A Complete Analysis & Guide To Every Day Of Trump’s Presidency

Photos from AP, Creative Commons, and by Jacob Morch on Unsplash.

A Complete Analysis & Guide To Every Day Of Trump’s Presidency

I documented every day of Trump's presidency. Here’s a summary of these chaotic four years and an index linking to analysis covering every day.

Trump’s first major typo after winning the election was spelling Unprecedented incorrectly. He infamously tweeted “Unpresidented.” This typo is emblematic of his administration: An impulsive, unprepared, frantically thrown together group of characters with virtually no oversight.

After Trump was sworn in, I started writing my weekly “Unpresidented” column, analyzing every week of his presidency for the historical record. 208 weeks (1,461 days) and thousands of cups of coffee later, and here we are. This is the culmination of four years of work. Below you’ll find a summary of America’s experience during the Trump presidency, and contemporaneous analysis of every week linked in a clickable database. I hope when reading this, you learn as much as I did when writing it so we can move forward more equipped to tackle the challenges we face.

Read the 4-year summary below first or jump to the index:

4 years ago, I started documenting every day of Donald Trump’s presidency. Days after my 24th birthday, Trump began his term by standing on the Capitol building steps, draped in red curtains, warning of “American Carnage.” It turns out that was not a warning. It was a promise. By the end of his presidency, Trump would be a twice impeached, one-term, historically unpopular president who failed to contain a deadly pandemic and incited a deadly insurrection against that very same Capitol building. But this time, it was draped in Trump flags with a noose hanging nearby as the symbol of a Confederate resurgence. One thing is certain: Donald J. Trump will be remembered as the worst President in American history.

Before we dive in, let’s look at Trump’s presidency from a bird’s eye view and through the objective lens of history. On the final day of Trump’s presidency, America surpassed over 400,000 deaths from a pandemic that his negligence allowed to run rampant. The unemployment rate when Trump entered office was 4.7%. It’s at 6.7% as he leaves. The US deficit was at $584B when Trump entered office and is at $3.3T as he leaves. While the Dow did see a gain from 19,827 to 30,814, it was disconnected from the economic recession. Trump is the first President in the history of polling to never rise above a 50% Gallup approval rating, and he also has the lowest polling average of any President. According to The Washington Post, President Trump has told over 30,000 lies, including the Big Lie that the election was stolen – a lie that would lead to an attempted overthrow of American democracy by his own supporters.

The path to this climactic moment was riddled with disinformation, distraction, and egomaniacal depravity. Future history students will read about this era and wonder how it happened. For those paying attention, how Trump’s presidency ended was no more surprising than how it started. Trump’s first week in office unleashed a whirlwind of cruelty and chaos, sending US agencies and airports around the country into a frenzy with his Muslim immigration bad. I felt the whiplash of that week warranted some day-to-day tracking. Little did I know it was the beginning of my journey analyzing a presidency that would consume the next four years of my life, test the guardrails of our democracy, and take America to the brink of authoritarianism.

While at times it felt like I was documenting the fall of Rome, it became clear it was something else entirely. This era was about more than a power-hungry con man who, with the help of his sycophants and radicalized supporters, sought to end American democracy as we know it. With each cruel and corrupt action taken by Trump, there was an equal and opposite reaction taken by his patriotic opposition. Throughout his presidency, Trump sparked a political reawakening we haven’t seen since the 1960s. Trump made America great again, but not in the ways he intended. This is also the story of the people who resisted and, in the end, won.

In spite of what his supporters might say, Donald Trump has only one talent. It’s not “branding” or “showmanship” or any other buzzword that’s been attributed to him. Trump’s appeal has always come down to his ability to identify and shamelessly exploit the weaknesses in people, cultures, and systems. From his fraudulent business career to his candidacy to his presidency, Trump tapped into the darkest corners of the American psyche and brought them out into the forefront. Trump didn’t break America; he took advantage of its existing fractures and deepened them. Trump served as a mirror the country could peer into and see its flaws laid bare.

Since he first entered the political world with his birtherism lie about President Obama, Trump used racism to build off of the Republican Party’s decades-long Southern Strategy. Trump took advantage of the disinformation age built by irresponsible social media companies and America’s ineffective education system to cultivate an alternate reality for his supporters. After taking control of the GOP base, Trump recognized that he could exploit the Republican Party’s sole priority of maintaining power to get away with everything. Trump seized on the fact most of the mechanisms that contain presidential power are either fragile “norms” that depend on a president’s character or checks that are reliant on a legislative branch that was tainted by partisanship. If just a few dozen people had made different decisions when Trump was trying to contest the election results, he may have pulled his coup off.

