Trump boycott puts spotlight on correspondents’ chief

On Saturday night, Donald Trump will be meeting with screaming supporters at a campaign-style rally in Pennsylvania.

Back in Washington, the elites of the media world will be hobnobbing in black-tie with members of Congress and other well-heeled guests at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Trump, who is the first president to boycott the dinner since Jimmy Carter, will likely make hay over the contrast, celebrating his 100th day in office and declaring victory in his self-declared battle against a media he’s called a “danger to the country.”

On the other side of this battle of images on Saturday night will be Jeff Mason, the soft-spoken wire service reporter who heads the correspondents’ association and thus oversees the dinner.

Normally, this would be a night of triumph for the association’s president – a time to don a tuxedo and sit beside the most powerful man in the world as the president and the people who cover him exchange gentle barbs and affirm, in toasts, their commitment to the country and the principles of the First Amendment.

But that’s not what Mason is facing.

The 40-year-old Mason, who is known for his quiet diligence and straight-down-the-middle reporting as White House correspondent for Reuters, is hardly the portrait of the self-indulgent media elite that Trump seeks to lampoon. He’s preternaturally calm and soft-spoken. Even as he’s had to contend with crisis after confrontation in the White House briefing room, he’s kept such a low profile that some free-speech advocates have singled him out for criticism.

But his stewardship of the dinner will face inevitable scrutiny, from his decision to invite the Watergate duo of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to present the association’s awards to his choice of Muslim-American comic Hasan Minhaj as the evening’s entertainment.

Bash Trump too directly and play into his own narrative of war; fail to stand up for journalistic prerogatives and look like a feckless wimp.

"I didn’t anticipate that it would be the level of advocacy we’ve had to employ, at least three years ago when I was elected,” Mason acknowledged in his typically understated manner.

Indeed, when the 40-year-old Mason — who has been at Reuters for 17 years, starting as an airline-industry reporter in Germany — was elected to head the association, he knew he’d have a busier year than most: He would straddle the transition between Barack Obama’s White House to the next president’s.

But then Trump shook the political universe and, in the process, threatened to upend the media world as well. Suddenly, Mason was called upon to defend the traditional media role and practices, from preserving the tradition of having pool reporters cover every public event to determining who counts as a legitimate White House reporter as Trump’s administration seeks to invite more unconventional outlets into the briefing room.

Since even before Election Day, Mason has taken flak not only from the reporters, correspondents, producers and media executives looking to him as their advocate in the face of one of the most press-hostile presidents in history; but he’s also fielded attacks from the White House itself — such as frustrations over the lack of “decorum” among the White House correspondents. It’s a precarious balance. In recent months, Mason has become a more ubiquitous presence on television and on media panels across town, often talking about the president, the press, and his role as arbiter between the two.

Trump’s team suggested moving the daily White House briefing from the White House to a separate room, potentially in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the way. They also expressed reservations about a protective pool, refusing to allow reporters to follow the president around until he was formally inaugurated. In the early days of the administration, the White House was notoriously slow in sending out transcripts and texts of executive orders, leaving reporters to simply transcribe photos of the orders as Trump held them up to display after signing.

On every one of those issues, it fell to Mason and the board to explain to the new administration why it was in everyone’s benefit to uphold some of the media traditions Trump’s administration seemed so ready to break. And so far, many of those traditions have survived – something Mason sees as a victory.

Mason, he and the White House say, has both advocated for the role of the media while selling the White House on why they should want reporters on the White House grounds and following the president around as part of a protective pool.

Some journalists have grumbled that they wish Mason would be more aggressive in his dealings with the White House, arguing that the president and his staff have set off such unprecedented attacks on the press, and transparency, that Mason should hit them harder. After some outlets, including POLITICO, were blocked from attending a briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer in February, Poynter’s chief media critic James Warren pilloried the WHCA’s response.

"For sure, the association statement drew some supportive comments from members on an association listserv. But, rest assured, there were others who rolled their eyes and simply saw the statement as the dictionary definition of ‘weenie.’ They include some past presidents of the association with whom I touched base,” Warren wrote. “It was disappointing and suggested an underlying craving by some for peace and moderation and press-White House harmony. Intentional or not, it suggested how a bully can intimate his victims and make some of them cower."

But those who work closest with Mason said that his quiet modus operandi is actually the perfect way to approach the administration: anything more aggressive wouldn’t end well.

"It’s a mistake to confuse his calm demeanor with an absence of fight,” said WHCA board member and Yahoo News White House correspondent Olivier Knox. "Just because he doesn’t drop a lot of f-bombs doesn’t mean he’s not fighting for the press corps.”

Neither Mason nor the White House would discuss in detail their off-the-record conversations and negotiations — he and the WHCA board are in constant contact with the White House discussing everything from basic logistics to issues of transparency.

But Mason says behind the scenes he’s been known to if not raise hell, at least raise heck.

"I wouldn’t necessarily use the words ‘blown up’ but I’ve been in meetings with them where voices have been raised and it wasn’t just their voices being raised,” Mason said.

Born to a military family in Germany and raise in Colorado, Mason, attended Northwestern University Medill School of journalism for both a bachelor’s and master’s degree before embarking on a Fulbright grant in Germany. Soon he was covering the airline industry from Frankfurt before moving to Brussels, Belgium, to cover the European Union. He came back to the United States to cover the 2008 election and has been in Washington ever since.

Veterans of the White House press corps have noted that any presidential transition can be trying. When Bill Clinton’s team took over in 1993, the press team infamously locked the door between the upper and lower press areas, meaning reporters could not freely walk into the press secretary’s office to ask questions, setting off the tone of a testy relationship. But the 2017 transition had its own special challenge. Mason and many of his supporters in the briefing room see it as a victory that, for now at least, the briefings happen every day in the James S. Brady briefing room, that there is a protective pool, and that the pool gets invited to ask questions at “pool sprays” during some meetings.

