The early months of Donald Trump’s unprecedented presidency were filled with actions that will have long-lasting effects.
On his domestic agenda, he has confronted legislative and judicial roadblocks, and has been forced to learn he must share power with competing branches of government.
On the worldwide stage, he has exerted his influence as a diplomat and commander-in-chief, establishing relationships with foreign leaders and flexing U.S. military might.
Amid assessments of his first 100 days, the White House has encouraged a longer lens. “In our view, we’re here for eight years,” a senior official said.
Here are five major news events of Trump’s first months and how they may affect this presidency going forward.
Missile strike on Syria
April 6: Trump ordered the first direct U.S. military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad of the six-year civil war.
The 59 cruise missiles that hit a Syrian airbase were retaliation for the killing of dozens of citizens in a chemical weapons attack. Trump said he was moved to action by images of the dead, including “beautiful little babies.”
Going forward: The strike and the administration’s policy on Assad are factors in multiple relationships, including those with Congress, multinational alliances such as NATO, and Russia.
As a one-time event, it garnered bipartisan approval on Capitol Hill, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and others have demanded a long-term plan, and Schumer questioned what future military action Trump will take without congressional approval.
The administration also did not consult the North Atlantic Treaty Organization before the strike. In a visit a week later to the White House, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed the alliance’s condemnation of chemical weapons but stressed the strike was a U.S. operation and did not say what role NATO will play in the intervention. As for Russia, a senior White House official at a news briefing this week on national security said, “While we are going to confront what we regard as Russia’s inappropriate and regretful support for the Assad regime ... we’ll continue to look for ways to cooperate with Russia.”
In this file image provided on Friday, April 7, 2017 by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea.
Pulling of the Obamacare repeal bill
March 24: Without enough votes to pass the chamber, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was forced to withdraw legislation he and Trump embraced as their best chance to repeal and replace Obamacare — a promise made early and often by Trump during the presidential campaign. The bill would have had an even tougher road in the Senate.
“He believed somehow that there was a unified Republican Party that would act in unified Republican matter,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a New York-based Democratic political operative. “Congress is not a uniform body but tribes.”
Going forward: Even though Trump is trying to get House Republicans back to the table, the failed first attempt was a lesson that his legislative agenda won’t sail through even a GOP-controlled Congress.
To advance a health care bill, Trump may have to work with Democrats, as Rep. Pete King (R-Seaford) has encouraged for the tax code overhaul and massive infrastructure investment proposals on deck.
In this photo, Donald Trump reacts with Vice President Mike Pence after Republicans abruptly pulled their health care bill from the House floor, in the Oval Office of the White House on March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Tweets accusing Obama of wiretapping
March 4: In a flurry of morning tweets, Trump made stunning accusations against former President Barack Obama.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” he posted, offering no evidence.
White House officials have not taken back the claim but noted, in seeking to reframe the charge, Trump’s use of quote marks, which they said meant that Trump was talking surveillance by the prior administration in general.
Congressional intelligence committees were asked to investigate as part of probes already underway into alleged Russian interference in last year’s election. They have not found evidence to support Trump’s claim, and FBI Director James Comey testified his agency also has no proof of it.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a Trump transition team member who has since recused himself from probes involving Trump and Russia, offered Trump cover of sorts by saying an unamed source told him that Trump team communications may have been incidentally picked up as part of routine U.S. surveillance of foreign officials.
Going forward: The accusations may hurt Trump’s credibility. Susan Del Percio, a New York-based GOP political operative, called the episode as the lowest point of Trump’s first days.
“It’s a temperament issue, it’s a respect-for-the-office issue, it’s a credibility issue,” she said. “To make an accusation like that against a former president with no proof whatsoever is just wrong, and a president should not do that.”
Confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch
April 7: The Senate confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch to fill the ninth Supreme Court seat, which had been vacant for more than a year.
After the Democrats filibustered, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used the so-called nuclear option to pave the way by lowering the threshold of votes necessary to approve Gorsuch.
Trump’s nominee restored the high court to the conservative majority it had before Antonin Scalia’s death.
“That’s the biggest thing I’ve done,” the president told the AP.
Going forward: Gorsuch will be part of Trump’s lasting legacy. He could tip the court to the right in cases in the near future on a range of issues.
“A justice to the Supreme Court can be a lifetime appointment,” Del Percio noted. “He can shape the court for decades.”
In this photo, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, administers the judicial oath to Judge Neil Gorsuch as his wife Marie Louise Gorsuch holds a bible and President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House April 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
Feb. 13: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned amid the revelation that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn’s discussion, before Trump took office, with a Russian ambassador about Obama-era sanctions.
Trump said he ousted Flynn because he was dishonest with Pence, but continued to defend the retired Army lieutenant general otherwise.
Going forward: The departure of a high-ranking administration official just weeks into Trump’s presidency brought to the surface questions about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia that continue to swirl.
This week, Flynn was again in headlines, this time with the Pentagon probing Flynn for apparently failing to secure permission to receive payments from foreign groups. He took a speaking fee in 2015 from a Kremlin-backed news station.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the probe “appropriate,” but blamed Obama, who first appointed but then fired Flynn, for bungling the security clearance.
In this photo, former national security advisor Michael Flynn attends a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 at the White House in Washington, D.C.