First 100 Days in Office
The Trump administration wasted little time delivering on promises made on the campaign trail and in President Trump’s inaugural address, through their words, their deed, and as demonstrated in the team they built.
January 2017, Generally
Julia Hahn, a Bannon protege, immigration hardliner, and writer for the white nationalist website Breitbart News, was reportedly hired by the Trump White House on Jan. 22, 2017. According to Wikipedia, the digitally reclusive Hahn continues to work in the White House as of August 2018.
Native Americans first came into President Trump’s crosshairs on Jan. 24, 2017 when he reversed holds President Obama had placed on two oil pipelines, including one through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. That latter pipeline’s construction was opposed by over 200 Indian nations from across North America.
Also on Jan. 24, 2017, reports surfaced that Trump would appoint an Islamophobe with prior ties to pro-Nazi groups in Hungary as well as the white nationalist website Breitbart News. Sebastian Gorka served in the Trump White House as deputy assistant to the president, where he reliably defended hardline immigration policies. Since fired by the White House after feuding with more moderate members of the administration, Gorka regularly appears on Fox News now as a mouthpiece for the administration.
Among his first acts as president, on Jan. 25, 2017, Trump removed a Norman Rockwell painting of the Statue of Liberty from the Oval Office. A symbol of the United States as a diverse country of immigrants, the Statue of Liberty bears the words of Emma Lazarus, from her sonnet “The New Colossus”:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Trump replaced the painting of this symbol of America’s multiculturalism with a portrait of a populist demagogue who owned slaves and is often held up as among the foremost ethnic cleansers in U.S. history. Where a beacon to immigrants once stood, Trump’s Oval Office now presents an image of President Andrew Jackson, so recently cast in disgrace with plans for his removal from the $20 bill. (Those plans for replacing Jackson with escaped slave and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman were recently shelved by Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Aug. 31, 2017.)
Also on Jan. 25, 2017, Trump also issued two relevant executive orders. In one, Trump called for the construction of a wall along the border with Mexico, a key component of Trump’s platform as a presidential candidate. Under this executive order, additional detention facilities were set to be built near the border to house individuals residing in or entering the U.S. without legal permission. Trump doubled down on his calls for a southern border wall two days later on a call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
In another executive order issued on Jan. 25, 2017, Trump prioritized the deportation of individuals who “pose a risk to public safety or national security.” This directive applied not only to non-citizens found guilty of a criminal offense, but also those who have been charged with, but not convicted, of a crime. This order also reinstituted “Secure Communities,” a deportation program discontinued under the Obama administration which uses local law enforcement arrest data to identify individuals residing in the U.S. without legal permission.
Jan. 27, 2017 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the administration issued a related statement calling for honoring the memories of “victims, survivors, [and] heroes” of the Holocaust, but making no mention of Jewish people, specifically, or the ideology of anti-Semitism. The omissions were criticized by Jewish advocacy groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.
Also on Jan. 27, 2017, the administration floated the appointment of Jon D. Feere to an “immigration-related position” within the Department of Homeland Security. Feere is an opponent of birthright citizenship and previously served as a legal analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies, which regularly circulates writings of white nationalists and Holocaust deniers and is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
On Jan. 31, 2017, legal counsel for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Ajit Pai filed a legal brief indicating that they would no longer defend caps on phone rates for prisoners, disproportionately affecting people of color. Mignon Clyburn, the sole Democratic commissioner, has been the leading champion of prison phone rate restrictions. She has called the soaring cost of prison phone rates a civil rights issue, preventing inmates from being able to call the 2.7 million children in America with at least one incarcerated parent. Trump elevated Pai to FCC chair just days prior to this legal filing and then nominated him to serve a second term on the FCC in March 2017.
Following up on a related tweet about “carnage” in Chicago the prior day, Trump said in a Jan. 25 interview with David Muir of ABC News:
When President Obama was [in Chicago] two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can't have that ... . They weren't shot at the speech. But they were shot in the city of Chicago during his speech.
This quote continues a trio of threads Trump sustains on the topic of crime. First, he lays into the United States’ first black president, implying that Barack Obama failed to deliver in his job — a stereotype against black people which Trump reportedly embraced in the past.
