Tuesday, December 6, 2016

March 28, 2017

Welcome! This blog tracks the progress, detours and dead ends taken by President Trump toward fulfilling his 50 most important 2016 campaign promises. The blog has three sections:

1.      Trump campaign promises in the news 
2.      SCOREBOARD: Quick summary of which promises have been kept and which have been dropped
3.      The 50 Campaign Promises – details on each of the promises, their current status and recent commentary from pundits and politicians
If you would like to be notified when I update the blog, please follow me on Twitter @raygiles1.
Ray Giles, Blog Editor
To see my 2016 campaign blog, go to: https://2016presidentialcampaignpredictions.wordpress.com/

Friday, December 2, 2016

Trump Campaign Promises in the News

3/27 – The Associated Press and Bloomberg re. Promises #35 (Gut the EPA) and #20 (Bring back the coal industry):

President Donald Trump in the coming days will sign a new executive order that unravels his predecessor’s sweeping plan to curb global warming, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt said the executive order will undo the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, an environmental regulation that restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Pruitt said Trump’s intention is to bring back coal-mining jobs and reduce the cost of electricity.

President Trump’s long-awaited executive order also is slated to compel Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to lift a moratorium on the sale of new coal leases on federal land.

3/26 – Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press re. Promises #21, 23 and 24 (Tax cuts and reform):

House Republicans’ failure to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law deals a serious blow to another big part of President Donald Trump’s agenda: tax reform.

The GOP health plan would have repealed nearly $1 trillion in taxes enacted under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The bill coupled the tax cuts with spending cuts for Medicaid, so it wouldn’t add to the budget deficit. (Editor’s note: The bill would have reduced the deficit by $150 to $330 billion.)

Without the spending cuts, it will be much harder for Republicans to cut taxes without adding to the federal government’s red ink.

House Republicans have released a blueprint that outlines their goals for tax a tax overhaul.  It would lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, and reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three.

On the corporate side, the plan would repeal the 35 percent corporate income tax and replace it with a 20 percent tax on profits from selling imports and domestically produced goods and services consumed in the U.S.

(Under the rules of the Senate) every tax cut has to be offset by a similar tax increase or a spending cut.  That’s why the loss on health care was so damaging to the effort to overhaul taxes.

3/27 – Nancy Gibbs, Editor, Time Magazine re. Trump Campaign Promises

During the 2016 campaign, 70% of the Trump statements reviewed by PolitiFact were false, 4% were entirely true, 11% mostly true.  Voters were not deceived: nearly two thirds said that Trump was not trustworthy, including nearly a third of the people who voted for him anyway. Dishonesty in a candidate, far from being disqualifying, became a badge of “disruption.”

Note from blog editor: After 67 days in office, President Trump has kept one of the 50 promises this blog is tracking and has dropped ten.  See Scoreboard below.

3/25 – From Politico.com’s PLAYBOOK re. Promises # 21, 23 and 24 (Tax reform):

-- TAX REFORM IS NOT EASIER THAN HEALTH CARE! It might be simpler for the New York, Wall Street-centric Trump administration to understand, because many of them have spent time in finance. But, in Washington, it’s actually harder. First of all, Congress has hardly started the tax reform process. There is deep disagreement among Republicans on the Hill, and between the Hill and the administration. For example, the House -- particularly Speaker Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady -- are hell bent on a border-adjustment tax to help pay for lower rates. Figures in the Trump administration staunchly disagree.

There’s absolutely no consensus plan as of now. And the lobbyists have hardly started pounding the pavement. But when they do, there will be millions in advocacy from every business interest in the United States. In fact, because of arcane rules, Republicans don’t even know how they’ll move the legislation. We’re not saying it won’t get done. But it’s not the walk in the park that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants you to think it is.

-- A WORD FROM THE HILL: The Trump administration is chattering about taking the policy lead on tax reform -- coming up with a plan, and telling Congress to pass it. According to the aides and lawmakers we’ve spoken to, that would be a mistake. Congress doesn’t take orders well.

3/25 – Los Angeles Times re. Promise #16 (Create 25 million jobs):

More than a third of U.S. jobs could be at “high risk” of automation y the early 2030’s, a percentage that’s greater than in Britain, Germany and Japan, according to a report released Friday.

The analysis, by accounting and consulting firm PwC, emphasized that its estimates are based on the anticipated capabilities of robotics and artificial intelligence, and that the pace and direction of technological progress are “uncertain.”

The report says the financial and insurance sector has much higher possibility of automation in the U.S. than in Britain.  That’s because, it says, American finance workers are less educated than British ones.

Other industries are risk include hospitality and food service and transportation and storage.

Analysts have said truck driving may be the first form of driving in the U.S. to be fully automated.


Status of the 50 Campaign Promises

"The era of empty talk is over. It's over."
                                                                                    President Donald Trump
                                                                                    February 24, 2017

😀  Promises kept:

#1 (Build the Wall) - first steps taken,   #9 (Extreme Vetting) - first steps taken#12 (Withdraw from TPP) - completed,  #17 (Bring jobs back) - first steps taken,  #18 (Dodd-Frank) - first step taken,  #29 (Cheerleader for school choice) - first steps taken,  #35 (Gut the EPA) - first steps taken,  #38 (Strengthen military) - first step taken

😠  Promises dropped:

#2 (Mexico pays for Wall),  #4 (Replace Obamacare with something better),  #5, (Deport "Dreamers"),  #7 (Deport 11 million illegals),  #31 (Get rid of gun-free zones),  #45 (Revive waterboarding), #48 (Lock her up!),  #49 (Drain the Swamp) and  #50 (Release tax returns)

😯 Promises rejected:

#3 (Repeal Obamacare) - Trump/Ryan bill rejected by Republicans in House,  #8 (Ban Muslims) and #10 (Bar Syrians) - executive orders for both now under federal court restraining order,  #34 (Defund Planned Parenthood) - Trump/Ryan bill rejected by Republicans in House

😱  Promises being reconsidered: 

#22 (Big tax cuts for middle class),  #27 (Eliminate natl. debt),  #33 (fire VA leaders),  #40 (Allow Russia to deal with ISIS in Syria),  #44 (Move embassy to Jerusalem),  #46 (Bomb ISIS) and  #47 (Take Iraq's oil)

See "Donald Trump's 50 Most Important Campaign Promises"
below for more details on each of the promises cited above. 

We must not promise what we ought not,

lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.

Abraham Lincoln



Sunday, November 20, 2016

Donald Trump’s 50 Most Important

Campaign Promises

Their current status and have they been kept?

Table of Contents

1. Build Wall on Southern Border
2. Repeal and Replace Obamacare
3. Immigration Issues
4. International Trade
5. Economy/Jobs
6. Tax Policies
7. Domestic Policies
8. US Military
9. International Relations
10. War on Terrorism
11. Miscellaneous

Build Wall on Southern Border 

1.      Build "a great, great" wall along Mexican border STATUS - first steps take

2.      …And have Mexico pay for it   STATUS - PROMISE DROPPED

Background: Trump vowed from the beginning of his campaign to "build a great, great wall on our southern border" and "have Mexico pay for that wall." The Trump campaign estimated the cost of the wall would be $12 billion. Currently, one-third of the 1,954-mile border has been fenced or walled off.

Current status:  On January 25, President Trump signed an executive action calling for "the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border" and vowed that construction on the project would begin in months.  Construction industry analysts have said the project could cost up to $20 billion. The GOP leadership in Congress has been working on a plan to fund the wall through the appropriations process. But, on February 3, CNN reported that "A growing number of congressional Republicans are objecting to the cost and viability of a proposal that was a rallying cry for the billionaire businessman during his insurgent campaign." The network quoted Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski: "If you're going to spend that kind of money, you're going to have to show me where you're going to get that money."   On February 10, Reuters reported the wall would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct, based on a U.S. Department of Homeland Security internal report.

As to Trump's promise that Mexico would pay for whatever barrier is built, President Trump and the Mexican president had a public spat the week after the Trump inauguration over who will and who won't pay for the wall.  After cancelling a face-to-face on the topic due to the disagreement, they agreed during a subsequent private phone call to "work these differences out as part of a comprehensive discussion on all aspects of the bilateral relationship" and to "not speak publicly about this controversial theme." 

Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the press on January 26 that the President supports a tax on imports from Mexico to pay for the wall.   "If you tax that $50 billion (trade deficit) at 20 percent of imports - which is by the way a practice that 160 other countries do - right now our country's policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous.  By doing it, we can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone.  That's really going to provide the funding." Experts, however, say a tariff on imports from Mexico would, in effect, put the burden of paying for the wall on American consumers.  Edward Alden, a trade expert at the Council on Foreign Relations said, "The notion that a 20% tariff is a way of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall, it's just a falsehood.  It's a way of forcing American consumers to pay for the wall."

President Trump on February 11 tweeted that the $21.6 billion price tag on the Wall is overblown and that "I have not gotten involved in the design or negotiations yet. Price will come WAY DOWN!" (He didn't indicate whether a reduction of the cost will be a benefit to the American taxpayer or to Mexico who, as he originally promised, would pay the tab.) On February 16 at a press conference, Trump again told reporters he would negotiate to get the price down.  He did not say, "and Mexico will pay for it." In fact, the President mentioned Mexico ten times during the press conference but not once in relation to the Wall.  On February 24, President Trump spoke at the annual meeting of CPAC and promised that the wall would go up "soon, way ahead of schedule."  He vowed to always put American citizens first and build a "great, great border wall."  He did not say Mexico would pay for the wall. On March 16, President Trump released his 2017 budget outline, which includes $2.6 billion for building the "big, beautiful wall."

