August 9: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vows to launch missiles at island of Guam, if U.S. threats continue.
August 10: President Trump escalates verbal threat against North Korea, suggesting that prior statement might not have been "tough enough."
August 11: Trump warns North Korea that U.S. is "locked and loaded."
See News Briefs for August 8-11, below, for additonal details.
January 25: Mexican President Enrique Peńa Nieto cancels a planned meeting with President Trump, doubtless reacting to forceful opposition to Trump by ordinary Mexican people, as well as government leaders. Rather than sticking with that avoidance, however, the Mexican leader called Mr. Trump on the phone.
NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) is the foremost U.S./Mexico question, by far. Abandonment of NAFTA would be disastrous to Mexico’s economy; but allowing Mr. Trump to effectively rewrite the agreement would almost certainly be worse for our southern neighbor.
January 30: Trump fires Acting Attorney General. Because the nominee for Attorney General has not yet been confirmed, Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, has been serving as Acting Attorney General. Because she questioned the intent and ultimate legality of the president's Executive Order barring arrivals from specified Muslim countries, Ms. Yates sent a letter to that effect, to Justice Department attorneys, stating that they should not defend the ban. Mr. Trump reacted in a hurry. For "defying" the administration, Ms. Yates was fired. In the next two days, a thousand State Department employees, many stationed in embassies around the world, signed a notice backing her stand.
February 1: Federal judge rules that detained immigrants with visas should be allowed into the U.S. Federal judge Andre Birotte Jr. issued a temporary restraining order, stating that immigrants with visas, who had been detained upon arrival in the U.S. as part of the ban affecting persons from seven Muslim nations, should be released and permitted to enter the U.S. As reported by The New York Times, the ruling does not affect students or tourists; only those who anticipate becoming permanent residents.
February 6: President charges that news media have downplayed coverage of attacks by “radical Islamic terrorists. Speaking to an audience of military leaders in Florida, Mr. Trump alleged that “it’s gotten to a point where [attacks are] not even being reported.... And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.” As published in The Hill, Mr. Trump further suggested that news media have a secret motive of their own. “They have their reasons,” he told the audience of senior commanders, “and you understand that.”
February 7: Senate confirms Betsy DeVos as education secretary – with aid of Vice President Pence. For the first time in U.S. history, a vice president has provided a tiebreaking vote to confirm a Cabinet appointee. After the Senate split 50/50, Pence voted to confirm Ms. DeVos, who has been criticized harshly for her intense advocacy of private and charter schools, to the detriment of public schools.
February 9: Travel ban blocked. A federal appeals court unanimously blocked revival of Mr. Trump's travel ban on travelers from seven Muslim-dominated countries, which had been initiated by Executive Order during his first day in office. Following a highly-criticized start to the ban, federal judges had ordered it halted temporarily.
February 10: Second travel ban is expected. President Trump plans to issue another Executive Order on immigration "by next week," according to The New York Times, while waiting for legal action on the original travel ban.
February 14: Professionals question Mr. Trump's mental health. 37 mental health professionals signed a letter to The New York Times, warning about Mr. Trump's mental state and aberrant behavior. In response, a prominent professor of psychiatry warned against attempting to diagnose mental illness without meeting the person in question, citing the "Goldwater Rule" established by the government in the 1970s. In 1964, some mental-health professionals and others had questioned the mental stability of the Republican candidate for president, Barry Goldwater.
February 16: "Day Without Immigrants" protest in various cities. Chicago Patch reported that immigrants had been urged to stay away from work and school, and not spend money, on Thursday February 16. Celebrity chef Rick Bayless and his staff were among those closing restaurants for a day, in support of what was termed a "national strike."
February 28: Suggesting a startling turnaround, President Trump is said to be leaning toward legalization of millions of non-criminal undocumented immigrants. (The New York Times, Feb. 28)
March 4: Proffering no evidence, Trump charges former President Obama with tapping phones in Trump Tower. In a batch of his many Tweets, President Trump accused his predecessor of authorizing wiretaps of phones used by Trump and his team in New York, stating that – if true – it would constitute a scandal bigger than Watergate. Mr. Obama and members of his administration denied that any wiretaps, of anyone, had been requested.
