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Here are 23 terrifying things that President Trump has done in the last seven days

Week one.

Donald Trump was inaugurated on Friday 20 January. This is his seventh day as president. He has not yet been in the job a full week.

But he’s been pretty busy – so here is a summary of some of the things he’s been up to.

I should warn you upfront that this is quite a long list – but it seemed worth taking the time to record quite how many frightening or ridiculous things a government can do in a short time period when it really puts its mind to it. 

1. On the day of his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive order instructing agencies to minimise the cost of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The order is unlikely to change much at first – but it signals the White House’s intent to dismantle the Obama administration’s attempts to create universal healthcare coverage. 

2. On Saturday, Trump stood in front of the CIA’s Memorial Wall – a memorial which honours those who have died in the line of duty – and gave what was widely perceived to be a stump speech. He praised himself for attracting such a big crowd to his inauguration, laid into the media for lying about him, boasted about the number of times he had appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, and generally talked far less about the CIA or intelligence issues more generally than he did about himself. 

3. Early reports that the CIA had cheered this speech were swiftly followed by others, in which it emerged that the front three rows had been stuffed with Trump supporters to ensure the president received applause. This is reportedly not the first time his team have used this trick.

4. At his first press briefing, Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer laid into the media for accurately reporting the size of Trump’s inauguration crowds (which, like the president’s hands, were surprisingly small). His colleague Kellyanne Conway later clarified that Spicer was not lying, but merely presenting “alternative facts”.

5. Later in the week, the president himself presented more alternative facts, this time about TV ratings. In an attempt to demonstrate that the right-wing Fox News is better and more popular than the neutral CNN, he tweeted the following:

6. Yesterday, to put the cherry on this particular cake, Spicer’s office released an email rounding up positive press coverage, just to make sure that the media had spotted it.

7. Trump’s team has hung a portrait of President Andrew Jackson (1829-37) in the Oval Office, apparently a nod to the populist sentiments of the new administration. 

Jackson is best remembered for signing the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced the native American population of the south eastern United States to relocate to reservations west of the Mississippi. In the resulting exodus, known to history as the “Trail of Tears”, more than 4,000 people died. 

Less famously, Jackson is also the president who introduced the Spoils System, under which new administrations purge the civil service and stuff it with their own supporters. He is a frankly terrifying model for a new administration to adopt.

8. On Monday, Trump signed an order re-introducing a Reagan-era gag policy which prevents federal funding from going towards any international organisation that offers or promotes abortion. You may have spotted the picture of half a dozen white men watching him do it:

The new policy will, in effect, defund organisations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International. That lack of funding will not merely prevent them from offering abortions, but also from providing contraception, family planning or health advice. Planned Parenthood’s Dawn Laguens said, “Women will die because of this”.

9. On Tuesday, President Trump threatened the city of Chicago with martial law:

One theory is that this was inspired by a feud with the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who had previously served as President Obama’s chief-of-staff. Another is that it was a panicked reaction to a segment on Fox News:

10. The same day, Trump resurrected plans for two oil pipelines – the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines – which had been rejected by the Obama administration. This was widely interpreted as a signal about the new administration’s attitude towards climate change.

11. Not that we needed that signal, to be frank, because the administration has also ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change pages from its website.

12. It will also require all scientific studies and data from the EPA to undergo review by political staff – that is, not scientists – before publication.

13. The administration also attempted to ban government agencies from tweeting about climate change, thus sparking a Twitter feud with the National Parks Service.

14. Trump also announced his intention to investigate voter fraud in this pair of tweets:

There is no evidence that any such voter fraud exists. By contrast, there is evidence of widespread disenfranchisement of African-American voters in swing states like North Carolina. 

Trump has yet to propose any investigation into the latter – or, come to that, to learn to thread his tweets.

15. Yesterday Trump confirmed that he was not kidding around, and signed an executive order calling for the “immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” between the US and Mexico.

It is not yet clear how this wall, which will need to be up to 1,000 miles long if it’s to prevent migrants from just walking round it, will be funded.

16. The same executive order includes a section mandating the Department of Homeland Security to publish weekly lists of crimes committed by immigrants. Let’s not understate this: this is fucking terrifying.

17. Another executive order will block the government from offering visas to anyone visiting from six Middle Eastern and East African countries (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen). A move that looks a lot like a partial version of the ban on Muslim immigration that he promised/threatened on the campaign trail.

18. The administration is also temporarily blocking refugees from entering the US.

19. Except for those fleeing Syria, who will instead be banned indefinitely.

20. Despite questions about conflicts between the president’s political and business interests, the head of Trump Hotels is talking about ambitious plans to massively expand the company’s operations in the US. (In its defence, the company does seem to have shelved plans to develop its business in China.) 

This news inspired a genuinely quite heartbreaking headline in The Onion:

21. Yesterday officials briefed that the administration wanted to reinstate the CIA’s “black site” prisons, where “enhanced interrogation techniques” – torture, basically – were used. President Trump later told ABC’s David Muir that torture techniques like waterboarding “absolutely” work.

22. In the same interview, broadcast last night, Trump said the following:

I can be the most presidential person ever, other than possibly the great Abe Lincoln, all right?

For those keeping score, that’s more presidential than Obama, and Reagan, and FDR, and Teddy Roosevelt, and the founding fathers. It’s only possibly more presidential than Abraham Lincoln, who won the Civil War and ended slavery.