     Repeal and Replace Obamacare 

      3.   Ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare STATUS -  Trump/Ryan bill rejected by Republicans in House

      4.   And replace it with something "so much better" STATUS - PROMISED DROPPED

Background: Trump promised to repeal President Obama’s signature health care law on Day One (also "immediately" and "very, very quickly") of his administration, including the individual mandate.  Americans, he promised, will have "great health care at a fraction of the cost." He has also promised to preserve key aspects of the law, including refusing to allow insurers to deny coverage because of preexisting conditions. He has also promised to maintain the portion of the law that allows adults and children under 26 to be covered on their parents' plans.  "Everybody's got to be covered," he told 60 Minutes on September 27, 2015.  "I'm going to take care of everybody.  I don't care if it costs me votes or not.  Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now."   And in January, Trump promised, "We're going to have a health care that is far less expensive and far better. Ok." He told the Washington Post that he will provide "insurance for everybody." On March 15, Tucker Carlson on Fox News told President Trump that the current House legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare (scheduled to be voted on by the full House March 23) does not favor the voters who elected Trump but that the tax cuts that are part of the bill will benefit those who voted for Hillary Clinton.  "I know that, I know," Trump replied, promising to negotiate a better bill. "We will take care of our people or I'm not signing it." 

Current status: On March 6, House Speaker Ryan and the Republican leadership introduced draft legislation to replace Obamacare. Vice President Mike Pence said, "This is the bill and the President supports (it)." President Trump called it "wonderful" and said, "I'm proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives."  Secretary of Heath and Human Services Tom Price, a vocal critic of Obamacare, termed it a "work in progress."  Several Republican senators and congressmen and conservative interest groups panned the legislation and predicted it would never pass. Some even called it "Obamacare lite." Also opposing the legislation is AARP, AMA, and hospital groups. "Although no one believes the current health care system is perfect," said Nancy LeaMond, AARP's executive vice president, "this harmful legislation would make health care less secure and less affordable." On March 7, S & P Global Ratings issued a report estimating that six to 10 million Americans would lose health insurance coverage under the proposed House bill. The report also stated there would be a decline of between four and six million who would be dropped from the Medicaid system. According to a CNN Money story dated March 9, tax cuts associated with the GOP replacement bill will generate a windfall for the richest Americans.  "Nearly everyone in the Top 1%, who earn more than $774,000 a year, would enjoy a hefty tax cut, averaging $33,000, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.  Those in the Top .1% would get an average tax cut of about $197,000." Edward D. Kleinbard, a professor at the University of Southern California law school and former chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation, said, "Repeal-and-replace is a gigantic transfer of wealth from the lowest-income Americans to the highest-income Americans." On March 10, The Hill reported Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price claiming, "We don't believe that individuals will lose coverage at all, so long as they're able to select the kind of plan that they want for themselves and for their family."  On March 13, the Congressional Budget Office announced that roughly 24 million more people would be uninsured over the next ten years if the House Republican Obamacare repeal bill is enacted.  The legislation, the CBO analysis shows, would lead to 14 million more people being uninsured by 2018. The Los Angeles Times reported March 14 that the White House has shifted away from President Trump's stated goal of providing "insurance for everybody" to instead claiming the House GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare offers "more people the option to get healthcare." On March 19, NYMag.com reported that the House bill will "most benefit the young and middle-income urban elites, who voted for Hillary Clinton.  But it just hammers the older, rural working-class who backed Trump." On March 25, Speaker Ryan and President Trump pulled their Obamacare repeal and replace bill from the House after Republican members declined to support the legislation. 

Trump tells a little white lie...Hours after the President and House Speaker withdrew their bill from consideration by the House, the President held a press conference and announced he's only been in office 64 days. "I never said repeal and replace Obamacare within 64 days - you've all heard my speeches - I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days."  Actually, he did.  On the campaign trail he promised voters repeatedly that, if elected, he'd repeal and replace Obamacare "very, very quickly" and "immediately."


Immigration Issues 

     5. Cancel two key Obama executive actions on immigration - STATUS - DROPPED PROMISES TO END DACA AND DAPA

Background:   Trump promised to rescind Obama’s immigration executive orders, terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) "immediately." Undoing DACA, which deferred deportation and allowed immigrants to apply for work permission, would make undocumented people who arrived in the United States as children - "Dreamers" - subject to deportation. Trump also promised to eliminate Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents or DAPA, an expanded version of DACA proposed by Obama in 2014. That program, which applies to some 5 million people, is on hold due to a Supreme Court deadlock.

Update: At a February 16 press conference, President Trump backed away from reversing President Obama's DACA orders.  "DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me," Trump conceded, promising to address the issue "with heart.  It's one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids." Republican strategists are concerned that suspending DACA could energize Latino activists in key congressional districts during the 2018 midterm elections. "If he repeals DACA, people will start screaming at him," said Alfonzo Aguilar, a Republican strategist.  On February 17, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he agrees with the President that the so-called "Dreamers" should not face deportation.  "I'm very sympathetic with these situations, with these young people who were brought here at a tender age."  On February 21, CNN reported the Department of Homeland Security had laid out plans today for "aggressive enforcement of immigrations laws" that did not include dismantling the DACA or DAPA programs.  "No. 1," said a department official, "none of this affects DACA.  No. 2, none of this affects DAPA/expanded DACA."

Conservative commentary:  From Daniel Horowitz at Conservative ReviewThe two biggest rallying cries against Obama's imperial presidency in recent years have been 'repeal Obamacare' and 'repeal Obama's illegal executive amnesty.'  Conservatives swore to ourselves that if we ever got back into the White House those two odious policies were as good as dead.  As we've chronicled in this column, repeal of Obamacare is already on the ropes.  If Obama's amnesty is not repealed administratively in short order, it will represent a colossal betrayal of Trump's basic campaign promise and set a terrible precedent for an imperial presidency.

     6.      End birthright citizenship

Background:  Under law, U.S. citizenship is granted anyone born in the U.S.  (Approximately 7.5% of all births in the U.S. are to illegal immigrants.) Since the adoption of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1868, the citizenship of persons born in the U.S. has been controlled by its Citizenship Clause.  It is not clear whether an act of Congress or an amendment to the Constitution would be required to change birthright citizen.

7.     Deport the almost 11 million immigrants illegally living in the United States  STATUS - PROMISE DROPPED

Background:  The wall is just one piece of Trump’s immigration policy that defined his campaign since the very beginning. He also pledged to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, something that experts have predicted is nearly impossible. He also promised to deport undocumented immigrants in U.S. on expired visas. Trump has explained that he would do this by having “the greatest deportation force” imaginable and tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. 

Current status: Trump shifted on the issue repeatedly, taking 18 different stances on immigration during his campaign, but never disavowed his initial plan.  The president-elect has indicated he will move forward with efforts to deport criminals - two to three million, he claims - and decide later about the others. "We will begin moving them out on day one," he told a campaign rally in August, 2016.  "Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone." On February 12, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials held numerous immigration crackdowns across the U.S. The president tweeted out that ICE actions was "merely the keeping of my campaign promise." ICE reported on February 17 that it had made 683 arrests of mostly criminal illegal immigrants, or those with multiple cases against them illegally crossing the border.  ICE tweeted that it rounded up over 350 percent more during one sweep under President Obama. On February 21, the Department of Homeland Security laid out the Trump administration's plans for aggressive enforcement of existing immigration laws. DHS officials also said the policies mostly enforce existing law and won't lead to immediate massive round-ups of undocumented immigrants but that while serious criminals will continue to be the top target for immigration officers, the Trump priorities will be greatly expanded to include immigrants charged with minor crimes as well, including those who have "abused" public benefits,  drive without a license, misrepresented themselves or "in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security."  The plan also includes hiring 10,000 new immigration officers. On February 23, John Kelly, the head of the Department of Homeland Security announced, "Let me be clear, there will be no mass deportations, everything we do in DHS will be done legally. The focus of deportation will be on the criminal element, all of this will be done in close coordination with Mexico."

Benchmarks: A University of Syracuse study in December, 2016 showed that almost 680,000 federal charges against immigrants in the country illegally were filed in the last eight years, up from about 287,000 under President George W. Bush. In the first seven years in office, the Obama administration deported 2.5 million people, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The Department also reported in December that Border Patrol agents apprehended about 39,000 people trying to illegally cross the California border from Mexico in 2015, down by 510,000 - or 93% - from 1996. According to the Pew Research Center, from 2009 to 2014, more Mexicans left the U.S. than came north.

      8. Temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States  STATUS - Partially completely, not all Muslims - (as of March 16, two federal courts have issued a restraining order on the President's executive order)

Background: In December, 2015, the Trump campaign released the following statement: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Current status: The President on January 27 signed an executive order that indefinitely blocks refugees from Syria from entering the U.S. and suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days while the administration determines which countries pose the least risk. Trump also imposed a 90-day ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. A district federal court is reviewing the decision of a federal judge overturning the executive order.  Former New York City Mayor and Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani said President Trump wanted a "Muslim ban" and requested Giuliani assemble a commission to show him "the right way to do it legally." On February 9, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal rejected the Justice Department's request to lift the Seattle-based judge's restraining order blocking the January 27 executive order. Later in February, Dara Lind at Vox.com wrote that because of Trump's repeated campaign promises to institute a Muslim ban, some judges who've heard the case so far have concluded that the order was motivated by anti-Muslim animus. That could make it unconstitutionally discriminatory. "A revision of the ban might make it less sloppy, but it wouldn't change that animus." On March 6, President Trump signed a new executive order that bans immigrants for at least 90 days from six Muslim-majority countries, including Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. On March 15, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a worldwide restraining order against the executive order.  A Maryland federal judge subsequently issued a second ruling against the ban on March 16.

Pushback: The Washington Examiner editorialized on January 28: "The list of Middle East countries with residents he wants to bar from entry to the U.S. omits Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. Those happen to be the five Middle Eastern countries where he (Trump) has hotels.  Saudi Arabia is a notable exception from the visa list because 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers came from there." Rosalind S. Helderman at the Washington Post on January 28 commented, "Also untouched by Friday's executive order is the United Arab Emirates, a powerful Muslim ally with whom the United States nevertheless has complicated relations.  Trump has licensed his name to a Dubai golf resort, as well as a luxury home development and spa." The Sacramento Bee editorialized, after the second executive order was issued: "Not one person from those countries (the  six banned from sending immigrants) has been involved in a fatal U.S. terrorist attack in the 16 years since 9/11, and the 9/11 hijackers weren't from those countries. Statistically, people here are more likely to be killed for being a Muslim than to be killed by one."   