It’s a sentiment that Spicer — the man on the other side of many negotiations with Mason — echoes as well.

“If you are a member of press corps you could have had no better champion than Jeff Mason in last few months,” Spicer said. “The board really does a good job representing folks from the media. You always want more but I think they have done a very good job. While we obviously don’t agree with them on all issues, they do an effective job of making the argument on behalf of the media.”

Mason has also had the unenvious task of planning this year’s Correspondents’ Dinner, the first in decades which the president and his entire staff have chosen to boycott. The simple act of picking the evening’s entertainment became a political minefield as Mason had to navigate choosing a comedian that, as Mason said, wouldn’t “roast” the president in absentia. But a mild, cautious performance could damage the dinner as well, opening up criticism that it was too soft on a president who has been anything but soft on the media — and who is hosting his own competing event at a rally in Pennsylvania.

In addition to balancing a new dinner, where the famous “Watergate” journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have been tapped to speak and hand out in awards in lieu of the president, Mason has also had to lead the search for a new executive director of the association when Julia Whiston leaves the position after more than two decades. (Former WHCA president Steve Thomma was tapped as the new executive director in April.)

"I think Jeff Mason has been pitch perfect in the way he’s handled it,” said former WHCA president and National Journal correspondent George Condon. "He’s had people egg him on to try and be more provocative and he has avoided it. He’s kept his eye on what he should keep it on and he’s had more challenge than any other president I can think of since I started covering the White House in 1982 and has handled it without a misstep."

And though this Saturday will feel like the culmination of a term, a celebratory dinner of sorts for Mason’s tenure, it’s not actually the end. His term runs through July.

“When the dinner’s over, I’ll just be a little less permanently stressed,” he said.

What is Trump’s Secret Service code name? And 19 other questions from his presidency.

The news cycle during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office has seemed never-ending, as the former businessman has continued his pre-Oval tweeting and rallies — in addition to running the free world by making deals, signing executive orders and hiring staff.

With the news coming at readers at a fast and furious pace, it’s been hard to keep up with every detail coming out of the administration.

There have been internal feuds, partisan battles, and — already — many an international spat. There were confirmation hearings and “alternative facts” and visits from world leaders. And there was a whole lot of tweeting.

How much of it have you absorbed? Take POLITICO’s quiz on Trump’s first 100 days to find out just how much you know.

Trump’s mad dash to 100 days

President Donald Trump has dismissed the idea of measuring the success of his first 100 days in office as “ridiculous.” But the president and his top officials have made a number of startling moves this week with the deadline in mind, and Trump has privately obsessed over getting a win before the cutoff.

The last-minute moves have frustrated some of Trump’s allies, caused a scramble across his government and proved once again that decisions are made by one man on his whims — and often with an eye to his media coverage.

To his supporters, it looks like the kind of action Trump promised as a candidate. “That’s how a CEO makes decisions,” said Rep. Chris Collins, a New York Republican.

Trump’s promise last Friday to deliver a tax plan within five days startled no one more than Gary Cohn, his chief economic adviser writing the plan. Not a single word of a plan was on paper, several administration officials said, and Treasury officials worked all weekend to draft a one-page summary of his principles with a news conference the president demanding the action.

“The reason your head is spinning on this is that the plan isn’t even written yet,” one senior White House official said this week as conflicting details emerged about what would be in the plan. “This was all about doing something in the first 100 days and really it’s doing the process backwards.”

When White House officials demanded last week a health care vote by the 100-day mark, Speaker Paul Ryan was traveling in Europe and taken aback. The leader of the House of Representatives wasn’t in on the plan, had no desire to vote this week and feared it wasn’t even possible. No one even knew what the bill would say because the language had not been written.

“It was totally insane,” one senior GOP aide said. “It made no sense. There was no reason to say a vote was happening this week.”

A number of White House officials only learned of the president’s plan to sign an executive order removing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement — and tout it during a 100-day rally in Pennsylvania — after it appeared in news reports. It was going to be “another accomplishment of our 100 days,” a senior official said. “The president wanted to do it this week.”

The looming 100-day marker has sent the White House into overdrive this week. Senior administration officials — chief of staff Reince Priebus, son-in-law Jared Kushner, legislative affairs head Marc Short, chief strategist Steve Bannon and Cohn — have held late-night sessions with reporters to sell the 100 days. Trump repeatedly asked aides for ideas with the marker in mind and has demanded plans for the event and lists of his accomplishments to highlight every single day of the week, administration officials said.

Trump ordered an event with Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin based on the 100-day marker, a person familiar with the planning said, leaving staff to rush and make it happen. It often takes weeks to plan an event.

The fear inside the West Wing, these people said, was that bad news coverage could lead to a staff shake-up, and many live with varying degrees of fear of losing their jobs. Priebus, several administration officials say, has been particularly concerned about the marker and the resulting news coverage.

The White House, which didn’t respond for comment, has tried to depict a busy and impatient president who is popular to his supporters because he promised to demand results. While the tax plan is nowhere near ready, the health care vote didn’t happen and Trump ended the week on NAFTA where he began, the president received news coverage of a busy week — and was talking about policies that were potentially moving instead of congressional failures or investigations into ties between Russia and Trump campaign officials.

“I think the paper-pushers may have a system, but he will override the system,” said Trump adviser Roger Stone. “He’s the decision maker.”

Still, aides described the lead-up as mad-dash, even by the typical Trump White House standards, with more focus on optics than substance.

In the case of NAFTA repeal, director of the White House National Trade Council Peter Navarro submitted the Executive Order to the staff secretary on Tuesday. The staff secretary traditionally circulates the policy for review to relevant decision makers including cabinet secretaries and others within the White House who want to weigh in, according to a White House official.