Second, Trump’s quote also raised the specter of crime — especially in Obama’s hometown of Chicago — a consistent crutch of Trump’s rhetoric, which he often blames on people of color. While the Black Lives Matter movement and protests by black athletes — both frequent Trump punching bags — have highlighted the scourge of police brutality against people of color in recent years, Trump often invokes police being restrained from doing their jobs as a cause of crime and violence.
Third, Trump employs a common weapon for him in this quote of grossly misstating or manufacturing “facts.”
“No one was killed in Chicago during President Barack Obama’s farewell address,” the Chicago Tribune concluded in fact-checking Trump’s assertion. “The Tribune's crime database showed no slayings for about 24 hours before and after Obama's speech, which lasted from 8:02 to 8:53 p.m. Jan. 10. A man was shot about 20 minutes after the speech, but that victim survived.”
Trump continued this trend of inaccurately reeling off crime statistics at a GOP retreat in Philadelphia the following day, then again before a meeting of the National Sheriffs Association at the White House on Feb. 8, 2017.
Trump issued an executive order establishing a task force on crime reduction and public safety on Feb. 9, 2017. In the order, Trump incorrectly highlights immigrants as a major cause violent crime. “A focus on law and order and the safety and security of the American people requires a commitment to enforcing the law and developing policies that comprehensively address illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime,” the order reads.
Persisting in misidentifying immigrants as disproportionately responsible for violent crime, on Feb. 20, 2017, the Trump administration created an office to specifically highlight crimes committed by immigrants. Housed within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), then-Director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) John Kelly created the Victims of Immigration Crime Enforcement (VOICE) office on the basis that "[c]riminal aliens routinely victimize U.S. citizens and other legal residents." After an April 2017 press release about VOICE, immigrant advocates were swift to expressly criticize the racism behind the office’s creation.
The president’s misinformed obsession with crime caused by people of color, immigrants and overly-aggressive civil rights enforcement continued on March 28, 2017. At a White House meeting with police union leaders, Trump said:
Sadly, our police are often prevented from doing their jobs. When policing is reduced, the main victims are the most vulnerable citizens of our society — and you see that all over. In too many of our communities, violent crime is on the rise, and in too many places, our citizens have not been safe for a very, very long time.
These are the painful realities many in Washington do not want to talk about. They just don’t want to hear about it.
We will work every day to remove the gang members, drug dealers, and violent criminals from your communities — and we already are. They’re being moved very quickly. In fact, [Department of Homeland Security Secretary] General Kelly, as you know, has done a fantastic job on the border. Down 61 percent since inauguration. People coming in down 61 percent, which is a tremendous number.
President Trump continued his obsession with crime — which he often blames on people of color, immigrants, and civil rights — with a June 30, 2017 tweet, saying, "Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help. 1714 shootings in Chicago this year!"
Late July 2017 saw the Trump administration’s obsession with crime continue, beginning with Attorney General Sessions’ remarks to law enforcement officers in Philadelphia on July 24. "Here in Philadelphia the murder has been steady — I mean — just terribly increasing," Sessions said in remarks rated mostly false by Politifact. "Preliminary data show murders are up 20 percent from last year. It will put the murder rate at the highest this decade in the city.”
Trump continued the trope in a Youngstown, Ohio rally on July 26, 2017, saying: “This month in Chicago, there have been more than two homicide victims per day. What the hell is going on in Chicago? Better tell that mayor to get tough because it’s not working what they’re doing."
He persisted in a speech on MS-13 at Suffolk County Community College on July, 28, 2017, saying: "So, Chicago is having this unbelievable violence. People being killed — four, five, six in a weekend and I'm saying, What is going on?"
On Oct. 11, 2017, Trump returned to his habit of fabricating facts about crime in an apparent effort to blame people of color, immigrants and civil rights restraining local law enforcement for violent crime.
"I'll never forget. I was in Chicago and a police officer. There was a motorcycle detail to the plane and I was talking to the police, I was taking a picture,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “I said, 'How do you stop this?' 'We could stop it immediately, sir.' I said 'What do you mean you could stop it immediately?' 'If they let us do our job, we could stop it immediately.' Now at some point you're gonna have to let them do their job. And they want to do their job. That's the incredible thing."