      9. ...And implement "extreme vetting"  STATUS - First step taken

Background: Trump first brought up the idea of extreme vetting in August, comparing it to ideological screening tests used in the Cold War. He has said that Muslims or at least those from "terror-prone" countries would be the targets. Trump said the United States needs to screen members of terrorist organizations and vet "any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles — or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law." 

Update: On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order requesting a 90-day interagency review of existing screening measure to ensure that "radical Islamic terrorists" cannot get into the U.S. and "ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has directed diplomatic missions to identify "populations warranting increased security," and toughen screening for visa applicants in those groups, Reuters reported March 24. "Most posts already have populations that they look at for fraud and security issues," said Jay Gairson, a Seattle-based immigration attorney. "What this language effectively does is give the consular posts permission to step away from the focused factors they have spent years developing and revising, and instead broaden the search to large groups based on gross factors such as nationality and religion."  

Reality Check: The U.S., The Hill reported, already had the most stringent vetting system for refugees in the world. Individuals seeking refugee or asylum status in the U.S. must register with the United Nations, pass a series of security checks, interview with State Department contractors, pass another background check, complete an in-person interview, participate in a cultural orientation course and pass one final security check at an American airport upon arrival. To see process put into place by President Obama, see:


      10.  Bar Syrian refugees from entering the country - STATUS - partially completely, ban not indefinite - (as of March 16, two federal courts have issued a restraining order on the President's executive order)

Background: ...and kick out any who are already living here. (NOT COMPLETED) Trump says wealthy Persian Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia should pay to set up a heavily guarded "safe zone" in Syria. He called Syrian refugees "the ultimate Trojan horse."

Update: The president signed an executive order on January 27 indefinitely banning all Syrian refugees from entry into the United States. On February 9, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal rejected the Justice Department's request to lift the Seattle-based judge's restraining order blocking the Trump executive order. On March 7, the president signed a new executive order blocking citizens from Syria from obtaining visas for at least 90 days and suspending admission of refugees into the U.S. for 120 days. On March 15, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a worldwide restraining order against the executive order.  A Maryland federal judge subsequently issued a second ruling against the ban on March 16.  

     International Trade 

      11. Renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement or withdraw from deal

UPDATE: During the campaign, candidate Trump called NAFTA "the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country." On January 22, President Trump addressed the future of NAFTA while swearing in his senior staff. "I ran a campaign somewhat based on NAFTA," Trump said.  "But we're going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security on the border."  He announced future meetings with the leaders of both Canada and Mexico. On February 2, he told a meeting of senators, "I would like to speed it (negotiations) up if possible." He told the senators he wants to "change it" quickly but did not offer any specifics as to how. In late February, the Senate confirmed Wilbur Ross as the new Commerce secretary. Ross said then that renegotiating NAFTA will be "the administration's first trade priority." On March 8, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said negotiations will begin "the latter part of this year."

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: According to the February 24 issue of The Week, NAFTA - negotiated by George H. W. Bush and signed by Bill Clinton - has had mixed results.  The Good: Trade between the three countries has grown from $290 billion in 1993 to $1.1 trillion in 2016.  It lifted tariffs and protected intellectual property.  Today, about 14 million U.S. jobs are directly related to trade with Mexico and Canada.  The bad and ugly:  The trade balance between the U.S. and Mexico flip-flopped from a $1.7 billion American surplus to a $49.2 billion deficit.  Nearly 700,000 U.S. workers lost good jobs, mostly in manufacturing.  The number of undocumented immigrants to the U.S. quadrupled from three million in 1994 to 12 million in 2007. (Since the Great Recession in 2008, however, the net influx has been negative, with more Mexican nationals returning to their home country than arriving.)

      12. On first day in office, withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership - STATUS - COMPLETED.

Update: On January 23, President Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the U.S. from the TPP.

Consequence of action: Ishaan Tharoor wrote in the Washington Post on January 24, "Since Trump's election, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia have shifted toward China's proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would also reduce tariffs - without many of the standards put in place by Obama's plan - and redirect Asian trade China's way." John Berthelsen, the former editor of the Hong Kong-based Asia Sentinel, wrote, "If President Trump had set out to deliberately create a vacuum in Asia that would allow Chinese influence to grow and wreck the American position in the region, he couldn't have done a better job than by canceling U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  So, instead of China being frozen out of a trading organization that covers 40 percent of world gross domestic product and a third of world trade, it looks likely that it is the U.S. that will be frozen out." Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote, "We are embarking upon insularity and smallness.  Nor is this just theory. Trump's long-promised but nonetheless abrupt withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the momentous first fruit of his foreign-policy doctrine.  Last year the prime minister of Singapore told John McCain that if we pulled out of TPP, 'You'll be finished in Asia.'  He knows the region.  For 70 years, we sustained an international system of open commerce and democratic alliances that has enabled America and the West to grow and thrive.  Global leadership is what made America great. We abandon it as our peril."

On February 10, the Wall Street Journal, in an editorial titled, "Trade Punishment for Trump Voters," pointed out that Trump carried 11 of the top 15 exporting states, including Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana and Texas. "Of the top 11 U.S. export destination, seven are in Asia and Japan and Vietnam are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Mr. Trump abandoned in his first week.  The Farm Bureau says that pack would have raised U.S. farm incomes by $4.4 billion by reducing trade barriers in these and other markets." 

Senator Bernie Sanders, however, praised Trump's action.  "Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations."

Update: On March 24, Politico reported that China, not one of the original signers of the TPP, was in Chile meeting with countries that were part of the now-defunct deal. "Here's what happens when the U.S. pulls out of a major trade deal: New Zealand seizes the opportunity to send more of its milk and cheese to China.  Japanese consumers pay less for Australian beef than for American meet. Canadians talk about sending everything from farm products to banking services to Japan and India."

       13.   Impose tariffs on many imports

Background: Trump promised to introduce the End the Offshoring Act within his first days in office by imposing tariffs on goods made abroad, especially those manufactured by companies formerly based in the U.S. In December, 2016 he said there will be a 35% "tax" on goods coming into the country from U.S. companies that move production out of the country. "We will stop these countries from taking our jobs.  I promise we can fix it so fast."

Update: Peter Navarro, an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine, will lead the new White House National Trade Council.  Navarro said, "Trump will impose countervailing tariffs not just on China, but on any American trade partner that cheats on its trade deals using practices such as currency manipulation and illegal export subsidies."  Trump also nominated Robert Lighthizer, a harsh critic of China's trade practices, to be his chief trade negotiator. Lighthizer has argued that China has failed to live up to commitments made in 2001 when it joined the World Trade Organization and that tougher tactics are needed to change the system, even if it means deviating from WTO rules.  As recently as mid-January, Trump told European papers he intends to impose 35% import duties on Germany's BMWs that are built outside the U.S. and that the auto maker should scrap plans to open a new plan in Mexico and build the factory in the U.S. instead.

The Washington Post reported March 4, "White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, senior adviser Stephen Miller and National Trade Council director Peter Navarro have all voiced internal support for the creation of a border adjustment tax or something like it. They believe it would incentivize companies to keep jobs in the United States and raise the cost of items that are imported. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn have raised concerns, the officials said. They are backed by a number of Senate Republicans who have told the White House they would block any bill that creates a new tax on imports." Philip Elliott of TIME wrote on March 5: "House Republicans are pushing a plan to lower corporate tax rates and completely reimagine what kind of earnings and profits the revised taxes target.  Their proposal would exempt exports from taxes and levy new taxes on imports. Key Senators like John Cornyn, Tom Cotton and Mike Lee are urging the plan's supporters to look for change in the couch cushions instead.  The proposed border tax, says Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, 'is wounded for sure.'"  


     14. Rebuild the country's aging infrastructure

Background: Trump said, “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.” Team Trump announced it has a "rough blueprint" for a $1 trillion project over 10 years, creating 3.3 million jobs. Among the stated goals: modernize airports and air traffic control systems. While many Republicans and Democrats support Trump's proposal, huge questions remain, including how to pay for it and what projects exactly will be funded. 

Update: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in December tried to tamp down expectations, telling reporters he wants "to avoid a $1 trillion stimulus."  Trump told the New York Times he didn't realize during the campaign that New Deal-style proposals to put people to work building infrastructure conflict with his party's small-government philosophy. But at his inauguration, Trump re-emphasized this promise when he said, "We will build new roads and highways and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.  We will get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor." Axios reported on February 27 the Trump administration is planning to put the $1 trillion infrastructure plan before Congress in 2018 when both Republicans and Democrats will support election-year projects and jobs.

Pushback: Jay Caruso of Redstate wrote in January, "A GOP controlled Congress wouldn't dare give a Democrat a trillion dollar stimulus package.  So why should they if a Republican is in office.  Congressional Republicans and conservative activists and writers will have to stay on their toes.  It does conservatism and the GOP no good when they're the ones covering for other Republicans or making excuses for Trump when there's not a chance they'd allow the same to happen if it was President Clinton."  In February, Politico.com reported Republican Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma saying, "I don't think you can do infrastructure, raise defense spending, do a tax cut, keep Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security just as they are, and balance the budget.  It's just not possible. Sooner or later, they're going to come to grips with it because the numbers force you to."

15.  Grow the nation's economy by at least 6 percent

Background: Trump says that his policies as president will boost GDP growth to 4%, which is about double the average seen in this century. In some speeches, Trump said his plans would result in even higher GDP growth, perhaps as strong as 5% or 6%.

Benchmarks: In December, 2016, the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. The stock market and home prices are both at record heights. Annual economic growth has averaged 2.1 percent since the recession ended in 2009. Currently, 11.5 percent of men ages 25 to 54 are outside the labor force and wages grew 2.1 percent over the past 12 months.

      16. Create 25 Million New Jobs

Perhaps no promise was more critical to Trump’s ability to win over voters than the one guaranteeing he would be “the greatest jobs president God ever created.” The Trump campaign pledged that his policies would create 25 million jobs over the next decade, mostly as a result of tax cuts, deregulation, and new trade deals.