While it’s typical for the staff secretary to kick off the final stages of the decision making process, the process moved at rapid speed, with the President intent on signing the Executive Order just four days later on his 100th day, giving his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross little time to weigh in. Eventually, Trump was talked out of the move by nervous advisers and foreign leaders, who described the basics of the problem if he ended it.

“I was going to terminate NAFTA two or three days from now,” Trump said in the Oval Office on Thursday.

Over on Capitol Hill this week, moderate Republicans and conservatives worried about legislative text — and feared even more would lose their health care coverage, which could cost them their seats. The Congressional Budget Office hadn’t scored the proposal — it previously said 24 million would lose health care coverage — and this plan was likely to be worse, legislators worried.

Priebus, who publicly said it was unfair to expect the administration to vote quickly, repeatedly told aides there needed to be a quick vote, administration officials say, even though Ryan was not in a similar hurry. Some West Wing officials even pondered the idea of having the vote on Saturday — a signature accomplishment on the 100-day mark. Legislators tend to head home on the weekends.

“Their order was vote, vote, vote,” one Republican legislator said. A senior administration official, asked why the White House was rushing the vote, responded: “ I can’t wait for the 100-day shit to be over.”

Senior officials in the White House and Treasury wanted to keep working behind the scenes to create a more fully-baked tax plan that would get support from Capitol Hill Republicans. Then early this summer they could roll-out a detailed blueprint that would address concerns from House Speaker Paul Ryan and other fiscal conservatives worried about blowing up the deficit.

“Nobody wanted to do this now. We weren’t ready to do this now. But we weren’t given any choice,” said a second senior official close to the tax reform process.

Repeatedly peppered for details on how they would avoid blowing up the deficit, what income brackets the new individual rates would apply to and what rate they would charge companies to bring money back to the U.S., Cohn and Mnuchin had no answers. Instead they repeatedly promised more details to come at a later time.

Cohn even wound up snapping at a reporter for pressing for “micro-details” and not accepting the broad brush statements of aspirational goals. The result was widespread dismissal of the entire event by economic commentators.

Jason Furman, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, said the rollout out was the exact opposite of the way the previous administration put out pages worth of details on the Affordable Care Act, taking some of the pressure off Congress.

“The one pager the White House did was about as useful to the tax reform process as some random summer project of a Capitol Hill intern,” Furman said. “This is doing the process backwards with the White House doing the easy part and leaving the hard part all to Congress. And it makes it even less likely that anything ever gets done.”

Even Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, seen in the administration as one of the president’s staunchest defenders, was irritated, according to a person who spoke with him. Mnuchin had planned a trip to California this week, a White House official said, and left on Thursday, one day after the plan was announced.

A spokesman for Mnuchin said: ”The Secretary was very pleased that the President agreed to let us announce the plan this week.”

How nervous should Trump be about his poll ratings?

Those who voted for Donald Trump have almost no regrets about it. Among Republicans, his standing is strong: The president’s approval ratings typically top 80 percent.

But at the 100-day mark of his presidency, Trump is still lagging behind the pace of George W. Bush and Barack Obama among members of their own parties. Combined with the historic polarization of views about Trump’s first months in the White House, those numbers present a significant challenge to the president and his party in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections and beyond.

While Trump’s average approval rating among Republicans is 86 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster, George W. Bush was at 93 percent among Republicans at the eve of his inaugural 100-day anniversary. Barack Obama was at 92 percent among Democrats.

Polarization of views about Trump’s first months in the White House is nearly off the charts. Previous presidents had wide and deep support from their own parties, but also brought along independents and a sizable chunk of partisans on the other side. Trump isn’t experiencing that. While his numbers with Republicans only slightly lag Bush’s, even Bush had a significant number of Democrats in his corner at the 100-day mark of his administration.

Bush — who was also elected president under divisive circumstances and lost the popular vote — had a 31-percent approval rating among Democrats leading up to the 100-day mark, according to Gallup. Obama had a 28-percent approval rating among Republicans in late April of 2009.

Trump’s average approval among Democrats, according to HuffPost Pollster? Only 10 percent.

“It is remarkable,” said Mark Blumenthal, the head of election polling at SurveyMonkey.

SurveyMonkey’s latest poll gave Trump an 89-percent approval rating among Republicans — the highest of all major polls this week. But Trump’s approval rating among Democrats in the survey is only 11 percent.

“There was similar partisanship for George W. Bush and Obama,” Blumenthal continued, “but not this early."

Trump is also doing poorly with independents, polls show. On average, his approval rating with independents is only 39 percent. This time eight years ago, Obama had a 64-percent approval rating with independents, only slightly higher than Bush’s 61-percent score.

There are already signs that Trump’s standing after 100 days — Republicans like him, but few others do — is driving the way he is governing: robust executive action, while chafing against the other two branches of government.

Republicans support Trump on nearly every issue; it’s just a matter of degree. Setbacks like Trump’s inability to get a bill to replace the 2010 health care law off the ground in the House, aren’t affecting the president’s position with GOP voters and others who backed Trump in 2016.

“They’re not fazed by stuff like the health care problems,” said GOP pollster Glen Bolger, who conducted a poll of Trump voters for the University of Virginia Center for Politics this month. “Given their loyalty to him and their satisfaction with their vote, it would take a lot for their support to change.”

But because Trump is starting so low in polls with non-Republicans, there is little pressure on most Democratic lawmakers to work with him on most issues. House GOP hopes of advancing a health care bill don’t rely on winning over a single Democratic vote, for example.

Trump is further constrained by divisions in his own party. While Republicans back home may like Trump, there are nearly two dozen GOP members of Congress sitting in districts Trump lost last fall — and they loom as a threat to the health care bill and other key Trump initiatives, like an overhaul of the individual and corporate tax systems.

Previous presidents who began with a honeymoon among some Americans who opposed them in the election managed to use that limited political capital to advance their agendas. Obama, for example, pursued significant changes to the health care system — and though Republicans ultimately abandoned him, he signed the Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010.

