Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Amberdale children's home was a council run home in Stapleford in Nottinghamshire, England, where staff committed serious sexual offences against girls and boys in the 1980s. Some staff received significant prison sentences. Site: Amberdale, in Stapleford near Nottingham, was operated by Nottinghamshire County Council from 1982 to 1996 as a centre for children experiencing problems such as abuse by their families, fostering difficulties or avoiding school. The site later became Clayfields House Secure Unit. Abuse: Children in their mid teens were sexually exploited by staff in the 1980s, in various ways including rape. At least one girl ran away to escape ongoing sexual abuse. Nottinghamshire Police Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin explained that its effects "can last a life-time, affecting not just the survivor themselves but also those closest to them." It persisted because "systems were not in place, across many institutions, to protect children from that abuse." Victims faced "obvious barriers to disclosure" and even successful disclosures "weren’t always dealt with appropriately". Child protection violations: Staff routinely violated safeguarding provisions, which were intended to prevent further abuse after an Amberdale carer was jailed in the 1980s for serious sexual offences. They disabled bedroom alarms at night and refused to maintain a presence on that floor. One former resident recalled having to "hold a girl up who was hanging from the staircase and shout - for what seemed an infinity - for help because there were no staff available on the floor." No one questioned why sexually abusive staff member Dean Gathercole frequently took girls into his mother's house. His constant "touchy" physical contact child protection breaches were also mindlessly accepted. Concealment: Some staff were suspicious of Myriam Bamkin, for example from hearing sexual activity in a boy's tent during a camping trip. They reported their concerns to Amberdale's head, who told them to keep the abuse secret. Dean Gathercole warned a girl he raped twice in a nearby apartment not to speak about the crimes to anyone or she would be disbelieved. She only reported this to police decades later in 2014, finally enabling Gathercole to be charged. Victims: The testimony of three victims enabled the conviction of two Amberdale offenders. Two were girls raped by Dean Gathercole – one in a nearby apartment and the other in his mother's bed. The third was sexually exploited as a boy by Myriam Bamkin. Gathercole's "discharged" victim: The female who was raped by Dean Gathercole in his mother's bed had mixed experiences of seeking justice, including "dismissive attitudes towards young victims of abuse from the underclasses". She was abused so severely that she ran away, fleeing Gathercole's intolerable campaign of harassment and sexual assaults. Afterwards, she could not live there because Gathercole said she was "discharged", which he said he was powerless to undo. When she finally came forward in 2000, in Oxclose Lane police station, she was asked in an "accusatory tone" how she had been dressed and "whether I was a virgin". Police showed "no compassion, sympathy or the slightest bit of understanding", leaving her "feeling like I was the criminal, that I had done something wrong". She gave a statement and Gathercole was arrested. He was released without charge because the Crown Prosecution Service accepted his explanation for why she could describe his "undressed physique" and mother's bedroom. After police informed her that Gathercole had been sacked, she still worried about his access to other girls, causing "a mental health crisis I was not equipped to handle" and "a great deal of anxiety". Her experience was very different after a second victim reported Gathercole to police in 2014. Operation Equinox officers worked with police in Ireland, where she was living and visited her there in 2017. She found these officers "understanding", "patient", "compassionate" and "straight-talking". Then during the trial, she was forced to surrender all her medical, therapy and social media records to Dean Gathercole and his defence team. These intrusive demands felt like being abused "all over again". Sentences: -Dean Gathercole 17 years -Myriam Bamkin 2½ years Dean Gathercole: On 4 May 2018, social worker Dean Gathercole was convicted of serious sexual offences against a 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl in Amberdale and initially jailed for 19 years, which was reduced to 17 years on appeal. He was worked in Amberdale between 1983 and 1989 and committed the crimes during that time. He was described by a victim as "a bully who instilled fear in young people". His convictions were for raping and sexually abusing two teenage girls. He raped one girl twice in a nearby apartment that prepared teenagers for adult life and warned her that if she speaks about it, she will be disbelieved. She informed police decades later in 2014. He raped the other girl on his mother's bed in 1987. He took the girl out in order "to run an errand" and gave her a tour of his mother's house, where he perpetrated the crime. He followed this attack with a sustained campaign of harassment and sexual assaults at Amberdale, including one in his car. In the end she fled the home. When she tried to return, Gathercole told her Amberdale had "discharged" her, which he said he was powerless to undo. She did not report the crime, fearing being disbelieved, until 2000. In 1987 and again in 1988, Gathercole was arrested and released without charge after two girls in Amberdale reported him for serious crimes. Amberdale responded by transferring the girls elsewhere. In 1989, he left Amberdale and became a team leader in Repton Lodge – a children's home in Worksop. From 1991, he led a team in another children's home in Carlton and was sacked in 1997 for "inappropriate behaviour", suspicious financial activity and losing files on children. When the Amberdale victim he was convicted of raping in his mother's bed reported it in 2000, Gathercole was arrested and released without charge. In 2014, when the other woman came forward, he was investigated under Operation Equinox and charged in May 2017 with eight sexual offences including two counts of rape. After Gathercole was sentenced, Operation Equinox senior investigator Rob McKinnell thanked the two women for their "immense courage" in "showing that it can be done". He said a fear of being disbelieved "is something we have heard when it comes to non-recent cases" and nowadays "things are different, people are listened to". He continued: "I hope this case sends a message to survivors of non-recent child sexual abuse that Nottinghamshire Police takes any report very seriously. We strive to get justice for people so I would urge anyone who has experienced this to come forward and report it to us." The NSPCC said: "Gathercole used his position of trust to groom and abuse extremely vulnerable children who needed guidance and support", causing "unimaginable pain and suffering". Judge Jeremy Lea said Gathercole "got away with this for far too long" and it is "difficult to imagine a greater or more despicable breach of trust". Nottinghamshire County Council apologised Gathercole's victims, who "should have been offered the highest level of safety and protection". It said the convictions for his "horrific crimes" and "despicable" betrayal of trust was only made possible by their "determination, courage and bravery". It asked "anyone who has suffered abuse of any kind to come forward and report it either to ourselves or to Nottinghamshire Police". Myriam Bamkin: Myriam Bamkin was jailed for 2½ years in 2018 for her sexual relationship in 1985 with a "troubled, vulnerable" 15-year-old boy and permanently added to the sex offenders' register. She was banned from work with children and had already been suspended as a fostering team manager. The boy's childhood had been "difficult and violent", making him "troubled" and "vulnerable" when he arrived in Amberdale. There, she "exerted authority over him" and groomed him with copious attention and extra privileges, such as letting him have cigarettes and go to the shops more often. She spent much time next to him, including in his bedroom watching TV and in the gym where she began a sexual relationship with him. He reported her to police on 5 April 2016. She was investigated under Operation Equinox and charged in March 2017 with four sexual offences at Amberdale. She pleaded not guilty on 25 May 2017 and changed her plea to guilty for indecent assault a year later on 29 May 2018. Detective Constable Vincent Clark welcomed the sentence and hoped it "will give the victim some closure on what happened all those years ago." He said Bamkin "manipulated" the boy into sex when he was "totally reliant on the adults around him". Steve Edwards, the council's director of youth services and social work, praised the victim's "courageous step" of contacting police. He said "Bamkin betrayed the trust of the children she was responsible for and her colleagues" and assured victims: "All allegations of abuse, historical or current, are taken extremely seriously, and we as a council work tirelessly to bring the perpetrators to justice. I would encourage anyone who feels they have been abused to contact Nottinghamshire Police.” Pension controversy: Bamkin was allowed to retire from the council on a full pension, to the dismay of victims groups. Nottinghamshire County Council said this was beyond its control because Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) Regulations enable employees to retire with a pension once they are aged between 55 and 75, and it "has no discretion to vary" this entitlement. She continued working for the council after the 1985 offences and was a fostering team manager when the crime was finally reported to police in 2016, resulting in her suspension. Then she retired before her conviction, making it impossible to apply for pension forfeiture from the Secretary of State, the council believed. It contacted "the Government and the LGPS technical team to confirm our interpretation and suggesting that they review the current regulations." The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government commented: "Forfeiture cases are rare, and each case is looked at on its own merits." It said the regulations are often reviewed. Nottinghamshire Child Sexual Abuse Survivors Group questioned whether legal advice was sought at the time of Bamkin's suspension, because "if she had been dealt with at the time the tax payer would not be footing her pension bill". It said that "in sharp contrast" to victims, Bamkin will enjoy "a very comfortable retirement". The East Midlands Survivors group said people guilty of "nasty crimes should not be getting funded by the state for the rest of their lives.”
The Child Abuse Reform and Enforcement (CARE) Act is a United States law aiming to "promote the improvement of information on, and protections against, child sexual abuse". Major provisions of the act: The Child Abuse Reform and Enforcement Act was enacted on March 10, 2000 to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect. Major Provisions of the Act: -"Authorized the use of Federal law enforcement funds by States to improve the criminal justice system in order to provide timely, accurate, and complete criminal history record information to child welfare agencies, organizations, and programs that are engaged in the assessment of activities related to the protection of children, including protection against child sexual abuse, and placement of children in foster care -Allowed the use of Federal grants by law enforcement: -To enforce child abuse and neglect laws, including laws protecting against child sexual abuse -To promote programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect -To establish or support cooperative programs between law enforcement and media organizations to collect, record, retain, and disseminate information useful in the identification and apprehension of suspected criminal offenders -Increased the amount of federally collected funds available to the States for implementation of State Children's Justice Act reforms"
The National Child Victim Identification Program (NCVIP) is the world's largest database of child pornography, maintained by the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the United States Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) for the purpose of identifying victims of child abuse. The program was created by Andrew Oosterban, head of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. Development of the database began in 1999, and it was launched in 2003. It contains images contributed by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), FBI, Secret Service, Postal Inspection Service, and several other organizations. In March 2005, the Justice Department's database was merged with that of the NCMEC. The database uses image analysis software developed by LTU Technologies to detect victims. As a security measure, police are not allowed to personally browse the database, and they cannot identify victims by name. Instead, they are given contact information for higher-level officers who have security clearance. When child pornography is seized, specialist FBI investigators analyze the entire collection before running the images through the database, as the way the computer files are organized can help in identifying victims. Following a seizure of more than 10,000 images in California in 2007, two officers from the Washington Field Office of the FBI reviewed every image. In early 2006, United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales used images from the NCVIP database to view child pornography, as part of a campaign for his Project Safe Childhood initiative. According to a speech he gave at the NCMEC, Gonzales saw images of "older men forcing naked young girls to have anal sex", "a young toddler, tied up with towels, desperately crying in pain while she is being brutally raped and sodomized by an adult man", and "a mere infant being savagely penetrated". He described the experience as "shocking".
In the United States, Obama-Trump voters, sometimes referred to as Trump Democrats or Obama Republicans, are people who voted for Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama in the 2008 or 2012 presidential elections (or both), but later voted for Republican Party nominee Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Data shows that in 2016, these voters comprised roughly 13% of Trump voters. In 2012, this segment of voters made up 9% of total Obama voters. Seven percent of 2012 Obama voters did not vote at all in 2016, and 3% voted for a third party candidate. While some analysts consider Obama-Trump voters to have been decisive in Trump's 2016 victory, others have disputed this conclusion. According to research done by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, compared to other voters, Obama-Trump voters have liberal economic views and conservative social views. Though these voters supported Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections, they are less supportive of Republicans as a whole, and show a desire to change the status quo. Studies: Various studies estimate the percentage of 2016 Trump voters, who had previously voted for Obama, at between 11 and 15 percent. The Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) found that 11% of 2016 Trump voters had voted for Obama in 2012, with the American National Election Study putting the number at 13%, and the University of Virginia Center for Politics estimating 15%. Expressed in total number of voters, these percentages indicate that between 7 and 9 million 2016 Trump voters voted for Obama in 2012. According to a May 2017 McClatchy news report, an analysis by Democratic political firm Global Strategy Group estimated that Obama-Trump voters accounted for more than two-thirds of Obama voters who did not vote for Hillary Clinton. Significance: Some analysts have argued that Obama-Trump voters had a disproportionately large impact on the 2016 election because they were concentrated in key swing states in the Midwest while others have said they were actually "Obama Republicans" rather than Democrats to begin with. Some have disputed both the quantity and the significance of Obama-Trump voters in deciding the outcome of the 2016 election. Dana Milbank argued in an August 2017 Washington Post column that the number of such voters was initially overstated and that most of them were Republicans who only defected from their party to vote for Obama, not Democrats who defected to support Trump. Nate Cohn countered Milbank's assessment by arguing that Milbank's focus on national data obscured the magnitude of Democratic defection in 2016 to support Trump. Cohn noted that when looking specifically at white Obama voters with no higher education than a high school diploma, Clinton won only 74% (based on data from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group) or 78% (based on the Cooperative Congressional Election Study). In a 2021 interview about their book Trump's Democrats, Stephanie Muravchik and Jon A. Shields noted that many Obama-Trump voters likewise voted for Trump in the 2020 election, in some counties in even larger numbers than in 2016. Muravchik and Shields assessed that these "flipped" Democrats would continue to be a key factor in future elections. Voters' views: Shortly before the 2016 election, The New York Times reported that Obama voters who planned to vote for Trump felt he embodied the "change" they had hoped for when they voted for Obama. Multiple focus groups of Obama-Trump voters convened by the Roosevelt Institute and Democracy Corps in early 2017 showed that in general these voters wanted to change the status quo and had skeptical views of Congressional Republicans and their proposals. The same focus groups also indicated that these voters hoped President Trump would help reduce health care costs for working-class Americans, and that they were anxious about some immigrant groups. A multi-year survey completed by the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group found that Obama-Trump voters generally had liberal views on economic issues, but conservative views on social issues. In a 2017 editorial for New York Magazine, Eric Levitz noted that data from the CCES indicates 75% of Obama-Trump voters supported repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. According to an article in Politico, a September 2017 Democracy Fund Voter Study Group poll found that 70% of Obama-Trump voters approved of the job Trump was doing as president. This figure was significantly lower than the 88% approval rating among all Trump voters. Similarly, the percent of voters who disapproved of Trump's performance in this poll was much higher among Obama-Trump voters (22%) than among Trump voters as a whole (9%). In the 2020 U.S. presidential election (in a record turnout for both the Republican and Democratic Party candidates) while Trump lost the election to Democrat Joe Biden, Trump still received millions more votes than he had received in 2016, and likewise Biden received more votes than did Hillary Clinton in 2016. In a 2021 interview about their book Trump's Democrats, Stephanie Muravchik and Jon A. Shields assert that (in light of the even higher turnout for Trump in 2020 in many counties that had previously flipped from Obama to Trump) the views, geographical location, and votes, of Obama-Trump voters, will continue to be important in U.S. elections.
In the United States, Sanders–Trump voters, also known as Bernie–Trump voters, are Americans who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 or 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries (or both), but who subsequently voted for Republican Party nominee Donald Trump in the general election. In the 2016 election, these voters comprised an estimated 12% of Sanders supporters. In contrast, more than 70% of Sanders supporters voted for Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. The extent to which these voters have been decisive in Trump's victory, and their effect on the 2020 election, have been a subject of debate. Compared to other Sanders voters, these Sanders–Trump voters are less likely to identify as Democrats and have more conservative views on social and racial issues. They tend to be older and are more likely to be white. 2016 election- Studies: The Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), an election survey of about 50,000 people, found that 12% of Sanders voters voted for Trump in 2016. In the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, the number of Sanders-Trump voters was more than two times Trump's margin of victory in those states. Because of this, some analysts, such as Economist data journalist G. Elliott Morris, have argued that these voters had a disproportionately large impact on the 2016 election. Others, including political scientist Brian Schaffner, who served as a co-Principal Investigator in the CCES survey, have said that Trump's margin of victory was small enough that Sanders-Trump voters were merely one voting bloc out of many that could have decided the outcome, and that "defections" between a primary and a general election are quite common. The 2016 VOTER survey conducted by YouGov, which interviewed 8,000 respondents in July and December 2016, found that 12% of those who preferred Sanders in the primary preferred Trump in the general election. The RAND Presidential Election Panel Survey, which interviewed the same group of around 3,000 respondents six times during the campaign, found that 6% of those who reported supporting Sanders in March reported supporting Trump in November. Unlike the CCES survey, these two surveys did not validate the turnout of those surveyed. A May 2016 poll conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post showed that 20% of Sanders voters supported Trump, while another ABC/Washington Post poll a few days before the general election showed 8% of Sanders supporters intending to vote for Trump. Analysis: In an interview with Vox, Schaffner highlighted the fact that Sanders-Trump voters were much less likely to identify as Democrats than Sanders voters who voted for Clinton or a third-party candidate. According to Schaffner, about half of the voting bloc identified themselves as Republicans or independents. Data from the VOTER survey showed that only 35% of Sanders-Trump voters voted for Democratic incumbent Barack Obama in the 2012 election; in contrast, 95% of Sanders-Clinton voters voted for Obama in 2012. Compared to typical Democratic Party voters, Sanders-Trump voters were much more conservative on racial and social issues. Over 40% of Sanders-Trump voters disagreed that white people have advantages, compared to less than 10% of Sanders voters who voted for Clinton. Compared to the average Sanders voter, Sanders-Trump voters tend to be white and older. The CCES survey showed that only between 17% and 18% of Sanders-Trump voters identified themselves as ideologically liberal, with the rest either identifying as moderate or conservative. In the VOTER survey, Sanders-Trump voters rated minority groups less favorably than Sanders-Clinton voters; this included Latinos, Muslims and LGBT people. According to both the CCES and VOTER surveys, Sanders-Trump voters' views on trade policy are largely similar to typical Democrats, despite Sanders' relative opposition to free trade deals. Jeff Stein of Vox suggested that many Sanders-Trump voters may have been Reagan Democrats who were white and pro-union. John Sides, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, suggested that many Sanders-Trump voters were unlikely to be inclined to support Clinton in the first place. Writing in RealClearPolitics, Tim Chapman, executive director of conservative advocacy group Heritage Action, suggested that both Trump and Sanders had strong populist appeal, especially to working-class voters in the heartland, despite their starkly different policies. In 2020, Schaffner suggested that Sanders' appeal to Sanders-Trump voters in 2016 was due to his outsider status, his populist policies, and his targeting of issues which affected groups of people Trump attempted to court in his 2016 campaign. 2020 election: Sanders-Trump voters were again cited as a potential deciding factor in the 2020 United States presidential election. According to a February 2020 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, about 7% of respondents who said they were enthusiastic about or comfortable with Sanders in the 2020 election voted for Trump in 2016. In March 2020, Schaffner suggested that if Sanders were the Democratic nominee in the 2020 general election, Sanders would be able to target some but not all of those who voted Sanders-Trump in 2016. Philippe Reines, a longtime Clinton adviser, suggested that whether this group of voters would vote for Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the general election depended on Sanders' efforts to demonstrate his support for Biden. Between pre-election forecasters, there was no consensus on the potential effect of Sanders-Trump voters on the 2020 election. In March 2019, Grace Sparks of CNN suggested that Sanders-Trump voters were unlikely to be significant in 2020, pointing to early polling which showed little overlap in support between Sanders and Trump. According to a March 2020 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 15% of Sanders voters (corresponding to 6% of leaned Democrats) planned to vote for Trump, while 80% planned to vote for Biden. A March 2020 Morning Consult poll showed that although Sanders supporters were less likely to vote for Biden than the average Democrat, they were also less likely to "defect" to Trump compared to in 2016. Citing exit polls on the 2020 South Carolina Democratic presidential primary, Washington Examiner columnist Timothy P. Carney suggested that Sanders voters were demographically similar to Trump voters.