On Oct. 20, 2017, President Trump tweeted, “Just out report: ‘United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.’ not good, we must keep America safe!” While the 13% increase in crime was factually accurate, there is no basis for assigning it to anything related to "Radical Islamic terror."
During an Oct. 24, 2017 interview with WJLA, former White House aide Seb Gorka picked up the president’s obsession with urban crime and questionable grasp of facts and ran with it:
Our big issue is black African gun crime against black Africans. It is a tragedy. Go to Chicago. Go to the cities run by Democrats for 40 years. Black young men are murdering each other by the bushel. This is a social issue. Allow the police to do their jobs and rebuild those societies. Legislation will not save lives.
President Trump sounded similar themes in arguments for his border wall from the East Room of the White House on Oct. 26, 2017, saying, "An astonishing 90 percent of the heroin in America comes from south of the border, where we will be building a wall which will greatly help in this problem. It will have a great impact."
“A wall … would largely be an irrelevance to the trade [of heroin],” the Economist reported. “Most heroin that comes across the Mexican border is transported by vehicle and smuggled through official entry points because it is a low-volume, high-value commodity.”
Speaking to reporters in Seoul, South Korea asking about gun control on Nov. 7, 2017, following the Nov. 5 mass shooting in Sunderland Springs, Texas, President Trump incorrectly said, "Look at the city with the strongest gun laws in our nation -- Chicago. Chicago is a disaster, a total disaster. If this man did not have a gun or rifle it would have been a much worse situation in the great state of Texas."
At a Dec. 8, 2017 rally in Pensacola, Fla., Trump returned to the subject of urban crime, making comments without regard for facts and somehow finding a way to scapegoat immigrants:
The city of Chicago. What the hell is going on in Chicago? There are those who say that Afghanistan is safer than Chicago, okay? What is going on? You know what's wrong with Chicago? Weak, ineffective politicians. Democrats that don't want to force restrictions and don't, and by the way, Chicago, -- for those of you that are gonna say, 'Guns, guns' -- Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the United States, okay? Just in case you were thinking about it. You know they immediately say, 'Oh, you're gonna take away.' Well, Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the United States. So we're asking Democrats in Congress to cease their obstruction and do the right thing -- end sanctuary cities.
At the Dec. 15, 2017 FBI graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., President Trump returned to the issue of urban crime, saying:
When you look at what's going on in Chicago. What the hell is going on in Chicago? What the hell is happening there? For the second year in a row, a person was shot in Chicago every three hours. You don't think the people in this room can stop that? They'd stop it. They'd stop it.
On Jan. 19, 2018, President Trump again inaccurately connected immigration and crime, tweeting:
“Crime in Germany is up 10% plus (officials do not want to report these crimes) since migrants were accepted. Others countries are even worse. Be smart America!”
On April 18, 2018, President Trump echoed white nationalist talking points, tweeting:
There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!
President Trump returned to the issue of crime with a May 25, 2018 tweet:
Chicago Police have every right to legally protest against the mayor and an administration that just won’t let them do their job. The killings are at a record pace and tough police work, which Chicago will not allow, would bring things back to order fast...the killings must stop!
On Jan. 27, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13769, fulfilling his campaign promise of a “Muslim ban,” the term he initially used to describe the policy. The order specifically suspended refugee admissions into the United States for 120 days and denied entry for any reason to citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days.
On Jan. 30, 2017, he argued in favor of his Muslim ban, tweeting, “If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the ‘bad’ would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad ‘dudes’ out there!”
President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Jan. 31, 2017 for refusing to defend the Muslim ban.
On Feb. 3, 2017 and Feb. 4, 2017, President Trump tweeted additional defenses of his Muslim ban. He continued on Feb. 6, 2017.
On March 6, 2017, after critical reviews of his first Muslim ban by federal courts, President Trump issued Executive Order 13870, promulgating his second Muslim ban.
On June 3, 2017, President Trump tweeted:
“We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!”
On June 5, 2017, President Trump tweeted:
1. People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!
2. The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.
3. The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court - & seek much tougher version!
4. That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people!
While his Muslim ban wound through courts, on Aug. 17, 2017, President Trump tweeted a falsehood that was a common theme at rallies during his presidential campaign:
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!