March 9: Bill to repeal Affordable Care Act passes two House committees. Republicans call their replacement for “Obamacare,” pushed most aggressively by Paul Ryan (R-WI), the American Health Care Act, claiming it will provide greater freedom in health care. Liberal critics charge that millions of now-insured Americans will lose coverage completely as premiums rise dramatically, and foresee undoing of Medicaid as catastrophic for low-income families. Resolute fiscal conservatives also express disapproval, insisting that subsidies to help non-affluent families pay for insurance are too generous.
March 9: Hawaii files suit to block second version of Trump’s travel ban. Rewriting of ban that barred visitors from seven predominantly-Muslim countries, halted in federal court, has dropped Iraq from the no-entry list. President Trump continues to claim that a ban is essential to protect against terrorists. Critics assert that it’s still a ban on religious grounds, thus of doubtful Constitutionality, also citing lack of terrorist threats by visitors from the affected nations.
March 11: President Trump reveals plan to hire 10,000 more immigration officers. Critics wonder how many of the new hires will be "rogue" officers, eager to mistreat undocumented persons. (The New York Times)
March 13: Congressional Budget Office estimates that under Trumpcare, the Republicans' health care bill, 14 million Americans could lose their health insurance in 2018.
March 15: Second federal judge blocks revised travel ban. Trump reacts by continuing to assail judges who block his Executive Order on restricted immigration.
March 17: President Trump appears to decline handshake with Germany’s Angela Merkel during photo-op. Later, press secretary Sean Spicer claims Trump did not hear her inquiry about a handshake.
March 20: Revised Obamacare replacement bill ready for vote in Congress.
March 20: FBI Director joins chorus denying any evidence of wiretapping Trump Tower. Previously, Director James Comey had acknowledged investigation of Trump camp’s connection to Russia, which could have included “incidental” wiretap of Trump aides.
March 21: Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s health care – evidently something for just about everyone to detest.
March 22: House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes acknowledges that Trump’s personal communications could have been inadvertently intercepted, as part of an unrelated investigation. If true, is that enough to satisfy Mr. Trump that former President Obama did not order any wiretap? Or, will such a revelation serve to vindicate Mr. Trump’s claim, keeping it center stage indefinitely?
March 22: House to vote on Trump’s American Health Care Act, which has already been revised – and subjected to considerable criticism from various points on the political spectrum.
March 23: Trump threatens obstinate Republicans who oppose health care bill.
Late March: Trump continues to trumpet wiretap claim and alleged British agency participation. Despite continued lack of any evidence, President Trump has not backed off on his assertion that former President Obama ordered a British agency to wiretap Trump Tower. However, he altered his claim by insisting that “wiretap” didn’t necessarily mean tapping of phone wires; it could refer to other types of surveillance.
March 24: Anticipating failure to pass, Trump and Ryan “pull” revised health-care bill without a vote.
March 27: Trump Administration preparing to halt federal funds for “sanctuary cities.”
March 28: Trump signs Executive Order to begin curtailing climate-change program initiated by former President Obama. Mr. Trump’s stated goal is to reestablish coal mining and boost role of fossil-fuel industry. Critics quickly warned that this dramatic alteration would make it difficult or impossible for U.S. to meet standards set by 2015 Paris Agreement, signed by U.S. and most industrial nations. President Trump continues to insist that climate-change concerns are a hoax.
March 28: House of Representatives votes to let Internet providers gather and sell private data on their users, including marketers seeking to refine targeted advertising. Privacy advocates warn that the concept of privacy when using the Internet will basically be lost, if regulations set during the Obama Administration are tossed aside.
March 30: Trump threatens Congressional conservatives. According to The New York Times, Mr. Trump essentially threatened members of the Freedom Caucus, a far-right group in the House of Representatives. In one of his long string of Tweets, Trump asserted that the Caucus conservatives were “hurting” the agenda of the Republican party, and therefore must be fought in terms of the 2018 election.
March 30: Michael Flynn, the quickly-dismissed national security advisor, has agreed to testify about Russian interference in the U.S. election. The New York Times reports that Flynn was offering to testify, but only if he’s granted immunity. Congress soon said “no,” despite White House’s stated preference for immunity.
April 3: Trump prepares to meet Chinese leader at his Florida resort. Trump has shown preference for meeting foreign leaders at Mar-a-Lago resort, rather than privately at White House.
April 3: Senate Democrats contemplate filibuster against nomination of Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court. Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) warns that Republicans are ready to change Senate rules, so filibuster against Supreme Court appointees will not be allowed.