On March 22, 2021, a mass shooting occurred at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, United States. Ten people were killed, including a local on-duty police officer. Several other officers were injured. The alleged shooter, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Al-Issa, was arrested after being shot in the leg by police. He was temporarily hospitalized before being moved to the county jail. Legal proceedings against Al-Issa began on March 25. Events: The shooting began shortly after 2:30 p.m. MDT (20:30 UTC) when a gunman entered the parking lot of a King Soopers supermarket and began to fire at people. He was described by witnesses as wearing an "armored" vest and holding a "rifle", which turned out to be a modified Ruger AR-556 pistol that was used in the shooting (he also carried a 9mm semi-automatic handgun). He was first seen by employees and customers who watched him shoot at customers in the parking lot before turning and entering the store. The first victim was a repairman who was killed in a van parked next to the gunman's vehicle. The gunman then walked towards the store; along the way, he killed another person in the parking lot who was trying to flee, shooting him multiple times. Next, he killed two more people while entering the store through its eastern entrance. A man waiting in line with his family for his COVID-19 vaccine at the store's pharmacy witnessed the gunman shoot a woman at the front of the line before finding safety in a coat closet with his family. Some customers and employees reached safety through a back exit for the supermarket. Some were praised for their actions in helping evacuate and hide individuals away from the shooter. At 2:33 p.m., the Boulder Police Department began receiving calls of a person with a "patrol rifle" in the area and shots being fired. Witnesses at the scene reported hearing anywhere from ten to thirty shots fired in rapid succession by the gunman. At 2:34 p.m., a Boulder Police dispatcher provided an initial description of the gunman as "a white male, middle-aged, dark hair, beard, black vest, short-sleeved shirt." The first responding officers arrived at the scene within two minutes of the first calls. Officer Eric Talley entered the store within 30 seconds of his arrival, and at around 2:37 p.m., an unidentified female officer radioed in to say that she and Talley were going in. Running towards gunfire, Talley was shot and killed by the gunman. He was the last victim in the shooting, according to Boulder police. By 2:39 p.m., responding officers reported being fired upon repeatedly by the gunman. At around the same time, an armored police vehicle was used to break the store's front windows. Officers engaged the gunman in a shootout from 3:00 p.m. to 3:21 p.m. They also used a sound system to order him to surrender. According to police and witnesses, the gunman was laughing and occasionally mumbling. A store employee said that while she was hiding, she heard gunshots and screams and then only the store music and phones ringing afterwards. Police did not enter the store again until 3:22 p.m., fearing an ambush. Eventually, the gunman was shot in the leg; he surrendered by saying, "I surrender. I'm naked", and at 3:28 p.m., he was taken into custody. Boulder police formally took him into custody using the handcuffs of slain officer Eric Talley. He had a leg gunshot wound at the time of his arrest, so he was first transported to Boulder Community Health Foothills Hospital, and eventually transferred him to the Boulder County Jail, where he was held without bond. After the gunman was taken into custody, police searched through the store and evacuated people who had remained inside. A shelter-in-place order was issued in the area at 4:18 p.m. and lifted at 6:40 p.m. Up to fifteen agencies responded to the shooting, including the Jefferson County SWAT, the FBI, the ATF and local police departments. A fire department ladder truck was used to get a SWAT team onto the roof. At least three medical helicopters were summoned to a staging area at nearby Fairview High School. Victims: There were ten fatalities in the shooting: -Tralona Bartkowiak, age 49; customer -Suzanne Fountain, 59; customer -Teri Leiker, 51; employee -Kevin Mahoney, 61; customer -Lynn Murray, 62; customer -Rikki Olds, 25; manager -Neven Stanisic, 23; repairman -Denny Stong, 20; employee -Eric Talley, 51; police officer -Jody Waters, 65; customer -Officer Talley, who had been working with the Boulder Police Department since 2010, was one of the first police officers to arrive at the scene. His death marked the first time a Boulder police officer was killed in the line of duty since 1994, only the sixth such death in the department's history. Seven of the victims died inside the store, while the other three died outside. -Several other responding police officers were injured. Suspect: Ahmad Al Aliwi Al-Issa (or Alissa), age 21, from nearby Arvada, Colorado, is the alleged shooter. Al-Issa was born in Syria in 1999 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His family immigrated to the U.S. in 2002 and moved to Arvada in 2014. Al-Issa's older brother said that Al-Issa has a history of paranoid, disturbed, and antisocial behavior that developed after Al-Issa was bullied in high school, and his brother was concerned for his mental health. Al-Issa was convicted of a misdemeanor in 2018 for punching a classmate at Arvada West High School. He pleaded guilty to an assault charge in relation to the incident and received two months of probation in addition to 48 hours of community service. According to a police affidavit, Al-Issa bought a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic pistol, a firearm similar to an AR-15 style rifle, on March 16 in his hometown, which he modified with an arm brace. Boulder police clarified in a news conference on March 26 that they believed the AR-556 was the only weapon used by the suspect during the shooting, but he also had a 9mm handgun with him. Al-Issa's identity was already known to the Federal Bureau of Investigation due to a link to another person under investigation by law enforcement officials. Al-Issa expressed on his now-deleted Facebook page and to his high school wrestling teammates that he believed he was being targeted for harassment due to racism and Islamophobia. According to SITE Intelligence Group, "there was no indication on his Facebook account that suggested radical views of any kind, whether it be Islamist, anti-Trump, or anything else." His brother said the shootings were not a political statement. The Boulder County District Attorney is waiting to reveal more information about Al-Issa's motives while the FBI and other agencies are investigating the case, to ensure a fair trial. After the shooting, Al-Issa was charged with ten counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Al-Issa's identity was revealed to the public on March 23, the day after the shooting. At Al-Issa's first court appearance on March 25, his lawyer asked for a mental health assessment. It was later reported that, due to threats, Al-Issa was moved to another county. Reactions- Tributes: At around 8:00 p.m. on the day of the shooting, a procession honored Officer Eric Talley as his body was being taken to a funeral home. A separate memorial for the victims was created along a chain-link fence bordering the grocery store, as mourners placed candles, flowers, and other items along its base or through the chain-link. The Museum of Boulder began preserving stories and artifacts from the memorial, but no specific plans for an exhibit have been made as of yet, with the museum planning on consulting the community for input. Governor Jared Polis ordered the state's flags to fly at half-staff for ten days: one day for each victim. President Joe Biden also ordered flags on federal property nationwide to be flown at half-staff. This order came on the same day as the expiration of a federal order to fly flags at half-staff to honor the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings of March 16, less than a week before. Sports teams in Colorado and victims of other mass shootings expressed sympathy for the victims and family members of the Boulder shooting. A vigil for the victims and survivors of the shooting was held on March 25. U.S. Representative Joe Neguse, whose district includes Boulder, spoke at the vigil about curbing gun violence. In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper that day, the family of one of the victims spoke about him and their appreciation for the outpouring of support. Gun control debate: Al-Issa legally purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol on March 16 at a local gun shop in an Arvada shopping center using Colorado's universal background check law, even though he was previously convicted of a misdemeanor assault. Federal law only prohibits firearm purchases for those convicted of a felony. He modified the weapon with an arm brace, but police began investigating if he used a 30-round magazine, which is deemed illegal in Colorado, and also whether other firearms were connected to him. He was reported to be carrying a 9 mm handgun in addition to his primary weapon. Following the shooting, discussion was renewed on the topic of gun control. At the national level, President Joe Biden called for an immediate ban on assault weapons; other Democratic politicians echoed his sentiments, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, U.S. Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado, and former President Barack Obama. Biden also urged that loopholes be closed in the background check system and praised Officer Eric Talley, who was killed in the shooting, for his heroism. In an interview with CBS This Morning, Vice President Kamala Harris responded to the mass shootings by discussing the need for gun reform legislation. At the state level, members of the Colorado General Assembly began discussions on gun reform proposals. Gun control advocates were reported to be working on a bill that would create a five-day waiting period in Colorado on March 26. Similar calls for gun control and loopholes to be closed were echoed by newspaper editorial boards, and many celebrities. Particular discussion was raised over the weapon used in the shooting, an AR-15 style firearm billed as a pistol despite its closer similarities to a rifle in appearance and operation. Satirical news site The Onion republished its 'No Way To Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens article in response to the shooting. Republican politicians, such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, have criticized the renewed push for gun control, saying that they believe gun control does not help lessen crime. Likewise, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin spoke out against two bills recently passed by the House of Representatives that were in favor of universal background checks banning almost all gun sales without federal government approval, saying his views were more in line with the bill he co-authored with Republican Senator Pat Toomey shortly after the Sandy Hook school shooting. In the Colorado General Assembly, which is fully controlled by the Democrats, Republican lawmakers acknowledged the difficulties of preventing gun reform legislation and have focused on mental health legislation as a preventive measure. Media coverage and discussion: A man who livestreamed the crime to a YouTube channel received criticism from some and praise from others. He had identified himself repeatedly as a journalist to law enforcement before being removed from the scene. At peak viewership during the event, the livestream had about 30,000 viewers, and many criticized YouTube for allowing the video to remain on its site. The company responded with a statement that the video had enough news or documentary context to remain, regardless of the violence shown. Before officers arrived on the scene, a police dispatcher described the active shooter as a "white male"; the suspect's actual identity was released around 18 hours after the shooting. Deborah Richardson, ACLU of Colorado's executive director, said that early assumptions made by law enforcement about Al-Issa were affected by the perception that he was white. Before the suspect's identity was made public, the race and inclusion editor of USA Today's Sports Media Group, Hemal Jhaveri, an Indian American woman, reacted to the shooting on Twitter, inaccurately saying, "It's always an angry white man. Always." She later expressed "regret" for the "careless error of judgement" in sending the tweet. By March 26, Jhaveri had been fired by USA Today, with her attributing this to the tweet and its promotion by alt-right Twitter users "as an example of anti-white bias and racism against whites". USA Today did not directly comment on her firing, instead stressing their commitment to "diversity, equity and inclusion".