As I reviewed my own work over the past four years in the process of writing this summary of his presidency, I saw how Trump crossed new lines each week, seeking to normalize his corruption and fatigue Americans with chaos. While each move fired up his base of supporters, it also galvanized a majority of Americans against him. This would lead them to vote in such overwhelming numbers that no amount of voter suppression or efforts to steal the election could prevent his defeat.

Candidate Trump announced his candidacy, declaring that he would stop the “rapist” Mexicans from entering the United States. He promised to ban Muslims. He sought to fear-monger and divide at every juncture. Trump governed in the same way. Much like his other Republican presidents who incorporated the Southern Strategy into their messaging, Trump scapegoated people of color for the plight of poor white people. Throughout his presidency, racism seeped into all his actions. From his cruel migrant family separation policy to his coddling of white supremacists at Charlottesville to his brutalization of racial justice protestors, it was clear that Trump sought to be the ideological heir to Confederacy.

Like all authoritarians, Trump made the truth his first target. Trump started by smearing mainstream media as “fake news” so none of his supporters would believe what real news sources told them. Then, with the help of right-wing propaganda networks Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax, Trump gaslighted the Republican base into an alternate reality. Trump has lied more than any president in recorded history, and yet his followers see only his word as truth. Trump spread dangerous conspiracy theories like QAnon and used them as a weapon against his perceived enemies. Trump eroded trust in American democracy to the point that a majority of Republicans don’t believe Biden legitimately won the election, leading to an insurrection that ensured this was not a peaceful transition of power. This war on truth has been one of the most damaging effects of his presidency.

With his base of supporters not believing anything that credible source told them, Trump was able to get away with a stunning level of corruption. Once in office, Trump immediately sought to obstruct the Russia probe into his collaboration with Russia in the 2016 election, firing FBI Director James Comey and proceeding to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe that followed. The chief tool in Trump’s authoritarian toolbox was Attorney General William Barr, who would lie about the Mueller report and protect him from accountability. On the day after the final Mueller hearing, Trump took this as a green light to launch the Ukraine extortion scheme that would result in his first impeachment. Trump also spent his presidency siphoning taxpayer dollars into his companies, taking foreign emoluments, and protecting his cronies from criminal liability. Every step of the way, right-wing media defended him. One has to wonder if Richard Nixon would’ve kept power if there was no Fairness Doctrine and he had Fox News.

All of Trump’s corrupt acts and moves to undermine democracy at home hurt America’s image abroad. Trump’s isolationist “America First” approach to foreign policy made us withdraw from the world stage and resulted in “America Alone.” Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, World Health Organization, and other multilateral agreements like the TPP created a global leadership vacuum that paved the way for China to fill it. Trump constantly attacked America’s allies and cozied up to dictators like Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin, North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Trump’s emulation of those dictators that he so clearly adores has weakened America’s standing abroad.

We can’t talk about Trump’s presidency without discussing those who enabled it. While many say the Republican Party “sacrificed their principles” by enabling Trump, the truth is much worse. They revealed that they never had any principles in the first place. From the Access Hollywood tape where Trump bragged about sexual assault to his elections lies that led to an insurrection, Republicans defended Trump every step of the way. With the exception of Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), they voted to acquit him after he extorted Ukraine in an effort to smear his political opponent. It wasn’t until their own lives were threatened by Trump’s depravity at the insurrection that some, certainly not all, Republicans condemned him. But even then, 147 Republican lawmakers still voted to object to Biden’s win, cementing their descent from the party of Lincoln to the party of Trump and QAnon. There must be atonement and accountability before there can be unity after this betrayal.

On the other side of this amoral sycophancy was a coalition of decent people who stood firmly against Trump’s wannabe dictatorship. Trump’s inauguration triggered one of the biggest protests in American history with the Women’s March. This was followed by a wave of women running for and winning office, leading to the historic 2018 midterms with Democrats winning back control of the House. We saw a wave of activism from the Parkland teenagers who led the March for Our Lives against gun violence to the largest Civil Rights demonstrations in history after George Floyd’s murder. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris tapped into this energy and presented plans that supported activists and the everyday concerns of all Americans, while Trump was lying about voter fraud. This culminated in the Republican Party losing both the Senate and the White House in 2020.

