Getty
Show Hide image

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 Brexit. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

CREDIT: GETTY
Show Hide image

Barb Jungr’s diary: Apart-hotels, scattered families and bringing the Liver Birds back to Liverpool

My Liver Birds reboot, set in the present day with new music and a new story, is coming to life at the Royal Court Theatre.

For the last three years I’ve been writing a musical. Based on Carla Lane and Myra Taylor’s Liver Birds characters Beryl and Sandra, but set in the present day with new music and a new story, it is coming to life at the Royal Court Theatre – in Liverpool, appropriately. Amazingly, the sun shines as the train ambles into Lime Street, where Ken Dodd’s statue has recently been customised with a feather duster tickling stick and some garlands of orange and lime green. Outside the station, composer Mike Lindup and I buy a Big Issue. We have a scene opening Act Two with a Big Issue seller and we are superstitious. We check into our “apart-hotel”. Apart-hotel is a new word and means a hotel room with a kitchen area you will never, ever use.

At the theatre everyone hugs as though their lives depend on it; we are all aware we are heading into a battle the outcome of which is unknown. There will be no more hugging after this point till opening night as stress levels increase day by day. I buy chocolate on the way back as there’s a fridge in my apart-hotel and I ought to use it for something.

Ships in the night

There’s no point in being in Liverpool without running by the river, so I leap up (in geriatric fashion) and head out into the rain. You’d think, since I grew up in the north-west and cannot ever remember experiencing any period of consecutive sunny days here, that I’d have brought a waterproof jacket with me. I didn’t. It springs from optimism. Misplaced in this case, as it happens. I return soaking but with a coconut latte. Every cloud.

We have been in the theatre for seven hours. Everything has been delayed. The cast are amusing themselves by singing old television themes. They have just made short shrift of Bonanza and have moved on to The Magic Roundabout. We may all be going very slightly mad.

As hours dwindle away with nothing being achieved, Mike and I pop to the theatre next door to enjoy someone else’s musical. In this case, Sting’s. It’s wonderfully palate-cleansing and I finally manage to go to sleep with different ear worms about ships and men, rather than our own, about Liverpool and women.

Wood for the trees

This morning “tech” begins (during which every single move of the cast and set, plus lighting, costume, prop and sound cues must be decided and logged on a computer). Problems loom around every piece of scenery. Our smiles and patience wear thin.

By the end of the 12-hour session we know we have the most patient, professional cast in the known cosmos. I, on the other hand, am a lost cause. I fret and eat, nervously, doubting every decision, every line, every lyric. Wondering how easy it would be to start over, in forestry perhaps? There is a drug deal going on across the road in the street outside the hotel. My apart-hotel kitchen remains as new.

First preview

I slept like a log. (All those years of working with Julian Clary make it impossible not to add, “I woke up in the fireplace”.) At the crack of dawn we’re cutting scenes in the Royal Court café like hairdressers on coke. Today is ladies’ day at Aintree, which feels apropos; tonight we open Liver Birds Flying Home, here.

The spirit of Carla Lane, who died in 2016, always dances around our consciousness when we are writing. She was very good to us when we began this project, and she was incredibly important to my teenage self, gazing out for role models across the cobblestones.

I grew up in Rochdale, a first-generation Brit. My parents had come here after the war, and what family we had was scattered to the four winds, some lost for ever and some found much later on, after the Velvet Revolution. I had a coterie of non-related “aunties” who felt sorry for us. Ladies with blue rinses, wearing mothball-smelling fur coats in cold houses with Our Lady of Fátima statues lit by votive candles in every conceivable alcove. To this day, the smell of incense brings it all back. Yet the northern matriarchy is a tough breed and I’m happy to carry some of that legacy with pride.

Seeing the theatre fill with people is terrifying and exciting in equal measure. We’ve had to accept that the finale isn’t in tonight’s show because of lack of technical time. I’m far from thrilled. The show, however, has a life of its own and the actors surf every change with aplomb. The audience cheers, even without the finale. Nonetheless, I slouch home in despair. Is it too late to change my name?

Matinee day

The fire alarm is going off. I know that because I’m awake and it’s 4am. As I stand in reception among the pyjama-clad flotsam and jetsam of the apart-hotel, I suspect I’m not the only one thinking: if only they’d had alarms this annoyingly loud in Grenfell. I don’t go back to sleep. I rewrite the last scene and discuss remaining changes for the morning production meeting with my co-writer, George.

The Saturday afternoon performance (which now includes the finale) receives a standing ovation in the circle. The ratio of women to men in the audience is roughly five to one. In the evening performance it is 50/50, so I’m curious to see how Beryl and Sandra’s story plays to the chaps who’ve been dragged out on a Saturday night with their wives. In the pub after the show a man tells Lesley, the actress playing present-day Beryl, how moved he had been by what he’d seen and heard.

A few years ago I stood behind Miriam Margolyes as we were about to go on stage at the Royal Festival Hall in a Christmas show. She turned to me, saying, “Why do we do this to ourselves?” We agreed: “Because we can’t do anything else!” I suspect forestry is out of the question at this juncture. 

“Liver Birds Flying Home” is at the Royal Court, Liverpool, until 12 May.

Barb Jungr is an English singer, songwriter, composer and writer.

This article first appeared in the 18 April 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Enoch Powell’s revenge