the citizenship of any of seven countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen) from entering the United States for a period of 90 days, and indefinitely suspended the refugee program for Syrian nationals. President Trump signed this Executive Order on January 27. All visas which had been issued to persons from these nations were canceled, and such persons were either prevented from boarding flights to the United States, or were detained upon arrival in the United States.
The result was an utter shambles. Persons possessing the nationality of these seven countries who possessed "green cards" found themselves in legal limbo, unable to enter the United States despite being legal permanent residents. Literally hundreds of persons whose visas had not been canceled due to bureaucratic errors found themselves in legal limbo upon arriving in the United States. Families found themselves torn apart as spouses of U.S. citizens who possessed the nationalities of these seven countries were detained at airports upon arrival in the United States, or were prohibited from boarding flights back to the United States. Airports became choked with angry and distressed travelers and US residents, and the A.C.L.U. sent attorneys to airports across the nation to offer legal services to these petitioners.
Mass protests occurred at airports, in vigorous opposition to this travel ban. On the same day (January 28), U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, blocked part of the Executive Order, holding that "the petitioners had a 'strong likelihood of success' in establishing that their removal 'violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.'" The petitioners in question were those persons referenced above who possessed "green cards" (i.e., were lawful permanent residents who nevertheless maintained their original nationality) who had arrived at airports in the United States after this Executive Order had been issued. The Executive Order had been sloppily crafted and had not taken into account the fact that "green card" holders are subject to all of the protections of the Constitution of the United States; it appeared that the lawyers who drafted this Executive Order had not taken the status (and subsequent plight) of such "green card" holders into consideration at all.
On January 29, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, went even further, ordering that the government could not "detain or remove" individuals who had arrived legally from the countries subject to Trump's order (i.e., individuals who had already boarded flights to the United States and who were in possession of legally issued visas).
Burroughs stated that her order applied to the petitioners in the case as well as those similarly situated, including lawful permanent residents, citizens, visa-holders, approved refugees, and other individuals from nations who are subject to the Executive Order. This decision was also signed by U. S. Magistrate Judge Gail Dein. The judges specified that the order would remain in effect for seven days while the court scheduled a hearing.
On January 30, President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend the Executive Order, reasoning that it was unconstitutional and would ultimately be struck down in its entirety. She personally rebuffed the president’s judgment, which she did not find “wise or just.” President Trump went so far as to state that Yates had "betrayed the Department of Justice" – a particularly gratuitous slap at a career government prosecutor who has served the government faithfully for several years.
"My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts," Yates wrote in a letter. "In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right."
On February 2, President Trump eased the Executive Order so as to permit "green card" holders to enter the country. Those men and women in possession of this status who had been detained at airports were permitted to enter the country.
On February 3, U.S. District Judge James Robart of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining the government from implementing the Executive Order (this TRO was actually styled as a preliminary injunction, thus permitting appellate review). The plaintiff was the state of Washington; the state of Minnesota was soon thereafter added as a second plaintiff. His ruling was particularly noteworthy in that he blocked the Executive Order nationwide. He ruled that the states that filed the lawsuit "have met their burden of demonstrating that they face immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the signing and implementation of the executive order."
President Trump responded angrily with a tweet in which he made reference to Judge Robart as a "so-called judge" – a characterization which was attacked even by some conservatives. Federal judges (Article III judges) are not "so-called" judges. They are judges, and their job is to adjudicate the constitutionality of statutes and other measures (e.g., Executive Orders) implicated in cases brought before them. They are no more "so-called" judges than the president is as "so-called" president. Furthermore, Judge Robart was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, and has a reputation for being a conservative judge who hews closely to case law and who does not "legislate from the bench."
Because this TRO blocked the Executive Order nationwide, President Trump perfected an immediate appeal before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (Incidentally, one of these three appellate judges was also appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush.)
On February 9, the three-judge panel upheld the decision of the District Court in a unanimous per curiam decision; consequently, the nationwide injunction prohibiting the government from enforcing the Executive Order remained in place. President Trump angrily tweeted that if a terrorist attack were to take place during the pendency of the courts' decision, the judges would bear personal responsibility for such an attack. This tweet caused great anger within the federal judiciary; it was certainly not a wise move for a new president to make. Judges tend to have long memories, and they tend to expect respect.
