It’s only been 14 days.
We may be binge-watching this presidency, but it’s all still happening in real time. And here at ThinkProgress, we are working to produce a weekly digest to help keep track of everything going on around us. (Find last week’s here.)
Week 2 followed a similar pattern to week 1: Trump’s actions on Friday led to massive protests all weekend, then Trump took a wave of new actions to try to distract from the backlash. Whether or not that’s a sustainable pattern for a presidency remains to be seen.
With the Muslim ban, the Supreme Court nomination, and everything else in between, there was no shortage of news this week.
- Muslim ban: Trump signed an executive order on Friday restricting migration from seven Muslim-majority countries and suspending Syrian refugee resettlement indefinitely, which prompted massive protests at JFK and other airports across the country. Yes, it’s a Muslim ban (and we’re going to keep calling it that). No, it’s not the same as what President Obama did in 2011 or in 2016. And yes, the white nationalists love it.
- “You’re Fired!”: When Acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to defend Trump’s Muslim ban because she found it unlawful (a determination that it was her job to make), Trump fired her. It’s the first time a president has fired an attorney general since President Nixon.
- White nationalist power: Trump reorganized the National Security Council, downgrading the roles of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to make room for his chief strategist, white nationalist Steve Bannon.
- To the right of Scalia: Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in a prime-time presentation modeled off of reality television, complete with intentional theatrical optics. Gorsuch’s intensively conservative views pose a serious threat to reproductive freedom, LGBT rights, the environment, and just about any federal regulation that might protect people. Senate Democrats are already working to block his confirmation, but Trump is urging Senate Republicans to trigger the “nuclear option” — eliminating the filibuster — to force the nomination through.
- A trip to Dover: Trump executed his first military raid as president, apparently “without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.” The attack in Yemen resulted in the deaths many civilians, including an 8-year-old American girl, as well as a U.S. Navy SEAL, Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens. Sean Spicer described it Thursday as “a successful operation by all standards.”
- On notice: After Iran test-fired a ballistic missile, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put the country “on notice,” but didn’t explain what that meant.
- So-called “religious freedom”: After days of rumors, a draft leaked of a “religious freedom” executive order that would create a massive license to discriminate against LGBT people, those who’ve had premarital sex, and those seeking abortions. The White House denied any immediate intentions to sign it, but it seemed to align perfectly with what religious conservatives are expecting — and now begging for — from the administration.
- A Valentine to Wall Street: Trump has announced plans to sign an executive order Friday that will weaken some financial regulations and make it easier for Wall Street to screw over retirees.
- Not just Jews: Trump issued a statement honoring International Holocaust Remembrance Day that didn’t mention Jewish people. The omission was intentional; in fact, it was revealed Thursday that the State Department had drafted a different statement that did mention Jewish victims that the White House chose not to use. And there were no regrets.
- Compensating for hate: In addition to the widespread protests, many companies also responded with plans to counter the Muslim Ban, such as Starbucks committing to hiring 10,000 refugees, Lyft donating $1 million to the ACLU, and Google creating a $4 million crisis fund. The singer Sia also promised to match up to $100,000 in donations to the ACLU, and several other celebrities followed suit.
- Ambassador in chief: Excerpts of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders last Saturday indicate that he threatened to invade Mexico to take care of the “bad hombres” down there and that he hung up on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after trying to renege on a deal President Obama made to accept 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center. Details of his call with Russian President Vladimir Putin remain elusive because the White House chose not to record it.
- Pure Islamophobia: The Trump administration wants a federal counter-terrorism program to abandon its focus on violent white supremacists so that it can focus exclusively on Muslim groups. When asked Thursday what the Trump administration planned to do about “homegrown” terrorist threats, Sean Spicer oddly replied that they’d start by looking at the borders.
- Backfiring: Trump threatened last week to cut federal funding for “sanctuary cities” — municipalities that refuse to hold undocumented immigrants in detention — but the number of sanctuary cities is only growing.
- Frederick Douglass is doing an amazing job: On Wednesday, Trump commemorated Black History Month with a bizarre speech that was largely about his performance in the election and some black people who have treated him nicely.
- Never mind, Milwaukee: Trump was scheduled to head to Wisconsin Thursday to deliver an economic address at the Harley-Davidson factory there, but that trip was canceled by Tuesday because the threat of protests made the motorcycle manufacturer uncomfortable.
- Peculiar tweak: The Treasury Department seems to have loosened some of the sanctions against Russia, though many are calling it an expected fix and not a change in policy.
Trump took a number of actions this week that incompletely fulfilled some promises. We found just one example of a clear break:
- 2 for 1, maybe someday: Trump promised “a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated,” but contrary to his claims, that’s not actually what his new executive order does.
Remember, you can always check out our interactive list of Trump’s 663 campaign promises here.
This section was originally intended to contain around three to five examples, but that’s frankly not possible on weeks like this.
- Banning Muslims: Detaining people; handcuffing them; separating them from their parents, their caretakers, their patients, and the health care they need to live; and generally preventing them from ever seeing their families — just because of what country they are from — is not normal.
- Not in the know: Trump actually signed the Muslim ban while his Secretary of Homeland Security, Gen. John F. Kelly, was still receiving his first briefing about what the executive order would even do. It turns out he knew it was coming though, because he heard Trump talk about it on the campaign trail.