But don’t get too excited yet:

But I may not be able to do the job nearly as well if I do that.

23. Trump ended the interview by showing Muir a photograph of the inauguration crowd and described it as “the sea of love”.


This is not a comprehensive list: there’s simply too much of this stuff. I haven’t included things that are still, at time of writing, just rumours (like scrapping the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities). Nor did it seem fair to dwell too much on terrifying things for which Trump is not directly responsible, such as the arrests of multiple journalists who covered the inauguration protests, or the fact the Economist Intelligence Unit no longer considers the US to be a full democracy. 

But the point is – it has been a busy, and terrifying, week. And this is just week one.

This list was meant to have a lot more jokes in it than this. But somehow, it doesn’t seem very funny.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan are both slippery self-mythologisers – so why do we rate one more than the other?

Their obsessions with their childhoods have both become punchlines; but one of these jokes, it feels to me, is told with a lot more affection than the other.

Andy Burnham is a man whose policies and opinions seem to owe more to political expediency than they do to belief. He bangs on to the point of tedium about his own class, background and interests. As a result he’s widely seen as an unprincipled flip-flopper.

Sadiq Khan is a man whose policies and opinions seem to owe more to political expediency than they do to belief. He bangs on to the point of tedium about his own class, background and interests. As a result he’s the hugely popular mayor of London, the voice of those who’d be proud to think of themselves as the metropolitan liberal elite, and is even talked of as a possible future leader of the Labour party.

Oh, and also they were both born in 1970. So that’s a thing they have in common, too.

Why it is this approach to politics should have worked so much better for the mayor of London than the would-be mayor of Manchester is something I’ve been trying to work out for a while. There are definite parallels between Burnham’s attempts to present himself as a normal northern bloke who likes normal things like football, and Sadiq’s endless reminders that he’s a sarf London geezer whose dad drove a bus. They’ve both become punchlines; but one of these jokes, it feels to me, is told with a lot more affection than the other.

And yes, Burnham apparent tendency to switch sides, on everything from NHS privatisation to the 2015 welfare vote to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, has given him a reputation for slipperiness. But Sadiq’s core campaign pledge was to freeze London transport fares; everyone said it was nonsense, and true to form it was, and you’d be hard pressed to find an observer who thought this an atypical lapse on the mayor’s part. (Khan, too, has switched sides on the matter of Jeremy Corbyn.)

 And yet, he seems to get away with this, in a way that Burnham doesn’t. His low-level duplicity is factored in, and it’s hard to judge him for it because, well, it’s just what he’s like, isn’t it? For a long time, the Tory leadership’s line on London’s last mayor was “Boris is Boris”, meaning, look, we don’t trust him either, but what you gonna do? Well: Sadiq is Sadiq.

Even the names we refer to them by suggest that one of these two guys is viewed very differently from the other. I’ve instinctively slipped into referring to the mayor of London by his first name: he’s always Sadiq, not Khan, just as his predecessors were Boris and Ken. But, despite Eoin Clarke’s brief attempt to promote his 2015 leadership campaign with a twitter feed called “Labour Andy”, Burnham is still Burnham: formal, not familiar. 

I’ve a few theories to explain all this, though I’ve no idea which is correct. For a while I’ve assumed it’s about sincerity. When Sadiq Khan mentions his dad’s bus for the 257th time in a day, he does it with a wink to the audience, making a crack about the fact he won’t stop going on about it. That way, the message gets through to the punters at home who are only half listening, but the bored lobby hacks who’ve heard this routine two dozen times before feel they’re in the joke.

Burnham, it seems to me, lacks this lightness of touch: when he won’t stop banging on about the fact he grew up in the north, it feels uncomfortably like he means it. And to take yourself seriously in politics is sometimes to invite others to make jokes at your expense.

Then again, perhaps the problem is that Burnham isn’t quite sincere enough. Sadiq Khan genuinely is the son of a bus-driving immigrant: he may keep going on about it, but it is at least true. Burnham’s “just a northern lad” narrative is true, too, but excludes some crucial facts: that he went to Cambridge, and was working in Parliament aged 24. Perhaps that shouldn’t change how we interpret his story; but I fear, nonetheless, it does.

Maybe that’s not it, though: maybe I’m just another London media snob. Because Burnham did grow up at the disadvantaged end of the country, a region where, for too many people, chasing opportunities means leaving. The idea London is a city where the son of a bus driver can become mayor flatters our metropolitan self-image; the idea that a northerner who wants to build a career in politics has to head south at the earliest opportunity does the opposite. 

So if we roll our eyes when Burnham talks about the north, perhaps that reflects badly on us, not him: the opposite of northern chippiness is southern snobbery.

There’s one last possibility for why we may rate Sadiq Khan more highly than Andy Burnham: Sadiq Khan won. We can titter a little at the jokes and the fibs but he is, nonetheless, mayor of London. Andy Burnham is just the bloke who lost two Labour leadership campaigns.

At least – for now. In six weeks time, he’s highly likely to the first mayor of Greater Manchester. Slipperiness is not the worst quality in a mayor; and so much of the job will be about banging the drum for the city, and the region, that Burnham’s tendency to wear his northernness on his sleeve will be a positive boon.

Sadiq Khan’s stature has grown because the fact he became London’s mayor seems to say something, about the kind of city London is and the kind we want it to be. Perhaps, after May, Andy Burnham can do the same for the north – and the north can do the same for Andy Burnham.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.