Obama’s approval ratings suffered as a result. Despite beginning his presidency with wide support, by the summer of 2010, his ratings were underwater — his disapproval percentage exceeded his approval.

That collapse came largely as a result of Republicans and independents. While Obama had a 31-percent approval rating among GOP respondents in the Gallup poll at the 100-day mark, it was just 11 percent when he signed the Affordable Care Act. His approval rating among independents also dropped 20 points: from 64 percent to 44 percent. By comparison, the slide among Democrats was smaller, only 9 points, from 93 percent to 84 percent.

Trump, however, has never gotten the benefit of the doubt from non-Republicans, which is reflected in polls that show majorities of Americans disapprove of how Trump is handling his job as president. That might suggest public opinion of him and his job performance could remain stable for the time being, shaping a static, polarized and divided political environment prior to next year’s midterms.

“What does this imply about where his approval is six months or a year from now? We’re sort of used to seeing a president come in and have a honeymoon,” Blumenthal said. “It may mean he’s just sort of locked in. Obama, after about a year, got to the point where his approval was within a certain range … largely because of this partisanship.”

Trump’s First 100 Days, Ranked

Many of us political scribes are sizing up the meaning of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office with long essays about foreign policy evolutions or executive orders or presidential temperament. But I thought: What better way to mark the milestone than with a good old-fashioned ranking—a list, from best to worst, smooth to chaotic, squeaky-clean to scandalous, of all the president’s days in the White House so far? So, I developed a highly subjective objective points system, and began to count.

Here’s my methodology: Trump starts each day with a score of 50, then earns or loses points depending on the day’s events. For every substantive bill he signs or executive branch action, he gets two points. If an executive action is blocked in court, he loses 10 points. For partial judicial blocks or follow-up rulings, Trump loses two points. But when major legislation intended to fulfill a campaign pledge gets derailed, which only happened with health care, the penalty is stiff: 20 points.

For a major military or diplomatic success or failure, give or take five. Make it two for minor developments abroad. If Trump nominates someone for a key post requiring Senate confirmation, give him a point, and another if the person gets confirmed. (Five points for confirming a Supreme Court justice. That’s big league.) But lose five when a nominee withdraws. Every Sean Spicer gaffe is a loss of one point. Trump gets two points for leading a rally or for independent pro-Trump rallies. He loses two points for major anti-Trump rallies.

Deduct 10 points for major scandal developments, two for minor ones. Grant 10 points for every time a pundit declares, “Trump became president of the United States today.” Take away five points for embarrassing, leak-filled “palace intrigue” stories, and three points for breakout anti-Trump Saturday Night Live sketches. Give Trump two points when he gets in a game of golf, and one point for days he stays off of Twitter. A point is added or subtracted for every percentage point of movement in the day’s Gallup tracking poll of Trump’s job approval. Miscellaneous events are scored arbitrarily.

Finally, divide by 10. You’ll get a score for the day ranging from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. Herewith, from the impressive to the humiliating, are Trump’s first 100 days, ranked:


#1. February 28 – The Speech
Score: 7.7

On this day, Trump behaved like a normal president. In his primetime address to the joint session of Congress, he called for “all citizens to embrace this renewal of the American spirit” and said, “The time for trivial fights is behind us.” The speech’s emotional climax came when he honored the memory of fallen Navy Seal William “Ryan” Owens, telling his tearful widow, “We will never forget Ryan.” Liberal CNN pundit Van Jones declared, “He became president of the United States in that moment, period.” The drama of the moment washed away weeks of questions about the botched raid in Yemen that took Ryan’s life. And for a fleeting moment, Trump’s polarizing agenda felt a little less polarizing, as the country thought that maybe the blustery Trump had left behind his combative tendencies. On this day, Trump did not tweet.

#2. April 7 – The Strike
Score: 6.6

For the second time, a CNN commentator made the post-inauguration declaration, “Donald Trump became president of the United States.” No, Fareed Zakaria didn’t say it just because Trump fired off some missiles, but because he did it in the name of upholding an international agreement against the use of chemical weapons. Beyond the strike, the day had other hallmarks of a White House interested in governing. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was confirmed. Trump’s Mar-a-Largo summit with the Chinese president wrapped without diplomatic incident. Trump reportedly told his warring aides Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon to “work this out” because, according to the New York Times, “Mr. Trump said he recognized that the continuing state of drama was unsustainable.”

#3. April 3 – The Handshake
Score: 5.8

April 3 featured Trump’s handshake with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. By warmly welcoming Egypt’s strongman president to the White House, Trump was achieving a key nationalist foreign policy goal: de-prioritizing human rights in favor of transactional alliances that serve the narrow national interest. He delivered for social conservatives by cutting off support for the United Nations Population Fund, which provides contraception and other family planning services to women around the world. Trump also signed three bills that scrapped Obama-era regulations regarding hunting on federal land in Alaska, workplace safety record-keeping and internet privacy. On the other side of the ledger, Buzzfeed reported that former Trump adviser Carter Page “met with and passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013.” And the Washington Post uncovered that “The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump.”

#4 (tie). March 14 – Manipulating Maddow
Score: 5.7

Rachel Maddow took to the airwaves armed with Trump’s 2005 tax return, which had been mailed anonymously to journalist and tax expert David Cay Johnston. Coming a day after the Congressional Budget Office leveled a devastating blow to the House Republican bill to replace Obamacare, the tax story briefly diverted attention away from negative stories about health care reform and showed nothing scandalous. Trump also had a chummy meeting with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, afterwards heralding “a historic turning point in bilateral relation of the two countries.” Salman even went as far as to defend the travel ban, which did not target his country. The statement showed Trump successfully reorienting America’s foreign policy priorities and alliances, for better or worse.