On Aug. 18, 2017, President Trump tweeted:
Homeland Security and law enforcement are on alert & closely watching for any sign of trouble. Our borders are far tougher than ever before!
The Obstructionist Democrats make Security for our country very difficult. They use the courts and associated delay at all times. Must stop!
Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary! The courts must give us back our protective rights. Have to be tough!
Following a terrorist attack in London, on Sept. 15, 2017, President Trump tweeted:
Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!
The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!
The president retweeted his above tweet about the “travel ban” two days later on Sept. 17, 2017.
On Sept. 24, 2017, after additional legal setbacks, President Trump issued his third and final Muslim ban by executive order.
A Nov. 20, 2017 letter from the DHS Inspector General John Roth detailed how the botched rollout of President Trump’s first Muslim ban resulted in federal agents violating court orders by barring certain passengers from boarding U.S.-bound planes.
Following a Nov. 24, 2017 terrorist attack in Egypt, Trump tweeted arguments in favor of both his Muslim ban and the proposed southern border wall, saying:
Will be calling the President of Egypt in a short while to discuss the tragic terrorist attack, with so much loss of life. We have to get TOUGHER AND SMARTER than ever before, and we will. Need the WALL, need the BAN! God bless the people of Egypt.
The DHS Inspector General’s office finalized its report on Jan. 19, 2018 finding that Customs and Border Patrol (CPB) violated court orders in enforcing Trump’s first Muslim ban.
In a Jan. 28, 2018 interview with Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, White House advisor Rudy Giuliani explained the reframing of Trump’s Muslim ban, saying:
So when he first announced it, he said “Muslim ban.” He called me up. He said, “Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.” What we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.
On April 30, 2018, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) argued before the Supreme Court that the Muslim ban was merely a travel ban for national security reasons, a reporter offered President Trump the opportunity to repudiate his past calls for a Muslim ban in order to appease the Justices. Trump replied:
I don’t think it it would, No. 1. And there’s no reason to apologize. Our immigration laws in this country are a total disaster. They’re laughed at all over the world — they’re laughed at for their stupidity, and we have to have strong immigration laws. So I think if I apologize, it wouldn’t make 10 cents’ worth of difference to them. There’s nothing to apologize for.
On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s Muslim ban by a five-to-four vote with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Justice Neil Gorsuch voting with the majority.
Immigration Threatening White Culture
On Jan. 29, 2017, President Trump tweeted what would become a theme of his rhetoric when discussing immigration and predominantly white countries. He echoed the white nationalist talking point that immigration is ruining or even extinguishing the culture of predominantly white countries. “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the whole world - a horrible mess!” Trump tweeted.
In a July 6, 2017 speech in Warsaw, Poland, Trump focused his remarks on the white nationalist theme of western “civilization” and culture being threatened by Islamic countries and immigration, generally. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?” Trump said. “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
On June 18, 2018, amid the uproar over family separations discussed below, President Trump tweeted:
The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!
We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!
At a July 13, 2018 press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London, President Trump again echoed white nationalist talking points about immigration:
Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame. I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.
So I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad. I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.
February 2017, Generally
President Trump kicked off Black History Month on Feb. 1, 2017 with what he called “our little breakfast,” during which, he made remarks that appeared to reveal that he did not know who Frederick Douglass was. His remarks then veered into topics unrelated to the occasion.
On Feb. 8, 2017, Trump appointed Mike Anton as deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications for the National Security Council. Anton served in that position until his pro-Trump writings during the 2016 Presidential campaign were discovered in which he espoused Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic views like those endorsed by the Trump campaign.
During a White House press conference on Feb. 16, 2017, President Trump took a question from reporter April Ryan, who is black, about whether he would include the Congressional Black Caucus — which Ryan identified by its common acronym “the CBC” — in conversations on his urban agenda.
The exchange was recorded as follows by Vox:
“Am I going to include who?” he asked, [appearing not to know who the CBC was.]
Ryan clarified: “Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — ”
“Well, I would,” Trump interrupted. “I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?”
“No, no, no, I’m just a reporter,” Ryan said.
“Are they friends of yours?” Trump asked.