The Westside School Shooting was a school shooting on March 24, 1998, at Westside Middle School in unincorporated Craighead County, Arkansas near the city of Jonesboro. Perpetrators Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, fatally shot four students and a teacher with multiple weapons, and both were arrested when they attempted to flee the scene. Ten others were wounded. Golden and Johnson were convicted of five murders and ten assaults, and were imprisoned until each turned 21 years of age. After the Cleveland Elementary School shooting in Stockton, California, the massacre was the second deadliest non-college school shooting in contemporary U.S. history until the April 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Shooting: On the night before the shooting, Golden assisted Johnson in loading his mother's Dodge Caravan with camping supplies, snack foods, nine weapons (Remington 742 .30-06 rifle, Universal .30 M1 carbine replica, Ruger .44 Magnum rifle, Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver, Double Deuce Buddie .22 caliber two-shot derringer, FIE .380 pistol, Star .380 pistol, Ruger Security Six .357 revolver, Davis Industries .38 two-shot derringer and a Charter Arms .38 Special revolver), which had been stolen from Golden's grandfather's house, and 2,000 rounds of ammunition. The following morning, the boys rode in the van to Westside Middle School, arriving late after deliberately missing their bus. As they arrived, Golden pulled the fire alarm just after 12:30 pm, during the beginning of fifth period, while Johnson took the weapons to the woods outside of the school. Golden then ran back to the woods where Johnson had taken the weapons. When children and teachers filed out of the school, the two boys opened fire, with officials stating that the shooting began at 12:41 pm. During the incident, many became confused initially with reports of shouting of "It's all fake", as friends of wounded tried to evacuate their friends and teacher Shannon Wright used her body to protect a wounded student. Another teacher had been checking off students on her class list, when she heard pops, "like firecrackers", and thought it was an ill-advised attempt to frighten the children, to potentially make them take the drill seriously. A student reported that the sounds were at first dismissed by some as construction workers had been working on the new fifth-grade building nearby. Students who had initially evacuated for the drill were brought back into the school's gymnasium, where students could hear the bullets ricocheting off the outside bricks and walls. Some victims were brought back inside by uninjured students and teachers, after a teacher opened the doors from the inside as they had automatically locked because of the fire alarm. A student who had sought shelter in the school told a teacher with them that they believed the shooter was Mitchell Johnson, as they had been told by him not to come to school that day. They killed four students and one teacher and wounded nine students and one teacher. The five murdered were: Shannon Wright, 32 (teacher); Stephanie Johnson, 12 (no relation to Mitchell Johnson); Natalie Brooks, 11; Paige Ann Herring, 12; and Brittney Varner, 11. All ten of those injured survived their injuries and among the wounded students was Tristan Mcgowen, Golden's cousin. Golden and Johnson attempted to run back to the van and escape, but were later caught by the police. They were apprehended about 10 minutes after the shooting began, according to a lieutenant with the Jonesboro Police Department. The boys evidently planned to run away, as they had food, sleeping bags and survival gear in the van. Aftermath: As the incident was the third fatal multiple shooting at an American school since October 1997 (following the Pearl High School shooting and the Heath High shooting), then President Clinton ordered Attorney General Janet Reno to organize experts on school violence to analyze the recent incidents, determine what they may have had in common and what steps could be taken to reduce the chance of a similar incident. Memorials: White ribbons were tied on tree trunks and other objects were left in memory of the victims. The school installed a memorial bench outside the school that is carved with the date of the massacre. A sundial memorial, installed in a park area behind the school, is engraved with the names of the victims. The park area was designed as a memorial park based around the number five to commemorate the five dead victims, with five trees, five picnic tables, and five stepping-stones, along with the sundial. Trial: During the trial, Johnson hung his head and read a letter of apology he had written to victims' families. He said he had not been targeting anyone. While in detention awaiting trial, Johnson wrote a letter that stated, "Hi. My name is Mitchell. My thoughts and prayers are with those people who were killed, or shot, and their families. I am really sad inside about everything. My thoughts and prayers are with those kids that I go to school with. I really want people to know the real Mitchell someday. Sincerely, Mitchell Johnson." Due to their age, they were tried as juveniles, and were found guilty of five counts of murder. Following their convictions, Johnson and Golden were taken by National Guard helicopter to Alexander, Arkansas, so they could be placed at the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment & Treatment Center (AJATC), the Arkansas Department of Human Services Youth Services Division's juvenile facility and the state's most secure juvenile facility. Imprisonment: Imprisonment: The two youths were among the youngest people ever charged with murder in the United States. The Jonesboro prosecutor later stated that were it not for their ages, he would have sought death sentences. In August 1998, both boys were sentenced to confinement until they reached the age of 21, which was the maximum sentence available under Arkansas law. They would have served until age 18 had federal authorities not added additional confinement for weapons charges. Judge Ralph Wilson commented, "This is a case where the punishment will not fit the crime." The case led to wide public outcry for tougher sentencing laws pertaining to juvenile offenders. Johnson was released in 2005; Golden in 2007. Lawsuit: In 2017, the victims’ families were awarded $150 million after filing a lawsuit against Johnson and Golden seeking damages and to prevent the two from profiting from the shooting. Perpetrators- Mitchell Johnson: Mitchell Scott Johnson was born in Rochester, Minnesota to Gretchen and Scott Johnson. When Mitchell was seven, his parents divorced, and he and his brother moved with their mother to Jonesboro, Arkansas. His mother soon remarried to Terry Woodward, an inmate at the prison where she was a guard. Johnson had a good relationship with his stepfather and brother, and adults who remembered him described him as being quiet and respectful. He was a former member of the Central Baptist Church youth choir, later joining the youth group at the Revival Tabernacle Church, in Jonesboro. Following the shooting, Johnson's attorney claimed that he had been sexually abused when he was 6 and 7 years by a "family member of the day care where he was placed". One year before the shooting, Mitchell, then aged 12, was charged with molesting a 3-year-old girl while visiting southern Minnesota with his family. However, the record of the case was expunged because of Mitchell's age. Andrew Golden: Andrew Douglas Golden was born and raised in Jonesboro to Jacqueline and Dennis Golden. By all accounts, he came from a stable household, having a good relationship with both his parents, and he regularly visited his grandparents and great-grandmother. Both of his parents worked as postal workers, and his paternal grandfather, Douglas Golden, was a wildlife conservation officer in Jonesboro. Middle school: Johnson and Golden were both students at Westside Middle School. The pair rode the bus together, but were not close friends. Together, they were known to bully other students, and people recalled Johnson talking of wanting to belong to the Bloods and to smoke marijuana. The Texaco truck stop was a popular hang-out for youths in Jonesboro, and adolescents there remember Johnson claiming to belong to street gangs. He also spoke of "having a lot of killing to do" and his classmates also commented that he had a fascination with firearms. He had particularly threatened to kill sixth-grader Candace Porter, his former girlfriend who ended their relationship. Golden was a sixth grader at the school, where schoolmates said he displayed troublesome behavior. He would often engage other students in fist fights and use profane language. A classmate accused him of killing her cat with a BB gun. Three months before the incident, a student reported to a school counselor that Golden had stated he intended to shoot some people at the school. When Golden was called to the counselor, he stated that he had a nightmare in which he followed through and then was killed, scaring him off the plan. Near the end of the school day on March 23, 1998, the day before the massacre, Golden talked to his schoolmate and former girlfriend Jennifer Jacobs, warning her not to come to school the next day, as he heard that something bad was going to happen. The day before the massacre, Johnson told friends he had "a lot of killing to do" and suggested to them that they would know the next day whether they were destined to live or die. Release: Johnson was released from the Federal Correctional Institution, Memphis on his 21st birthday, August 11, 2005, having spent seven years in prison. Golden was released also from the Federal Correctional Institution, Memphis on May 25, 2007, also his 21st birthday, after spending nine years in prison. Golden's whereabouts were unknown until he applied for a concealed weapon permit in Arkansas on October 7, 2008, under the name he used until his death, Drew Douglas Grant. His application was denied by the Arkansas State Police, who noted that he had lied on the application about his previous residences and declared it was illegal for Golden to own or possess a firearm. The assumed name that Golden was using had been unknown until this point because of a gag order, but police were able to tie Andrew Golden to Grant through fingerprint records during the background check for the permit. He was living in Cape Girardeau, Missouri at the time and attending Batesville Community College. Golden completed his civil case deposition on May 6, 2008. As of 2017, Golden was said to be living outside of Cape Girardeau, Missouri while Johnson was said to be living in Houston, Texas. Their exact whereabouts were withheld by the government for legal reasons. Johnson's later legal troubles: On January 1, 2007, Johnson was arrested by the ATF after a traffic stop in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on misdemeanor charges of carrying a weapon, a loaded 9 mm pistol, and possession of 21.2 g of marijuana. Though the van that Johnson was riding in was registered to him, the driver was 22-year-old Justin Trammell. Trammell and Johnson reportedly met at Alexander Youth Services Correctional Facility in Alexander, Arkansas, where Trammell was incarcerated after pleading guilty to the 1999 crossbow murder of his father, a crime committed when Trammell was 15. The pair were roommates and provided officers with the same Fayetteville address. Trammell was cited for careless driving and released. Johnson was arrested for possession of marijuana and a loaded weapon and later released on a $1,000 bond. He appeared in court on January 26, 2007, at the Washington County, Arkansas courthouse. Johnson was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 24, 2007 for possession of a firearm while either using or addicted to a controlled substance. The US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas reported that Johnson pleaded not guilty and was released on a $5,000 bond. Johnson's trial began on January 28, 2008. After two days of testimony from the prosecution and the defense witnesses, Johnson was found guilty on a charge of possessing a weapon while being a drug user. In February 2008, just days after his conviction, Johnson was arrested again for possession of marijuana at the convenience store at which he worked and on suspicion of using a stolen credit card. In September 2008, US District Judge Jimm Larry Hendren sentenced Johnson to four years in prison on the weapon and drug charges. During his sentencing, the judge expressed dismay that Johnson had not taken advantage of the chance he had to reform. He told him, "No matter your sentence, you still have a life; those killed in 1998 do not." On October 7, 2008, Johnson pleaded guilty to a felony theft charge and misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Johnson admitted that he stole a debit card left by a disabled man at the Bentonville gas station where he worked and subsequently used it to purchase a meal at a local Burger King. He also admitted that at the time he was arrested, he was in possession of marijuana. On November 14, 2008, Johnson, then 24 years old, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the theft charge and misdemeanor possession charges. Although Johnson could have faced up to 30 years, the sentence of 12 years was given because Johnson technically had no criminal record from the Jonesboro shooting. On January 23, 2009, Johnson was sentenced to six additional years in prison for a further charge of theft by receiving and financial identity fraud for using the stolen card to purchase a meal from a local Burger King. Circuit Judge William Storey told Johnson, "You continue to run afoul of the law. I am hopeful this is the last time." That brought Johnson's combined state sentences to 18 years. In February 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court granted Johnson leave to appeal his sentence by saying that the trial judge should not have admitted evidence of the juvenile convictions during the sentencing phase of the theft and possession trial. Johnson will have to complete his federal sentence of four years after serving his 18-year state sentence. He could have remained incarcerated into his forties but was eligible for parole from his Arkansas sentence in 2011, after which he served the four-year federal sentence. In February 2016, ABC News reported online that Johnson was released in July 2015 into the custody of the United States Probation Office for the Southern District of Texas and placed in a drug rehabilitation program, and has not been reincarcerated since. The office did not respond to ABC News' requests for comment who pointed out that Johnson and Golden were the only two living "mass school shooters" who were not incarcerated. Golden's death: Andrew Douglas Golden died on July 27, 2019 after a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe departed its lane, crashing head-on into Golden's 2017 Honda CRV on U.S. Route 167 in Independence County, Arkansas near Cave City, Arkansas, about 100 miles (160 km) north of Little Rock. The Chevrolet driver, identified as Daniel Petty, 59, of Essex, Missouri, was also killed in the crash, according to an Arkansas State Police preliminary summary of the wreck. Three other people, including Golden's wife, another adult, and Golden's son, were injured and taken to hospitals in Little Rock and Batesville. At the time of his death Golden was said to be living in Jackson, Missouri.
i remember the summer before covid hit was awesome. not so much for my male friend. he hated that i was going back and forth with the singles parish and the main 1 i go to. he said he's kidnap me. it's a joke obviously but that's kinda dark. after he realized WHY i go back and forth he asked about my main parish. i like both and switching back and forth i got the benefits of both. that was awesome i'd got both. after a party i'd tiredly walked in the main parish and ran into a friend who came from his mission.
Brianna Alexandra Maitland (disappeared March 19, 2004) is an American teenager who disappeared after leaving her job at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, Vermont. She was 17 years old at the time. Maitland's car was discovered the following day, backed into the side of an abandoned house about a mile (1.6 km) away from her workplace. She has not been seen or heard from since. Due to a confluence of circumstances, several days passed before Maitland's friends and family reported her missing. In the days and weeks following her disappearance, numerous tips were investigated by state law enforcement, including a claim that Maitland was being held captive in a house occupied by local drug dealers of whom she was an acquaintance; however, none of the tips resulted in her discovery. An alleged 2006 sighting of Maitland at a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, brought renewed interest to the case, but the woman seen was never properly identified. In 2012, law enforcement investigated a possible connection between Maitland's disappearance and serial killer Israel Keyes, who committed numerous rapes and murders in Vermont, New York, and throughout the Pacific Northwest, but he was ultimately ruled out as a suspect by the FBI. Maitland's case was profiled across various local media, on Dateline NBC, and the documentary series Disappeared. In 2017, the case was discussed in the documentary series on missing college student Maura Murray, who vanished a month prior to Maitland in Woodsville, New Hampshire. As of 2021, Maitland's disappearance remains unsolved. Background- Early life: Brianna Maitland was born October 8, 1986 in Burlington, Vermont, to Bruce and Kellie Maitland (née Fisher). She was raised with her older brother on their parents' farm in East Franklin, Vermont, near the Canadian border. In her youth, she was extensively trained in jiu-jitsu. Maitland attended Missisquoi Valley Union High School before transferring to Enosburg Falls High School in nearby Enosburg Falls, during her sophomore year. Prior to disappearance: On Maitland's seventeenth birthday in October 2003, she decided she wanted to move away from her parents' farm. Her mother, Kellie, said there were no serious stresses at home, but that Maitland wanted more independence, and to be closer to a group of friends who lived 15 miles (24 km) away and attended a different high school. Maitland enrolled at her friends' high school, but her living arrangements were unstable, as she moved in and out of several friends' homes. By the end of February 2004, she had dropped out of school and moved in with her childhood friend, Jillian Stout, in Sheldon, Vermont, approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of Montgomery. To complete her education, Maitland enrolled in a GED program. Three weeks prior to her disappearance, Maitland was physically attacked at a party by a former female friend, Keallie Lacross. The motive for the attack was unclear, though Brianna's father, Bruce, would later state that he believed it stemmed from jealousy over Maitland's interaction with a male peer at the party. One of Maitland's friends at the party claimed that Maitland, despite her martial arts training, refused to fight with Lacross, who subsequently hit her in the face several times while Maitland was seated in a truck. The altercation resulted in Maitland's suffering a broken nose and concussion; she later filed charges against Lacross. The complaint was subsequently dropped three weeks after Maitland disappeared, and police stated that Lacross was cleared of any involvement in her disappearance. Disappearance- Friday, March 19, 2004: On the morning of Friday, March 19, 2004, Maitland took an exam to receive her GED. After completing the test, she and her mother, Kellie, had lunch to celebrate the occasion; her father, Bruce, was out of state working in New York at the time. Her mother described her as being in good spirits, and that Maitland had discussed plans of attending college. After lunch, Maitland and her mother spent the afternoon shopping and running errands. While waiting in the check-out line of a store, Kellie said something outside caught Brianna's attention; she told her mother she would return shortly, and left the store. Kellie completed her purchase and met Brianna in the parking lot, and noticed that her daughter seemed unnerved, shaken, and agitated. She told her mother that she needed to go home and prepare for her upcoming work shift at the Black Lantern Inn, a restaurant in Montgomery. Not wanting to pry, Kellie did not ask what had happened, and dropped Brianna off at Stout's home between 3:30 and 4:00pm. This was the last time she saw her daughter. At some point before leaving for her work shift, Maitland left a note for Stout saying she would return after work that evening. Maitland then departed for the Black Lantern Inn in a 1985 Oldsmobile sedan registered to Kellie. After completing her shift at work, Maitland clocked out and left the Black Lantern Inn at approximately 11:20 p.m. She told her co-workers she needed to get home and rest before working the next day at her second job in St. Albans. By all accounts Maitland was alone in her vehicle when she left. Saturday, March 20, 2004- Discovery of vehicle: Early the next afternoon, on March 20, a Vermont State Police trooper was dispatched to an abandoned house on Route 118 in Richford, about a mile from the Black Lantern Inn. Maitland's Oldsmobile was found backed into the side of the house. Known locally as "the old Dutchburn house," the siding of the home had been breached by the rear end of the car. A piece of plywood that had been covering a window lay on the car's trunk. Two of Maitland's paychecks were on the front seat of the car, and outside it, law enforcement observed loose change, a water bottle, and an unsmoked cigarette. The trooper assumed the car had been abandoned by a drunk driver, and a towing company took the vehicle to a local garage. Maitland was not reported missing for a number of days. Her mother Kellie did not learn about the discovery of Maitland's car until five days afterward. Stout saw Maitland's note on Friday, March 19, spent the weekend away, and found the note undisturbed when she returned on Monday. Assuming Maitland was staying elsewhere, she did not call Kellie until the following day. On Tuesday, March 23, Kellie began calling various people in order to find Maitland, including friends as well as her employers, none of whom had seen or spoken to her. Failing in her efforts—and still unaware that the vehicle Maitland had been driving had been recovered—she filed a missing persons report that day. On Thursday, March 25, Maitland's parents gave photos of her to Vermont State Police in St. Albans. A trooper showed them a picture of the Oldsmobile found at the old Dutchburn house, upon which they immediately identified the car as their daughter's. Kellie said in interviews that she was "instinctively revulsed" by the photo, and believed someone else, not Maitland, had left the car in such a way. Witness sightings: After Maitland's reported disappearance, several individuals came forward to law enforcement to report sightings of Maitland's vehicle at the old Dutchburn house the night she disappeared: -A man who drove by the house between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. on March 19–20 said the car's headlights may have been on. He said he did not see anyone in or around the car. -A second man who drove by between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, recalled seeing a turn signal flashing on the car. -Around 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, a former boyfriend of Maitland's drove past the scene after a night of partying across the border in Canada. He thought he recognized the vehicle, but he did not see anyone in or around it. -The next morning, some passing motorists found the scene odd enough that they stopped and took pictures of it. One of the photographers reported some loose change, a water bottle, and a bracelet or necklace on the ground next to the car. Investigation- Initial findings: The Vermont State Police, who led the official investigation for the first months after Maitland's disappearance, were skeptical that foul play was involved, considering the possibility that Maitland was a runaway. The area surrounding the old Dutchburn house was combed on foot by police and search dogs, but nothing was found. Maitland's vehicle was processed by the state crime laboratory for evidence on March 30, 2004, after the car had been impounded at a local garage for several days. Upon the car's return to the Maitland family, Bruce noted that his daughter's ATM card, glasses, contact lens case, and migraine medication had all been left inside. It was later concluded by law enforcement that foul play was the probable cause of Maitland's disappearance, and a 2007 flyer provided by the FBI stated that the scene at which Maitland's car was discovered may have been staged to appear as an accident. Maitland's parents publicly speculated that she may have been abducted by multiple people, stating that it would have been difficult for a single assailant to subdue her given her jiu-jitsu training. The disappearance of Maura Murray, a college student from Massachusetts, in northwest New Hampshire the month before was deemed unrelated to Maitland's disappearance by law enforcement, in spite of the events occurring within 90 miles (140 km) of each other. In 2004, Maitland's family organized a website, now defunct, titled bringbrihome.org, with a posted maximum reward of USD$20,000 for information leading to her whereabouts. The website was active until at least 2009. According to a March 2017 article published in the Burlington Free Press, the reward remained available. In June 2017, however, it was reported that the reward was due to expire in early July of that year. Allegations and affidavit: In the week following Maitland's disappearance, the Vermont State Police received an anonymous tip claiming that she was being held against her will in a house in nearby Berkshire, Vermont, 10 miles (16 km) from Montgomery. The rented house, then occupied by Ramon L. Ryans and Nathaniel Charles Jackson, two known drug dealers from New York, was raided by police on April 15, 2004. Various drug paraphernalia was discovered inside, as well as substantial amounts of cocaine and marijuana, but no sign of Maitland was found. Ryans was arrested during the raid for drug charges. Upon interviewing Maitland's close friends, law enforcement was informed that Maitland had allegedly experimented with hard drugs in the recent past, specifically crack cocaine, and was an acquaintance of Ryans and Jackson. In late 2004, police received a statement from an anonymous "older female" who implicated both Ryans and Jackson in Maitland's disappearance and alleged murder. The signed affidavit contained allegations, written in graphic detail, that Maitland had been murdered approximately a week after her disappearance. The woman who provided the affidavit claimed that Ryans murdered Maitland during an argument over money she had lent him to purchase crack, and that her body had been temporarily stored in the basement of a recently incarcerated local woman's home; Maitland's body was then allegedly dismembered with a table saw and disposed of on a pig farm. Law enforcement was unable to corroborate the claims in the letter. The Maitland family additionally reported that they had received several uncorroborated anonymous phone calls from persons claiming Maitland was "tied to a tree in the woods," and that she had been disposed of at the bottom of a lake. Later developments: In 2006, security footage at the Caesars World casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, showed a woman resembling Maitland sitting at a poker table. The woman was never properly identified. In 2012, law enforcement investigated a potential connection between Maitland's disappearance and serial killer Israel Keyes, who committed numerous rapes and murders in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, as well as in Vermont and New York, where he owned property in Constable. The FBI ruled out Keyes's potential connection to Maitland's disappearance in late December 2012, shortly after Keyes committed suicide in Anchorage, Alaska. In March 2016, on the case's twelfth anniversary, investigators revealed to a local television station they had recovered DNA samples from Maitland's car. The results of the DNA tests were not made public. In July 2016, the farmhouse where Maitland's vehicle was discovered was destroyed in a fire. Media depictions: Maitland's case has been profiled by Dateline NBC and on the Investigation Discovery documentary series Disappeared in December 2011. Maitland's disappearance was also mentioned in a 20/20. In 2016, her case was profiled on the podcast The Vanished. In 2017, her case was profiled in an episode of the documentary series The Disappearance of Maura Murray on the Oxygen network.