#4 (tie). April 10 – Trump Basks
Score: 5.7

Three days after the Syrian strike, Trump was rewarded with a CBS poll showing 57 percent of Americans supported the decision. He also savored the swearing-in ceremony of Justice Gorsuch. And he engaged in one of his favorite presidential pastimes: taking credit for corporate investments planned before the election. On this day, it was Toyota’s $1.33 billion investment in a Kentucky factory. But a worrisome development clouded the day. The Los Angeles Times reported that an official with Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said Russia has been providing the Taliban with money, weapons and “strategic advice”—a blow to Trump’s hope that Putin would be a partner in combatting terrorism.

#6. March 6 – Squeezing ISIS in Raqqa
Score: 5.6

This day was most known for the Republican introduction of the American Health Care Act, a revised “travel ban” executive order and Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s painful attempts to explain Trump’s accusation that Obama wiretapped him. But perhaps the most important event was that, according to the New York Times, “American-backed militia fighters in Syria … severed the last remaining access for supply deliveries to Raqqa”—the “de facto capital” of ISIS—“and may have eliminated an escape route for Islamic State fighters.”

#7 (tie). January 24 – Turn on the Spigot
Score: 5.5

Early points on the board: Trump signed executive orders that reversed Obama’s procedural blocks of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL pipeline. Now, the Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to be in service next month, though the Keystone application has yet to overcome the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

#7 (tie). April 13 – Trump Bombs the S—t Out of ISIS
Score: 5.5

The GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb—or the “mother of all bombs” —was successfully dropped on an ISIS tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan, killing around 100 militants with no reports of civilian casualties. Trump also signed legislation that makes it easier for states to refuse Planned Parenthood funding, and scraps an attempt by Obama to help cities and counties create retirement savings programs for private-sector workers. But a POLITICO dispatch this day also warned Trump that his base was unhappy than Bannon appeared to be sidelined. And Carter Page continued his series of unhelpful interviews, telling ABC News that during a visit to Russia, discussion of easing sanctions “may have come up in a conversation. … We’ll see what comes out in this FISA transcript.”

#7 (tie). April 24 – Timber!
Score: 5.5

Trump got real on trade, as the Commerce Department announced plans to impose a tariff on Canadian softwood lumber. Sonny Perdue was confirmed as agriculture secretary. And Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee complained about the pace of its investigation into Russia’s election interference.

#10. April 9 – Twitter Diplomacy
Score: 5.4

Trump had a quiet Sunday in the aftermath of his missile strike in Syria, getting some golf in while at Mar-a-Lago. But a tweet furthered his desire to strengthen America’s alliance with Egypt. Following an ISIS bombing of two Coptic churches, Trump praised the Egyptian leader: “I have great confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly.”



#99. February 9, 2017 – Flynn Pinned
Score: 2.4

On no day was the White House under siege on more fronts than this fateful Thursday. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn tacitly admitted to the Washington Post that he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump was inaugurated, one day after a flat denial. Meanwhile, a unanimous three-judge panel in North Carolina upheld a lower court’s restraining order blocking the “travel ban.” Trump angrily tweeted “SEE YOU IN COURT” but later submitted to the decision. Back in the White House briefing room, counselor Kellyanne Conway exhorted Americans to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” days after Nordstrom announced it was dropping her line of branded productions. House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz immediately declared Conway “wrong, wrong, wrong” and signed a bipartisan letter to the Office of Government Ethics requesting “recommendations for disciplinary action, if warranted.” To cap the awful day, Reuters broke the news that an internal Department of Homeland Security report had pegged the cost of a border wall at $21.6 billion, nearly double what the Trump campaign estimated and a poor omen for the proposal’s prospects in Congress.

#98. March 24, 2017 – Obamacare Wins
Score: 2.7

Facing certain defeat at the hands of his own party, House Speaker Paul Ryan cancelled a planned vote on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. The Pentagon launched an investigation into a series of recent strikes in Iraq and Syria alleged to have caused the deaths of nearly 300 civilians. Trump’s environmental deregulatory agenda collided with the California Air Resources Board. The panel voted to stick to the agreement, forged with the Obama White House, to double vehicle fuel efficiency by 2025 in defiance of Trump’s move earlier in month to reconsider the standards. But, Trump also gained two points in the Gallup tracking poll.

#97. March 20 – The Comey Double-Whammy
Score: 3.3

During his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the bureau was actively investigating whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government. And he debunked Trump’s wild claim that Obama had ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower phones. Meanwhile, a Ukrainian member of Parliament released documents suggesting former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had tried to hide payments from the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Trump applied a balm to his woes that evening with a rally in Louisville before thousands of adoring fans. He was also buoyed by the smooth beginning of the Gorsuch confirmation hearings.

#96. February 10 – Shinzo Feels Our Pain
Score: 3.4

Democrats pushed for Flynn’s ouster one day after his tacit admission. Trump played dumb, telling reporters on Air Force One, “I don’t know about that. I haven’t seen it. What report is that? I haven’t seen that. I’ll look into that.” Meanwhile, POLITICO published a leak-stuffed report citing “aides and allies” who said Trump was “increasingly frustrated with the challenges of running the massive federal bureaucracy,” that “his mood has careened between surprise and anger” and “the transition from overseeing a family business to running the country has been tough on him.” Trump was also skewered in social media for his awkward, protracted handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who, in his facial expression, seemed to channel the world’s incredulity. On the upside: Tom Price was confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services.

#95. February 3 – Travel Ban Banned
Score: 3.6

Trump suffered his first major judicial defeat when a Republican-appointed district court judge in Seattle issued a nationwide restraining order throttling implementation of his travel ban. Earlier in the day, Trump continued to befuddle voters with his obsession over his replacement host for “The Apprentice.” “Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger did a really bad job as Governor of California and even worse on the Apprentice,” tweeted Trump, “but at least he tried hard!" And he lost his nominee for secretary of the Army, Vincent Viola, who withdrew after difficulty resolving conflicts of interest with his business assets. Trump did flex some foreign policy muscle, slapping Iran with sanctions in response to a ballistic missile test. "Iran is playing with fire,” Trump added on Twitter, “they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!"

