For a recap of the first seven days, click here.
(Note: There are several different types of executive actions. Most of Trump’s actions to date have been Executive Orders or Executive Memoranda. You can find an informative discussion of the difference between those two here here. A complete list of Trump’s Executive Orders to date can be found here, at the official White House website. A complete list of his Executive Memoranda can be found here. For most practical purposes, the difference between the two is insignificant, and I’ll continue calling them all “Executive Orders”. On the other hand, Andrew Rudalevige at the Washington Post claims it does indeed make a difference, and his arguments should be read and need to be understood. He argues that most of Trump’s orders are symbolic and will have little actual effect.)
* An order requiring a “military readiness review.” This order received little attention, partly due to the Muslim ban order issued the same day (see below). It requires reassessing the military budget, and specifically nuclear and ballistic missile systems. It is potentially an attempt to take control of military funding from Congress and seat it in the White House, along with possibly requiring aggressive development of America’s nuclear arsenal. The most gentle reading would simply be to find a way to set the new Administration’s military policies.
* A detailed order banning Muslim refugees. Trump got around the First Amendment religious difficulties by banning refugees from Muslim-majority countries, rather than banning Muslims. The countries from which he is banning refugees are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya–but not the Muslim-majority countries in which he has business interests, which are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Further, the order uses the 9/11 attacks as an excuse for this ban, even though 15 of the 19 attackers came from Saudi Arabia, two from United Arab Emirates, and one each from Egypt and Lebanon, which were not included in the ban. This is a decision clearly made due to a conflict of interest.
Bear in mind, this banning of refugees was signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day. That was no innocent coincidence. It was an intentional insult to the dead and the families of the dead, Jewish refugees who were murdered in the 1940s when America declined to accept refugees from Europe. This horror was likely urged and masterminded by neo-Nazi Steve Bannon, who is Trump’s chief policy adviser.
Trump cancelled 5 million dollars’ worth of public service ads telling Americans that the deadline for buying insurance though the ACA’s exchanges is January 31. Taxpayers will not get that money back. The only purpose of canceling the ads was to screw some Americans who don’t yet have insurance and who would have purchased it in the remaining days of the open enrollment period. That, and slightly lowering this year’s Obamacare enrollment numbers.
The Trump Administration is apparently purging the State Department. The entire senior management staff quit yesterday (including such notables as Patrick Kennedy and Joyce Anne Barr, who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations). It is not clear if this is an attempt to get rid of anyone with a different viewpoint from the incoming fascist neo-Nazi regime, or anyone with experience, or if it is a mass exodus of people who refuse to work under this administration. In any case, it will leave America with few people in the State Department who know what they’re doing.
Trump tweeted the madness shown here at about 5 AM this morning. This isn’t merely his usual insanity. It is a direct assault on democracy. If there were three million illegal votes (enough to change the result of three of the last five presidential elections), then there is something seriously wrong that must be addressed. There’s a deeper problem however, in Trump’s campaign to undermine faith in our democratic institutions by spreading lies with the authority of the President behind them. I intend to explore that in an upcoming blog post.
Minor, perhaps, compared to everything else, but Trump today lied to British Prime Minister Theresa May on live television. He claimed to have predicted the result of the Brexit vote on the day before it happened while he was visiting his new golf course in Scotland. The problem is that he didn’t fly to Scotland until the day after the vote.
* An order on ethics in the Executive Branch. Amid all the chaos that happened this week, not much attention has been given to this order. It borrows heavily from President Obama’s directions, but is stricter in some ways. It imposes a five-year ban on lobbying when executive branch employees leave the government, ensuring that no one who works from Trump can go to work against him during his first term.
* A supposed “plan to defeat ISIS”, which amounts to nothing more than telling the generals to develop a plan to defeat ISIS.
* A reorganization of the National Security Council. This was brushed off during the signing ceremony as being relatively unimportant, but it is the most awful order of the day. It puts neoNazi strongman Steve Bannon on the Council, and allows the Director of National Security and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to sit in on meetings only when invited(!). Bear in mind, Bannon has not been vetted by any Congressional committee. This order also in violation of the law that established the NSC, Title 50 of US Code 3021, which states:
The Council shall be composed of—
(1) the President;
(2) the Vice President;
(3) the Secretary of State;
(4) the Secretary of Defense;
(5) the Secretary of Energy; and
(6) the Secretaries and Under Secretaries of other executive departments and of the military departments, when appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve at his pleasure.
Bannon is not among the “Secretaries and Under Secretaries of other executive departments [or] of the military departments”, and he has not been subject to “the advice and consent of the Senate”.
It was revealed late in the week that Trump didn’t know what he was signing when he signed the order reorganizing the NSC. He hadn’t read it, hadn’t been briefed on what was in it, and didn’t know who wrote it.
January 28 was a Saturday, one week after the Women’s March that happened the day after Trump’s inauguration. The Muslim Ban announced on Friday, January 27 sparked nationwide protests at airports, as people who were on the way to the US when the Order was signed discovered they were unable to enter the country. A series of court challenges throughout the week resulted in the Order being temporarily blocked, between 60,000 and 100,000 visas to be reinstated, and for travelers to again be admitted from the named countries.