Ward Francis Weaver III is an American convicted murderer. He is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for sexual assault, rape, attempted murder, and the murders of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis in Oregon City, Oregon. Raised in Northern California by his mother, Weaver had a tumultuous childhood; his father, Ward Weaver Jr., was convicted in 1984 of a double-murder. After a stint in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Weaver was convicted of assaulting two teenage girls in Fairfield, California in 1988. In January 2002, twelve-year-old Ashley Pond disappeared en route to her bus stop in Oregon City, near Weaver's residence. Three months later, Pond's classmate, thirteen-year-old Miranda Gaddis, also vanished under mysterious circumstances. The disappearances received international media attention, and were profiled on various television programs, including Unsolved Mysteries. The remains of both girls were discovered on Weaver's property in August 2002 during an investigation into the rape of his son’s girlfriend, also committed by Weaver. In 2004, Weaver was sentenced to life without parole for the sexual assault and murder of both girls. Early life: Weaver was born April 6, 1963 in Humboldt County, California to Trish and Ward Weaver Jr. In 1967, Weaver's father abandoned the family; several years later, Weaver's mother Trish married Bob Budrow, an abusive alcoholic, and the family relocated to Portland, Oregon. Weaver first exhibited antisocial behavior as a teenager; his sister, Tammi, later said that he physically and sexually abused at least one family member by the time he was twelve years old, and his half-brother, Robert Budrow, claimed that Weaver frequently beat him during their childhood. In 1981, a teenaged relative reported that he had repeatedly raped and beat her. Police investigated allegations of abuse in 1981, but Multnomah County prosecutors decided not to pursue charges because Weaver had enlisted in the armed services and would be leaving Portland. Shortly thereafter, Weaver graduated from Marshall High School in Portland, and joined the US Navy Reserve. He was discharged the following year on May 17, 1982 for heavy drinking and dereliction of duty. During his tenure in the Navy, he met his future wife, Maria Stout, a native of the Philippines. The couple moved in with Weaver's parents and she was soon pregnant. Five months into her pregnancy, she was physically assaulted by Weaver and hospitalized, but refused to press charges. Their son, Francis, was born in December 1982, though it was later determined that he was not Ward Weaver's biological son. In 1981, Weaver's father murdered a young couple whose car had broken down in Tehachapi, California, and buried them in his backyard; he was sentenced to death for the crime in 1984. Marriage and early crimes: Weaver married Maria Stout in 1984, and the couple relocated to Bakersfield, California. On June 15, 1986, Weaver attacked the teenaged daughters of a friend in Fairfield, California, striking one of the girls—fifteen-year-old Jennifer Ordonoa—with a block of concrete. He was sentenced to three years in prison for the assaults. After his release, Weaver and wife Stout relocated to Canby, Oregon, where they operated a store. There, the couple gave birth to their fourth child, Mallori, in 1989. In 1993, Maria Weaver filed a restraining order against her husband, and their marriage ended in divorce. In July 1995, Weaver beat his new girlfriend, Kristi Sloan, with a cast-iron skillet. He was jailed for the incident, but Sloan refused to testify against him. By October they were back together and, in February 1996, they married. The marriage lasted four years. Murders of Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis- Disappearances: In August 1997, Weaver began an affair with a woman he met at work. The couple moved into a rented house on South Beavercreek Road in Oregon City. Weaver's then-12-year-old daughter Mallori became friends with Ashley Marie Pond and Miranda Diane Gaddis; the three girls were students at Gardiner Middle School, and were also members of the same dance class. In August 2001, Pond accused Weaver of attempting to rape her at his home, and the incident was reported to police; however, charges were not formally filed by law enforcement. On the morning of January 9, 2002, Pond left her home at the Newell Creek Village apartments to walk to the nearby bus stop; she never arrived. Friends and family, including Gaddis, began to search for her; Gaddis resided in the same apartment building as Pond. The dance team which both girls were a member of organized a fundraiser to help assist the search for Pond, which they scheduled for March 23, 2002. On the morning of March 8, Gaddis disappeared under similar circumstances to Pond. After Gaddis's disappearance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation instated a task force to search for the girls; FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele stated during a press interview: "There is a growing belief that the cases are related, and while there's a slight hope that they have run away, there is a growing belief that there was some kind of criminal activity involved." After both girls vanished, Weaver (with the help of his son) dug a hole in his yard and covered it with concrete; Weaver told his son it was a pad for a hot tub. KATU television news reporter Anna Song conducted an interview with Weaver prior to his arrest, during which he stood on top of the concrete slab where Ashley Pond was buried. When asked about the slab, Weaver told The Oregonian: "I'm putting in a Jacuzzi. The last time I checked that wasn't against the law." Portland Tribune reporter Jim Redden got two tips early on – one from Linda O'Neal, a private investigator and a relative of Pond – which prompted him to interview Weaver. Weaver told Redden that he was the FBI's prime suspect, at a time when it was generally believed there was no such suspect. During a July 9, 2002 interview with Good Morning America, Weaver commented: I have no problem with them looking at me as a suspect. The problems are coming with what they're doing as far as questions that are being asked of my family. They're telling parents of my daughter's friends not to let their daughters spend the night, because I'm a prime suspect, and their daughter might be next. Discovery: On August 13, 2002, Weaver's stepson, Francis, called police claiming that Weaver had attempted to rape his nineteen-year-old girlfriend. When speaking to authorities, Francis suggested that his father had been involved in the murders of Pond and Gaddis. Weaver was arrested for the attempted sexual assault, and law enforcement subsequently initiated a warrant to investigate his property. Pond's stepmother, who had suspected Weaver in both disappearances, erected a sign next to the concrete slab on his property which read: "Dig Me Up." The FBI began a search of Weaver's property on South Beavercreek Road on August 24, 2002 That day, FBI agents discovered Gaddis's remains inside an empty microwave box in a storage shed behind Weaver's home. On August 25, the remains of Pond were unearthed from beneath the concrete slab in Weaver's backyard, where they had been stored in a 55-gallon barrel. Media coverage: The disappearances of Pond and Gaddis drew international media attention, receiving coverage in The Oregonian, People, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and the BBC. The disappearances were also profiled in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, which aired on September 20, 2002 after the girls' bodies had been discovered. Journalist Linda O'Neal went on to co-write a book about the case, entitled The Missing Girls, published in 2006. The book was somewhat fictionalized, featuring composite characters and reconstructed conversations. O'Neal contended that the substance of the book was accurate, but the FBI criticized the book, and took exception to O'Neal's characterization of how the case was solved. Conviction and aftermath: In 2002, Governor John Kitzhaber launched a multi-agency investigation into the handling of the first report of Weaver's abuse of Pond. Weaver remained under arrest for the attempted rape of his son's girlfriend until October 2, 2002, when he was indicted and charged with six counts of aggravated murder; two counts of abuse of a corpse in the second degree; one count of sexual abuse in the first degree; one count of attempted rape in the second degree; one count of attempted aggravated murder; one count of first degree attempted rape; one count of sexual abuse in the first degree; one count of sexual abuse in the second degree; and two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree. In September 2004, Weaver pleaded guilty to two charges and no-contest to the rest. A plea bargain allowed him to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to two life sentences without parole. On March 4, 2007, Weaver was walking to the barber shop at the Snake River Correctional Institution for a haircut when the barber – another inmate – revealed a makeshift knife and attacked him, causing neck and shoulder injuries. He was treated at the prison. The barber was placed in the disciplinary unit. In 2009, Gaddis's younger sister, Miriah, visited Weaver in prison on two separate occasions: "I had to know what happened. It was the only way I could put it behind me," she told reporters. During the visits, Weaver admitted to murdering Pond and Gaddis "with his bare hands," and told Miriah that he had planned to murder her next. On February 17, 2014, Weaver's son Francis was arrested and charged with murder. He and three others had allegedly robbed and killed a drug dealer in Canby, Oregon the day prior. Media- Film: -The 2011 film Megan Is Missing is loosely based upon the murders of Pond and Gaddis.
Donald Trump's farewell address was the final official speech of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, delivered as a recorded, online video message on January 19, 2021. The farewell address was delivered the day before Joe Biden, who defeated him in the 2020 United States presidential election, was sworn in as his successor. Background: Trump served a single term as President of the United States, winning the 2016 presidential election against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He was inaugurated on January 20, 2017. While in office, Trump cut back spending to major welfare programs, enacted tariffs, withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and signed a successor agreement to NAFTA, grew the national debt through spending increases and tax cuts, and enacted a unilateral foreign policy based in offensive realism. Trump was involved in many controversies related to his policies, conduct, and statements, including an investigation into the Trump campaign's coordination with the Russian government in the 2016 election, his family separation policy for migrants apprehended at the U.S.–Mexico border, limitations on the number of immigrants permitted from Muslim-majority countries, demand for the federal funding of a border wall that resulted in the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history, withdrawal from the Paris Accords, attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and loosening of the enforcement of numerous environmental regulations. His re-election loss to Biden came amidst a series of international crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession, and protests and riots following the police killing of George Floyd. He repeatedly claimed that widespread electoral fraud had occurred in the election and that he had won the election. Many resulting lawsuits were either dismissed or ruled against by numerous courts. Venue: Trump delivered his recorded address in the Blue Room of the White House. Speech: The speech was reminiscent of Trump's campaign stump speech, emphasizing the highlights of his term in office. He indirectly wished incoming President Biden well, noting that the success and security of the country depended on his success as leader, while also implicitly warning Biden not to change or reverse some of his own policies upon taking over. Trump closed the speech on an optimistic note, stating his belief that his Make America Great Again movement was only just beginning, espousing confidence that it will continue to be a force in American politics. In doing so, he again suggested interest in either running for president again in 2024 himself or grooming a handpicked successor to run in his stead.
Monday, March 29, 2021
The first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency began on January 20, 2017, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. The first 100 days of a presidential term took on symbolic significance during Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term in office, and the period is considered a benchmark to measure the early success of a president. The 100th day of his presidency was April 29, 2017. Institutionally, President Trump had the advantage of a Republican Party majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, but was unable to fulfill his major pledges in his first 100 days, with some approval rating polls reporting around 40%. He reversed his position on a number of issues including labeling China as a currency manipulator, NATO, launching the 2017 Shayrat missile strike, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), renomination of Janet Yellen as Chair of the Federal Reserve, and the nomination of Export-Import Bank directors. Trump's approval among his base was high, with 96% of those who voted for him saying in an April 2017 poll that they would vote for him again. Near the end of the 100 days, the Trump administration introduced a broad outline of a sweeping tax reform focusing on deep tax cuts. Although Trump had to concede to delay funding for the U.S.–Mexico border wall he had promised, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown a few days before the end of the first 100 days. Trump signed 24 executive orders in his first 100 days. He signed 22 presidential memoranda, 20 presidential proclamations, and 28 bills. About a dozen of those bills roll-back regulations finalized during the last months of his immediate predecessor Barack Obama's presidency using the Congressional Review Act. Most of the other bills are "small-scale measures that appoint personnel, name federal facilities or modify existing programs." None of Trump's bills are considered to be "major bills"—based on a "longstanding political-science standard for 'major bills'". Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said that "based on a legislative standard"—which is what the first 100 days has been judged on since the tenure of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who enacted 76 laws in 100 days including nine that were "major". Pledges: Trump pledged to do the following in his first 100 days: -Appoint judges "who will uphold the Constitution" and "defend the Second Amendment" -Construct a wall on the southern U.S. border and limit illegal immigration "to give unemployed Americans an opportunity to fill good-paying jobs" -Re-assess trade agreements with other nations and "crack down" on companies that send jobs overseas Repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly called the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare) -Remove federal restrictions on energy production -Push for an amendment to the United States Constitution imposing term limits on Congress -Eliminate gun-free zones -Formulate a rule on regulations "that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated" -Instruct the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to "develop a comprehensive plan to protect America's vital infrastructure from cyberattacks, and all other form of attacks." -Label China a "currency manipulator" -Enforce rules and regulations for China's unfair subsidy behavior. Instruct the U.S. trade representative to bring trade cases against China, both in U.S. and at the WTO. -Use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of 45% tariffs consistent with Section 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to stop China's illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets. Inauguration: The first 100 days of the Presidency of Donald Trump began during the inauguration of Donald Trump with the conversion of Whitehouse.gov from the Obama Administration version to the Trump Administration version at 12:00 pm on January 20, 2017. This was the third presidential online portal transition and the first to transition social media accounts such as Twitter. As Trump took the oath of office, the official @POTUS Twitter account switched to President Trump with previous tweets archived under @POTUS44. Administration and Cabinet: On February 8, when Trump formally announced his 24-member-cabinet—the largest cabinet of any President so far—fewer cabinet nominees had been confirmed than any other president except George Washington by the same length of time into his presidency. Trump's reorganization of the cabinet removed the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers that President Obama had added in 2009. The Director of National Intelligence and Director of the CIA were elevated to cabinet-level. During the transition period, Trump had named a full slate of Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominees, all of which require Senate confirmation except for White House Chief of Staff and the vice presidency. By April 29, almost all of his nominated cabinet members had been confirmed, including Secretaries of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Defense James Mattis, Justice Jeff Sessions, the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, Health and Human Services HHS Tom Price, Housing and Urban Development HUD Ben Carson, Transportation Elaine Chao, Energy Rick Perry, Education Betsy DeVos, Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, Homeland Security John Kelly, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Mike Pompeo, UN Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt, Small Business Administration Linda McMahon, Management and Budget OMB Mick Mulvaney, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. Only two were awaiting confirmation—Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Council of Economic Advisers CEA Kevin Hassett. James Mattis was confirmed on January 20 as Secretary of Defense by a vote of 98–1. Mattis had previously received a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947, which requires a seven-year waiting period before retired military personnel can assume the role of Secretary of Defense. John Kelly was confirmed as United States Secretary of Homeland Security on the first day by a vote of 88–11. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson was sworn in as Secretary of State by Vice-President Mike Pence on February 1. Trump nominated Tillerson for the position as top U.S. diplomat (the equivalent of a foreign minister) on December 13, 2016. He was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 23, 2017, and by the full Senate in a 56–43 vote. Nikki Haley was confirmed as UN Ambassador with a Senate vote of 96 to 4. On January 26, 2017, when Tillerson visited the United States State Department, Undersecretaries Joyce Anne Barr, Patrick F. Kennedy, Michele Bond, and Gentry O. Smith all simultaneously resigned from the department. Former State Department chief of staff David Wade called the resignations "the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember." The Trump administration told CNN the officials had been fired and the Chicago Tribune reported that several senior state department career diplomats left the State Department, claiming they "had been willing to remain at their posts but had no expectation of staying." On February 10, Tom Price was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), a "$1 trillion government department". HHS includes National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Price, who is a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, will oversee its repeal and replacement. He has published articles in the "small, conservative medical association", the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, to which he belongs, that opposes mandatory vaccination and continue to argue that the vaccines causes autism, a "discredited conspiracy theory that Trump has long espoused". In response to questions from Senators at the hearing as to whether he believes autism is caused by vaccines, he responded, "I think the science in that instance is that it does not". Steve Mnuchin, who was nominated by Trump in November 2016, was finally confirmed on February 13, 2017, as Secretary of the Treasury department after lengthy confirmation hearings. On February 16, the Senate voted 54 to 46 to advance Scott Pruitt's nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. On February 16, a District Court Judge in Oklahoma, Aletia Timmons, ordered Pruitt to "turn over thousands of emails related to his communication with the oil, gas and coal industry" in a case brought to court by the Center for Media and Democracy. Lawmakers had criticized Pruitt who sued the EPA 14 times on behalf of the State of Oklahoma. Trump nominated Alexander Acosta as Secretary of Labor on February 16, when his first nominee Andrew Puzder stepped down under a wave of criticism for having employed an illegal immigrant as a former housekeeper, for his "remarks on women and employees at his restaurants" and for his "rancorous 1980s divorce". Notable non-Cabinet positions: According to a database compiled by the Washington Post in collaboration with the Partnership for Public Service, as of April 27, 473 of the 554 key executive branch nominations that require Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation, had not yet been appointed, including "Cabinet secretaries, deputy and assistant secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsel, heads of agencies, ambassadors and other critical leadership positions." Only three of the 119 Department of State executive branch positions have been filled and only one position in the Department of Defense—the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis—has been filled out of 53 key positions. Trump has not yet nominated anyone for 49 of these positions. On February 28, in an exclusive interview Tuesday with Fox & Friends, said, "a lot of those jobs, I don't want to appoint, because they're unnecessary to have. ... You know, we have so many people in government, even me. I look at some of the jobs and it's people over people over people. I say, 'What do all these people do?' You don't need all those jobs ... Many of those jobs I don't want to fill. I say, isn't that a good thing? That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing. We're running a very good, efficient government." Prior to taking office, Trump named several important White House advisers to positions that do not require Senate confirmation, including Stephen K. Bannon as his "senior counselor and chief West Wing strategist" and Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff, with a mission "as equal partners to transform the federal government." Other important advisers outside of the Cabinet include (Counselor to the President) Kellyanne Conway, Senior Advisor (National Security Advisor) Michael Flynn (replaced by H. R. McMaster) and (National Trade Council) Director Peter Navarro. (Homeland Security Adviser) Thomas P. Bossert, (Regulatory Czar) Carl Icahn, (White House Counsel) Donald F. "Don" McGahn II, and (Press Secretary) Sean Spicer. Michael T. Flynn served as Trump's National Security Advisor from January 20 until his resignation on February 13, 2017. He set a record for the shortest tenure as National Security Advisor in American history. The Justice Department warned the Trump administration that Flynn, who had a "well-established history with Russia", may have been "vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow". Flynn had "mischaracterized his communications" with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence regarding U.S. sanctions on Russia. Flynn's phone calls had been "recorded by a government wiretap" and several days after Flynn was named as Trump's Advisor, Sally Yates, who was then acting attorney general, warned the White House that "Flynn was susceptible to blackmail by the Russians because he had misled Mr. Pence and other officials". According to a February 14 article by The New York Times, it was unclear why the White House did not react to Yates' warning in early January. There were also questions about how much was known in early January by Bannon, Pence, Spicer, and Trump. Yates was fired on January 30, in an unrelated incident. On February 20, 2017, Trump named "warrior-scholar deemed an expert in counter insurgency", Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, to replace Flynn as National Security Advisor. Trump overruled McMaster's attempt to replace 30-year-old NSC aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a Mike Flynn appointee, with Linda Weissgold, when Bannon and Kushner intervened on Cohen-Watnick's behalf on March 11–12. Cohen-Watnick gathered classified files on intelligence information on U.S. persons. On January 28, 2017, Trump signed a Memorandum, the Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council which restructured the Principals Committee—the senior policy committee—of the National Security Council, assigning a permanent invitation to Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist, while at the same time withdrawing the permanent invitations of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Director of National Intelligence. On April 5, the 75th day of Trump's presidency, under guidance from Army Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor (NSC advisor) who replaced Mike Flynn, Trump removed Bannon, who has no security experience, from the National Security Council's principals committee. Trump's 36-year-old son-in-law, Jared Kushner is Trump's Senior Advisor alongside Stephen Miller. "In his January interview with the Times of London, Trump said that Kushner would be in charge of brokering peace in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He is also a "top adviser on relations with Canada, China and Mexico". On April 3, Kushner accompanied the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. and Homeland Security Advisor Thomas P. Bossert to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi "to discuss the fight against the Islamic State and whether the United States would leave troops in Iraq afterward. Trump named Kushner as head of the White House Office of American Innovation, (OAI), established on March 29 and mandated to use ideas from the private-sector to overhaul all federal agencies and departments in order to "spur job creation". One of the OAI's first priorities is to modernize the technology of departments such as Veterans Affairs. In his new position, Kushner will work with Chris Christie, who will chair the newly established "President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis" in response to Trump's pledge to combat opioid abuse. On January 28, in his eleventh Presidential Memoranda, "Organization of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council", White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, was designated as a regular attendee to the National Security Council (NSC)′s Principals Committee, a Cabinet-level senior interagency forum for considering national security issues, in a departure from the previous format in which this role is usually held for generals. While at first there was some confusion over meeting attendees, Priebus clarified on January 30, that defense officials could attend the meetings. On April 5, the 75th day of Trump's presidency, under guidance from Army Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor (NSC advisor) who replaced Mike Flynn, Trump removed Bannon, who has no security experience, from the National Security Council's principals committee. On February 2, Time published an article about Bannon as potentially, the second most powerful man in the world, illustrated with a cover labeling him as the "Great Manipulator". After only a fortnight into Trump's presidency, NPR described Bannon as "the power behind the throne" and the "gray eminence behind much of what Trump was prioritizing", rivalling Kushner's and Priebus' roles. Mike Pence affirmed in a PBS NewsHour report that only Trump was "in charge". Bannon and Steve Miller have been called the "architects" of the inaugural address, executive orders, including the controversial travel and refugees EO, and presidential memoranda. In an often-cited October 8, 2015, lengthy profile entitled "This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America" by Joshua Green, a senior national correspondent for Bloomberg News, Green described how Breitbart News with Bannon at its helm, had "championed Trump's presidential candidacy" and helped "coalesce a splinter faction of conservatives" who were irate over the way in which Fox News had treated Trump. Green quoted then-Senator Jeff Sessions as an admirer of Breitbart, which was "extraordinarily influential", with many radio hosts "reading Breitbart every day". Trump cited Breitbart News to vindicate his claims. Stephen Miller, Trump's Senior Advisor, was Jeff Sessions' communications director when he served as Senator for Alabama. Thirty-one-year old Miller, Bannon, and Andrew Bremberg sent over 200 executive orders to federal agencies for review before January 20. Miller has been an architect behind the inaugural address and the most "contentious executive orders" including Executive Order 13769. In a February 12 interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, when asked to provide evidence "for Trump's "unfounded allegations" where former Senator Kelly Ayotte lost her bid for election, and Trump narrowly lost to Clinton in 2016, Miller suggested Stephanopoulos interview Kansas Senator, Kris Kobach, who relied upon a 2012 Pew Research Center study in his voter fraud claims. The day before the interview a Federal Election Commission Commissioner called on Trump to provide evidence of what would "constitute thousands of felony criminal offenses under New Hampshire law." Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs investment banker and executive, took office on January 20, as Trump's Director of the National Economic Council, (NEC), a position which did not require Congressional confirmation, By February 11, 2017, The Wall Street Journal described Cohn as an "economic-policy powerhouse" in Trump's administration and The New York Times called him Trump's "go-to figure on matters related to jobs, business and growth." While the confirmation of Trump's December 12, 2016, nominee for Secretary of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, was delayed until February 13 by Congressional hearings, Cohn filled in the "personnel vacuum" and pushed "ahead on taxes, infrastructure, financial regulation and replacing health-care law." In November, Trump considered offering Cohn the position as Secretary of Treasury. If Cohn had stayed at Goldman Sachs, some believed he would have become CEO when Lloyd Blankfein vacated that office and his $285 million severance package "raised eyebrows" according to CNN. Bannon and Cohn disagree on the border-adjustment tax, the centerpiece of Paul Ryan's controversial tax reforms presented on February 17, which includes a 20% import tax, export subsidies and a 15% reduction in corporate tax rates that would, among other things, pay for the Mexican wall, which according to a The Washington Post study, would cost $25 billion and which Trump stated would cost $12 billion. Domestic policy- United States Domestic Policy Council: The Domestic Policy Council (DPC) consists of Trump and Andrew Bremberg as Directors with Paul Winfree as Deputy Assistant. Council attendees include Mike Pence, Jeff Sessions, Tom Price, John F. Kelly, David Shulkin, Ryan Zinke, Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Elaine Chao, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Steven Mnuchin, and—when appointed—the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Agriculture. Additional attendees include Scott Pruitt, Mick Mulvaney (Director of the Office of Management and Budget), Gary Cohn, and—when appointed—the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Congressional Research Service describes DPC's role as analyses of domestic policies and social programs including "education, labor and worker safety; health-care insurance and financing; health services and research; aging policy studies; Social Security, pensions and disability insurance; immigration, homeland security, domestic intelligence and criminal justice; and welfare, nutrition and housing programs." Withdrawal of the Affordable Care Act: Within the first hours of Trump's presidency, he signed his first executive order, Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal (EO 13765) to fulfill part of his pledge to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was part of a series of steps taken prior to 2017 to repeal and defund the ACA, including most recently, the FY2017 budget resolution, S.Con.Res. 3, that contained language allowing the repeal of ACA through the budget reconciliation process. A CBO report estimated 18 million people would lose their insurance and premiums would rise by 20% to 25% in the first year after repealing Obamacare. Uninsured could reach 32 million by 2026, while premiums could double. The order states what Mr. Trump made clear during his campaign: that it is his administration's policy to seek the "prompt repeal" of Obamacare. During his Fox News interview with Bill O'Reilly airing before the Super Bowl, Trump announced that the timeline for replacing Obamacare had to be extended and that a replacement would probably not be ready until 2018. Republicans are limited as to how much of ACA they can undo as they do not have a 60-vote majority in the Senate. They also "must balance the interests of insurers and medical providers". According to the March 13, 2017 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on the budgetary impact of the Republican bill to repeal and replace ACA over the coming decade, there would be a $337 billion reduction in the federal deficit and an estimated loss of coverage to 24 million more Americans. The Republican health-care plan was unveiled on March 6 and faced opposition from both moderate and conservative Republicans, such as the House Freedom Caucus. The American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), a bill to repeal and replace the ACA, was withdrawn in Congress on March 24, 2017 due to lack of support from within the Republican caucus. Immigration policy: In his first 100 days, President Trump set the tone for immigration policies, by signing executive orders to set in motion travel bans and restrictions on refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, increased immigration enforcement including deportations, and expanded efforts to prevent illegal entry into the United States by building a wall along the Mexico–United States border. While the numbers of people deported were very similar to those in 2016, the categories of people targeted for deportations was broadened during this period, which meant that many more people are at a heightened risk of deportation. Secretary Kelly clarified that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) "will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement." By April 3, according to ICE, there had been 35,604 removals in January and February 2017 compared to 35,255 in the same period in 2016. But the "tough rhetoric" and some "high-profile Ice operations" widely cited in the media resulted in widespread fear and panic within immigrant communities. In an AP April 20 interview, Trump said that, "The dreamers should rest easy". There are 800,000 young people protected by Obama's "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DREAMERS) who came to the U.S. as children and are living there illegally. Some of these "dreamers" in interviews with The Associated Press on April 21, said they "were not comforted by Trump's pledge" particularly since the April 18 deportation of 23-year-old "dreamer", Juan Manuel Montes. Trump supporters who are "immigration hard-liners", such as NumbersUSA and Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, feel deceived by Trump's softening stance on DREAMERs arguing that "his promise on DACA was pretty clear and unequivocal". Travel ban and refugee suspension: On January 27, at 4:42 p.m EST, Trump signed Executive Order 13769, entitled "Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals" which temporarily suspends the U. S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days and denies entry to citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. The suspension for Syrian refugees is for an indefinite period of time. The Economist described the order as "drafted in secret, enacted in haste and unlikely to fulfill its declared aim of sparing America from terrorism" with "Republican allies" lamenting that a "fine, popular policy was marred by its execution." Notably Saudi Arabia was not on the list though most of the 9/11 hijackers were from there. See Provisions of Order 13769. On February 4, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the State Department suspended all actions to implement the week-old EO in response to the February 3 ruling by federal judge James Robart which blocked the EO. According to CNN and the Los Angeles Times, the architects behind the order, were Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. White House officials deny that it was written without input from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). It was argued that these seven countries ranked among the lowest 15 of the 104 countries evaluated by the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index in 2016 based on the "number of countries that their citizens can travel to visa-free". For example, Germany ranks the highest at 177 points, Afghanistan the lowest of all 104 at 25. The order also calls for an expedited completion and implementation of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System for all travelers coming into the United States. The first legal challenge against the EO was filed on January 28, and within two days there were dozens of ongoing lawsuits in the United States federal courts. By February 3, federal judge, James Robart temporarily blocked the week-old EO which opened American airports to visa holders from the seven targeted countries. At the international level legal concerns have been raised by the UN, Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein, who claimed that "discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law." On January 30, in a telephone call to Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel explained that his EO "ran counter to the duties of all signatory states" to the Geneva Refugee Convention "to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds". Thousands protested at airports and other locations throughout the United States. Critics of the ban include most Democrats and several top Republican Congressmen, former President Obama, the Council on American–Islamic Relations, over a dozen state attorneys general, thousands of academics, Nobel laureates, technology companies, Iran, France, Germany, and 800,000 petitioners in Britain. Supporters of the ban include 82% of GOP voters, Paul Ryan, Bob Goodlatte, Czech President Miloš Zeman, and members of the European far right. According to an IPSOS online poll conducted on January 31, in response to the question, "Do you agree or disagree with the Executive Order that President Trump signed blocking refugees and banning people from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S.?", 48% of the 1,201 Americans polled agreed with the statement (23% of the 453 Democrats, 82% of the 478 Republicans, and 44% of the Independents polled). On the evening of January 30, Trump replaced acting Attorney General Sally Yates with Dana Boente. Spicer's statement described Yates as an "Obama administration appointee" who had "betrayed the Department of Justice" by "refusing to enforce a legal order". In the Senate, Chuck Schumer, called her firing a Monday Night Massacre in reference to Nixon's firing of his attorney general, referred to as the Saturday Night Massacre during Watergate. Trump also replaced DHS's ICE Chief Daniel Ragsdale with Thomas Homan as Acting Director in the evening of January 30. In a live interview with Chris Wallace on January 29, Fox News Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, justified the list of seven countries by claiming that the countries were originally identified as a threat in the Terrorist Prevention Act passed by Congress in 2015. HUD's Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, was extended amid some controversy in February 2016, when it revoked the privilege of traveling to the States without a visa to people who "had recently traveled to Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan", as they were considered high-risk. A spokesman for former president Obama issued a statement stating, "The president Obama fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion." In his final press statement as president, Obama said, "There's a difference between the normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake," and stated his intention to speak out if a situation is serious enough. Obama encouraged Americans to protest the issue. In response to a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued in the case of State of Washington v. Trump, the Department of Homeland Security said on February 4 that it had stopped enforcing the portions of the executive order affected by the judgment, while the State Department activated visas that had been previously suspended. The restraining order was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 9, 2017. On March 15, a United States Federal Judge, Derrick Watson of the District Court of Hawaii, issued a 43-page ruling which blocked Trump's revised March 6 executive order 13780 on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause by disfavoring a particular religion. The temporary restraining order was converted to a preliminary injunction by Judge Watson on March 29. On an April 18 airing of the Mark Levin Show Jeff Sessions commented, "We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power." High-profile ICE operations: On February 8, 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 35-year-old Guadalupe García de Rayos, when she attended her required annual review at the ICE office in Phoenix, and deported her to Mexico on the next day based on a removal order issued in 2013 by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Immigrant advocates believe that she is the first to be deported after the EO was signed and that her deportation "reflects the severity" of the "crackdown" on illegal immigration. ICE officials said that her case went through multiple reviews in the immigration court system and that the "judges held she did not have a legal basis to remain in the US". In 2008, she was working at an amusement park in Mesa, Arizona when then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio ordered a raid that resulted in her arrest and felony identity theft conviction for possessing a false Social Security number. Arpaio was a subject of several controversies during his tenure as sheriff. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice partially settled a lawsuit filed against Arpaio for unlawful discriminatory police conduct, alleging that Arpaio had overseen the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history. ICE officials in Los Angeles released a report on February 10, 2017, that about 160 foreign nationals were arrested in a five-day operation. Of those, 150 had criminal histories, and of the remaining arrests, five had final orders of removal or were previously deported. Ninety-five percent were male. Under Trump's EO, the definition of criminal is much more "sweeping" than Obama's, which "prioritized expulsion of undocumented immigrants who threatened public safety or national security, had ties to criminal gang activity, committed serious felony offenses or were habitual misdemeanor criminal offenders" and a single immigration officer decides. On the morning of February 14, ICE officials entered the Des Moines, Washington family home of 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina on an arrest warrant for Ramirez' father, who was taken into custody. Ramirez, who has no criminal record, entered the United States illegally as a child, and was later able to get a legal work permit through the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, was placed in detention in the Northwest Detention Center, Tacoma, Washington. According to ICE, Ramirez was detained based on "his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety". According to Ramirez's lawyer, Ramirez "unequivocally denies" these allegations and claimed ICE agents "repeatedly pressured" Ramirez to "falsely admit" gang affiliation. "The case raises questions about what it could mean for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children." U.S.