#93 (tie). March 30 – New Mess With Nunes
Score: 3.7

Eight days after House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes undercut Comey’s testimony and claimed to have evidence that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition,” the New York Times reported that the information was fed to Nunes by two White House officials. Nunes then circled back to the White House to brief the president, instead of vetting the information in bipartisan fashion with his committee—setting off a rash of complaints. Meanwhile, Trump seethed about the previous week’s Obamacare repeal failure, tweeting out a threat to the far-right freedom caucus: “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” And the EPA embarrassed Trump by leading a press release meant to tout an executive order with the statement, “President Trump has chosen to recklessly bury his head in the sand.” The EPA apologized for “mistakenly” sending an “internal draft.” Finally, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh resigned. The move was portrayed as voluntary, but days later, CNN reported “people who know Walsh said … it was doubtful she left of her own volition … and [it] reflects poorly on [Chief of Staff Reince] Priebus’ ability to protect his hires, or himself.”

#93 (tie), April 6 – Nunes Recuses
Score: 3.7

Days of Democratic pressure got to Nunes, as he recused himself from leading the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation. The New York Times reported that the CIA told senior lawmakers last summer that “it had information indicating that Russia was working to help elect Donald J. Trump president.” The Times raised the prospect that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who “did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months,” may be ensnared by the probe. CNN reported there is “paranoia and unrest among top staff” with “rival factions” led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and “alt-right” leader Steve Bannon, who was removed from the National Security Council the day before. The Daily Beast headlined “Steve Bannon Calls Jared Kushner a ‘Cuck’ and ‘Globalist’ Behind His Back.” POLITICO revealed the infighting seeps throughout the bureaucracy, “paralyzing federal agencies, which have been hamstrung by slow hiring, disorganization and an overall lack of direction.” But the Senate delivered Trump a present: deploying the nuclear option and cueing up Gorsuch’s confirmation. And Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived at Mar-a-Lago without diplomatic incident.

#92. March 2 – Sessions Recuses
Score: 3.8

Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried to quell a firestorm about his contacts with Russians during the campaign by recusing himself from any investigation involving the 2016 campaign. But former Trump campaign aide Carter Page added to the fire, recounting on MSNBC that "I’m not going to deny that I talked with [Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak].” And the New York Times found that Kushner and Kislyak had a meeting that included Flynn during the transition. The effort to craft an Obamacare repeal bill was mocked by Sen. Rand Paul, who dubbed it “Obamacare lite.” He then went on a public hunt for the draft, reacting to a Bloomberg story that “The document is being treated a bit like a top-secret surveillance intercept” by House negotiators. Things were a little better in the Senate, which confirmed Ben Carson and Rick Perry to the departments of Housing & Urban Development and Energy, respectively. And Trump’s Transportation Department delighted the airline industry by suspending the process for creating a rule that would have increased transparency in airline passenger fees.

#89 (tie). February 2 – Pray for Arnold, Ivanka and the Bowling Green Massacre Victims
Score: 3.9

Trump roiled the National Prayer Breakfast by going on an extended rant about “Apprentice” host Schwarzenegger: “I want to just pray for Arnold … for those ratings.” Trump would soon have a new focus for his enmity: Nordstrom, which on this day dropped the sale of his daughter’s product line after poor sales. Conway became a laughingstock when, during an MSNBC town hall she defended the travel ban by claiming Iraqi refugees “were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” even though no Bowling Green Massacre ever occurred. Trump attracted plenty of mockery of his own when the content of his belligerent phone call with the Australian prime minister was leaked. He called a refugee agreement between the two countries “the worst deal ever” and the phone call “the worst call by far.” According to the Washington Post report published a few days later, Trump also “boasted about the magnitude of his Electoral College win.”

#89 (tie). February 13 – Out Like Flynn
Score: 3.9

Hours after Conway insisted, “General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president,” Flynn resigned, taking blame for “inadvertently brief[ing] the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador.” However, Trump ended the day with more staff than the day before, as Steven Mnuchin and David Shulkin were confirmed to lead Treasury and Veterans Affairs, respectively. Trump also pulled off a warm meeting with his ideological opposite, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, temporarily quelling fears of a trade war between the two countries. Trump also struck a blow in the drug war by imposing sanctions on Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who was described by Bloomberg as “one of the most-senior government leaders of any country” targeted “under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.” The White House received a letter from the Office of Government Ethics saying Conway should be disciplined for hawking Ivanka Trump’s product line. She wasn’t.

#89 (tie). February 1 – “Almost Everything That Could Go Wrong Did”
Score: 3.9

The New York Times delved into the botched Yemen raid, concluding, “almost everything that could go wrong did.” A Reuters dispatch captured complaints of Trump’s decision-making process from anonymous “military officials” who said Trump “approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” Trump opined on Fredrick Douglass during a Black History Month event, calling him “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and he’s being recognized more and more, I noticed.” A leaked transcript of a call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto suggested Trump threatened military action: “You have a bunch of bad hombres down there … I just might send [our military] down to take care of it." (The White House and the Mexican government disputed the characterization that Trump was threatening.)


Trump had 24 days with a score between 5.1 and 5.3.

Tied for #11 (Score: 5.3)

January 23: Trump junked the Trans-Pacific Partnership and stopped funding for international family planning services that offer or promote abortions. His CIA director was confirmed. And he complained to members of Congress about nonexistent illegal votes for Hillary Clinton.

January 25: Trump signed executive orders that launched his crackdown on illegal immigration and construction of the southern border wall. He also approved the fateful counterterror raid in Yemen.

February 18: Trump held a rally in Melbourne, Florida, and played golf. He confused everyone by wrongly suggesting a terrorist attack happened the previous night in Sweden.