April 4: Susan Rice, national security advisor during Obama Administration, is charged with having revealed names of Trump aides heard “unintentionally” during legal surveillance of foreign agents, including Russians. Trump soon alleges that Ms. Rice committed a crime, leaking names for political purposes. (The New York Times)
April 5: Chief Trump strategist Stephen Bannon is removed from major role on principals committee of White House Security Council.
April 6: President Trump orders missiles to be fired at Syrian airfield, in retaliation for horrific nerve gas attack against civilians earlier in the week. Trump earns positive response from most world leaders, but not from Russia, which has backed Syria’s Assad regime.
April 7: After Republicans initiate “nuclear option” to ban Democratic filibustering, Neil Gorsuch is confirmed for the Supreme Court with 54 “Yes” votes.
April 15: In cities across the U.S., more than 100,000 protesters march to demand that Trump release his tax returns. Detailed coverage of Chicago's Tax Day protest. Responding to protests, President Trump calls for investigation of participating organizations, and states that he will not release any tax information.
April 16: Vice-president Pence visits Korea's Demilitarized Zone, issuing tough statements to North Korea. In U.S., Mr. Trump warns that North Korean leader has "gotta behave."
April 17: North Korean official warns that U.S. "recklessness" could lead to thermonuclear war.
April 20: Trump administration reveals another health care plan. Some elements sound like modifications of Obamacare, including coverage for persons with pre-existing conditions. But states would have the option of omitting portions of the plan, causing some critics to declare it even more “cruel” than the Republicans’ previous proposal, which was withdrawn from Congressional consideration after only 17 percent of surveyed Americans approved of it.
April 29: Climate-change protests take place nationwide, to oppose relaxation of environmental regulations put into place by President Obama. President Trump’s cabinet contains a number of climate-change deniers and skeptics, including head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
May 1: During May Day protests worldwide; violent incidents erupt in several countries. May 1 used to be Workers’ Day, celebrating the world’s working class. This year in the U.S., protesters target tightening of immigration and growth in deportation, repeal of President Obama’s affordable health care program, tax giveaways to the rich, and other proposals and actions emanating from the Trump administration.
May 1: Trump disses Face the Nation journalist John Dickerson, halting interview in Oval Office after question asked about alleged wiretapping of Trump Tower. Before walking off, Trump tells Dickerson he “loves” the show, which he calls “Deface the Nation.”
May 2: Congress approves additional $120 million allotment to protect the Trump family. That includes two sons of Donald Trump, who travel frequently on Trump business,.
May 3: Passage of latest health care bill looks doubtful, as moderate Republicans indicate intent to vote “No.” In response, $8 billion is added to the size of the bill, to alleviate concerns about inability of persons with pre-existing conditions to obtain health coverage.
May 3: In Budget proposal to prevent government shutdown, Democrats are pleased but Trump is not. Trump threatens more dramatic government shutdown in fall, when current fiscal years ends.
May 3:FBI Director James Comey says he is “mildly nauseous” over the possibility that his actions might have influenced the 2016 election.
May 4: U.S. House votes on third Republican health care bill, which barely passes, by a vote of 217 to 213. Bill now goes to Senate, where it’s not expected to pass in anything close to its current form. Some Senators have predicted that they might even start from scratch, using the House bill as little more than a group of suggestions. Critics charge that the new Trumpcare bill would do more harm to ordinary people and families than the previous one, which earned a 17-percent favorable score from the public and failed to pass the House.
May 9-10: Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. Days after testifying to Congress about the letter he made available prior to the November 8 election, regarding Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server, President Trump fires James Comey. In termination letter, Trump states that Comey had told the President on three occasions that he was not under investigation, but Comey had publicly called for forther investigation. Critics recall President Nixon's 1973 firing of the special prosecutor during Watergate investigation. (The New York Times)
May 10: One day after firing James Comey, President Trump meets Russian ambassador and foreign minister in White House, in a meeting that's closed to reporters. Russia provides photos of the meeting to news outlets.
May 11: In TV interview, President Trump claims to have intended to fire Comey for weeks, contradicting FBI statement. Democratic and some Republican critics label the situation serious - possibly even a "Constitutional crisis." Many assert that Trump's action is really an attempt to stifle ongoing investigation of Russian intervention in November election.
May 15: Washington Post and other news sources report that Trump revealed classified material to the Russians during their White House meeting. Trump administration denies the allegation.
May 17: Justice Department appoints Robert Mueller III as special counsel for the investigation of possible Russian meddling in the American presidential election.