Benchmarks: During President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, somewhere between 9 and 14 million jobs were created, compared to 5.7 million under George W. Bush and 21 million under Bill Clinton. America’s official unemployment rate has dropped steadily since 2010, and remained below 5% in 2016. The last time unemployment was consistently this low was before the Great Recession.

Reality check: John Maxfield at the Motley Fool reported March 24: There's a lot of talk about the impact of immigrants on American jobs. In reality, however, the real bogeyman when it comes to displacing workers isn't immigration - it's robots.  Case in point: Amazon's vast network of fulfillment centers is using 45,000 robots to help pick, sort and ship units.  People have a right to be worried about jobs, but it you're looking for someone to blame, then you'll need to find a robot.

      17.  Bring manufacturing back jobs from China and Mexico and Japan, etc. - STATUS - First steps taken

Background: Among his related promises included "Get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country" and convince Ford Motor Co. to not build a massive new plant in Mexico.

Action: Ford announced plans in January to cancel plans to build a new plant in Mexico.  It will invest $700 million instead in Michigan, creating 700 new jobs. Last year, the company had announced plans to invest $1.6 billion in Mexico to transfer production of the Ford Focus from Michigan to Mexico.  Now the Focus will be built at an existing plant in Hermosillo, Mexico and Ford will expand its plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. Fiat Chrysler also announced in January it would spend $1 billion on U.S. manufacturing, including modernizing plants in Michigan and Ohio, a move that's set to add 2,000 jobs.  According to the company's plan, the plant in Michigan will be made capable of producing a pickup truck currently built in Mexico.   The company insisted the decision had been made more than a year ago. The Seattle Times on Jan. 12 reported, "Amazon.com said it plans to hire 100,000 full-time U.S. employees over the next 18 months, a move that came amid pressure on the private sector by the incoming Trump administration to create jobs." 

In January, Trump also tweeted criticism of Toyota and GM for importing foreign-made cars into the U.S.  He threatened both with "big border tax" for cars made in Mexico and sold in this country. Weeks later, GM announced plans to invest $1 billion in U.S. factories and add or keep 7,000 white-collar and factory jobs, according to the Wall Street Journal.  But, the paper also reported, "General Motors' announcement today is mostly theater to play in the news cycle created by President-elect Trump's tweets," said Michelle Krebs, an auto industry analyst for Kelley Blue Book.  "These investments and hiring plans have long been in the works." 

Update: At his February 28 speech to Congress, the President took credit for Ford and many other companies announcing "that they will invest billions and billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs." Politico reported that "many of those were already in the works before Trump took office or even won the presidency." Softbank, Fiat-Chryler, Walmart and GM - all cited by Trump in his speech to Congress - had announced their new investments and jobs before the election.
     18. Get rid of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform - STATUS - First steps taken

Update: On February 3, Bloomberg Politics reported the Trump Administration has ordered - by executive action of the President - a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis. The 2010 law reined in risky mortgage practices and derivatives trading, and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "The executive orders are intended to relieve restrictions and scrutiny that post-crisis regulations have put on banks," Bloomberg reported. "The orders are the most aggressive steps yet by Trump to loosen regulations in the financial services industry and come after he has sought to stock his administration with veterans of the industry in key positions." According to the Washington Examiner, "Trump and his allies have repeatedly blasted Dodd-Frank, arguing the legislation prevents community banks from lending to small businesses by forcing them to comply with the same burdensome rules that apply to big banks."

Pushback: Former New York Times Washington bureau chief Hedrick Smith, writing in the Sacramento Bee February 19, observed, "Trump told voters in Ottumwa, Iowa, in January 2016, 'I know Wall Street.  I know the people on Wall Street.  I'm not going to let Wall Street get away with murder. Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us...I don't care about Wall Street guys.  I'm not taking any of their money.'  But in fact, Trump's campaign did take money from Wall Street's super rich and rewarded several with Cabinet plums. He chose three of the 'system rigging, string-pulling' Goldman Sachs veterans for his inner circle - Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary, Gary Cohn as director of his National Economic Council, and Steve Bannon as his chief strategist and White House Rasputin."

19.  Allow corporations a one-time window to transfer money being held overseas

Background: Currently, corporations are required to pay up to 35% of their earnings in taxes to "repatriate" overseas profits. Trump has indicated he wants to charge a much-reduced one-time tax of 10 percent. It is estimated US companies hold about $2.5 trillion abroad.

Realitycheck: As Salon.com reported in December, "While the extra money that businesses earn through Trump's plan could in theory be invested back in their businesses, thereby creating jobs, there is no guarantee that they'd do this.  As Marc-Anthony Hourihan, co-head of mergers and acquisitions in the Americas for the Swiss bank, USB, explained, merger bankers 'are sharpening their pencils with what types of deals those larger companies can look at.  I think M. & A. will be fairly high on the list.'" When the Bush II administration introduced similar legislation in 2004, instead of creating jobs, businesses poured money into stock buybacks and generous executive pay packages, according to a January article in The New Yorker.

      20. Bring back the coal industry

Background:  At a memorable campaign stop in West Virginia in May, 2016, Trump told miners holding "Trump Digs Coal" signs, "Get ready, because you're going to be working your ass off!"

RealityCheck: Trump made this promise despite America's shift to natural gas, the steady technology-driven move toward renewable energy sources and huge productivity gains in the coal industry (i.e. work that required 10 miners now requires just one).

Update: President Trump signed a resolution February 16 repealing regulations on the coal industry that were issued by the Obama administration in its final weeks. In killing the Environmental Protection Agency's last-minute Stream Protection Rule, the Republican leadership called it a rushed regulation that blindsided states with unnecessary and burdensome rules for coal mining. Trump called the regulation "another terrible job killing rule" and said ending it would save "many thousands American jobs, especially in the mines."

    Tax Policies 

21.  Lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% and get rid of most corporate tax loopholes or incentives

Update: In a January 15 interview with the Washington Post, President-elect Trump said "we're getting very close" to putting together tax legislation.  "It'll probably be 15 to 20 percent for corporations.  For individuals, probably lower.  Great middle-class tax cuts." On February 27, in his first speech before Congress, the President said, "My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class." On March 24, Politico reported the GOP plan to cut the corporate tax rate down to 20 percent from 35 percent is threatened. "Republican's spectacular failure to repeal and replace Obamacare threatens to sabotage another cornerstone of their agenda, tax reform. The GOP was counting on wiping out nearly $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes to help finance the sweeping tax cuts they've got planned for their next legislative act.  And now it's unclear where all that money will comes from."

      22.  Give middle class large tax cut and reduce the number of tax brackets  STATUS - BEING RECONSIDERED

Background: Trump promised in his "Contract with the American Voter," that the "largest tax reductions are for the middle class." Other elements of his promise include: eliminate the "marriage penalty" for taxpayers, get rid of the alternate minimum tax, and eliminate income tax on single individuals earning less than $25,000 per year or couples earning less than $50,000.

FactCheck: According to Sahil Kapur at Bloomberg News, Trump's campaign promise to target the largest tax reduction for the middle class is contrary to his and Speaker Paul Ryan's current plan to reduce the top rate from 39.6 to 33 percent for the richest Americans.

Update: On March 24, Politico reported the GOP plan to cut the top individual tax rate to 33 percent from 39.6 percent and the number of tax brackets from seven to three is now threatened. "Republican's spectacular failure to repeal and replace Obamacare threatens to sabotage another cornerstone of their agenda, tax reform. The GOP was counting on wiping out nearly $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes to help finance the sweeping tax cuts they've got planned for their next legislative act.  And now it's unclear where all that money will comes from."

      23.  Eliminate the carried interest loophole for Wall Street 

Background: What is the carried interest loophole? It's a 20% tax rate that allows Wall Street investors, real estate developers and mutual fund managers to avoid the 39.6% tax rate paid by salaried Americans.  They do this with investments that are taxed as long-term capital gains.

      24. Eliminate the federal estate tax, the alternative minimum tax and the so-called marriage penalty that affects some high-income earners.

    Domestic Policies 
      25.  Make child care more affordable

Background: During a speech in suburban Pennsylvania, Trump, flanked by his daughter Ivanka Trump, a working mother who helped craft the policies, said he would seek to make child care expenses tax deductible for families earning less than $500,000 and called for establishing tax-free accounts to be used for child care and child enrichment activities. He also called for guaranteeing six weeks' maternity leave to biological mothers by extending unemployment insurance benefits to working mothers whose employers do not offer paid maternity leave.

Update: At his first speech before Congress in late February, President Trump told the nation: "My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave."  The proposal would cost an estimated $500 billion over 10 years, according to Bloomberg

      26. Invest more heavily in programs that help military veterans transition back to civilian life.

Background: Trump's promise included job training, placement services and increased funding for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and mental health issues.

27.  Reduce and eliminate the $19 trillion national debt - STATUS - BEING RECONSIDERED

Background: Reducing and eliminating the national debt will be achieved by "vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government, ending redundant government programs and growing the economy to increase tax revenues."  Part of this plan would be implementing the "Penny Plan," reducing net spending by 1% each year. (But exempting defense and public safety spending.) Trump promised "the plan will reduce spending by almost $1 trillion without touching defense or entitlement spending." He also told the Washington Post he would be able to get rid of the nation’s more than $19 trillion national debt “over a period of eight years."

