Here’s Every Action Trump Took In His Eleventh Unpresidented Week As POTUS


President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Just when you think there may be a week when things slow down…

President Trump’s eleventh week in office was consequential to say the least. This week gave us more conflicts than resolutions. More narratives than truth. And left us with more questions than answers.

Here is every action President Trump, and his administration, took during his eleventh week as President of the United States:

Eleventh Weekend (April 1–2)

The Alternative Narrative

Wax model of President Donald Trump stands near a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, displayed in the wax museum in Sofia, Bulgaria — Friday March 31, 2017 (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

No matter what President Trump does, the investigation into his campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 election hovers over him (We’ll simply call that Trump-Russia from here on out). It was no surprise when Trump started his eleventh weekend in office attempting to drive attention away from the Trump-Russia investigation.

President Trump then tweeted about a Fox News story that would evolve into the Susan Rice non-story that dominated headlines later in the week. This surveillance narrative, which started as the wiretapping lie, is Trump’s main attempt to drive the conversation away from Trump-Russia. More on that later.

  • Candidate Trump’s rhetoric is still haunting President Trump. A federal judge in Kentucky has ruled against throwing out a case alleging that Trump incited violence against protestors at a Louisville rally. Trump repeatedly yelled “get ’em out of here” before his supporters punched and shoved the protestors. The judge thinks there’s a case to made
  • The Daily Beast reported that Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn failed to disclose payments from the Russia Propaganda network RT:

Flynn, who left his White House post after less than a month, submitted a financial disclosure form in February that made no mention of a reported $45,000 payment from Russia Today, or RT, for a speech that Flynn gave at the network’s 10th anniversary gala.

  • On Friday, Federal Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel (remember him?) approved the $25 million settlement of the class-action fraud lawsuit against President Trump’s fake university, Trump University. A reminder that our president is guilty of fraud
  • President Trump spent his 9th consecutive week at a Trump owned property, hitting the golf course with Senator Rand Paul

Eleventh Week (April 3–7)

Monday April 3

The Conflicted

Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Remember when President Trump announced he would handle his conflicts of interest by putting his assets in a trust ran by his sons? If that wasn’t problematic enough, a new development made matters even worse. One of the stories that didn’t get nearly enough attention this week was the ProPublica report that revealed President Trump’s trust is set up in a way that allows him to remove money and other assets from at any time he sees fit. And here’s the kicker: Trump can do this without disclosing the transactions. Trump can essentially withdraw profits from his hundreds of businesses that operate around the globe at any time he pleases. Trump’s ties to his businesses are a big deal. Not only because it creates countless opportunities for Trump to violate the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, but because his closest confidantes have substantial stakes in those businesses (Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump) and have now undertaken influential roles in his administration. What will President Trump do when presented with a decision that benefits America but negatively affects his businesses?

  • President Trump signed a repeal to an Obama-era privacy rule that would require Internet Service Providers to request permission before selling their customer’s private data. This rule hadn’t been put into place yet so we didn’t lose any existing protections, just lost some we were about to gain
  • Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law, visited Iraq to assess the battle against ISIS. It’s important to note that he visited the nation before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has. Also, The New York Times reported that Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai has established a back channel with Kushner. These developments, along with Kushner’s other dabbles into foreign policy, lead many to wonder if Kushner is the de facto Secretary of State
  • The Washington Post reported that, “The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials”
  • President Trump met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the authoritarian leader of Egypt. During the meeting he praised el-Sisi, marking a distinct shift in US foreign policy. The US now doesn’t condemn authoritarian leaders like el-Sisi
  • On Monday, Fox News published a story claiming that Obama’s former national security advisor (NSA) Susan Rice, requested that members of Trump’s transition team be unmasked. Many pointed to this as a non-story, seeing how Susan Rice was acting NSA at the time and this was within her duties. It was also indicative of potential nefarious contacts between the Trump transition team and foreigners of interest. Despite this, President Trump doubled down on his alternative narrative, trying unsuccessfully to distract from Trump-Russia

Tuesday April 4

The Chemical Attack

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (Reuters)

On Tuesday, President Bashar al-Assad launched the worst chemical gas attack in years on Syria’s Idlib province. It left 85 dead and scores injured. The footage and images of the horrific attack left the world stunned. President Trump directly blamed the Syrian government for the attack. Trump also turned blame on the Obama administration for not enforcing the “red line” Obama set against Assad in 2013. This attack would set off the chain of events that led to defining moment of this week, and perhaps Trump’s young presidency.