May 17: While delivering Commencement Address to graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, President Trump attacks the media. "No politician in history," he asserts, "has been treated worse or more unfairly.
May 18: In an early-morning Tweet, Mr. Trump "lashes out" at the appointment of a special counsel for the Russian-influence question, according to The New York Times. He also calls the investigation a ?witch hunt," while claiming (with no evidence) that former President Obama and the Hillary Clinton campaign committed "illegal acts," but no special counsel was appointed to investigate them.
May 22: Trump budget boosts military spending and slashes taxes for the wealthy, while making “severe cuts to Medcaid, nutritional assistance, welfare and disability programs,” according to The New York Times. The proposed budget also provides $1.6 billion for the Mexican border wall, and another $2.6 billion for border security.
June 5: White House spokespersons Sean Spicer advises that the bar to entry into the U.S. by persons from specified Muslim-dominated countries is not a “travel ban.” Quickly, President Trump tweets that the Executive Order overturned by two Federal courts is definitely a “travel ban.”
June 16: Trump signs Executive Order rolling back improved relations with Cuba, as initiated by President Obama. Travel and business possibilities for U.S. citizens, which had been growing rapidly, are expected to be sharply curtailed. Most American visitors will now be allowed into Cuba only when part of an official tour group.
June 22: Senate unveils its own health care bill, which had been developed in secrecy. Vote on repeal/replacement of Obamacare is expected before July 4 recess. Critics suspect few substantive changes from the House version, which President Trump had decried as “mean.”
June 23: The New York Times publishes “definitive list” of outright lies told by President Trump since Inauguration Day.
June 27: Trump attacks CNN, accusing it of disseminating “fake news,” after the cable network retracts a story alleging connection between Russia and an associate of the president.
June 27: Supreme Court agrees to hear “travel ban” case in October. Meanwhile, the Court permits a temporary partial ban on persons entering the U.S. from six Muslim-dominated countries. President Trump hails the decision as a “clear victory.”
June 28: Three public-opinion polls reveal exceptionally low approval ratings (12 to 17 percent) for Senate version of health-coverage bill, popularly dubbed Trumpcare.
June 29: Trump attacks Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, asserting that during a visit to Mar-a-Lago last winter, she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.” In a Tweet described as “vulgar” by The New York Times, President Trump refers to Ms. Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika,” and calls her co-host Joe Scarborough “Psycho Joe.”
July 2: Trump uses his Twitter account to disseminate a video clip that shows him next to a wrestling ring, knocking down and punching a man whose face has been covered by red CNN logo. The edited clip, thought to be modified from an old Wrestlemania video, draws widespread rebukes. Some viewers charge that it incites violence toward the media. Well before becoming president, Trump had been involved in professional wrestling.
July 11: E-mails reveal that in June 2016, Donald Trump Jr. met with Russian contact, after being advised that incriminating information on Hillary Clinton was available.
July 13: President Trump meets French president Emmanuel Macron, for Bastille Day celebration in Paris.
July 13: While in Europe, Trump hints at a possible shift in attitude toward the Paris climate accord, after announcing in June that the U.S. would break away from the agreement. During subsequent days, nothing further is said about consideration of a reversal on the climate accord.
July 14: While meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron, Trump states that Macron’s wife is “beautiful” and “in such good shape,” according to The New York Times. His comments trigger accusations of sexism from U.S. critics.
July 14: Donald Trump Jr. releases e-mails that confirm his attendance at a meeting with a Russian attorney, after intermediary claims that the attorney offered to provide incriminating material about Hillary Clinton.
July 15: Protests and marches in several U.S. cities, including Chicago, follow the theme: “Trump/Pence Regime Must Go.”
July 16: As allegations of collusion with Russia intensify, President Trump issues series of Sunday-morning Tweets attacking Hillary Clinton and the mainstream news media, regularly derided as “fake news” by the president.
July 17: Walter M. Shaub Jr., departing head of the Office of Government Ethics, says U.S. is “close to a laughingstock.” According to The New York Times, Shaub believes President Trump and his administration have “created a historic ethics crisis.”
July 18: Opposition to Trumpcare bill by four Senators prevents it from passing. Following that failure, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, attempted a repeal of Obamacare with no replacement in sight. That move, which could leave untold numbers of Americans with no coverage at all, also appeared to fail, according to The New York Times. Regardless, Sen. McConnell still intends to get a bill through the Senate.