Update: Trump has named Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) to the key position of director of the Office of Management and Budget.  Mulvaney promised "The Trump administration will restore budgetary and fiscal sanity back in Washington after eight years of an out-of-control, tax and spend financial agenda." In the past, Congressman Mulvaney has refused to back deals to raise the statutory debt limit ceiling.  However, less than a week after his inauguration, President Trump told Sean Hannity, "So a balanced budget is fine.  But sometimes you have to fuel the well in order to really get the economy going.  And we have to take care of our military.  Our military is more important to me than a balance budget." On March 3, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson wrote: "Trump's budget does little to please Republican budget hawks.  Trump is proposing to shift spending into defense and law enforcement, with no net cut in spending.  'He seems to be arguing,' says Yuval Levin, editor of National Affairs, 'for keeping the same budget trajectory we are on now, but still taking the political pain and human cost of big discretionary cuts.' That is not an easy sell to Republicans." On March 18, Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press wrote, "The initial Republican plan to completely scuttle the 2010 health care law (i.e. Obamacare) promised a cut of more than $2 trillion from the deficit over 10 years.  The GOP health care bill (currently under consideration in the House) cuts the deficit by much less- $337 billion over a decade and doesn't move the federal budget much closer to being balanced, if at all." On March 19, NBC News reported that Budget Director Mick Mulvaney isn't bull on balancing the budget this year.  "We don't know what health care reform will look like, what it will do to the budget.  We don't know what tax reform will look like, will do to the budget.  We haven't finished the infrastructure program yet.  Those are the really, really big picture items that we don't know more about for a couple months." Nick Gillespie in Reason.com wrote: "Overall, federal spending will still come in around $4 trillion, roughly the same as in President Obama's last budget plan, and with nearly the same deficit: $559 billion.  Worse, for those of us who actually care about our spiraling national debt, Trump's budget does nothing to curb spending on Medicare, Social Security, and other entitlement programs, which everyone knows are where the real money is.  Trump promised during his campaign to completely wipe out the national debt, but he hasn't even really thrown a good first punch."

Conservative pushback:  Redstate columnist Josh Kimbrell wrote: Republicans have an awful history of ignoring deficits when we obtain power, arguing that rebuilding our military and national infrastructure necessitates such spending, only to turn the tables and decry the imminent economic destruction being wrought by the party of big government when a Democrat occupies the Oval Office.  We can't warn that the country is careening down the road to becoming Greece under a liberal Democrat, and then blow a hole in the deficit under a Republican."

      28. Get rid of Common Core

Background: Common Core is a system that has created a set of academic standards within the subjects of English and math throughout our public school system. Trump has pledged to abolish Common Core, saying that education should be managed on a local level – not a national one (though Common Core is not a federal program). He's call Common Core "a disaster" and a "very bad thing." 

Update: TIME magazine reported on December 22, "Both Trump and (Secretary of Education Betsy) DeVos have promised to 'end' the controversial state-based achievement standards.  But the Education Department is forbidden under the new federal law from either setting such benchmarks or incentivizing states of adopt them.  Common Core was adopted by state lawmakers, and will also have to be dismantled by them."

      29. "Be the nation's biggest cheerleader for school choice." STATUS - first steps taken

Background: Trump has expressed support for allowing families to redirect their share of education spending to a private, charter, magnet, religious or homeschool.  He also said he supports $20 billion in federal funding to send low-income students to private and charter schools.

Pushback: TIME magazine in December reported: "Trump's federal voucher plan would require not only that Congress allocate $20 billion to the program - a potentially heavy lift given that lawmakers have already promised tax cuts and a balance budget. It would also require states to pony up another $110 billion."

Update: On February 28, at his first speech before Congress, the President said, "I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them." On March 3, the President visited, with his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, a Catholic private school in Florida to praise school vouchers as an antidote to failing schools and falling test scores.  The school has embraced a Florida state program that uses public money to allow low-income students to attend private schools.

      30. Appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v. Wade

Background: At the third debate, Trump was asked about abortion by moderator Chris Wallace. He confirmed that he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade — the monumental court case that legalized abortion in 1973.

     31.  On his first day in office, get rid of gun-free zones at military bases and in schools - STATUS - PROMISED DROPPED

Background: Candidate Trump pledged to eliminate gun-free zones on his first day in office to keep the United States safe from mass shooting.  "I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and - you have to - and on military bases," told a Burlington, VT. rally January 8, 2016.  "My first day, it gets signed, okay?  My first day.  There's no more gun-free zones."

     32. Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cutting benefits  

Background: Trump promised repeatedly during his White House bid not to touch entitlements. "I'm not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid." He added, "Have to do it.  Get rid of the fraud.  Get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it." Before entering the race he tweeted, "I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid."  He also tweeted, in 2015, "The Republicans who want to cut (Social Security) & Medicaid are wrong."

Update: Trump appointed conservative Rep. Mick Mulvaney to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.  In 2011, Mulvaney said, "We have to end Medicare as we know it."  Trump has also appointed Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), a champion of cuts to all three programs, as head of the Department of Health and Human Services.  However, Trump told the Washington Post on January 15 that he has no plans to cut Medicare benefits, a position that was reiterated on a Sunday TV show by his Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus. On March 6, the House leadership introduced a repeal and replace bill for Obamacare that would cut, according to the Congressional Budget Office, $880 billion from federal Medicaid funds over the next 10 years.  In all, CBO projected that total Medicaid spending would be 25 percent less in 2026 than under current law. The program would insure 14,000,000 fewer Americans. And on March 16, the House Budget Committee voted to recommend further cuts to Medicaid beyond the $880 billion already targeted. On March 24, Trump and Ryan pulled the repeal and replace bill after Republicans in the House declined support.

     33. Fire "the corrupt and incompetent" leaders of the Department of Veterans Affairs - STATUS - BEING RECONSIDERED

Background: And dramatically reform the agency, including investigating "the fraud, cover-ups and wrongdoing" at the VA and allowing veterans to access any medical facility that accepts Medicaid patients. Trump's 10-point plan to fix the VA focuses in part on the firing and disciplining of VA employees.

Update: President Trump nominated Dr. David Shulkin to lead the Veterans Affairs Department. Shulkin was the VA's top health official and a hold-over from the Barack Obama administration. According to CNN, Shulkin is "rejecting a dismantling of the beleaguered agency or wide-scale firings as a way of doing it." Shulkin said, "VA has many dedicated employees across the country, and our veterans tell us that every day."  Mark Lucas, executive director of the conservative Concerned Veterans of America, warned, "It will be disappointing if Dr. Shulkin defends the status quo - veterans who took President Trump's campaign promises about VA reform seriously will be immediately concerned."

     34. Defund Planned Parenthood  - STATUS - Trump/Ryan bill rejected by Republicans in the House

Update: In early January, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Republicans plan to strip Planned Parenthood of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding as part of their rapid push to repeal Obamacare.  Ryan said a defunding measure would appear in a special fast-track bill that is expected to pass Congress as soon as February.  However, in January, reporters began to question the GOP's ability to follow through with candidate Trump's promise.  Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski both have expressed support for Planned Parenthood.  With only a two vote majority, the Republican-led Senate may block Trump's pledge. On February 13, CNN reported that because of this concern, "A legislative aide, who would only speak on background to share concerns that are being raised in private, said while conservative lawmakers feel strong about defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing Obamacare is such an important political priority that taking out the Planned Parenthood provision would be unlikely to derail the repeal bill altogether."  On February 16, the House passed a resolution re-opening the door for states to block Planned Parenthood from receiving some federal funds.  The measure would reverse a last-minute rule from the Obama administration that said conservative states can't block the women's health and abortion provider from receiving family planning dollars under the Title X program. On March 6, the leadership of the House submitted a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that would also defund Planned Parenthood. On March 24, Trump and Ryan pulled their repeal and replace bill after Republicans in the House refused support.

     35. Gut, if not eliminate, the Environmental Protection Agency - STATUS -  first steps taken

Background:  Trump has appointed Scott Pruitt, a key foe of EPA regulations, to lead the agency. Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, joined a coalition of state attorneys general in suing the federal government over the agency's Clear Power Plan, the Obama administration's principal policy aimed at reducing U.S. greenhouse gas admissions. He also sued, along with others, the federal government over regulations seeking to curtail the emissions of methane.

Update: On February 27, a day before delivering his first address to Congress, Trump announced his budget will demand tens of billions in reductions to the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. On March 2, the Washington Post reported the Office of Management and Budget suggested deep cuts to the EPA's budget that would reduce its staff by one-fifth in the first year and eliminate dozens of programs. "The proposal also dictates cutting the agency's grants to states, including its air and water programs, by 30 percent, and eliminating 38 separate programs." TIME reported on March 10, "Cuts proposed at the EPA could shrink Clear Air Act implementation funds granted to states by $68 million." The New York Times reported on March 16 that President Trump's newly released budget outline would slash the EPA budget by 31%.  The March 27 issue of TIME reported, "The Trump Administration is expected to undo the Clean Power Plan, Obama's chief regulation targeting carbon emissions, and encourage further development of fossil-fuel resources."

       36. Cancel Obama's executive actions on guns

Background: Trump called Obama’s executive order to require background checks on firearms sold at gun shows an assault on the Second Amendment, and vowed he would "unsign that so fast."

      37. Rebuild and fix the inner cities

Background:  After complaining about the lack of jobs and an alleged increase in crime in American cities, Trump promised, "I'm going to fix it." 

"I'll be able to make sure that when you walk down the street in your inner city, or wherever you are, you're not gonna be shot."  He promised to stop the crime in Chicago within "one week."

UPDATE: At his inauguration, President Trump said, "For too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now."

    US Military  

38.  Strengthen the military - STATUS - first step taken

Background: So that it's "so big and so strong and so great" that "nobody's going to mess with us." First step: ask Congress to repeal the defense sequester.  Other related promises: Grow the Naval fleet to 350 ships and subs and increase both the size of Army and Marine Corps. 

Update: In December, Trump tweeted that "the U.S. must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability."  On February 27, President Trump proposed a federal budget that dramatically increases defense spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies - including the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.  According to the White House, the proposed defense budget will increase by 10 percent.

Pushback: The Washington Examiner reported on February 5, "There's only one big problem:  Congress, specifically, the Budget Control Act of 2011, which created across-the-board spending caps for 10 years.  Democrats have insisted that any increase in Pentagon spending must also include hikes in non-defense spending.  Republican deficit hawks also believe the military wastes too much money to warrant opening the federal checkbook. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain argues it will take about $430 billion increase above current Pentagon spending plans for fiscal 2018 - 2022 to make up for the limitation of the sequestration spending caps." 

     International Relations  
      39. Find an "out" clause in the Iran deal

Background:  And then "totally" renegotiate the whole thing. 