February 22: The Education and Justice Departments jointly revoked Obama’s policy supporting transgender students’ ability to use the school bathroom of their choice.

March 27: Trump signed four bills erasing Obama-era rules, including one that would have required federal contractors to disclose labor law violations.

April 12: Trump gleefully recounted on Fox Business Network how he told the Chinese government about the Syrian strike over chocolate cake. He also ditched a campaign pledge to label China a currency manipulator.

April 21: Trump met with the charity worker his administration helped free from an Egyptian prison. But the House Intelligence Committee, without Nunes at the helm, invited former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testify about the Russian investigation.

April 28: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Trump’s EPA and suspended the case over Obama’s landmark climate regulations. Trump also repealed Obama’s ban on Arctic Ocean drilling by executive order.

Tied for #19 (Score: 5.2)

January 20: Inauguration Day! With riots!

February 25: Trump ate a well-done steak with ketchup at his Washington hotel with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Nigel Farage and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

February 27: Wilbur Ross was confirmed as commerce secretary, and the Justice Department partially abandoned a legal challenge to the Texas voter ID law.

March 9: After portions of the health care bill cleared House committees, Trump tweeted, “Despite what you hear in the press, healthcare is coming along great. We are talking to many groups and it will end in a beautiful picture!” (It did not.)

March 25: The day after the health-care defeat, pro-Trump rallies were held in several cities, and Trump played golf at Virginia’s Trump National. But the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd penned an open letter: “You, Donald, are getting a reputation as a sucker. And worse, a sucker who is a tool of the D.C. establishment.”

April 1: Trump promoted a survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, which found “Manufacturers’ Optimism at 20-Year High.” The New York Times reported that Flynn did not include payments from Russia on his financial disclosure forms.

April 4: The Syrian government killed dozens with chemical weapons in rebel-held Idlib province, which Trump swiftly condemned. The deputy secretary for homeland security was confirmed and an assistant secretary of the Treasury was nominated.

April 8: Chinese state media praised President Xi’s summit meeting with Trump. Bannon and Kushner met to reduce tensions. Trump golfed, and tweeted about why he didn’t bomb Syrian airbase runways.

April 14: Trump was surely happy with the “failing” New York Times, which reported, “Many Supporters Are Unfazed by His Reversals.” And he got in some golf at Trump International. But a judge ruled cities can sue the federal government over Trump’s executive order targeting so-called “sanctuary cities.”

April 15: Trump didn’t let the Tax Day march get in the way of golf. Plus, North Korea’s missile test failed, possibly due to a U.S. cyberattack.

April 16: Trump defended China on Twitter: “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens.” And he got defensive about Tax Day marchers: “Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over."

April 20: Trump learned that the Egyptian-American charity worker would be freed from prison. But Homeland Security’s inspector general warned that the department is too understaffed to carry out Trump’s immigration crackdown.

Tied for #31 (Score: 5.1)

February 19: Trump played golf and clarified that last evening’s reference to Sweden was not about a terrorist attack, but a Fox News segment.

March 22: During a Time interview, Trump giddily cited information released by Nunes (later revealed to have initially come from the White House) giving credence to Trump’s claims of being wiretapped by Obama. (The resulting Time cover: “Is Truth Dead?”)

March 23: As his health-care bill neared a scheduled House vote, Trump met with truckers and got to play with a steering wheel.

March 28: Trump signed a wide-ranging environmental executive order that rescinded several Obama-era initiatives regarding climate change. He also lashed out at the Freedom Caucus for rejecting his health care bill: “The Republican House Freedom Caucus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”


Trump had six days in which the needle did not move. This is not to say they were dull.

Tied for #35 (Score: 5.0)

January 31: Neil Gorsuch was nominated for the Supreme Court, and Elaine Chao was confirmed as Transportation Secretary. Spicer famously explained why Trump referred to a travel “ban” while denying it was a ban at all: “He’s using the words that the media is using.”

February 20: H.R. McMaster was appointed national security adviser, replacing Flynn. The Swedish prime minister scolded, “We must all take responsibility for using facts correctly and verifying any information that we spread.”

February 24: Trump spoke at the annual CPAC conference and attacked the FBI for leaks. Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection solicited proposals from contractors regarding building the wall.

March 12: Sen. Rand Paul warned Trump: “We’re not going to vote for” the House health-care bill.

March 19: A game of golf compensated for a three-point drop in the Gallup tracking poll.

April 5: Bannon was booted off the National Security Council. Trump baselessly accused Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice with a crime. Trump declared that Syria crossed “many, many lines.”


Trump had 48 days with a score between 4.0 and 4.9.

Tied for #41 (Score: 4.9)

January 27: Trump signed the travel ban. United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May was welcomed to the White House, though her name was misspelled on the official schedule.

February 8: Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general, and Trump attacked Nordstrom.

February 17: Trump delivered a well-received speech at a Boeing factory in South Carolina, while Sen. John McCain delivered a speech in Munich widely interpreted as critical of Trump. Scott Pruitt was confirmed to lead the EPA.

February 21: Trump condemned the spate of threats to Jewish community centers, after being criticized for silence. Trump derided the “so-called angry crowds” who flooded Republican town halls.

March 8: A day of reaching out. Trump met with two House Democrats about prescription drug prices and had dinner with Ted Cruz’s family. Sen. Mark Warner and some colleagues visited the CIA as part of their Russian investigation.

March 29: Trump hit his lowest level in the Gallup tracking poll, 35 percent. The EPA ignored its science advisers and rejected a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos in pesticides.

April 17: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin conceded tax reform won’t be done by August. But the White House Easter Egg Roll was not a disaster.

April 22: Trump awarded a Purple Heart at Walter Reed Medical Center, while tens of thousands attended March for Science protests.

