Trump Presidency Off to Rocky Start
The opening weeks of the Donald J. Trump presidential administration have proved to be rocky, at best, for the real estate mogul. After a Nov. election victory speech in which Trump proclaimed he would be the President for “all Americans,” the Washington outsider pivoted moments after being sworn in to more divisive rhetoric, citing “American carnage” in his inauguration address. In many ways, the address read more like a continuation of the election season stump speeches than a dawn of a new Trump era.
Since the inauguration, President Trump has been busy signing executive orders – after a thank you tour to America’s red states, however.
An executive order on immigration and travel caused uproar only two weeks into the presidency when the administration attempted to discontinue allowing the entrance of foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. The order also halted the acceptance of any refugees for 120 and barred the acceptance of Syrian refugees indefinitely. Protests erupted across the nation’s airports opposing what was widely considered an attempt to ban Muslims from the seven Muslim-majority countries. The order, however, was suspended by a Washington state district court judge six days after it was issued. The president responded by degrading the issuing judge, James L. Robart, as a “so-called judge.” On Feb. 9, a San Francisco appeals court denied to block the stay, leaving the president to declare that he will “SEE YOU IN COURT.” Unless the administration appeals to the Supreme Court, a move White House officials characterize as unlikely, the merit of the ban will be reviewed at a later date through a non-emergency review process within the judiciary. It is expected this could take some time and the administration may consider issuing a revised order instead of waiting for the court system’s ruling.
In the midst of the administration’s (failed) judicial maneuvers, the Trump administration appears to be plagued with an unusually high amount of leaks. The leaks have included details concerning everything from internal aides operations to highly sensitive details from phone conversations with foreign leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, telling the Australian PM that their conversation was “the worst call by far.” White House insiders have gone as far to anonymously tell the press that the President is “infuriated” by the leaks and is surprised and frustrated by the complications of running the country when compared to his operation of The Trump Organization.
The President, reportedly very sensitive to aesthetics and perceptions, resents suggestions of Chief Strategist Steve Bannon overstepping bounds within the administration. The president was reportedly not fully informed on the executive order that have Bannon membership on the National Security Council. The relationship between Trump and Bannon has been critiqued by media outlets and NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which has portrayed Bannon as a fully decorated Grim Reaper advising Alec Baldwin’s burnt orange portrayal of the President. Also lampooned by SNL is Sean Spicer, the administration’s Press Secretary. Frequent SNL host Melissa McCarthy has portrayed Spicer in drag to national acclaim, much to the dismay of the president, who reportedly takes issue with a female portraying members of the administration as “weak.”
Other actions from the administration, including appointments to the president’s cabinet, have underwent similar challenges. Notably, the administration’s selection for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, received a highly contested confirmation in the Senate, ending only with an unprecedented tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence.
Meanwhile, other members have the administration have been battling what is sure to become an increasingly combative press. Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, was skewered in the national media after citing the “Bowling Green Massacre” in defense of the president’s immigration executive order. The citation of the entirely fictitious and fabricated massacre, however, only precipitated further woes for Conway after she violated federal ethics regulations in promoting First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s fashion line. Shortly after, Nordstroms dropped Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing and accessories, prompting the president to lash out on social media.
As the president continues to face the federal bureaucracy and the press, it would appear that the mandate Trump often claims he possess is ebbing, to say the least. The president came into office and continues to work with a 53% disapproval rating, the highest since approval ratings have been collected in the modern presidency.
In the coming months, many expect an unprecedented amount of controversy under the new presidency. One of the most recent developments includes US officials confirming portions of the infamous dossier generated by former MI6 operative Christopher Steele.
As we forge ahead under a seemingly united Congress and presidency, we can continue to look to the third branch of government, the judiciary, and the fourth estate, the press, to offer consistent challenges and, sometimes, opposition to the new president, his advisors, and his agenda.
(Featured image: Flickr/Gage Skidmore)