As I’ve written in each yearly edition of Unpresidented, the beauty of America is that despite who we were as a country yesterday or who we are today, we as a people have the power to decide who we will be tomorrow. With the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, we’ve decided to be better than Donald Trump’s distorted vision of America. But the fight is far from over. Systemic racism, the disinformation age, and right-wing extremism still run rampant, and we have broader challenges facing humanity like climate change to address. Trump’s authoritarianism failed because he’s simple-minded, shortsighted, and incompetent. We shouldn’t let our guard down so we can prevent a smarter authoritarian from co-opting Trump’s tactics more effectively.

Before we can grow, we must look back at the flaws in America Trump’s presidency highlighted. This new era is a New Reconstruction. This time, we need to get it right. What follows is an index of contemporaneous articles analyzing every week and documenting every day of the entire Trump presidency. It’s been a pleasure navigating this with you all. Now, let’s learn, move forward, and work to build a more perfect union.

Here’s an Unpresidented four years:

Moments like these require unrelenting truthtelling. We take pride in being reader-funded. If you like our work, support our journalism by joining our private forum.

Year Two: Weeks 53-104
Week 53: January 21-26
Week 54: January 27-February 2
Week 55: February 3-9
Week 56: February 10-16
Week 57: February 17-23
Week 58: February 24-March 2
Week 59: March 3-9
Week 60: March 10-16
Week 61: March 17-24
Week 62: March 25-30
Week 63: March 31-April 6
Week 64: April 7-13
Week 65: April 14-20
Week 66: April 21-27
Week 67: April 28-May 4
Week 68: May 5-11
Week 69: May 12-20
Week 70: May 21-25
Week 71: May 26-June 3
Week 72: June 4-8
Week 73: June 9-17
Week 74: June 18-24
Week 75: June 25-July 1
Week 76: July 2-8
Week 77: July 9-15
Week 78: July 16-22
Week 79: July 23-29
Week 80: July 30-August 5
Week 81: August 6-12
Week 82: August 13-19
Week 83: August 20-25
Week 84: August 25-31
Week 85: September 1-9
Week 86: September 10-16
Week 87: September 17-23
Week 88: September 24-30
Week 89: October 1-7
Week 90: October 8-14
Week 91: October 15-21
Week 92: October 22-28
Week 93: October 29-November 4
Week 94: November 5-12
Week 95: November 13-18
Week 96: November 19-25
Week 97: November 26-December 2
Week 98: December 3-9
Week 99: December 10-16
Week 100: December 17-24
Week 101: December 25-31
Week 102: January 1-6 
Week 103: January 7-13
Week 104: January 14-20
Year Four: Weeks 157-208
Week 157: January 20-26
Week 158: January 27-February 2
Week 159: February 3-9
Week 160: February 10-16
Week 161: February 17-23
Week 162: February 24-March 1
Week 163: March 2-8
Week 164: March 9-15
Week 165: March 16-22
Week 166: March 23-29
Week 167: March 30-April 5
Week 168: April 6-12
Week 169: April 13-19
Week 170: April 20-26
Week 171: April 27-May 3
Week 172: May 4-10
Week 173: May 11-17
Week 174: May 18-25
Week 175: May 26-31
Week 176: June 1-June 7
Week 177: June 8-14
Week 178: June 15-21
Week 179: June 22-28
Week 180: June 29-July 5
Week 181: July 6-12
Week 182: July 13-19
Week 183: July 20-26
Week 184: July 27-August 2
Week 185: August 3-9
Week 186: August 10-16
Week 187: August 17-23
Week 188: August 24-31
Week 189: September 1-7
Week 190: September 8-13
Week 191: September 14-20
Week 192: September 21-27
Week 193: September 28-October 4
Week 194: October 5-11
Week 195: October 12-18
Week 196: October 19-25
Week 197: October 26-November 1
Week 198: November 2-8
Week 199: November 9-15
Week 200: November 16-22
Week 201: November 23-29
Week 202: November 30-December 6
Week 203: December 7-13
Week 204: December 14-20
Week 205: December 21-27
Week 206: December 28-January 3
Week 207: Jauary 4-10
Week 208: January 11-19

Moments like these require unrelenting truthtelling. We take pride in being reader-funded. If you like our work, support our journalism by joining our private forum.

Unpresidented // Authoritarianism / Democratic Party / Donald Trump / Republican Party