Even Judge Neil Gorsuch, who had been tapped by Trump to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court created by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia, spoke out angrily upon hearing about Trump’s tweet, asserting that to attack any judge in the nation in this manner was to attack all judges.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considered rehearing the case en banc; however, the Administration informed the Ninth Circuit that it was not going to pursue the matter further and was instead drafting a revised, second Executive Order which would be tailored to overcome the objections which Judge Robart and the three-judge panel raised in their respective rulings.
On March 6, the White House unveiled a new Executive Order, intended to take effect on March 16, tailored to meet the objections of the District Court and the Court of Appeals. Attorneys for the state of Hawaii immediately filed suit, seeking an injunction against the Administration. On March 15, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, issued a TRO enjoining the Administration from enforcing the second Executive Order; on March 29, he converted the TRO to a preliminary injunction. This opinion was predicated on First Amendment Establishment Clause grounds; the court held that “a reasonable, objective observer ... would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.”
President Trump referred to the decision as “an unprecedented judicial overreach,” and stated his desire to return to the first Executive Order.
On March 16, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, issued a similar opinion, striking the 90 day ban on entry of citizens of the six Muslim-majority nations. Both Judge Watson and Judge Chuang made specific reference to statements which President Trump had made during his election campaign, when he had specifically called for a halt to the entry of all Muslims into the United States.
The Administration petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to go directly to an en banc review of these two rulings, bypassing the usual manner in which a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals entertains an appeal by a losing party. The Ninth Circuit turned down this request; the Administration’s appeal will have to be heard by a three-judge panel before it can go any further.
On April 25, U.S. District Judge William Orrick, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, overturned a third Executive Order aimed at stripping federal funding from “sanctuary cities.” A “sanctuary city” is (very broadly speaking) a city which fails to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) of the presence of undocumented immigrants within its jurisdiction upon learning of their undocumented status.
One problem faced by the Administration is the fact that the term “sanctuary city” does not have a precise definition. Police officers in some jurisdictions simply do not ask civilians with whom they interact about their immigration status, even in cases in which the civilians in question have committed minor criminal offenses (e.g., turnstile jumping). Leaders of such municipalities want to reduce the fear of deportation and the possibility of tearing families apart, so that such residents will be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enroll their children in school. Some jurisdictions refuse to hold prisoners beyond their release dates, to be transferred to I.C.E. authorities for subsequent deportation.
The Trump Administration claimed that “This case is yet one more example of egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge. Today’s ruling undermines faith in our legal system and raises serious questions about circuit shopping."
Apparently, President Trump does not understand that Article III of the U.S. Constitution intentionally vests such power in “single, unelected” judges; the Framers of the Constitution intended for the federal courts to act as yet another check against executive or legislative overreach. President Trump is learning, to his chagrin, that "single, unelected" federal judges have more power, in some respects, than the President of the United States. This is no accident, nor is it an archaic manifestation of the will of a generation in our history which has faded into irrelevance; the Madisonian system of checks and balances was written into the Constitution by a group of men who understood human nature at its most basic level, and who crafted a system of government (described and delineated by the U.S. Constitution) which embeds that view of human nature in its content. The Trump Administration will have to appeal this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. It is perhaps understandable that President Trump is unhappy that this case will be heard by appellate judges from the Ninth Circuit, given the fact that he has gratuitously insulted judges from this circuit on numerous occasions and even went so far as to hold them personally accountable for the consequences of any terrorist attacks which may take place in this country following the striking down of the two travel-related Executive Orders referenced above.
Judge Orrick held that President Trump had overstepped his authority, and that only Congress could tie billions of dollars of federal funding to immigration enforcement by local police forces. Judge Orrick’s ruling applies nationwide, infuriating both President Trump and Attorney General Sessions. What must be particularly galling to President Trump is the fact that his own words were used against him. While telling the public that his Administration would withhold literally billions of dollars from “sanctuary cities,” his attorneys had argued before the District Court that President Trump would not really withhold billions of dollars from such cities, and that this Executive Order was merely an exercise of the bully pulpit. Judge Orrick did not buy this, writing that “If there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments.”
