Here is a series of moments that tell the story of President Donald Trump's first year in office, from his travel bans to the tax code overhaul to close out 2017....
Here is a series of moments that tell the story of President Donald Trump's first year in office, from his travel bans to the tax code overhaul to close out 2017.
Trump's travel bans
There have been three Trump travel bans – but it was the first, issued just a week into his presidency, that caused chaos and protests at airports around the country (above, a protest at Kennedy Airport). His move, citing terrorism concerns, to temporarily ban travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees – and indefinitely ban Syrian refugees – soon ran into trouble with federal judges. Trump issued a revised ban that the Supreme Court allowed partial enforcement of; it was followed by the current version that is being fully enforced; there are several legal challenges making their way through the courts.
Going 'nuclear' to get Gorsuch
In April, the president's Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed after the Senate used the “nuclear option.” Once Democrats blocked a confirmation vote for Gorsuch, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially ended filibusters of Supreme Court nominees, allowing Gorsuch to be confirmed by a 54-45 vote. "I have no doubt you will go down as one of the truly great justices in the history of the U.S.," Trump said at the White House swearing-in for Gorsuch, who restored conservatives’ majority on the court, taking the seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Trump fires FBI director
In early May, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump initially said he fired Comey "because he wasn't doing a good job,” before telling NBC News that the Russia probe was on his mind when he terminated him. The week after, former FBI chief Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee the agency’s investigation, including whether Russia coordinated with Trump campaign associates. Above, Comey the week before his firing.
Trump reveals decision on climate change deal
As June began, Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate change agreement in “a reassertion of America's sovereignty,” casting the global deal as ineffective in protecting the environment. "This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” he said. The move was one of many campaign pledges Trump followed through on – and one of a series of steps his administration took to dismantle President Barack Obama’s climate change policies.
Attempting to repeal Obamacare
Congressional leaders and President Trump made multiple high-profile attempts in 2017 to achieve the longstanding Republican goal of repealing Obamacare. The most memorable moment came in July, when Arizona Sen. John McCain, just back to the Senate after a brain cancer diagnosis and surgery, gave a dramatic thumbs-down to a partial “skinny repeal,” killing the bill as he joined Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to vote no. The tax law at the end of the year repealed the individual mandate for health insurance starting in 2019, however.
Trump on Twitter: Unfiltered, with a dash of 'covfefe'
Trump’s first year has been defined by his unfiltered approach and unprecedented tone on Twitter. He’s used it to assail his critics and the media, communicate directly with Americans, announce sudden policy changes, take on complicated international problems (such as Palestine and North Korea) and go where other presidents didn’t. For example, he accused his predecessor of ordering wiretapping in Trump Tower (which an Obama spokesman said was “simply false"). And then there was the nonsequitur misspelling of the year, “covfefe.”
Notable Trump players make quick exits
One feature of the Trump administration’s tumultuous first year: the quick exits of key players including National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (gone after just three and a half weeks), Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and a Cabinet secretary, Tom Price. Turnover turmoil hit its peak from July 21-31, when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer quit after the president named Anthony Scaramucci communications director and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus lost his job. Scaramucci, from Port Washington, was himself ousted after less than two weeks.
'Blame on both sides' in Charlottesville, Virginia
After being criticized for initially saying there was “violence on many sides” in Charlottesville, Virginia – where a white nationalist rally was held – and then giving a more conventional statement calling the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis “criminals” and “thugs,” Trump doubled down during a Trump Tower news conference on Aug. 15. He said “there’s blame on both sides” for the violent clashes between white supremacist groups and counterprotesters – drawing condemnation from across the political spectrum.
Threatening to 'totally destroy North Korea' if necessary
President Trump’s debut address to the United Nations General Assembly in September was a headline-grabber that raised the stakes considerably with North Korea. He threatened the United States would “totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend itself or allies from its nuclear weapons program. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” he said about the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – who responded with a statement saying he would make Trump “pay dearly for his speech."
Trump takes on the NFL over national anthem protests
At a campaign rally in Alabama for Sen. Luther Strange in September, Trump said that NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem, framing it as disrespect for the flag. He tweeted “Fire or suspend!” while suggesting a boycott that Sunday. He sparked demonstrations and defiance around the league that day, with more than 200 players kneeling or sitting during the anthem.
The Mueller investigation
Russia and Robert Mueller have loomed over the Trump administration’s first year. The president has denied any collusion with Russia numerous times, but the special counsel’s investigation has generated charges against four people in 2017 – including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort in October, who has sued, saying prosecutors exceeded their bounds with his charges. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Big tax bill, big win
In the waning days of the year, President Trump celebrated his first major legislative accomplishment – a $1.5 trillion tax package that’s the biggest overhaul of the nation’s tax code in three decades. The law mixed big tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy with tax relief for middle-class families that Trump called “the heart of our bill.” Long Island and New York taxpayers were hit with the elimination of the full deduction for state and local taxes, however.
What will 2018 bring?
After Republican election victories earlier in 2017, the tide turned in November and December. Democrats won governor races in Virginia and New Jersey and a Senate seat in the red state of Alabama, where Doug Jones narrowly defeated Roy Moore -- whom Trump supported despite sexual misconduct allegations. Trump has a fiercely loyal base but with historically low approval ratings for a first-year president, there are questions about his political power as he starts his second year in office.