Pushback: From the "That-Saw-Cuts-Both-Ways Department" comes the pushback President Trump may get from his newest BFF, Vladimair Putin, if Trump follows through with his promise to his other BFF, Sean Hannity, to scrap the Iran nuclear deal.  Wrote Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald Seib, "Abrogating the nuclear deal with Iran risks undermining that potential new partnership with Mr. Putin. Mr. Putin supports that deal and its provisions ending international economic sanctions, and has moved in smartly to cash in.  Russia is seeking deals on nuclear energy projects in Iran, and the Russian news agency reported last month that the two nations are discussing a $10 billion arms deal."

At his confirmation hearing in January, Gen. James Mattis, Donald Trump's secretary of defense nominee, said he believed the United States should stick with the Iran deal.  "I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement -- it's not a friendship treaty.  But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies."  However, just days later, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said in a Sunday morning TV show that the Iran deal is "on life support" and "it's yet to be seen" if President Trump will uphold or scrap it. 

Update: On February 3, House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged the Iran nuclear deal is likely to stay in place due to the rolling back of the multilateral sanctions that were previously in place against Iran. "I don't think you're going to go back and reconstitute the multilateral sanctions that were in place," he told Meet the Press. David Andelman, the editor emeritus of World Policy Journal, wrote on March 3, "You don't hear that 'rip it up' language any longer. And you won't. Indeed, in his landmark message to Congress on Tuesday, the President touched only once on Iran. It was becoming increasingly clear that if Trump were to follow through on his ill-considered threat to 'tear up' the agreement, he would be doing so alone.  None of the other signatories to the pack - Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - have made any move to follow him."   

      40.  Allow Russia to deal with the Islamic State in Syria - STATUS - BEING RECONSIDERED

Background: Candidate Trump told CNN's Erin Burnett in September, 2015, that the U.S. should let Russia fight it out against the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria.  "You have Russia that's now there. Russia's on the side of Assad, and Russia wants to get rid of ISIS as much as we do, if not more, because they don't want 'em coming into Russia. Let them fight, take over the remnants.  Let Russia fight ISIS, if they want to fight 'em..in Syria. Let Syria and ISIS fight. What do we care?"

Update: On March 3, New York Post columnist Benny Avni wrote: "Deeper involvement in Syria won't be pretty or uncomplicated.  But defeating ISIS won't be possible without it. The world longs for US-led victories.  So do most Americans.  Defeating ISIS in Syria, while dealing Iran a setback, would be a good start.  This is one election promise that's worth keeping." (Also see Promise #46.) The Washington Post reported March 5 that a Pentagon plan for the coming assault on Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria, calls for significant U.S. military participation, including increased special operations forces, attack helicopters and artillery, and arms supplies to the main Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighting forces on the ground.  Officials involved in the planning have proposed lifting a cap on the size of the U.S. military contingent in Syria, now numbering about 500 special operations trainers and advisers. On March 8, Reuters reported that the Trump administration "is weighing a deployment of up to 1,000 American soldiers to Kuwait to serve as a reserve force in the fight against the Islamic State as U.S.-backed fighters accelerate the offensive in Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials have acknowledged the review may lead to an increase in American troops in Syria."

      41.  Alter the US role with NATO and Asian allies

Background: In his first 100 days, Trump told the Washington Post, he would cut taxes, “renegotiate trade deals and renegotiate military deals,” including altering the U.S. role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Trump expects Germany, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to pay more for US security protection. He had called NATO "obsolete" and wants to update "NATO's outdated mission and structure."  NATO members, Trump has complained, do not pay "what they should" for their defense. (The U.S. foots the bill for about 22 percent of the 28-nation NATO spending.)

Update:  On January 27, British Prime Minister Theresa May put President Trump on the record as being "100 percent" behind NATO.  "Mr. President, I think you said, you confirmed, that you're 100 percent behind NATO," May said at a press conference following their first meeting. Trump responded quietly to her, "It's true." On February 16, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told a NATO meeting that if they did not boost their defense spending to goals set by the alliance, the United States may alter its relationship with them. "Americans cannot care more for your children's security than you do."  Mattis, a retired Marine general who served NATO in 2007 to 2009, watched as then Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned NATO that Congress and the America people "would lose their patience for carrying a disproportionate burden" of the defense of allies.

42.  Cancel the 2015 Paris climate change accord 

Background: Climate change allegations and science are a "hoax" invented by the Chinese, Trump said on the campaign trail. In a March, 2016 interview with the Washington Post's editorial board, he said, "I think there's a change in weather. I am not a great believer in man-made climate change. I'm not a great believer...I'm not a big believer in man-made climate change."

The Paris accords, which seek to phase out greenhouse gas emissions this century with a shift from fossil fuels, states in Article 28 that any country wanting to pull out after joining has to wait four years. 

      43. Repeal President Obama's executive orders regarding Cuba

Background:  Trump promised to reverse Obama's Cuba-related executive orders - including opening a U.S. embassy and lifting restrictions on trade and tourism - if Cuba did not meet his "demands," including religious and political freedom and the freeing of political prisoners. Vice President-elect Pence told supporters in Florida: "We will support continuing the embargo until real political and religious freedoms are a reality for all the people of Cuba. Donald Trump will stand with freedom-loving Cubans in the fight against Communist oppression."

      44. Move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem STATUS - BEING RECONSIDERED

Background: Trump promised to do it "fairly quickly."  Jason Greenblatt, an Orthodox lawyer who is advising Trump, told the press after the election that the president-elect was "going to do it" because he was "a man who keeps his word." The latest six-month Presidential waiver on a congressional order to switch the embassy location expires in May, 2017.

Update: President-elect Trump nominated David Friedman as the next ambassador to Israel.  Friedman promises to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.  "I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US Embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem."

However, CNN reported in mid-January that the Trump transition team is "floating the possibility of initially having the U.S. Ambassador to Israel work and live in the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, while the American Embassy remains in Tel Aviv."  The idea comes amid warnings from Arab and European diplomats that the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem could unleash violence, undermine the peace process and damage U.S. standing in the Middle East." And on January 19 in the Wall Street Journal, Richard Haass, president of the Council of Foreign Relations, warned it would be a "mistake" for Trump to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  "Moving the embassy comes with real downsides, only some of which relate to the diplomacy - going nowhere slowly - intended to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The bigger argument is that moving the embassy risks making Jerusalem an even greater magnet for protest, violence and terrorism.  The move could take a conflict that has lost more than a little salience in the Muslim world and transform it into a crisis."

War on Terrorism 

45.  Bring back waterboarding - STATUS - PROMISE DROPPED

Background: Trump promised the U.S. will use interrogation techniques that go even further than waterboarding, because “torture works.” Even if such tactics don't work, "they deserve it anyway, for what they're doing."

“Don't tell me it doesn't work – torture works. Okay, folks? Believe me, it works. Okay."

Change of mind: On November 23, 2016 in an interview with the New York Times, Trump "suggested" he had changed his mind about the usefulness of waterboarding after recently talking with James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general and Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense. Mattis told Trump there were better ways of securing valuable information from prisoners. But, Trump also told the Times, "I'm not saying it changed my mind." But it did. The week after he was sworn in as the 45th President, Trump told ABC News that he would defer to Mattis, his Secretary of Defense, and Mike Pompeo, his CIA director, both of whom indicated that torture is illegal. "I'm going to go with what they say," Mr. Trump said. 
     46.  "Bomb the shit out of ISIS" STATUS - BEING RECONSIDERED

Background:  After repeated promises in 2015 and 2016 that he had a "foolproof plan" to defeat ISIS and "bomb the hell out of" the terror group, Trump in September, 2016 pulled a "one-eighty" and said, at a campaign stop in North Carolina, he would give his top generals 30 days to present a plan to defeat ISIS. 

Update:  In his inauguration address, the new President pledged to eradicate radical Islamic terrorism "completely from the face of the Earth." In his first week in office, Trump signed a directive ordering the Joint Chiefs of Staff to return within 30 days with a plan to defeat ISIS. Columnist Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote on March 7, "In his speech to Congress, President Trump hardly mentioned foreign policy. But he did repeat his campaign promise to 'demolish ISIS' and 'extinguish (it) from the planet.' The battle to uproot the so-called Islamic States, which is centered in the cities of Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria, has been underway for months, using local forces backed by U.S. advisors and air power.  The president wants it done faster." On March 17, NBC News reported that the plan the general have given the president to defeat ISIS "turns out to be little more than an 'intensification' of the same slow and steady approach that Trump derided under the Obama administration."  Foreign policy analyst Max Boot wrote in Commentary Magazine, "There's a good reason why Trump is unlikely to radically change the Obama blueprint for battling ISIS.  Although Obama took far too long to mobilize against this threat, his team did belatedly implement a strategy that is showing significant signs of success."

      47.  …And take their oil - STATUS - BEING RECONSIDERED

Background: “I would just bomb those suckers, and that's right, I'd blow up the pipes, I'd blow up the refineries, I'd blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left. And you know what, you'll get Exxon to come in there, and in two months, you ever see these guys? How good they are, the great oil companies, they'll rebuild it brand new... And I'll take the oil.”

Trump promises to seize the oil and give the profits to military veterans who were wounded while fighting.

Update: A day after his inauguration, the President visited the CIA and told a gathering of employees, "To the victor belong the spoils. We should have kept the (Iraqi) oil. But, O.K., maybe you'll have another chance." However, a month later, on February 20, Defense Secretary Mattis, while visiting Iraq, said the U.S. does not intend to seize Iraqi oil.  "I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America, have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I'm sure we will continue to do that in the future. We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil."


      48.  Prosecute Hillary Clinton  - “Lock her up!”  STATUS - PROMISE DROPPED

Background: Trump promised to appoint a special prosecutor to go after his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during his campaign, and "lock her up!" was a constant chant amongst supporters on the campaign trail. During one debate, he famously responded that if he were in charge she'd "be in jail."

Change of mind: After the election on 60 Minutes, he immediately walked that back: "I don't want to hurt them. They're, they're good people," he said. A senior advisor went further: Trump will not push for further criminal investigations into potential wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton. “I think when the president-elect, who's also the head of your party now … tells you before he's even inaugurated he doesn't wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content, to the members."