President Trump recently announced his desire to split up the Ninth Circuit, which has a reputation for being one of the most liberal Courts of Appeals in the nation, claiming that it has grown too large. In some respects, this is true – for example, when this Court of Appeals decides to rehear an appeal en banc, a computer randomly draws the names of 11 judges from the entire Court of Appeals, which has 29 active judges (i.e., judges who have not taken "senior status") and 19 senior judges (the latter may hear cases which interest them or which are of particular importance to them; on the Ninth Circuit, they shoulder a staggering one third of the legal workload). These 11 judges may or may not include the three judges who issued the original, three-judge panel decision – a somewhat bizarre result, in that the voices of these three judges may not even be heard upon en banc review (by contrast, all of the other Courts of Appeals decide en banc review by rehearing the case at bar before all of the judges sitting on those Courts of Appeals). Under very rare circumstances, the entire Court of Appeals (i.e., all 29 active, non-senior judges) may decide to rehear a particularly important case en banc – but this seldom occurs, due in part to the sheer impracticality of conducting oral arguments, exchanging amicus briefs, exchanging draft opinions, etc. before so many judges, even using remote communications technology.
But whether or not the Ninth Circuit has grown too large is beside the point – the point being that despots and dictators frequently attempt to defang and declaw the courts, particularly when the courts rule against them in those nations with governments having independent judiciaries (e.g., our federal judiciary, which has the power to strike down not just the procedures whereby measures are enforced, but also the substance of legislation and executive orders). In truth, President Trump is angry with the Ninth Circuit, because he realizes that the ideological bent of this circuit could (and will) hamper him in his efforts to block persons of the Muslim faith from entering this country, and to implement other policy objectives which run counter to the law and / or the U.S. Constitution.
The writer has written elsewhere about the manner in which President Trump tried and failed to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (A.C.A.) (also referred to, usually derisively, as “Obamacare"). After more than six years of frenetic and strenuous attempts by a Republican House and a Republican Senate to repeal the A.C.A., President Trump abandoned his 18 day effort to ram a cruel and ugly “replacement” package through the House. The so-called “Freedom Caucus” is a group of extremely conservative Republicans in the House, members of which do not believe that the government should in any way whatsoever be involved in the provision of health insurance or health care; in an effort to appease this caucus, President Trump watered down his “replacement” package by eliminating addiction treatment coverage, eliminating emergency care coverage, eliminating the expansion of Medicaid which had been incorporated into the A.C.A. (thereby extending insurance to tens of millions of persons who previously had not been covered by any form of insurance whatsoever), eliminating the prohibition against excluding persons with preexisting conditions, etc. This lost him votes with some of the more reasonable Republicans and with all Democrats.
President Trump presented the House with a second pass at its attempt to “repeal and replace” the A.C.A. in late April 2017, threatening to permit a complete U.S. government shutdown when the government runs out of money at 12:01 AM on Saturday April 30 (absent passage of a “continuing resolution” (C.R.) which would fund the government for an additional period of time) should the House not pass this second attempt to “repeal and replace” the A.C.A. However, on Thursday April 27, President Trump reversed himself on this, rescheduling a vote on his second effort at “repeal and replace” of the A.C.A. for the following week.
So that is what happened to President Trump’s promise to “repeal and replace” the A.C.A. Incidentally, public approval of the A.C.A. is now at record highs; as Americans became aware of the fact that they could lose this insurance coverage (imperfect though it certainly may be), they enrolled in it in record numbers, secure in the knowledge that they would be “grandfathered” under the protections of this coverage for at least two years (or even up until 2020).
President Trump, on the campaign trail, insisted that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was a “terrible” treaty, pledging to repeal this measure within his first 100 days in office. Also on Thursday April 27, however, he reversed himself on this promise, stating that he would attempt to “renegotiate” NAFTA and would only repeal this measure should he not be able to renegotiate it to his satisfaction. He stated that repeal of NAFTA would come as a “shock to the system” of such major proportions that a sudden repeal of this measure was not warranted. This comes as yet another policy reversal.
President Trump also insisted that his Administration would build a wall along the southern border of the United States, blocking Mexicans from entering the country illegally. He further insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall, backing up this insistence with threats to prohibit remittances from reaching Mexican bank accounts from the United States in the event that Mexico fails to remunerate the United States for the cost of building (and maintaining) this wall. However, Mexican President Enrique Nieto responded by threatening to impose a fee on all Americans attempting to enter Mexico. Regardless of whether or not it was this threat by the Mexican president or a more general realization that this campaign promise simply could not realistically be fulfilled, President Trump dropped a funding requirement for this wall from the demands he presented to Congress in order to obtain passage of a “continuing resolution” to prevent a government shutdown.