  • North Korea again launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a very short response:

“North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment”

  • Buzzfeed News reported that former Trump adviser Carter Page met with a Russian spy in New York City in 2013, furthering the ever deepening rabbit hole of Carter Page’s suspicious ties to Russia
  • “The State Department on Monday officially cut off funding to a United Nations agency that works on maternal and reproductive health, a policy shift experts and activists say will be a major blow to women worldwide.”
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a sweeping review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies
  • President Trump and members of the GOP continued to press their alternative narrative, urging investigators to look into Obama surveillance of Trump’s team

Wednesday April 5

The Shake Up

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon stares at President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington — Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump began this day of shake ups with his staff. Chief Strategist Steve Bannon was removed from his role on the National Security Council and national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford were returned to their previous roles on the principals committee. The removal indicated a shift in Trump’s approach to governing, and a reduction of Bannon’s power within the administration. It also indicated National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster’s newfound pull.

  • President Trump held a joint press conference with Jordanian King Abdullah II. At this press conference, he was asked whether or not Assad’s chemical attacks crossed a “red line” for him. This was his response:

“It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal … that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. Many, many lines”

This was a stark shift in rhetoric and shake up in the administration’s approach to Syria, who just a week earlier appeared to be completely fine with Bashar al-Assad staying in power. Trump asserted that something had to be done about it. Russia was notably missing from Trump’s condemnation of the attacks. Meanwhile, Ambassador Nicki Haley delivered a forceful statement to the UN security council, condemning both the Assad regime and Russia.

  • Moments before heading out to that press conference, President Trump continued his efforts to push the alternative narrative of surveillance. Trump told The New York Times in the Oval Office that Susan Rice may have committed a crime while seeking the identities of his associates

Thursday April 6

The Strike

President Donald Trump receives a briefing on the Syria military strike from his National Security team after the strike at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday night, April 6, 2017. (White House via AP)

On Thursday night, after just the day before shifting tone towards Syria, the Trump administration took swift action. President Trump, while at Mar-a-Lago with Chinese President Xi Jinping, ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles on the Syrian regime’s Shayrat airbase. This was in retaliation to the Assad regime’s chemical attack. The administration signaled that it was a “one-off” attack, but they would be willing to do more if necessary. Over the course of the next 24 hours, what appeared at first as decisive retaliation, raised questions and countless suspicions.

  • Senate Republicans triggered the nuclear option, breaking the Democratic filibuster on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch and changing the Senate rules
  • After criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and tons of sketchy behavior, Rep. Devin Nunes temporarily recused himself from leading the House Intelligence Committee’s Trump-Russia investigation
  • Reports of Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner clashing in the White House surfaced, highlighting the battle between the conflicting ideologies within the administration
  • Trump’s EPA is moving to dismantle programs that protect kids from lead paint — The Washington Post
  • Twitter sued the Trump administration after they tried to request the unmasking of a Twitter account critical of Trump. The Trump admin later dropped the request, and Twitter revoked the lawsuit
  • President Trump told reporters on Air Force One “I think we’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency.” It’s only been 11 weeks…

Friday April 7

The Aftermath

President Donald Trump (Rantt Illustration)

On Friday, the circumstances surrounding the strike on Syria became clearer. Before the attack was launched, the US informed Russia in advance, who then made a call to the Assad regime. This allowed the Syrian military to mobilize their aircraft and minimize the damage. This was apparent the following day, as two jets took off from the targeted airbase, the Syrian military was seen carrying out airstrikes, their chemical stockpile went undamaged. ABC News reports:

According to one U.S. official, initial assessments indicate that up to 20 Syrian aircraft were destroyed after the U.S. hit Syria’s al Shayrat airbase with more than 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles Thursday. However, the runway — as well as storage areas suspected to contain chemical weapons — remained untouched.

This lack of damage led many to wonder why the Trump administration would warn the Russian’s ahead of time if their intention was to inflict maximum damage. This appeared to be a bit of orchestrated political theater, on the part of Russia and Trump. President Trump took to Twitter to deflect some of the criticism, and defend his decision not to strike the runway.

The Strike On Syria Was Either Hastily Planned, Or Very Cynically Orchestrated

  • Russia then condemned the strike and suspended air operation cooperation with the US
  • To add fuel to the talk of divisions within the White House and future staff shake ups, Axios reported:

“President Trump is considering a broad shakeup of his White House that could include the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the departure of chief strategist Steve Bannon, aides and advisers tell us.”

  • Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate as the 113th Supreme Court justice, creating a 5–4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court
  • After a week which ended with a strike on Syria, President Trump embarked on yet another weekend on the golf course

This week, President Trump’s conflicts of interest became central pillars of his administration, he continued his efforts to distract from Trump-Russia, and he contradicted his non-interventionist campaign rhetoric. Whatever strategy Trump implements in Syria moving forward, his actions will have broad ramifications in the region.

At the end of it all, many questions remain.

Was President Trump’s strike on Syria meant to inflict damage on the Assad regime’s capabilities?

Was it meant to send a message?

Or was the whole debacle a bit of orchestrated theater?

Only time, and good journalism, will tell.

Unpresidented // Donald Trump / Government / Journalism / Politics