At a post-election rally in December, the crowd began chanting "lock her up!"  Trump replied, "That plays great before the election -- now we don't care, right?" And then, at his Inauguration, the Clintons not only attended but participated in the post-ceremony luncheon where the new President told the assembled crowd he was "very, very honored" that the former first couple was there and asked them to stand for a round of applause.  "There's nothing more I can say," the President added, "because I have a lot of respect for those two people, so thank you all for being here." 

49.  “Drain the Swamp”  STATUS - PROMISE DROPPED

There are several scandals and potential scandals challenging the new Trump Administration and his promise to “drain the swamp.”  Those covered below include:

1.      The President of the United States decided not to divest himself of his private holdings, thus opening the door to potential conflicts of interest and ignoring the Constitution.

2.      Business is suddenly good between the Trump Family and China.  Chinese authorities are approving trademark requests and real estate deals financially benefiting the President and his family.

3.      National Security Advisor Michael Flynn spoke by phone to the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump’s inauguration and discussed U.S. sanctions, a potential violation of the Logan Act. Flynn also told Vice President Pence the conversations never took place, which Pence then repeated on a Sunday TV show. Flynn subsequently resigned and is now being investigated.

4.      Federal officials, including Congress, are investigating the connection between Russia and the Trump campaign after it was revealed that regular contacts had been made during the 2016 presidential campaign between Trump allies and Russian officials, agents and hackers.

5.      Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, went on national television and urged viewers to buy products owned by Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the president. It is illegal of federal officials to promote private products. Conway was subsequently provided ethics training by White House.

6.      Since being nominated, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Jr. has kept millions of dollars of personal investments in offshore entities whose values could be affected by policies he implements in his new cabinet position.

7.      First Lady Melania Trump filed a suit against a British tabloid claiming a libelous story printed about her has denied her the opportunity to make millions due to her “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” She subsequently revised the suit to downplay her role as First Lady.

Here are some of the details on each.


President Trump owns or has a position in more than 500 companies, according to a CNN analysis. That includes about 150 that have done business in at least 25 foreign countries, including Turkey, India, Canada, Uruguay, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Because President Trump refuses to release his tax returns, the extent of his potential conflict remains unknown.  For example, loans that help finance his companies from foreign governments and banks - even on projects that are already built - could be perceived as affecting his decisions as President.

Then there’s the Trump-owned hotel in The Swamp (i.e. Washington, D.C.). Trump International Hotel is located in a building- the Old Post Office Building – owned by the federal government. Trump has a 60-year lease with the government on the property.  But the lease states no "elected official of the Government of the United States" shall be "admitted to any share or part of this Lease." Some experts say this clause should force Trump to relinquish his equity stake in the hotel since he is now President. (The hotel is valued at roughly $200 million, much of it financed by Deutsche Bank, a German company.)

As President, Trump also has the hiring and firing authority over the director of the General Services Administration, which oversees the lease and would negotiate any changes in the lease with the Trump family and its Washington hotel. 

Trump may also, according to experts, be in conflict with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits elected officials from receiving gifts or earning profits from foreign governments.  Foreign embassies and diplomats are booking rooms and hosting events at the hotel.  Politico reported in December, "Diplomats from Bahrain and Kuwait have already booked events at his Washington hotel, raising questions of whether a foreign government would be making payments to Trump's businesses.”  The Emoluments Clause forbids any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under (the United States)” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign state” unless Congress explicitly consents.

Update: At his mid-January press conference, Trump announced that his businesses and assets will be put into a trust run by his two sons for the duration of his presidency and that he will have "no involvement whatsoever" in the businesses.  Under his new ethics plan, Trump, his children and a longtime business associate will be barred from discussing company operations with the President. (Bobby Burchfield, a veteran Republican attorney, will serve as an outside ethics adviser. Some corporate transactions will not be undertaken without his approval. However, Trump will maintain a significant ownership stake in the company and financially benefit from its profits.) Trump’s attorney also announced Trump will "voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made by his hotels to the United States Treasury.  This way it is the American people who will profit." 

On January 20, Inauguration Day, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) took action on both the Trump International Hotel and its government lease and other possible conflicts of interest of the new President. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request.  Said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, “We want to know how the Trump transition team and the government offices tasked with supervising ethics-related issues for the incoming administration have been thinking about and confronting these potential conflicts.  In pursuit of that information, we’ve asked for a gamut of documents - legal opinions, policy advisories, communications, and more – that address them.”

CREW sent a letter to the administrator of the General Services Administration claiming that the new President “stands in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.”  The CREW letter also asked that the GSA “immediately initiate the process for establishing that Trump Old Post Office LLC (which owns Trump International Hotel, the former Old Post Office Building) is in breach of its ground lease for the Old Post Office Building."

On January 23, CREW filed a lawsuit arguing that President Trump is violating the Constitution's ban on officials accepting benefits from foreign governments.   The suit claims Trump's business dealings with foreign countries who rent space in his buildings or lend money to his real estate venture run afoul of the foreign emoluments clause in the Constitution.

On February 25, Politico reported, "Despite handing over daily control of his company to his two adult sons and a longtime Trump Organization executive, legal documents show that Trump himself still maintains significant power over the entire operation by holding the right to revoke at any time the entire arrangement and also because the purpose of the trust he established is really just for holding 'assets for the exclusive benefits of Donald J. Trump.'"

On March 23, Politico reported, The General Services Administration concluded that Trump's pledge not to take money from the Old Post Office project resolves concerns that language in the lease declares that no government employee should be permitted to benefit from the lease. "What this accomplishes is that the funds generated by the hotel will not flow to the President through DJT Holdings LLC," contracting officer Kevin Terry wrote. Some specialists in the area panned the GSA's new finding.  The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which complained to GSA about Trump's ownership, called the decision disappointing because it failed to resolve the conflict of interest. "Donald Trump still owns the hotel, still will benefit from payments and still has a vested interest in its success," executive director Noah Bookbinder said.

On March 24, Forbes reported  that Eric Trump admitted he will continue to keep his father updated - quarterly - on the family business.  "There is a kind of a clear separation of church and state that we maintain, and I am deadly serious about that exercise," he says, echoing previous statements from his father. "I do not talk about the government with him, and he does not talk about business with us.  That's kind of a steadfast pack we made, and it's something that we honor." But less than two minutes later, he concedes that he will continue to update his father on the business while he is in the presidency.  "Yeah, on the bottom line, profitability reports and stuff like that."

Trump begins to monetize his presidency

Columnist Timothy Carney of the Washington Examiner on March 5 wrote:

If you pay $200,000 a year to the company Donald Trump owns, you too can have access most weekends to the president and his top officials. As an alternative, your organization could cut a $150,000 check to bring in a couple of hundred people who will have a chance to schmooze with the president and cabinet officials. Foreign moguls and dignitaries welcome.

This isn't Bill Clinton's Lincoln Bedroom. This isn't the Clinton Foundation during Hillary's reign at the State Department. This is Mar-a-Lago.

Donald Trump, for the fourth weekend in the past five, has gone down to his Florida resort, and once again he is mingling with guests.

As attendees danced inside the ballroom where the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute held its gala, the president was spotted nearby, shaking hands and talking with club members and guests.
Earlier, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also took a few moments from high-level meetings to greet guests at the estate.

It's a nice setup for those who want some government favor and can afford a six-figure check. And it's a nice setup for Donald Trump.

Other possibilities for scandal: 

--Trump’s administration has oversight of Wall Street regulation, which includes policing Deutsche Bank’s activities, a company the Trump organization, the New York Times reported, owes up to $170 million for the Trump International Hotel loan.

-- Workers at Trump-owned hotels in the United States could take discrimination, pay, worker safety or health disputes to the National Labor Relations Board, whose members will be picked by President Trump.

-- If Trump hotels seek to fill job vacancies with foreign guest workers – as Trump did at the Mar-a-Lago Resort in Florida – President Trump’s Department of Labor and President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security would need to approve different aspects of the issuance of visas.

-- The Department of Housing and Urban Development could reverse its opposition to the lucrative sale of a large New York apartment complex partly owned by the President.

--His Environmental Protection Agency could roll back clean-water rules he and other golf course owners have said are harmful to their industry.

--Will there be any restrictions on lobbying by Mr. Trump's sons, business partners or other company executives?

--Would the company still accept foreign money for projects based in the U.S.?

1/28 – From The Washington Examiner

Trump Hotels' CEO announced plans this week for vast expansion of hotels in this country.  The conflicts are many.  Trump still owns the company, despite calls from Right, Left and center (including this page) to divest. Will Trump, in his presidential travel, favor cities where new hotels bear his name?  Will his massive infrastructure plans favor roads or transit around his new hotels?  Given his penchant for scattershot subsidies and taxes (see Carrier, for instance) will he help the business partners of his new hotels, or hurt their rivals in some way?

Business is suddenly good between Trump Family and China

In March it was reported that a company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, stands to receive more than $400 million from a prominent Chinese company that is investing in the Kushners’ marquee Manhattan office tower at 666 Fifth Ave.

The planned $4-billion transaction includes terms that some real estate experts consider unusually favorable for the Kushners. It provides them with both a sizable cash payout from Anbang Insurance Group for a property that has struggled financially and an equity stake in a new partnership.

The details of the agreement, which is being circulated to attract additional investors, were shared with Bloomberg. It would make business partners of Kushner Cos. and Anbang, whose murky links to the Chinese power structure have raised national security concerns over its U.S. investments. In the process, an existing mortgage owed by the Kushners will be slashed to about a fifth of its current amount. 

The document offers a rare look at a major deal by a close Trump associate and family member. It’s unclear whether the deal could prompt federal review, as occurred when Anbang bought other properties, like the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Anbang could also face review by the Chinese government, which has been clamping down on overseas investments and which has a range of pending issues with the Trump administration.