President Trump promised to “drain the swamp” which constitutes the ruling elite in Washington, D.C. He ran as a populist – a man of the people, understanding of the fact that ordinary Americans are suffering due to the impact of such factors as globalization, replacement of manual jobs by robots, etc. Yet Trump’s cabinet contains more billionaires than that of any previous cabinet in American history. Furthermore, several of his cabinet picks appear to take policy positions antithetical to their new roles.
Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.), has publicly denied the reality of anthropogenically induced climate change; as attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt filed suit against the E.P.A. at least 13 times, telling Fox News in 2015 that the environment would be “just fine” were the E.P.A. to be eliminated entirely. Now, Pruitt is Administrator of the E.P.A.; and in early March of this year, Pruitt denied that carbon dioxide is the primary “greenhouse gas” responsible for climate change. These positions stand in stark contrast to the answers he gave to the Senate panel which presided over his confirmation; when asked then, he distances himself from climate change denialists, insisting that he did in fact accept the reality of anthropogenically inducted climate change.
What a difference a confirmation makes.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is a 17 year veteran of the Wall Street investment banking firm and powerhouse, Goldman Sachs; he left in 2002 and founded a hedge fund named Dune Capital Management. He sits on the board of directors of retailing giant Sears Holding Corporation, and also furnished capital for several Hollywood movies. Prior to his confirmation, the group Americans for Financial Reform said in a statement that “Steven Mnuchin...made himself enormously wealthy by cashing in on the country’s financial collapse. He purchased a bailed-out bank for pennies on the dollar and then aggressively foreclosed on tens of thousands of families. Anyone concerned about Wall Street billionaires rigging the economy should be terrified by the prospect of a Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.” Mnuchin’s net worth could be as high as 500 million dollars.
Is President Trump trying to “drain the swamp,” or populate it with denizens of the deep?
The list of questionable cabinet picks goes on and on...
President Trump's approval rating now stands at about 38% – the record low since polling organizations first started taking such polls. Noteworthy, however, is the fact that about 97% of those voters who voted for Trump express absolutely no regret at having voted for him; only about three percent of voters who voted for him now regret their vote. Clearly, those voters who voted for Trump are extremely faithful and are prepared to grant him considerable latitude in terms of the time it will take him to fulfil his campaign promises. However, hard right commentators such as Rush Limbaugh are showing signs of becoming impatient; Limbaugh recently accused Trump of "caving" with respect to his promise to build a physical wall along the southernmost border of the nation. Furthermore, Trump is now facing the hard, cold fact that it is not possible to govern with the support of only 38% of the electorate; he recently expressed his frustration with the "archaic" and "complex" system which is thwarting him in many of his endeavors to pass substantive executive orders and to shepherd legislation through Congress (yet again revealing his brazen ignorance with respect to the manner in which the Framers of the Constitution intentionally and deliberately crafted our system of government).
So – we have a president who is under a criminal espionage investigation. We have a president who hired a Russian agent as National Security Advisor, who informed the Russian Ambassador (probably at Trump’s insistence) of Trump’s intention to lift sanctions against Russia upon becoming Trump becoming president (thereby probably violating the Logan Act) (Flynn is now the subject of four government investigations); this Russian agent worked for the Trump presidential campaign at the same time that the Russian government was actively meddling in the U.S. presidential (and other) elections of 2016; we have a president who asserted that he had been “wiretapped” by President Obama during the course of his campaign (a complaint dismissed by the F.B.I. as totally unfounded in fact); we have a president who failed, utterly, to “repeal and replace” the A.C.A. within his first 100 days; we have a president who failed to repeal NAFTA (despite bellicose objections to this treaty during the course of his campaign); we have a president who tried to pass two probably unconstitutional bans on persons from Muslim-majority nations from entering this country, only to see these bans declared probably unconstitutional by both federal district judges and one of the U.S. Courts of Appeals; we have a president who railed against “sanctuary cities” and who insisted that he would withhold funds from such cities, only to see this executive order declared probably unconstitutional by a federal judge (who issued first a TRO, then a preliminary injunction, enjoining the U.S. government from enforcing this executive order); and we have a president who may well preside over a shutdown of the U.S. government on Saturday April 30.
Bear all of the above in mind, and then ask yourself – has President Trump met the objectives he laid out for himself for his first 100 days in office?