–Mexico border wall proposal: While visiting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on January 25, President Trump signed his third executive order Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements (EO 13767) under the (INA), the Secure Fence Act, and the (IIRIRA) for the construction of a Mexican border wall to deter illegal migration and smuggling of illegal products. The existing Mexico–United States barrier is not one continuous structure, but a series of physical walls and physical and "virtual" fences monitored by the United States Border Patrol. The proposed wall which would be "a contiguous, physical wall or other similarly secure, contiguous, and impassable physical barrier" along the entire length of the border, which Trump estimated in 2016 would cost $10 billion to $12 billion, and by January 27 was estimated to be $20 billion, to be initially paid by Congress. Trump plans on eventually negotiating a reimbursement from the Mexican government. While the Executive Order entitled "Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements", contains no information of payment, it requests federal agency reports by late March 2017 which "identify and quantify all sources of direct and indirect Federal aid or assistance to the Government of Mexico on an annual basis over the past five years, including all bilateral and multilateral development aid, economic assistance, humanitarian aid, and military aid." On January 27, Forbes cautioned that the 20% Mexican Import Tariff on all imported goods announced by Spicer to pay for the 1,933-mile (3,111 km) frontier wall would be "paid by Americans". GOP donors, Brothers Charles and David Koch, and their advocacy group, Americans For Prosperity, oppose Paul Ryan's 'Buy American' Tax Plan, which they claim would add a "whopping tax hike of more than $1 trillion on American families and small businesses over 10 years." The import tariff would raise prices at Wal-Mart, for example, directly impacting lower income families. The Washington Post reported on April 25, that Trump had agreed to delaying funding for the construction of the wall until September to avoid a government shutdown. Sanctuary cities: On January 25, Trump signed an executive order, "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States", to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General and their departments and agencies to increase the enforcement of immigration laws which included the hiring of 10,000 "additional immigration officers". His order requires the cooperation of state and local authorities. The order states "sanctuary jurisdictions" including "sanctuary cities" who refuse to comply will not be "eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary". Some officials claim that the "U.S. Constitution bars the federal government from commandeering state officials or using federal funds to 'coerce' states into doing the bidding of Washington." Mayors of New York, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle have expressed concerns about the Order and do not want to "change the way their cities treat immigrants". Jeff Sessions is considered to be an "inspiration" for Trump's anti-immigration policies. On August 31, 2016, Trump laid out a 10-step plan as part of his immigration policy where he reiterated that all illegal immigrants are "subject to deportation" with priority given to illegal immigrants who have committed significant crimes and those who have overstayed visas. He noted that all those seeking legalization would have to go home and re-enter the country legally. In a meeting with concerned mayors, Sessions explained that the Executive Order merely directs cities to enforce the preexisting thirty-year-old law, 8 U.S.C. 1373 which means that "there is no sanctuary city debate." On April 25, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III sided with San Francisco and Santa Clara in their lawsuit against the Trump administration, issuing a temporary injunction effectively blocking the order targeting so-called sanctuary cities. Justice Orrick said that the president "has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending". Judge Orrick issued a nationwide permanent injunction on November 20, 2017, declaring that section 9(a) of Executive Order 13768 was "unconstitutional on its face" and violates "the separation of powers doctrine and deprives the plaintiffs of their Tenth and Fifth Amendment rights." Social policy: Trump's appointment of a conservative justice, Neil Gorsuch, his reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, and his signing H.J. Res. 43—HHS Title X Funding for Planned Parenthood Rule are in keeping with his pro-life policy. On January 23, Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum on the Mexico City Policy regarding federal funding to foreign NGOs. This is a key point in the abortion debate as foreign NGOs that receive US federal funding will no longer be able to offer, promote or perform abortion services as part of family planning in their own countries using non-U.S. government funds. Forbes claimed this could "potentially affect $9.5 billion" in programs that reach "225 million women globally". On April 13, Trump quietly signed H.J. Res. 43—HHS Title X Funding for Planned Parenthood Rule— reversing Obama's December 2016 regulation which had mandated that Title X recipients—like states local and state governments—distribute federal funds for services related to contraception, sexually transmitted infections, fertility, pregnancy care, and breast and cervical cancer screening to qualified health providers, regardless of whether they also perform abortions". Bloomberg noted that although this was "one of the few opportunities" Trump has had in his first 100 days to enact legislation, he signed this bill in private. The Obama rule never came into effect as it was blocked by a federal judge. Republicans want to cut off federal funding from health-care organizations such as Planned Parenthood that perform abortions. Proponents of the bill claim it supports states' rights over federalist rights. The bill was passed under the procedures of the Congressional Review Act. In the Senate Vice-President Pence cast a tie-breaking vote. This will be an issue at the end of the first 100 days as Congress tries to avoid a government shutdown. In Fiscal Year 2014, Planned Parenthood clinics received $20.5 million of the $252.6 million distributed under the Title X Family Planning grant program. The proposed American Health Care Act, announced by Congressional Republicans in March 2017, would have made Planned Parenthood "ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements or federal family planning grants". Suspended reduction of Federal Housing Mortgage Insurance Premium rates: Within the first hours of Trump's presidency, he "suspended indefinitely" the reduced "Mortgage Insurance Premiums for loans with Closing/Disbursement date on or after January 27, 2017", known as the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) Annual Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) Rates managed under the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It is "effective immediately". Obama's rate cut would have lowered borrowing costs for first time and low income house buyers. Gun control: In February 2017, the Trump administration signed into law a bill that rolled back a regulation implemented by the Obama administration, which would have prohibited approximately 75,000 individuals who were receiving Social Security disability and had representative payees, from owning guns. The bill was supported by the ACLU, the National Association for Mental Health, The American Association of People with Disabilities, and the National Council on Disability, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, as well as other disability rights advocates. The initial regulation was supported by the Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence, Democratic gun control advocates, and some mental health experts. High-priority infrastructure: On January 24, Trump signed his second Executive Order entitled Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects (EO 13766) which is part of a series of five executive orders to date. This Order was part of a series "designed to speed environmental permitting and reviews" as " major infrastructure projects trigger an array of overlapping environmental and natural resource laws and requirements". On April 19, Trump signed a bill that extended the VA's Choice beyond August. The 2014 Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act was enacted in by the Obama administration in response to the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014. Foreign policy: The main group advising the President on foreign affairs and national security is the National Security Council (NSC) which coordinates national agencies such as the secretaries of defense and state; the secretaries of the army, navy, and air force.On April 10, The Wall Street Journal described Trump's foreign policy as moving away from the "America First", "isolationist" policies towards more "mainstream" and "conventional" tendencies under the more stabilizing influence of Tillerson, Mattis, McMaster, Ross, and Kushner. On the first day of Trump's presidency, the White House website had posted a 220-word description of its foreign policy. It was protectionist with a focus on "America First", as was his inaugural address. His three top priorities were to defeat ISIS, to rebuild the military, and to embrace diplomacy. Defense: At the time Trump took office, U.S. military spending had reached its highest peak ever. Trump requested $30 billion for FY 2017 which ends in September, and an increase of $54 billion to Defense Department for FY 2018. The $639 billion in FY2018 would result in deep cuts to many other departments including the State Department, the diplomatic arm of the administration. After Trump's April 12 first face-to-face meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump announced that he had changed views about NATO. Trump had previously complained that NATO was "obsolete" as it did not fight terrorism. On March 18, Trump called on NATO's member nations to contribute more to NATO. After the White House meeting, Trump realized that NATO has been engaged in combating groups like ISIS. Trump will maintain the "US commitment to NATO while reiterating its member nations must step up their military financing". On January 29, Trump authorized the first military operation of his Presidency—a raid by US commandos on Al-Qaeda in Yakla, Baida in Yemen. At least 14 jihadists were killed in the raid, as well as 10 civilians, including children. The raid also resulted in the death of Chief Petty Officer William Owens a 36-year-old Virginia-based Navy SEAL, the first U.S. combat casualty in Trump's presidency. According to the New York Times, Owen's death "came after a chain of mishaps and misjudgments that plunged the elite commandos into a ferocious 50-minute firefight that also left three others wounded and a $75 million aircraft deliberately destroyed." On April 6, 2017, Trump ordered a missile strike on Shayrat Air Base near Homs, in Syria. 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched from the USS Ross (DDG-71) and USS Porter (DDG-78) from the Mediterranean Sea. On April 8, four days after North Korea had test-fired a ballistic missile, an announcement by the United States Pacific Command (PACOM) commander was posted via U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs stating that PACOM had ordered the USS Carl Vinson supercarrier to "sail north and report on station in the Western Pacific Ocean". It was a premature announcement that led to a "glitch-ridden sequence of events"—a result of confusion created by a "miscommunication" between the Pentagon and the White House. On April 8 and April 9, media outlets such as Fox News, RT, CNN, USA Today, BBC and others had published the erroneous announcement that warships were heading to the Korean Peninsula within the context of escalating US-North Korean tensions. In an interview with FOX Business Network's Maria Bartiromo that aired on April 12, President Trump warned, "We are sending an armada. Very powerful. We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you." By April 17, North Korea's deputy United Nations ambassador accused the United States of "turning the Korean peninsula into "the world's biggest hotspot" and the North Korean government stated "its readiness to declare war on the United States if North Korean forces were to be attacked." On April 17, the Defense News broke the story that the Carl Vinson and its escorts were 3,500 miles from Korea, engaged in scheduled joint Royal Australian Navy exercises in the Indian Ocean. According to Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, the Carl Vinson was heading north on April 18. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 19, that the incident sparked both "criticism and ridicule" as some felt "duped by Trump". In the article, Hong Joon-pyo, a candidate in the 2017 South Korean presidential election, was quoted as saying, "What President Donald Trump said was important for the national security of South Korea. If that was a lie, then during Trump's term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says." On April 13, the United States dropped a "mother of all bombs" (MOAB) in the Nangarhar Province Afghanistan— the first use of the bomb on the battlefield. On April 8, Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar was killed during an operation against ISIS in Nangarhar Province. The most consequential shift in Trump's defense policy was the April 6 cruise-missile launch at a Syrian airbase. Trade policies: On January 23, Trump fulfilled a campaign pledge by signing an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). According to the BBC, Trump had pledged to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and he signed an executive order on the TPP his first few days. However, the EO was largely symbolic since the deal has not been ratified by a divided US Congress." The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), was a trade agreement between the United States and eleven Pacific Rim nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam that would have created a "free-trade zone for about 40 percent of the world's economy. On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that directed federal agencies to implement a "Buy American, Hire American" strategy. The executive order directs federal agencies to implement a new system that favors higher-skilled, higher-paid applicants. The order is the first initiative in response to a key pledge made by Trump during his presidential campaign to promote a 'Buy American, Hire American.' The EO is intended to order federal agencies to review and propose reforms to the H-1B visa system. Through the executive order, Trump states his broad policy of economic nationalism without having to go through Congress. Cabinet secretaries from Departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State will "fill in the details with reports and recommendations about what the administration can legally do." Trump argued that the EO would "end the 'theft of American prosperity'", which he said had been brought on by low-wage immigrant labor. On March 31, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on trade. One examines forms of "trade abuse", taking a country-by-country as well as product and industry look over 90 days at cheating, law enforcement, and currency misalignment by foreign countries that causes U.S. trade deficits. President Trump said the order ensures "that we fully collect all duties imposed on foreign importers that cheat, the cheaters." Another to strengthen anti-dumping rules and countervailing duties. The order directs Homeland Security, Commerce, and Treasury departments to ensure enforcement and "those who break the rules will face severe consequences". Trump—who had been dismissive of the Export-Import Bank (ExIm)—made an about-face on April 15 by nominating Scott Garrett as head of the ExIm breaking a deadlock that had prevented the Bank from operating since 2014. Although Trump had privately made known that he would not side with "conservative Republicans, including those in his own administration", who wanted to "cripple" the ExIm in February, he did not announce it publicly until April 13, when he told The Wall Street Journal that he would fill two seats of ExIm's five-seat board which would allow the Bank to make loans greater than $10 million. Trump had been one of ExIm's harshest critics. Conservatives call it the 'Bank of Boeing' and an 'epicenter of crony capitalism'. Its supporters such as Boeing and General Electric Co, claim that it facilitates trade worth billions of dollars in exports helping hundreds of businesses. Prior to making the announcement, Trump held two significant meetings related to ExIm—an April 3 formal visit with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who is negotiating for billions of dollars in ExIm financing and an April 11 meeting with Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney. Sisi also met with Lockheed Martin and General Electric CEOs during his visit to the U.S. in April. International relations- Australia: A February 2 report by The Washington Post claimed that US President Donald Trump berated the Australian, Prime Minister Turnbull during one of Trump's first phone calls made to foreign officials. Trump stated that the 2016 asylum deal was an attempt to export the next Boston bombers to the United States. The contentious deal involves a 2016 agreement between the Obama administration and Australia whereby the U.S. would resettle 1,250 refugees held in controversial offshore immigration detention facilities—Manus and Nauru islands. In return, Australia would 'resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras". The full transcript of that phone conversation was leaked in August 2017, and published by the Washington Post. Later that day, Trump explained that while he respected Australia, they, along with many other countries, were "terribly taking advantage" of the United States. The following day, Australian Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey was sent to the White House and held meetings with White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Spicer described the phone call as "very cordial". The 25-minute phone call on January 28, was described as "acrimonious" by Reuters and Trump's "worst call by far" with a foreign leader by the Washington Post. During a joint news conference with Prime Minister Turnbull, Vice-President Pence—who was on a "10-day, four-country trip" in April to the Pacific Rim—announced that even if the United States did not "admire the agreement", Trump had made it clear the United States would honour the 2016 agreement to resettle refugees. Turnbull responded, "whatever the reservations of the president are", the decision "speaks volumes for the commitment, the integrity of President Trump, and your administration, sir, to honour that commitment." "The US is Australia's most important security partner, while China is its most important trading partner." Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Trump in Washington, D.C. in February 2017. Trudeau said that "The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern," referring to Trump's "refugee ban"—Executive Order 13769. The two leaders emphasized the importance of the two countries' ongoing relationship, with Trudeau adding that "there are times when we have differed in our approaches. And that's always been done firmly and respectfully." Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that, "It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations", as he announced stiff tariffs up stiff tariffs of up to 24% on Canadian lumber on April 24, as dairy product trade fell through. The Canada–United States softwood lumber dispute has been since ongoing since the 1980s making it one of the longest trade disputes between the two countries, as well as one of the largest. Trump is under pressure to begin renegotiating NAFTA, the trade deal between Canada, Mexico and the US. On April 25, Canada's International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and soft lumber industry representatives promoted trade with China in Beijing in response to what is perceived as U.S. protectionist policies. China: The Mar-a-Lago summit meeting on April 6 and 7 between Trump and President Xi Jinping of China, during the first 100 days of the new US administration, was heralded by The Telegraph as the "most significant bilateral summit in decades". In spite of differences regarding Taiwan, the South China Sea and the most urgent issue—North Korea's nuclear programme—"the summit between the US and Chinese presidents had both symbolic and tangible successes," according to the South China Morning Post. During the April 7–8 visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump acknowledged that international relations are much more complicated than he had imagined. In regards to North Korea, he had hoped to negotiate better trade deals with China in exchange for China dealing with the nuclear threat from North Korea. In an interview with Wall Street Journal's Gerald F. Seib Trump said, "After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it's not so easy. I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over North Korea. ... But it's not what you would think." Trump also affirmed that North Korea was the United States' "biggest international threat". The BBC reported on April 19 that China "was 'seriously concerned" about nuclear threats" as tensions between North Korea and the United States escalated with a "war of words" between North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and the Trump administration. Recent threats included Vice President Mike Pence's statement that the period of "strategic patience" was over and his April 19 statement that the US "would meet any attack with an 'overwhelming response'". North Korea recently warned of "full-out nuclear war if Washington takes military action against it." Trump has called for China to rein in North Korea, but China Daily reported that "Washington must be aware of the limitations to Beijing's abilities, and refrain from assuming that the matter can be consigned entirely to Beijing alone." China Daily considered the U.N. Security Council statement adopted on April 20 condemning North Korea's recent attempted missile launch, as an indication that the Trump administration is considering a "diplomatic solution". In an April 12 interview with Wall Street Journal, Trump said he had changed his mind and he would not label China a currency manipulator, which had been one of his 100-day pledges. By April he believed that China had not been manipulating its currency for months. He did not want to "jeopardize" talks with the Chinese "on confronting the threat of North Korea". Early in Trump's presidency, the world's largest financial newspaper, Nikkei Asian Review, had reported on February 1, that Trump had labelled China and Japan as currency manipulators. The Trump administration confirmed its commitment to defend Japan against China's claims to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea through the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan during a U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis's visit to Japan on February 4. By February 9, US-Chinese relations—the most important bilateral relationship—had remained strained, President Xi Jinping and Trump had not spoken and this had "drawn increasing scrutiny". Xi was concerned by the December 2, 2016, phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to Trump and Trump's questioning of the One China policy. On February 10, Trump and Xi Jinpin spoke on the phone for the first time since Donald Trump took office, during which Donald Trump committed to honoring the One China policy at Xi's request. During the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on January 17–20, China's President Xi Jinping, as keynote speaker, "vigorously" defended globalization in a speech that the Financial Times described as "one would have expected to come from a US president". Mr. Xi observed that "blaming economic globalisation for the world's problems is inconsistent with reality ... globalisation has powered global growth and facilitated movement of goods and capital, advances in science, technology and civilisation, and interactions among people In 2015, China became the United States' largest trade partner, placing Canada second. The Times 2017 article, citing an analysis by Peterson Institute for International Economics, noted that "China and Mexico together account for a quarter of US trade". Concerns have been raised about Trump's proposed imposition of a 45 percent tariff on imports from China. On January 23, The U.S. Commerce Department announced new countervailing duties (CVDs) ranging from 38.61 to 65.46 percent on Chinese vehicles in the antidumping case. In 2015, over 8.9 million Chinese truck and bus tires worth $1.07 billion were imported to the United States. At his Senate confirmation hearing as Secretary of State, in mid-January, Rex Tillerson's statements about the South China Sea, "set the stage for a possible crisis between the world's two biggest economies should his comments become official American policy" and "put further strains on one of the world's most important bilateral relationships." According to an article on January 28, in the South China Morning Post, an official from China's Central Military Commission's Defence Mobilisation Department, ranking Chinese military official considers war between China and the United States a real possibility during Trump's term as president. An article in The Guardian claims, "The bad news is that if in the coming months or years Trump faces an ignominious end to his presidency through scandal or mismanagement, a national crisis—involving China, or ISIS or another foreign actor—could allow him to cling to power." Egypt: On April 3, Trump hosted a formal visit with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in an effort to "reset" relations between the two countries, offering the U.S. government's "strong backing". Ties between the two countries were strained since Sisi deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi during the July 2013 military coup. Trump publicly stated that Sisi's autocratic leadership was 'fantastic'. Sisi, who is seeking "billions of dollars in financing" from the Export-Import Bank for large investments in infrastructure investments, also met with the representatives from the IMF, the World Bank, Lockheed Martin and General Electric. Trump nominated a new head of ExIm which facilitates its operation—the ExIm had been hamstrung since 2014 because of opposition by Republicans. During his talks with Sisi in April, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) had advocated for the release of six humanitarian workers, including a U.S. citizen—30-year-old Aya Hijazi and her husband, who had been imprisoned in Egypt since May 1, 2014. A court in Egypt dropped all charges against them on April 16. European Union: In a 60-minute interview at Trump Tower in mid-January, with Michael Gove of the Times of London and Kai Diekmann of Bild, Trump praised Brexit, criticized NATO as "obsolete", and the European Union as "basically a vehicle for Germany". He said it was a "very catastrophic mistake" on Angela Merkel's part to admit a million refugees—whom he refers to as "illegals". These "worrying declarations", among others, compelled the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to raise concerns in a letter to 27 European leaders, that the Trump administration seemed to "question the last 70 years of American foreign policy", placing the European Union in a "difficult situation". Iran: There are no formal diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. Iranian citizens were temporary banned from entering the United States by the executive order "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States." Late on April 18, 2017, the Trump Administration certified that Iran had continued to comply with the 2015 nuclear framework agreement. During his campaign, Trump had denounced the agreement as 'the worst deal ever' but was frustrated in his plans to renegotiate the nuclear deal as "canceling the deal would likely cause significant problems." Israel: Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump held their first official visit at the White House on February 15. At the press conference, Trump urged Netanyahu to "'hold back' on building Jewish settlements on territories occupied by Israel in 1967 'for a little bit'". According to The Economist, Trump appeared to step back from the "long-standing, bipartisan American insistence that peace can be reached only through the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside the Jewish one", the two-state solution. Trump's priority of destroying the Muslim radicals of Islamic State (IS)" differs from Netanyahu's. Israel is more concerned about "containing Iran, the largest power in the Shia Muslim world. Given that Iran is itself fighting IS in Syria and Iraq, the two goals could even be in conflict." In a marked change from his visit to the White House under the Obama administration, Netanyahu blurred the distinction by "denouncing both IS and Iran in the same attack on 'militant Islam' and hailing Mr Trump's 'great courage' in tackling 'radical Islamic terror'". Mexico: Since early in Trump's presidency, Mexico and United States faced a diplomatic crisis. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto opposes Trump's approach to the renegotiation of NAFTA and the implications of Trump's Executive Order 13767. After decades of cooperation between the two nations relations between the US and Mexico are seriously weakened. North Korea: On February 12, North Korea tested a ballistic solid-fuel missile, the Pukkuksong-2, which is part of a series of missile tests that have largely defined the hostile North Korea–United States relations over recent years. According to The Economist, on February 13, while Trump promised "to deal with the 'big, big' problem of North Korea 'very strongly'", he has few options. Trump received the news of the launch during the first official visit of Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe. They were dining at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's Florida resort. Russia: According to a Reuters report on February 9, 2017, in his first 60-minute telephone call with Putin, Putin inquired about extending New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russia signed in 2010, which was expected to last until 2021. and, after ratification, Trump denounced the treaty claiming that it favored Russia and was "one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration". The New York Times reported that on February 14, Russia deployed a new type of fully operational ground-launched intermediate-range cruise missile that "violates a landmark arms control treaty". The Americans have changed its name from SSC-X-8 to SSC-8, reflecting its status as "operational" not "X" referring to "in development". On February 16, 2017, President Trump's Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, declared that the United States was not currently prepared to collaborate with Russia on military matters—including future anti-ISIL US operations. On February 24, Trump "risked triggering a new Cold War-style arms race between Washington and Moscow. In an interview with Reuters, Trump said that the "treaty limiting Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals was a bad deal for Washington" and he "would put the U.S. nuclear arsenal "at the top of the pack". In response, Russia's Konstantin Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page, "arguably Trump's most alarming statement on the subject of relations with Russia". Trump's campaign slogan 'Make America great again', if that means nuclear supremacy, will return the world to the worst times of the arms race in the '50s and '60s. — Konstantin Kosachev, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Russian Federation Council February 24, 2017 Trump had "promised one of the 'greatest military buildups in American history' in a feisty, campaign-style speech extolling robust nationalism" at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on February 24 at National Harbor. Syria: On April 5, 2017, Trump responded to the April 4 chemical attack allegedly by Syrian Armed Forces on rebel-held Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province, which enveloped men, women, and children in a suffocating fog of sarin gas, leaving more than eighty people dead and over three hundred more injured, saying that "... my attitude towards Syria and Assad has changed very much." Both Tillerson and Nikki Haley had previously stated that the Trump administration had no intention of interfering in President Bashar Assad's leadership in the Syrian Civil War, as the US focused on eliminating ISIS. United Kingdom: In January 2017, the Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump to a state visit to the UK when she met Trump in Washington DC. The visit was planned to occur in June, although it may be delayed to July to coincide with the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg. Some sources have suggested that the UK government may delay the visit until after the House of Commons is in recess for the summer to avoid criticism from MPs. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, stated on February 6, 2017, that Trump would not be welcome to address parliament during any future state visit, drawing applause and cheering from some Members of Parliament. More than 1,860,000 people signed a petition to prevent Trump from making an official state visit, which states that such a visit "would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen". The FCO responded to this petition by stating that HM Government recognises the strong views expressed by the many signatories of this petition, but does not support this petition." Lord Ricketts, former Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, said that the unprecedented speed of May's invitation has put the Queen in a "very difficult situation". He questioned whether Trump was "specially deserving of this exceptional honour", given that US presidents are usually only invited to such visits after at least a year in office. Writing to May, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn stated that the "invite should be withdrawn until the executive orders are gone". It was suggested that Trump's visit would have to take place outside London, after Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the chief of the Metropolitan Police, said that he had concerns about the visit given the number of protests expected. One suggestion considered was for Trump to address a rally at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, a city where 50.4% of voters voted to leave the EU, rather than London, which saw 59.9% voting to remain. Local politicians and activists in Birmingham promised to stage protests if the visit is moved, with Shabana Mahmood, Labour MP for the Birmingham Ladywood constituency, saying that "President Trump with his hateful and divisive rhetoric, policies and Muslim ban is not welcome here." During a March 14 Fox & Friends interview, Andrew Napolitano said, "Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command, using the British GCHQ to implement surveillance on Donald Trump to avoid leaving 'American fingerprints'." On March 16, Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeated Napolitano's claim at a White House press briefing. The following day, a GCHQ spokesperson called Napolitano's claim "utterly ridiculous". The White House denied reports that it had apologized to the British government for the accusation. Government and Finance (G&F): The G&F Division focuses on issues related to Congress, the executive and the judicial branches, the budget and appropriations, legislative process, homeland security, elections and certain financial issues such as public debt, inflation, savings, GDP, taxation and interest rates, banking, financial institutions, insurance and securities, public finance, fiscal and monetary policy, public debt, interest rates, gross domestic product, inflation and savings. Supreme Court nomination: On the evening of January 30, Trump announced his nomination of U.S. Appeals Court judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court fulfilling his campaign pledge that he would choose someone 'in the mold' of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Following the February 3 ruling by federal judge James Robart, which temporarily blocked Trump's travel ban on people from seven Muslim countries, Trump has been openly critical of the Federal judiciary. According to CNN and Washington Post, on February 8, Gorsuch expressed concern that Trump's remarks on the judiciary were 'demoralizing' and 'disheartening' to the independence of the judiciary. Gorsuch was approved by the Senate Judiciary committee on April 3. Senate Republicans invoked the "nuclear option" after the April 6 filibuster that prevented cloture. After a year-long Republican block on nominations, the Senate confirmed Gorsuch's nomination with a 54–45 vote, mainly along party lines. Gorsuch took office in a private ceremony on April 10. Hours after Gorsuch and four other Supreme Court conservatives justices voted on April 20 to deny a stay of execution request from eight inmates on Arkansas death-row, Ledell Lee was put to death with a lethal injection, the first in Arkansas since 2005. Two inmates—Jack Jones and Marcel Williams—received lethal injections on April 24. Monetary policy: On April 19, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal—in a reversal of previous statements—Trump said he was considering keeping Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve System, which oversees the U.S. monetary policy. He explained that, "I do like a low-interest rate policy, I must be honest with you." In the same interview, Trump said he would not label China a currency manipulator, which had been one of his 100-day pledges. Trump expressed concerns in that interview that, "I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that's my fault because people have confidence in me. But that's hurting—that will hurt ultimately." He believes a low dollar favors the U.S. in international trade. From November 8, 2016—when Trump was elected—to December 30, 2016, the trade-weighted average of the foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar (TWEXB) increased 4.4 percent. Towards the end of the first 100 days, the TWEXB had dropped two percent. This table shows some highs and lows of the Trade Weighted U.S. Dollar Index: Broad TWEXB from 2002 to April 2017. Small government: On January 23, President Trump signed an executive order that froze all federal hiring except for the military. The order specified that no new positions can be created and no currently vacant positions may be filled unless an agency head believes that the position is "necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities". The order is due to expire once the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, creates a "long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government's workforce through attrition". On January 24, the Associated Press reported on emails from the Administration to some government agencies sent shortly after the inauguration, which "detailed specific prohibitions" banning certain government agencies, such as the Agricultural Research Service Agriculture Department from issuing "press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency's social media accounts". In what the Associated Press described as a "broader communications clampdown within the executive branch", the Administration "instituted a media blackout". In his January 25 press briefing, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed that the emails did not come from the Administration: "They haven't been directed by us to do anything ... That directive did not come from here." On January 23, in a Presidential Memorandum, the president ordered a temporary government-wide hiring freeze of the civilian work force in the executive branch, which is managed by the Office of Personnel Management. This will prevent federal agencies, except for the offices of the new presidential appointees, national security, the military and public safety, from filling vacant positions. The Brookings Institution questioned whether this freeze would include financial regulators who exercise independence from the executive branch—such as the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (Fed), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) among others. In a Fox News report, based on statistics from the Office of Personnel Management, the number of executive branch employees "hasn't been this low since 1965" and has been "more or less steady" since 2001. Economic policy of Donald Trump: Trump's key economic policies included the dismantling of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the April 28, 2017 Commerce Department report, in the first quarter of 2017, there was a "sharp decline from the 2.1% in Q1 2016 to 0.7% in Q1 2017—representing the weakest quarterly economic growth in three years. The report presents a statistical analysis of the American economy in the 2017 Q1—the gross domestic product (GDP). In spite of the soft GDP, by the end of Q1 2017, the S&P 500 was near an all-time high, representing a 12% rise from the first quarter of 2016, as investor confidence remained elevated based on Trump's promise to cut taxes, deregulate and spend heavily on infrastructure such as roads and bridges. In March 2017, the unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent and the Consumer Sentiment Index reached 125.6, a level of consumer confidence in the United States last seen in December 2000. It fell to 120.3 in April. Consumer confidence or soft data contrasted with real consumer spending or hard data, with a "big drop-off" in the amount Americans actually spent during Trump's first 100 days. Changes to Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: On February 3, after a meeting with his strategic and policy forum, which included Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO JPMorgan Chase, Trump issued an Executive Order, Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System, which directed the "Treasury secretary to submit a report on recommended changes to bank regulations in 120 days." Trump wants to get "banks to lend money more aggressively" and wants to make changes to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) which was enacted in response to the Great Recession, bringing significant changes to U. S. financial regulation. We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank ... Frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses that can't borrow money. They just can't get any money because the banks won't let them borrow because of rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank. — Trump in meeting with his business advisory council, February 3; In an interview on February 3, with The Wall Street Journal, Trump's National Economic Council Director, Gary Cohn, announced the planned rollback of the fiduciary rule, which stated that brokers and advisers who work with tax-advantaged retirement savings "must work in the best interest of their clients" even at the expense of their own profits. Deregulation: One of the first acts by the Trump administration was an order signed by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on January 20, under the subject "Regulatory Freeze Pending Review" to all Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies ordering agencies to immediately suspend all pending regulations and to "send no regulation" to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OFR) until the Trump administration can review them except for "emergency situations" or "urgent circumstances" allowed by the Director or Acting Director, Mark Sandy, of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This was comparable to prior moves by the Obama and Bush administrations shortly after their inaugurations to revert executive orders by outgoing presidents, signed in their final days in office. On January 30, Trump signed his seventh Executive Order "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs". Deregulation and corporations: At a January 23 meeting with leaders of the United States' largest corporations, including Ford's Mark Fields, Dell Technologies' Michael Dell, Lockheed Martin's Marillyn Hewson, Under Armour's Kevin Plank, Arconic's Klaus Kleinfeld, Whirlpool's Jeff Fettig, Johnson & Johnson's Alex Gorsky, Dow Chemical's Andrew Liveris, U.S. Steel's Mario Longhi, SpaceX's Elon Musk, International Paper's Mark Sutton, and Corning's Wendell Weeks promised to reward the companies who stay in the United States with aggressive cuts on U.S. federal regulations governing their companies by "75 percent or more". Trump meets with CEOs of pharmaceutical companies: On January 31, Trump met with CEOs of pharmaceutical firms, including Novartis's Joseph Jimenez who also represented the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America—the pharmaceutical industry's powerful lobbying group, Merck & Co.'s Kenneth Frazier, Johnson & Johnson, Celgene's Robert Hugin, Eli Lilly, Amgen's Robert Bradway. Trump called for lower prices, "We have no choice. For Medicare, for Medicaid. We have to get the prices way down." In return, he promised to boost the pharmaceutical companies competitiveness by curbing regulations "from 9,000 pages" to "100 pages", and by lowering pharmaceutical companies' tax rates. Trump noted that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals "force pharmaceutical companies to spend years and billions of dollars developing drugs". He promised his nomination for FDA Commissioner would oversee an FDA overhaul. In the listening session with pharmaceutical industry leaders, Trump noted that, "it costs sometimes $2.5 billion on average, actually, to come up with a new product. ... 15 years, $2.5 billion to come up with a product where there's not even a safety problem. So it's crazy. I'm surprised you can't get them to move faster than that." Trump had promised in March 2016, to reform the pharmaceutical industry, including the removal of existing free market barriers to allow imported, dependable, safe, reliable, and cheaper drugs from overseas, bringing more options to American consumers. Following Trump's press conference on January 11, Fortune claimed that the largest pharmaceutical companies had lost over $20 billion in 20 minutes. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (2003) expressly prohibited Medicare from negotiating bulk prescription drug prices and Trump had pledged to revert this. Following the morning meeting with CEOs on January 31, Trump abandoned his pledge to allow "Medicare negotiate bulk discounts in the price it pays for prescription drugs." Limitations on executive agency members lobbying: On January 28, Trump signed an Executive Order to fulfilling his campaign pledge to limit lobbying of executive agency members. Department of Justice: On February 8, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who was nominated by Trump in January, was confirmed as United States Attorney General (A.G.), the head of the Justice Department per 28 U.S.C. § 503. He is the United States government's chief law enforcement officer and lawyer with 113,000 employees working under his leadership. According to The Washington Post, Sessions' "conservative, populist views have shaped many" of Trump's "early policies, including on immigration". The nomination battle was described by The New York Times, as "a bitter and racially charged". The confirmation process for Trump's nominee Senator Jeff Sessions was described as " strikingly contentious" by The New York Times; with Fox News calling it a "wild night", and CNN calling the "rare rebuke" a "stunning moment" as Senator Mitch McConnell invoked Rule XIX to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren for the rest of the hearing. McConnell interrupted Warren as she read several pages by Coretta Scott King and Senator Ted Kennedy regarding Session's alleged racial bias from the 500-plus page transcript submitted in 1986, that contributed to the decision by the then-Republican-led Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination to a federal judgeship. Warren immediately live-streamed her reading of the letter, critical of Sessions, that the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. had written to Senator Strom Thurmond in 1986. and numerous media outlets made the full-text available. Trump appointed Dana J. Boente to serve as acting Attorney General until Session's Senate Confirmation. After firing Yates, Trumped signed his eleventh Executive Order 13775 on February 9, specifically reversing the DOJ's line of succession in Obama's EO 13762 in order to appoint the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia—Dana J. Boente—as Acting Attorney General. Trump revoked EO 13775 on March 31 with "Presidential Executive Order on Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice. Boente had replaced Acting Attorney General Sally Yates who was fired by Trump for ordering the Justice Department to not defend Trump's Executive Order 13769 which restricted entry to the United States. Yates claimed that, "At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities of the Department of Justice, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful". Voter fraud claims: Since November 2016, and during his presidency, Trump has repeated voter fraud allegations that between three and five million people voted illegally and cost him the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, and also that thousands of voters were illegally bused from Massachusetts into New Hampshire where former Senator Kelly Ayotte was defeated, and where Trump narrowly lost to Clinton in 2016. Trump had announced on January 25 that he was conducting an investigation into voter fraud. He repeated unsubstantiated claims about the number of fraudulent voters and referred to VoteStand founder Gregg Phillips, who could not produce any evidence of voter fraud. In January, US News reported that members of Trump's cabinet and family were registered to vote in multiple states. On February 10, Federal Election Commission (FEC) Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub issued a statement calling on Trump to provide the evidence of what would "constitute thousands of felony criminal offenses under New Hampshire law." By February 12, Stephen Miller was still unable to provide concrete evidence to support claims of voter fraud in an interview with Stephanopoulos, but he seemed to direct Stephanopoulos to the often-cited 2012 Pew