Ryan replied, before Trump cut her off again, “I know some of them, but I’m sure they’re watching right now — ”
“I would love to meet with the Black Caucus,” Trump said. “I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus, I think it’s great.”
As it turns out, the CBC asked Trump for a meeting weeks ago and never heard back.
Amid an uptick in threats to Jewish centers following Trump’s election, the president clashed with reporter Jake Turx, who is Jewish, also during the Feb. 16, 2017 press conference at the White House. CNBC reported:
"I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life," Trump said Thursday at his first solo White House faceoff with the media since taking office. He added that he is also the "least racist person."
The president was responding to a question about recent threats to Jewish centers across the country and rising anti-Semitism.
"What we are concerned about and what we haven't really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it," said the reporter, Jake Turx of an orthodox Jewish weekly called Ami. "There's been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to——"
Trump interrupted, saying it was "not a fair question." After Turx tried to interject, Trump told him to be "quiet." The president later called the question "insulting."
The following day, on Feb. 21, 2017, Attorney General Sessions rescinded a prior DOJ memorandum declaring the department’s position to disfavor contracts with private prison to house federal prisoners. Then on Jan. 24, 2018, DOJ’s Assistant Director for Correctional Programs Frank Lara issued a memo indicating that the department intended to actually increase population levels in private prisons. According to Government Executive, “The memo came just days after the bureau held a conference call with facility administrators, instructing them to prepare for a 12 percent to 14 percent reduction in their authorized staffing levels.” According to the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General, private prisons run increased safety risks for both inmates and prison staff. As with all criminal justice policies in the United States, private prison determinations disproportionately affect people of color.
On Feb. 27, 2017, the DOJ abandoned their argument that a Texas voter identification law was passed with discriminatory intent, weakening federal protections for voters of color under the Voting Rights Act.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration spent an entire week refusing to acknowledge a hate crime in Olathe, Kan., where a white man shouting “Get out of my country” shot two immigrants from India, killing one. The incident occurred on Feb. 22, 2017. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was first asked about the tragedy on Feb. 24, 2017, but he refused the link between increased hate crimes and the president’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. The administration first spoke out against the shooting on March 1, 2017 during Trump’s address to Congress, calling it “an act of racially motivated hatred” on the same day that the Federal Bureau of Investigations announced that it was investigating it as a hate crime.
“At some point, embarrassingly late begins to verge on something more disquieting. President Donald Trump has silently planted himself in that space,” the Kansas City Star editorialized on Feb. 27, 2017. “[W]ith each passing day, Trump’s silence is even more telling.”
In his first address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017, President Trump continued to use the term “radical Islamic terror” over the objections of advisors. The term, disfavored by past presidents for linking theology with acts of terrorism, has been tweeted by President Trump eight times since his inauguration, according to trumptwitterarchive.com.
March & April 2017
On March 31, 2017, Attorney General Sessions ordered the review of all DOJ agreements with local law enforcement agencies requiring reforms, including reductions in use of force and discriminatory practices. The order led to the suspension of all “consent decrees,” agreements which are among the most effective tools at exercising federal oversight over law enforcement agencies with a pattern and practice of police misconduct violating civil rights. In his memo, Sessions echoed segregationist rhetoric, saying “local control and local accountability are necessary for effective local policing.” Sessions later defended his order, claiming that consent decrees lower police morale and lead to increased crime. That claim is specious.
In another memorandum issued on April 11, 2017, Sessions called for increased criminal prosecutions of non-citizens to “further reduce illegality.”
“Although federal prosecution for unlawful entry, re-entry, and similar offenses is already at an all-time high and constitutes more than half of all federal criminal charges, Sessions’ directives threaten to dramatically increase the number of criminal prosecutions for immigration violations,” the Catholic Legal Reform Network said. “When implemented, it will affect both undocumented border crossers and immigrants already in the United States.”
On April 27, 2017, then-Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman — nominally the White House’s liaison to black communities — indicated that black people weren’t trying hard enough to work with the administration.
At a Harrisburg, Pa. rally celebrating his first 100 days in office on April 29, 2017, Trump recited the poem “The Snake,” a parable he turned to often during his campaign to warn against the supposed dangers of allowing Syrian refugees into the country. (See Trump’s Feb. 23, 2018 CPAC speech for more.)