July 22: President Trump claims he has "complete power" to issue pardons, including those granted to family members and aides; and possibly, to himself.
July 22: Trump hires new communications director, New York financier Anthony Scaramucci. Sean Spicer resigns post of press secretary.
July 22: Congress votes to issue sanctions against Russia for interference in 2016 election. Despite objections to sanctions by President Trump, The New York Times reports that the White House is likely to accept the sanctions.
July 23: Atlantic magazine reports that while addressing the audience at a ship commissioning, including uniformed military personnel, Trump implored them to "lobby Congress for his agenda."
July 24: During speech at Boy Scout Jamboree, President Trump turns to campaign-style rhetoric, including attacks on media and political figures. Trump's political comments, which resulted in "booing" of former President Obama and Hillary Clinton, draw considerable backlash from parents as well as politicians.
July 25: Despite recent surgery and brain cancer, Senator John McCain returns to Washington to vote on health care debate. Vote is 50-50, but Vice-president Pence issues tiebreaker to let debate on repeal of Obamacare go forward.
July 26: Anthony "Mooch" Scaramuchi, Trump's new communications director, unleases stream of vulgar, profane comments during phone talk with New Yorker magazine journalist.
July 26: In a Tweet, President Trump announces that transgender persons will not be allowedd to serve in the military. Trump's order reinstates a ban that was overturned by the Obama administration.
July 28: Reince Priebus is forced out of his post as President Trump's chief of staff, following feud with new communications chief Anthony Scaramuchi. John Kelly, currently Secretary of Homeland Security, is named as Priebus' replacement.
July 28: In late-night session, Senator John McCain joins with Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murakowski, voting "no" on what's termed the "skinny repeal" of Obamacare. With only 49 Republicans voting "aye," partial replacement of Affordable Care Act fails to pass.
July 29: Speaking to a police group, President Trump advises officers: "Don't be too nice." Referring to the practice of guarding an arrestee's head when guiding him or her into the back seat of a police car, he says "You can take the hand away. Okay?" According to The New York Times, Trump's words drew considerable criticism from police associations.
July 31: After 10 days as White House communication director, Anthony Scaramucci is forced out. The New York Times reports that John Kelly, now serving as President Trump's new chief of staff, requested Scaramucci's dismissal.
August 8: President Trump threatens to unleash "Fire and Fury" against North Korea, in response to further threats against the U.S. After Trump signed bill authorizing sanctions against North Korea, following its latest missile launch, the North Korean leader issued harsh threats, promising catastrophic damage in a "sea of fire." During a meeting on another subject, Trump responded with the "Fire and Fury" threat. Soon, North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, threatened an attack on island of Guam, the site of a major U.S. airbase. Some experts have declared this sequence of back-and-forth threats to be the most dangerous escalation of the risk of nuclear war in decades.
August 10: President Trump escalates verbal threat against North Korea, suggesting that his previous statement, promising "Fire and Fury," might not have been "tough enough."
August 11: Trump warns North Korea that U.S. is "locked and loaded." Analysis in The New York Times suggests that even a "limited action," such as destroying a missile while it's still on the ground, "could prompt retaliation."
August 12: Rally by white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, turns violent; one participant drives car into crowd, killing counter-protester Heather Heyer. Two police officers also are killed, when their helicopter crashes. Rally organizers sought to block removal of statues of Confederate leaders, including Robert E. Lee. “Alt-right” rally participants included neo-nazis, white supremacists, and Ku Klan members, some of them armed.
August 12: President Trump condemns violence and racism at Virginia march, but insists that "both sides" share the blame. Rebukes of the president’s comments quickly begin to come from around the country, and the world. Critics assert that "alt-right" rally groups are clearly the ones responsible for the violence.
August 14: Two days after Virginia debacle, an unanimated President Trump quietly reads a speech condemning racism and white supremacism. Critics brand this follow-up statement as insincere and too little, too late.
August 15: During press conference at Trump Tower in New York, Trump turns combative, reverting to his original opinion on the Virginia violence, blaming both "alt-right" marchers and "alt-left" counter-protesters. He also asserts that "some very fine people" marched with the neo-nazis and white supremacists. Some TV news broadcasters look stunned when reporting on Trump’s words and behavior. Trump’s revived initial response and belligerent attitude draw harsh criticism from many quarters, including Republicans.
August 17: Trump bemoans loss of "beautiful statues" commemorating Conferate generals and leaders, insisting that those who want them removed are destroying the country's "history and culture."