Research Center study. In fact, the 2012 Pew report entitled "Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient Evidence That America's Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade," which was based on 2008 data, was about "outdated voter rolls, not fraudulent votes" and "makes no mention of noncitizens voting or registering to vote." The report showed that because of inefficiencies in the voter system, 24 percent of eligible citizens were not able to be registered, representing "51 million citizens." Problems related to voter registration often affected "military personnel—especially those deployed overseas and their families—who were almost twice as likely to report registration problems as was the general public in 2008." In November, "the former director of Pew's election program" explained, "We found millions of out of date registration records due to people moving or dying, but found no evidence that voter fraud resulted." On January 25, Spicer confirmed in a press briefing that Trump continued to believe that "millions voted illegally in the election" based on "studies and evidence that people have presented him." This included an often-cited and contested 2014 Old Dominion University study entitled "Do non-citizens vote in U.S. elections?" Using Cooperative Congressional Election Study data from 2008 and 2010, the researchers had argued that more than 14% of non-citizens "indicated that they were registered to vote." 2018 United States federal budget: Trump submitted his first budget request which recommends funding levels for the next fiscal year 2018—covering the period from October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018—to the 115th Congress. Trump's request including a $639 billion defense budget and corresponding major cuts to other federal departments. To avert a possible government shutdown, the Trump administration face an April 28 deadline—the expiration of the December 10, 2016, continuing resolution (H.R. 2028) (Public Law 114-254). Discussion time on controversial issues such as funding for a border wall defunding Planned Parenthood, was limited by the two-week Easter recess that began on April 7. The government was shutdown during the Clinton and Obama administrations as a result of clashes between Republicans in Congress and Democrats in the White House. In late April 2017, Republicans have control of both Congress and the White House. A shutdown would result in "government agencies locking their doors, national parks refusing visitors and federal workers being told not to report to work". The appropriations process cannot be accomplished without consulting the Democrats—unlike rolling back federal regulations with Congressional Review Acts and attempts to repeal Obamacare. Tax reform: The White House memo entitled "2017 Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs" was presented on April 26 in what The Wall Street Journal described as his "finest moment" in the first 100 days and a policy and political success. Individual reform includes "reducing the 7 tax brackets to 3 tax brackets for 10%, 25% and 35%, doubling the standard deduction, providing tax relief for families with child and dependent care expenses." The taxation system will be simplified to "eliminate targeted tax breaks that mainly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers, protect the home ownership and charitable gift tax deductions, repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax, repeal the death tax and repeal the 3.8% Obamacare tax that hits small businesses and investment income." Business reform includes "15% business tax rate, territorial tax system to level the playing field for American companies, one-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas and elimination of tax breaks for special interests." The memo did not provide legislative content but rather broad outlines that will be developed in Congress but may face some opposition from both sides. Energy, environmental, and science policy- Climate change: Trump rescinded many Obama-era regulations aimed at cutting the volume of greenhouse gas emissions, which faced strong opposition and legal challenges. The key focus of his deregulatory efforts was the Clean Power Plan created under the Obama administration, which restricted GHG emissions at coal-fired plants. Trump proposed defunding the Clean Power Plan in his FY2018 budget, and his March 28 executive order directed Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt to review the Clean Power Plan. He also lifted a 14-month-old halt on new coal leases on federal lands. Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines: On January 24, Trump signed three Presidential Memoranda regarding construction of pipelines; "Regarding Construction of American Pipelines" was his fifth memoranda, "Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline" was his sixth and the seventh was "Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline". These were intended to "clear the way to government approval" of the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL pipelines. In a meeting with small business leaders on January 30, Trump clarified that one of the reasons for approving the pipelines was to insist that pipeline makers implement a made-in-America approach. He revealed how the federal government could exercise eminent domain strategically in the appropriation of private land, to pressure pipeline makers to use American raw steel, for example. Deregulation on environmental policies and programs: Then White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus signed an order on January 24, temporarily delaying the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 30 final regulations that were pending in the Federal Register until March 21, 2017. Employees in the EPA's Office of Acquisition Management, received an email "within hours of President Trump's swearing in", from the new EPA administration, asking "that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately" which included "task orders and work assignments" until "further clarification". On February 1, the Trump administration published a Statement of Administration Policy to allow coal companies to dump mining waste in streams by nullifying the Department of the Interior regulation known as the "Stream Protection Rule", established in the Obama administration. Under the Congressional Review Act Congress passed the resolution to repeal on February 1 and the Senate also approved it on February 2. The Statement nullified the Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation which limited venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production. The Repeal of Stream Protection Rule (115-5) was signed into law by Trump on February 16. Additionally, the February 1 policy statement nullified the rule on Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers, a Securities and Exchange Commission regulation which required resource extraction issuers to report payments "to governments for the commercial development of oil, natural gas or minerals". The Repeal of the Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers Rule (115-4) was signed into law by Trump on February 14, 2017. On March 29, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt overturned the 2015 EPA revocation and denied the 2007 administrative petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) to ban the widely used Dow Chemical Company's chlorpyrifos. The eight-year delay by the EPA to respond to PANNA, had resulted in a court case, PANNA v. EPA, in which EPA was ordered to respond by October 2015. EPA revoked "all tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos" and Pruitt overturned the 2015 decision. On March 29, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt overturned the 2015 EPA revocation and denied the administrative petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network North America to ban chlorpyrifos. By reversing the previous administration's steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making—rather than predetermined results. — Statement by Scott Pruitt, EPA, Administrator March 29, 2017; Accompanied by coal executives and coal miners, Trump signed a "sweeping executive order" on March 28, at the EPA. In his remarks he praised coal miners along with pipelines and U.S. manufacturing and addressed the coal miners directly, "Come on, fellas. Basically, you know what this is? You know what it says, right? You're going back to work." Trump instructed EPA "regulators to rewrite key rules curbing U.S. carbon emissions and other environmental regulations." Acts of the 115th United States Congress: By April 10, Trump had signed 21 Acts of Congress into law under the 115th United States Congress—laws 115-2 through 115–22. The GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017 (Pub.L. 115–3 (text) (pdf),H.R. 72) was the second law Trump signed as president. The bill ensures that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has full access to the database, National Directory of New Hires, to ensure that recipients of federal means-tested programs like Unemployment Insurance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Earned income tax credit (EITC), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are eligible, thereby reducing government waste and increasing accountability. Congressional Review Act: Beginning in January, the Trump administration used the 1996 Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn regulations—some of them major—finalized during the final months of Obama's tenure. By April 6, Trump had signed into law 11 resolutions of disapproval under the CRA, after they were passed by the Republican majority in the House and Senate. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can circumvent the Senate's filibuster to overturn legislation issued in the last 60 days of the previous administration. On February 14, the Repeal of the Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers Rule (Pub.L. 115–4 (text) (pdf), H.J.Res. 41) was signed, nullifying the Securities and Exchange Commission regulation known as the "Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers" rule. The SEC regulation was mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was similar to transparency initiatives adopted by the European Union and Canada. Advocates argued that "Disclosure of Payments" rule prevented companies from bribing foreign governments and engaging in other forms of corruption. Those who argued for its repeal claimed that rule had placed an excessive burden on American companies and created a competitive disadvantage. On February 16, Trump signed the Repeal of Stream Protection Rule (H.J.Res. 38 Pub.L. 115–5 (text) (pdf)), which nullified the DOI regulation known as the Stream Protection Rule. On February 28, the Repeal of the Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (H.J.Res. 40 Pub.L. 115–8 (text) (pdf)) was signed into law, which overturned the Social Security Administration related to the implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, which had amended the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to prohibit those with severe mental illness from possessing firearms. On March 27, Trump overturned the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM), which nullified the "Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation", also known as "Methane and Waste Prevention" or "methane venting and flaring rule" which "limited venting, flaring, and leaks during oil and natural gas production". with Bill (H.J.Res. 44 Pub.L. 115–11 (text) (pdf)) disapproved the DOI rule relating to Bureau of Land Management "regulations that established the procedures used to prepare, revise, or amend land use plans pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976". On the same day, he signed the "H.J.Res.37—Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration relating to the Federal Acquisition Regulation" (H.J.Res. 37 Pub.L. 115–11 (text) (pdf)), which overturned the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces"—known by its opponents as the "Blacklisting" Rule. On March 27, he also signed the ED State and Local Education Accountability Rules (H.J.Res. 57 Pub.L. 115–13 (text) (pdf)), which overruled the Department of Education rule relating to accountability and State plans under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the ED Teacher Preparation Rule (H.J.Res. 58 Pub.L. 115–14 (text) (pdf)), overturning the Department of Education relating to teacher preparation issues. On March 31, Trump signed the DOL Unemployment Insurance Drug Testing Rule (H.J.Res. 42 Pub.L. 115–17 (text) (pdf)) "disapproving the DOL rule relating to drug testing of unemployment compensation applicants." Trump also signed the DOL Employee Retirement Income Security Act ERISA Exemption for State-Run Retirement Plans Rule and the DOL ERISA Exemption for Municipality-Run Retirement Plans Rules. On April 3, Trump signed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) "Volks" Rule measure (115-21 Pub.L. 115–21 (text) (pdf)) which overturned the DOL "Clarification of Employer's Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness" enacted in December 2016. On the same day he signed Public Law 115-22 which overturned the December 2, 2016 FCC Privacy Rule relating to "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services" and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Wildlife Management Rule (H.J.Res. 69 Pub.L. 115–20 (text) (pdf)) overturning DOI rule relating to "Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska." Privacy advocates expressed concern that Internet service providers (ISPs)—including the largest ISPs, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, Cox Communications, and CenturyLink Charter Communications and others— will create and monetize detailed customer data such as Internet search history and without consent. Supporters included Republicans who regarded the rule as executive overreach and trade groups that represent Internet service providers. On April 13, Trump signed the law which overturned the HHS Title X Funding for Planned Parenthood Rule. Speech to joint session of Congress: The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, gave his first public address before a joint session of the United States Congress on February 28, 2017. Trump announced the creation of the Office of Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE). Protests: Protests against Donald Trump have occurred both in the United States and worldwide, following Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, his electoral win, and through his inauguration.On January 21, there were large demonstrations protesting Trump worldwide in 673 cities, with estimates for the global total at approximately five million people. About half a million demonstrated in the Women's March on Washington (in Washington, D.C.). Day Without Immigrants 2017 and Not My Presidents Day were held on February 16 and 20, respectively. Later protests included the Tax Day March (April 15), March for Science (April 22), and People's Climate Mobilization (April 29). Rallies: March 4 Trump rallies, organized by Trump supporters, were held throughout the United States on March 4. Media coverage: On February 16, 2017, Trump held an hour-and-a-quarter-long press conference to "update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration." CNN described it as an "animated and unorthodox" intervention in which Trump appeared to be "deeply frustrated" by the way he was being portrayed by the media. The media has often described the administration as chaotic, while Trump claimed it was "running like a fine-tuned machine". Trump said that "the stock market has hit record numbers ... there has been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, and ... a new Rasmussen Reports' poll which put his "approval rating at 55 percent and going up". Trump dismissed polls that gave lower numbers, such as those by Gallup and Pew Research Center, which reported 40% and 39%, respectively. When asked by an Associated Press journalist about Trump's performance at the press conference, Trump's supporters said he came across as the "champion of Middle America ... taking on the establishment and making good on his campaign promises to put the country first." NBC News, The Huffington Post/YouGov, Gallup, SurveyMonkey, Rasmussen Reports, the Associated Press/NORC, Pew Research Center, Quinnipiac University, The Economist/YouGov,The Wall Street Journal, Reuters/Ipsos, and ABC News/The Washington Post are among the organizations undertaking opinion polls on Trump's approval ratings. An April meeting of thirty White House staff members—including Communications Director, Mike Dubke, Jessica Ditto, and Kellyanne Conway—brainstormed on how to "repackage" the symbolic First 100 Days—which ends April 29—and to "rebrand Trump" by focusing on three main areas—prosperity, accountability and safety. The first includes "new manufacturing jobs, reduced regulations and pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal", the second "swamp-draining campaign promises such as lobbying restrictions" and the third "the dramatic reduction in border crossings and the strike in Syria". Politico summarized this period as "marred by legislative stumbles, legal setbacks, senior staff kneecapping one another, the resignation of his national security adviser and near-daily headlines and headaches about links to Russia." CNN called it "largely win-less", The Atlantic described its as a "disaster" marked by "chaos, confusion, and infighting" comparing it to Bill Clinton's in 1993. The Washington Times claimed the numerous mainstream media descriptions of Trump's "worst 100 days" failed to mention the accomplishments: the TPP withdrawal, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines approvals, the proposed "streamlined budget" with a "Reagan-era increase to national defense", immigration laws enforcement "which decreased illegal border crossing by 40 percent in his first month", and Gorsuch's "incredibly smooth" nomination to the Supreme Court, the Dow Jones 20,000-point threshold, and rebounding manufacturing and mining jobs". Sean Spicer: Sean Spicer was named as Trump's White House Press Secretary on December 22, 2016, and his Communications Director on December 24. after the resignation of Jason Miller. At his first official press conference, on January 21, Spicer criticized the media for underestimating the size of the crowds at the inauguration under Trump's direct orders. On February 1, Spicer held his sixth press briefing, which for the first time included a number of Skype Seats as Chuck Todd had suggested on January 23. Spicer fielded questions from Kim Kalunian (WPRI) in Rhode Island, Natalie Herbick (Fox 8) in Cleveland, Ohio, Lars Larson of the Lars Larson Show and Jeff Jobe of Jeff Jobe Publishing, South Central Kentucky. CBS NEWS reported that some journalists labelled their questions as "softball", others welcomed them. Spicer had also delivered a tense five-minute post-inauguration news conference on January 21. The Skype solution helped resolve a concern about moving to a larger press room. By February 13, Jim Hoft, from Gateway Pundit and the "freshly minted White House correspondent", 28-year-old artist Lucian Wintrich, were granted White House press credentials and attended the press conference with Trump and the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau. On February 4, Melissa McCarthy lampooned Spicer on Saturday Night Live. On February 7, CNN reported that "President Donald Trump was disappointed with Spicer and with Priebus, who had recommended him. On February 24, journalists from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico, The Los Angeles Times, and BuzzFeed were barred from Sean Spicer's small, off-camera press briefing or "gaggle", held in his office. Conservative-leaning Breitbart News, One America News Network, and The Washington Times were invited along with Fox News, Reuters, Bloomberg News, CBS and Hearst Communications. Reporters from the Associated Press and Time walked out of the briefing in protest. Media outlets allowed into the gaggle shared full details of the briefing, including their audio, with the entire press corps. Fox News "joined a complaint by the chair of the five-network television pool", although their journalist was not banned. The White House Communications Agency (WHCA) lodged a complaint. Spicer explained that the White House is fighting against "unfair coverage". I think we're going to aggressively push back. We're just not going to sit back and let false narratives, false stories, inaccurate facts get out there.— Sean Spicer on barring media from February 24 "gaggle"; On April 11, while defending President Trump's decision to bomb Syria, Spicer compared President Bashar al-Assad to Adolf Hitler and stated that even Hitler had not used chemical weapons on his own people during World War II, ignoring the Germany's use of gas chambers during the Holocaust. Spicer apologized on the next day, saying, "I got into a topic that I shouldn't have, and I screwed up." Kellyanne Conway: By February 3, televised interviews by Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, were dominating the news cycle in the First 100 Days, according to the Washington Post claiming it was partly because of "misconstrued facts" and "falsehoods". Examples include the February 2 interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews, where she cited a fictitious incident involving two Iraqi refugees in Kentucky in 2011, whom she claimed were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre, which she claimed was "brand new information" that had "very little media coverage". Conway promoted Ivanka Trump's business On February 9, on Fox & Friends in response to Nordstrom's decision to drop her products. Organizations filed formal ethics complaints against Conway for violating federal law prohibiting use of a federal position "for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise". Public Citizen asked the Office of Governmental Ethics (OGE) to investigate and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a similar complaint. Investigations into Russian interference in the election: Three separate investigations on Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections include those undertaken by the FBI, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. On March 20, in a House Intelligence Committee public hearing FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the FBI has been conducting a broad counter-intelligence investigation of Russian interference in the elections starting in July 2016, which includes investigations into possible links between Trump associates and Russia. Comey stated that the FBI has no evidence that corroborates Trump's March 4 wiretapping claim. On March 22, Devin Nunes, Republican chairman of the committee, held a press conference to reveal that, based on classified reports he had seen, U.S. intelligence agencies had incidentally collected communications of Trump's transition team, and that Trump associates' names were unmasked in the reports. The next House Intelligence Committee hearings will be closed and will include NSA Director Mike Rogers and Comey. Nunes canceled the public hearing with "former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper". On April 6, 2017, Nunes temporarily recused himself from the Russia investigation, as the House Ethics Committee began investigating claims that he improperly disclosed classified information. He called the allegations "entirely false". Mike Conaway (R-TX) replaced Nunes to lead the investigation. Re-election campaign: Trump filed a form with the FEC declaring his eligibility to run for re-election in 2020 within hours of his taking office. The first rally paid for by the campaign took place at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport near Orlando, Florida, on February 18, 2017. The campaign rally was the earliest such event by any incumbent U.S. president in history. During the event, Trump defended his actions as president and criticized the media.