‘Tweets and turmoil’ in Trump’s first month

Stumped: Donald Trump said the White House was running ‘so smoothly’ in Florida on Friday. © PA

One month down, 47 to go… Trump’s America has seen a whirlwind of activity so far — including 12 executive orders, four visits from world leaders, and one resignation. Will he keep it up?

It’s official: Donald Trump has outlasted William Henry Harrison, the man with the dubious distinction of the shortest American presidency (he died of pneumonia after just 32 days).

Trump’s first month has been historic for entirely different reasons — beginning on his first full day, when women’s marches across the USA were thought to be the largest protests in the country’s history.

In the first two weeks he signed executive actions detailing plans for a border wall with Mexico; pulling the USA out of a trade deal with the Pacific; and imposing a temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. This last order caused global chaos before being struck down by the courts.

Then he fired his attorney general for refusing to support the ban, hung up on the Australian prime minister, and accepted the resignation of his national security adviser after a scandal involving communications with Russia. Last week, he dropped a decades-long policy of US support for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

All this, and he still has time for social media. On Twitter, @realDonaldTrump lashed out at ‘so-called judges’, ‘low-life leakers’, and five major news outlets — which he called ‘enemies of the American people’.

His approval ratings are historically low. A poll this month claimed that 46% of Americans want to see him impeached.

And commentators in the media have begun questioning how long his presidency can last. Yesterday in the Financial Times, Edward Luce predicted that ‘either the forces that are against the president will bring him down or he will destroy the system.’ Across the USA, thousands joined anti-Trump protests during the national holiday, President’s Day.

Meanwhile, Trump says that everything is going according to plan. Last Thursday, he said that his team was running ‘like a fine-tuned machine’ — and blamed the ‘dishonest’ media for misrepresenting him.

White House blues

That is the most blatant lie yet, say his opponents. Anyone can see that the White House is in chaos, including the president’s own party. Republican senator John McCain described it as a place where ‘nobody knows who’s in charge and nobody knows who’s setting policy.’ Congress is already investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. Surely it won’t be long before it all comes crashing down?

Nonsense, respond others. Trump is hardly the first president to get off to a turbulent start, and there is no evidence that he has broken any laws — and therefore no real grounds for impeachment. Besides, shaking up Washington is exactly what Trump’s supporters elected him to do. In that respect, his first month has been successful.

You Decide

  1. Has Donald Trump’s first month as president been successful?
  2. Will he be impeached before the next election in 2020?

Activities

  1. Imagine that you get to be US president for a month — but only one. Write a short plan detailing what you would do in that time.
  2. Choose another US president and compare their first month in office to Donald Trump’s in a report.

Some People Say...

“There can be no real change without a little chaos along the way.”

What do you think?

Q & A

Sounds exhausting — I’m glad I don’t live in the USA.
It has certainly been busy. But even if you don’t live in America, Trump’s actions as president could still affect you. For example, dropping America’s support of global trade deals could destabilise the economy, and his changes to the US immigration system might make it more difficult for you or someone you know to travel to the country.
How could Trump be impeached?
The most common grounds for impeachment in the US constitution are ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’ — a somewhat vague legal phrase. However, the process needs to be agreed by Congress, where both Houses are currently controlled by Trump’s party, the Republicans. It will take evidence of some pretty serious misdemeanours to convince them to impeach their own president.

Word Watch

William Henry Harrison
The ninth president of the United States held office for just over a month in 1841.
Executive actions
These include executive orders (which must be made public by law) and memorandums (which do not necessarily need to be published).
Trade deal
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a deal between countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, including Canada, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Global chaos
The executive order caused confusion in airports around the world, as citizens from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were suddenly banned from flying. Others were detained when they landed.
Approval ratings
According to a poll by Gallup, Trump’s approval rating is 40% , eleven points lower than any other president after the first month.
President’s Day
Traditionally held to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on the third Monday of February. The protests were styled ‘Not My President’s Day.’
Investigating
Five separate congressional committees are investigating possible links between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.

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