- Our way or the highway: If State Department employees have a problem with the Muslim ban, Sean Spicer said Monday that they can “either get with the program or they can go.” That could mean over 1,000 people would have to go.
- Bannon unchecked: Asked about Chief Strategist Steve Bannon’s remarks that Islam is “dark” and “not a religion of peace,” Sean Spicer said that Trump has a different view, but then refused an opportunity to distance the White House from the sentiment.
- UnDemocratic: To advance two of Trump’s cabinet nominees that Democrats threatened to block, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee changed the rules to proceed without any Democrats present. The following day, the Environment and Public Works Committee employed the same tactic.
- What First Amendment?: Republican state lawmakers across the country are considering new laws to prohibit protests like those sparked at airports across the country by Trump’s Muslim ban.
- A short road to fascism: Experts on authoritarianism are even more concerned about Trump’s dictator-like tendencies in week two than they were in week one. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that this poster from the U.S. Holocaust Museum outlining the disturbingly familiar warning signs of fascism went viral this week:
- Trump hates studying: Asked by CBN’s David Brody about whether Trump would be moving the U.S.’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump provided an answer with key insights into his decision-making process: He “hates” to wait for research. “We’re doing very detailed studies on that and that will come out very soon. I hate to do that, because that’s not usually me — studies. It’s usually: I do what’s right, but this has two sides to it.”
The Trump administration told an overwhelming number of lies this week. Check out the ThinkProgress’ complete video roundup of the week’s lies and a few we thought really stood out:
- Chaos is “nice”: Trump has repeatedly insisted that “the ban” is not a Muslim ban (it is), and as protests were already fomenting last Saturday over unjust detainments, he insisted that the ban was “working out very nicely.” Later in the week, White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller similarly claimed that the only disruptions caused by the ban were those “created by protesters.”
- Two sizes too small: Kellyanne Conway defended the Muslim ban in an interview Saturday in which she claimed, “We’ve got the most generous immigration laws in the world, and we have big hearts as well.” Meanwhile, other countries were openly promising to welcome the refugees who would be denied entry to the U.S. by the executive order.
- By and large (and white nationalist): Asked about the near-universal criticism Trump has received from Jewish groups over the Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, Sean Spicer insisted that “by and large, he’s been praised for it,” defending that the president “went out of his way to recognize the Holocaust.” The only praise Trump has received has been from anti-Semites, and it certainly hasn’t been “by and large.”
- “An unbelievably qualified educator”: Defending Betsy DeVos’ nomination to be Secretary of Education, Sean Spicer called her “an unbelievably qualified educator and advocate for students, teachers, parent.” She has never taught and has no formal training in education whatsoever.
- Refugees are not illegal: In his attempts to substantiate his apparent hostility to Australia, Trump has repeatedly referred to the refugees President Obama agreed to accept as “illegal immigrants.” Refugees are arguably not immigrants at all until they resettle, and when they do, they are very much legal immigrants.
- Detainment, Schmetainment: The White House claims it’s no longer detaining anybody under the Muslim ban, but this is only because the administration doesn’t agree that it counts as detaining when people are held at airports for questioning.
- Alternative history: Kellyanne Conway defended the Muslim ban — and specifically the prohibition on refugees — by citing the “Bowling Green massacre,” an apparently horrific tragedy that never actually happened.
You may remember “Lyin’ Ted” and “Little Marco,” but this week President Trump devised a new, less-catchy nickname for someone he wanted to mock: Fake Tears Chuck Schumer.
The jab came after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) condemned Trump’s Muslim ban on Sunday, getting choked up as he described it as “mean-spirited and un-American.”
At a press conference Monday morning, Trump countered:
I noticed Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears. I’m going to ask him who is his acting coach, ’cause I know him. I don’t see him as crier. If he is, he’s a different man. There’s about a 5 percent chance it was real. But I think they were fake tears.
Schumer’s communications director, Matt House, derided the name-calling as a distraction from the “un-American, poorly put-together, and rushed executive order.”
But Trump’s acolytes were all too happy to pile on Schumer. Former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who supports the Muslim ban, insisted that Schumer didn’t show any emotion on 9/11. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich chastised Schumer for not crying over Americans who have been shot.
And Sean Spicer even defended Trump’s tweets at a press briefing. “Where’s Senator Schumer’s tears been for all the other problems that are going on in this country?” he asked, noting the many people struggling with homelessness and unemployment in Schumer’s state of New York. “It’s interesting that in eight years, with all the stuff that’s going on in this country in terms of crime and the economy, I haven’t seen too many tears come from Senator Schumer, so…”
Schumer’s cousin, comedian Amy Schumer, came to his defense on Instagram. “I know Chuck Schumer and HE CANNOT act trust me,” she wrote. “He can barely smile on cue. He can’t help but be transparent and genuine. He was hurt for those people and all the people facing such unconstitutional injustice.”
It’s been a dark week, y’all. And it’s easy to read through this wall of text and feel overwhelmed, alone, and powerless.
But one of the keys to resistance is resilience. There is strength in solidarity, and each march, rally, and protest is an opportunity for people to lift each other up. Those demonstrations send a message to our leaders, but through them, we also send a message to each other that we are not alone, and we stand together against the moral wrongs we see unfolding around us.
So this week, we leave you with a brief moment captured by our own Jack Jenkins at Dulles airport last weekend. As arriving passengers emerged from customs, they were greeted by roaring crowds assuring them that everybody, including those who are Muslim, are welcome in this country.