President Donald Trump on Tuesday gave himself high marks for his first five weeks in office, saying he earned an A-plus for effort and an A for his achievements — but also a C or C plus for “messaging.”
Despite his view that he hasn’t gotten his message across adequately, Trump boasted in a taped interview with “Fox & Friends” on Fox News that he had done more than just about any other president during his first month.
On the day he was to deliver the most important speech in his young presidency before a joint-session of Congress, Trump also pushed ahead with his agenda, signing an executive order aimed at rolling back an Obama-era Clean Water Act regulation.
“EPA’s so-called Waters of the United States Rule is one of the worst examples of federal regulation and it has truly run amok and is one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers all across our land,” Trump said.
The rule has been tied up in court, though if implemented it would provide protection for Long Island’s wetlands, said former EPA official Judith Enck, a visiting scholar at Pace University’s Haub Law School.
After Trump was criticized for failing to comment on the shooting death of an Indian national in an apparent hate crime last week, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday said he condemns any “racially or religiously motivated attacks.”
In the Fox News interview, Trump covered an array of issues that have arisen in his transition into the White House, which he called a “surreal” experience.
Trump said he believes former President Barack Obama and his aides are responsible for the White House leaks and are behind protests over plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act against Republican lawmakers across the country.
“I think that President Obama is behind it, because his people are certainly behind it,” Trump said. He added he wasn’t surprised, saying, “I’m changing things that [Obama] wanted to do.”
Trump also said Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who died in a Jan. 19 raid in Yemen, helped collect “tremendous amounts of information,” rejecting Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) criticism that it was “a failed mission.” Trump said he understood when Bill Owens, the SEAL’s father, didn’t want to see him, saying “there’s nothing worse” than losing a child.
Trump also acknowledged there are hundreds of unfilled jobs in his administration, but he called many of them “unnecessary.” And he said he does not want to fill them: “I say, ‘What do all these people do?’ You don’t need all those jobs.”
One opening was filled Tuesday when Vice President Mike Pence swore in billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as U.S. Commerce Department secretary a day after the Senate confirmed his nomination in a bipartisan 72-27 vote.
Also Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order that moves an initiative to assist historically black colleges and universities from the Education Department into the White House.
He also signed bills to require NASA to encourage elementary and high school girls to pursue careers in aerospace and related fields, and to require the National Science Foundation to encourage women working in laboratories to consider becoming entrepreneurs.
With The Associated Press