More questions were raised on February 15 when the Chinese government announced that Trump had been granted something he had been seeking for 10 years - trademark protection for the use of the Trump name in the construction industry.  The Chinese announcement came only six days after President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation, after which Trump announced he now supports the long-standing "one China" policy of the U.S. (In early December, 2016, president-elect Trump held, according to the Associated Press, a "highly unusual, probably unprecedented, for a U.S. president or president-elect" phone call with the leader of Taiwan, congratulating her on becoming president in 2016.) 

The Associated Press reported "This may well be the first foreign trademark to be handed to Trump during his presidency, but it unlikely to be the last.  In China alone he has 49 pending trademark applications." Then on March 8, AP News reported "China has now granted preliminary approval for 38 new Trump trademarks, paving the way for President Trump and his family to potentially develop a host of branded businesses from hotels to insurance to bodyguard and escort services."  Dan Plane, a director at Simone IP Services, a Hong Kong intellectual property consultancy, said he has never seen so many applications approved so expeditiously. 

Norman Eisen, an ethic guru, told the Washington Post, "I doubt the abrupt about-face by the Chinese authorities was because they suddenly determined that his legal case had merit.  It appears instead to be a not very subtle effort to influence him by giving him a very large and very valuable gift of these trademarks.  Presents from foreign governments 'of any kind whatever' are of course expressly forbidden by the foreign emoluments clause."

MICHAEL FLYNN - Resigned 2/13/17

National security adviser Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States, a month before President Trump took office, contrary to subsequent public assertions by Flynn and Trump officials, including Vice President Pence. In those calls with the Russian Ambassador, Flynn reassured Moscow that sanctions imposed by President Obama in late December over Russia's hacking of the 2016 U.S. election would be lifted by the incoming Trump Administration.

Days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration on January 20, Vice President-elect Mike Pence also denied that Mr. Flynn had discussed sanctions with the ambassador. He said he had personally spoken to Mr. Flynn, who assured him that the conversation was an informal chat that began with Mr. Flynn extending Christmas wishes.

“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Mr. Pence said on the CBS News program Face the Nation.

In late January, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, and a senior career national security official, informed the White House that they believed Flynn had misled the new administration about the nature of his communications with the Russians.  (Yates, a holdover from the Obama Administration, was subsequently fired by President Trump when she refused to support, in court, Trump's Muslim ban, which was ultimately rejected by a federal district court.)

On February 13, 2017, President Trump asked for Flynn's resignation and received it.

NOTE: Flynn now has the distinction of being fired by both Presidents Obama and Trump. He was fired in April, 2014 by the Democratic president after clashing with superiors over his alleged chaotic management style and vision for the agency.

UPDATE:  CNN reported February 16 the FBI is not expected to pursue any changes against Flynn. The FBI interviewers believe Flynn was cooperative and provided truthful answers.  Although Flynn didn't remember all of what he talked about, they don't believe he was intentionally misleading them.

The Trump Campaign and Russia

The New York Times reported February 14:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time that they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

On February 27, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said he has seen no evidence of improper communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.

But the alleged intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.

UPDATE: Law enforcement and intelligence officials have phone records and intercepted calls that show members of Trump’s campaign repeatedly communicated with senior Russian intelligence officials in the months before the election, the New York Times reported February 14. The FBI is also separately examining intercepted communications between the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who served with Sessions as a member of the Trump campaign’s national security advisory council. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees are also undertaking a review of the matter. In addition, Reuters reported February 18, "This counterintelligence inquiry includes but is not limited to examination of financial transactions by Russian individuals and companies who are believed to have links to Trump associates. The transactions under scrutiny involve investments by Russians in overseas entities that appear to have been undertaken through middlemen and front companies, two people briefed on the probe said."

On February 16 at a press conference, President Trump was asked if anyone in his campaign was in contact with the Russians before the election.  Politico reported, 'President Donald Trump dodged and then dismissed lingering questions about his relationship with Russia...first describing recent reports on the scrutiny as 'fake news,' then saying he has no knowledge of campaign associates contacting the country before the election.  Trump did not, notably, say definitively that his campaign had no contact with Russian officials, but vaguely offered that he had no knowledge that it had." On March 2, after stories broke indicating that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had not told his Senate confirmation hearings the whole truth about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the campaign, Sessions held a press conference. He announced he had, contrary to his testimony, met twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign and was recusing himself from overseeing any investigation(s) by his department related to Russia's contacts with the Trump campaign.

The New York Times reported in early March that American allies, including the British and the Dutch, had provided information describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials - and others close to Russia' president, Vladimir Putin - and associates of President-elect Trump.

On March 17, Reuters reported that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida.

“The buyers include politically connected businessmen, such as a former executive in a Moscow-based state-run construction firm that works on military and intelligence facilities, the founder of a St. Petersburg investment bank and the co-founder of a conglomerate with interests in banking, property and electronics.”

On March 20, FBI Director James Comey confirmed before the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI is investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 president election, including possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.  "This will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed," Comey told the intelligence panel.

Blog Editor’s Note 3/6/17: The Hill has reported that two members of Trump’s campaign team spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.  J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, two of Trump’s early foreign policy advisors, met with Kislyak at a conference hosted in Cleveland during the 2016 GOP convention.  Rolling Stone has reported other members of the Trump campaign that spoke with Russian representatives include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, informal advisor and personal friend Roger Stone and former campaign manager Paul Manafort. (Stone on March 10 admitted to the Washington Times that he had private conversations and exchanged emails with a hacker who helped leak information from the Democratic National Committee during the campaign. "It was so perfunctory, brief and banal I had forgotten it.") CNN reported that a foreign affairs advisor to the Trump campaign, Walid Phares, was also part of a meeting in July with the Russian ambassador. The New Yorker ran a list of Trump associates being investigated by the FBI for their Russian connections and included another, his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. And the Wall Street Journal reported the same day that Donald Trump, Jr. was paid $50,000 in October to speak before a French think tank in Paris whose founder and his wife are allies of the Russian government.

KELLYANNE CONWAY - received ethics instruction from White House Counsel in late February.

Kellyanne Conway on February 9 urged Americans to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” prompting a wave of backlash for potentially violating ethics rules of the executive branch.

Standing in the White House press briefing room, Conway, a counselor to the president, encouraged Americans to purchase Ivanka Trump’s products, one day after President Donald Trump himself lashed out at the department store Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s clothing line.

“It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it,” Conway told “Fox & Friends.” “I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”

Conway’s remark appears to violate the executive branch’s ban on staff endorsing products or companies. The regulation, from the Office of Government Ethics, also prohibits using public office for private gain of oneself or friends or relatives.   
At his daily press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Conway had "been counseled on that subject, and that's it," declining to further elaborate on whether or not the White House believed the counselor to the president had crossed a line.

The House Oversight Committee has asked the Office of Government Ethics to investigate Conway's endorsement of Ivanka Trump's clothing line on national television.

"Conway's comments clearly violate the ethical principles for federal employees and are unacceptable," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the Oversight Committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee's top Democrat, wrote in their letter to the Office of Government Ethics.

"Conway's statements appear to violate federal ethics regulations, which prohibit actions that imply a government endorsement of the 'personal activities' of another person," Chaffetz and Cummings wrote.  Chaffetz later told the Associated Press that Conway’s remark was “wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line.  Unacceptable.  It needs to be dealt with.  There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

The lawmakers noted that Conway's official title, "counselor to President Trump" had appeared onscreen during her television interview Thursday morning.

On February 14, Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), said Conway misued her official position and recommended that the White House discipline her for it. "Under the present circumstances, there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct Act and that disciplinary action is warranted."

Update: On March 1, the White House informed the Office of Government Ethics that Conway acted "without nefarious motive" and that a White House lawyer met with Conway to discuss the rules regarding endorsements by government employees. "We concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again."


The new Commerce Secretary plans to keep millions of dollars invested in offshore entities whose values could be affected by policies he implements in his new job. The interests are mostly in private companies registered in the Cayman Islands.

The assets include an oil-tanker company and 10 other entities that invest in shipping and real-estate financing.  Ross will oversee agencies with wide powers over trade, ranging from setting limits on textile imports to imposing duties on unfairly traded goods. The outcome of any trade negotiations could have a big impact on the transoceanic shipping section, according to economists.


A lawsuit filed by Melania Trump depicts her heightened profile as a “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to make millions of dollars in business, once again raising questions about the relationship between President Donald Trump’s official role and his family’s business interests.

The First Lady’s suit, filed February 6 in a New York state court, accuses The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, of libel for reporting last year claims that a modeling agency she worked for in the 1990s was also an escort service.

Because of the Daily Mail article, the First Lady’s lawsuit says, “plaintiff’s brand has lost significant value,” greatly reducing those opportunities. It claims $150 million in damages.

A spokeswoman for Melania Trump said she was not trying to make money from her role as First Lady.

UPDATE: On February 22, First Lady Trump altered her defamation lawsuit to erase its previous mention of a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to profit as a result of her being, "for a multi-year term...one of the most photographed women in the world." 

Editorial – New York Times  

Any veneer of plausible deniability about the Trump family’s greed and their transactional view of the most powerful job in the world was shattered this week by a defamation lawsuit the first lady, Melania Trump, filed.

Her assessment of the damage the claim has done to her earning potential is galling, and revelatory.

The timing of the story was particularly injurious, according to the lawsuit, considering that Mrs. Trump “had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model and brand spokesperson, and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multimillion-dollar business relationships for a multiyear term during which plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.”

There is no benign way to look at that claim. Mrs. Trump evidently believes her new title affords her a chance to rake in millions of dollars.

      50. Release his tax returns  - STATUS - PROMISE DROPPED

Background: After the election, on 60 Minutes, Trump again said that he would release his tax returns, despite his failure to live up to this promise for at least two years (he first made the promise in 2014 and repeatedly since.) As usual, Trump said that he couldn’t release his returns just yet because he is under routine IRS audit, even though the IRS says Trump is totally free to release his tax returns, audit or no audit.

Update: Two days after President Trump's inauguration, special assistant KellyAnne Conway told ABC's "This Week" that Trump would not be releasing his tax returns. "We litigated this all through the election.  People didn't care. They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like."


It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while
he is in love, drunk, or running for office.

Shirley MacLaine