April 26: Trump agreed to re-negotiate NAFTA after flirting with termination, announced a thinly detailed tax reform plan, agreed to continue Affordable Care Act subsidies and did not start World War III after briefing the entire Senate on North Korea.

April 27: Trump removed Obama-era caps on troop levels in Syria and Iraq. The House again delayed a vote on Obamacare repeal.

Tied for #51 (Score: 4.8)

February 12: POLITICO reported that Trump was “complaining to friends and allies about some of his most senior aides,” but that did not get in the way of golf at Trump International.

March 3: Trump defended Sessions in a tweetstorm after the attorney general recused himself from the Russia investigation.

March 10: The Associated Press reported, “Trump transition knew Flynn might register as foreign agent.”

April 2: White House aides mistakenly told reporters that Kushner arrived in Iraq before he actually did, creating a potential security risk. Trump played golf with Sen. Rand Paul at Virginia’s Trump National.

Tied for #55 (Score: 4.7)

January 26: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled his White House visit to protest the border wall executive order, but the mayor of Miami dropped “sanctuary city” status.

February 7: Betsy DeVos was confirmed as education secretary. Senator McCain criticized the Yemen mission: “I would not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success.”

March 7: Conservatives and moderates in the House Republican caucus recoiled at the unveiled health-care bill.

April 18: An aircraft carrier said to be headed toward North Korea was actually headed toward the Indian Ocean. Democrat Jon Ossoff nearly won 50 percent in the first round of the special election in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, the former district of HHS Secretary Tom Price.

April 23: Trump tried on Twitter to explain why he’s asking taxpayers for border wall money: “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.”

Tied for #60 (Score: 4.6)

January 22: Kellyanne Conway coined the term “alternative facts.”

January 30: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates refused to defend the travel ban and was quickly fired. The New York Times editorial board criticized “President Bannon,” irking Trump.

February 6: The speaker of the British Parliament refused to let Trump address his chamber in an upcoming visit due to “our opposition to racism and to sexism.”

February 11: Trump was briefed on North Korea in the middle of Mar-a-Lago. And he hit two golf courses with the Japanese prime minister. A Saturday Night Live sketch channeled the mood of blue America: “I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell out of me.”

March 11: Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone admitted to having an exchange with Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0.

March 18: The Washington Post reported, “Inside Trump’s White House, New York moderates spark infighting and suspicion.” Trump played golf at Trump International.

March 31: Trump signed legislation negating an Obama-rule that sought to limit states’ ability to require drug testing for receipt of unemployment benefits.

April 25: A district court partially blocked Trump’s immigration executive order, preventing Justice and Homeland Security from cutting off funds to sanctuary cities.

Tied for #68 (Score: 4.5)

January 29: Navy Seal William “Ryan” Owens was killed in the botched Yemen raid.

February 16: Trump held a boisterous press conference in which he insisted, “I see stories of chaos. It’s the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. … There’s zero chaos.”

March 26: Trump held meetings at Trump National in Virginia for an hour but likely did not golf. (Photos show him watching golf on TV.) Trump vented on Twitter about his health-care defeat: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!”

April 19: Sarah Palin, Kid Rock and Ted Nugent visited the White House.

Tied for #72 (Score: 4.4)

February 4: After Bill O’Reilly told Trump that Vladimir Putin is a “killer,” Trump retorted, “You think our country’s so innocent?” Melissa McCarthy debuted her impression of Sean Spicer. Trump played golf at Trump International.

March 1: The Washington Post uncovered that “Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose.”

March 5: POLITICO reported, “There’s a real frustration among many — including from the president — that things aren’t going as smoothly as one had hoped.”

March 16: While the Senate Intelligence Committee debunked Trump’s wiretap claim, Spicer doubled down and suggested British spies were involved. Budget director Mick Mulvaney argued for cutting funds for Meals on Wheels.

March 17: Trump refused to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand. (He later said he did not hear her invitation to shake.)

April 11: Spicer apologized after saying Hitler did not use chemical weapons. A drone killed 18 allied Syrian rebels in what the Washington Post deems, “the worst friendly fire incident of the war against the Islamic State."

Tied for #78 (Score: 4.3)

January 21: Trump’s first full day as president was dominated by the Women’s March, while Trump inflated the size of his inaugural crowd while addressing the CIA, and Spicer insisted the crowd was actually the largest ever, “Period.”

February 5: The White House bristled at the New York Times’ depiction of a White House in disarray: “Aides confer in the dark because they cannot figure out how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room,” and Trump watches “television in his bathrobe …. offering a bitter play-by-play of critics like CNN’s Don Lemon.” Earlier in the day, Trump played golf.

February 14: The New York Times and CNN exposed “repeated” and “constant” contacts between top Trump campaign advisers and Russian spies.

February 26: The father of the Navy SEAL killed in Yemen ripped Trump in a Miami Herald interview: “I told them I don’t want to meet the president. … Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? … Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation.”

#82 (Score: 4.2)

January 28: Travel ban protesters swarmed airports while a judge partially, and forebodingly, blocked the executive order.

Tied for #83 (Score: 4.1)

February 23: CNN reported that “the FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians. … Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.”

March 13: The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 24 million fewer people would have coverage under the House Republican health care bill.

March 21: Trump half-jokingly threatened Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows: “I’m gonna come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote ‘yes,’” on the Obamacare repeal bill. Freedom Caucus members would later cite the exchange as a reason the bill failed.

Tied for #86 (Score: 4.0)

February 15: The Wall Street Journal learned that “U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised.” Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder withdrew.

March 4: Trump woke up, accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones without any evidence, claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger got “fired by his bad (pathetic) ratings, not by me,” then hit some golf balls at Trump International.

March 15: The second attempt at a travel ban was stymied again by a district court judge. POLITICO reported that White House staffers work in “an environment of fear that has hamstrung the routine functioning of the executive branch.”

Research assistance was provided by Lakshmi Varanasi.