The Making of a Legacy: First Steps in the Trump Era

The First 100 Days: Times reporters are taking a look back at the beginning of the Trump presidency — from the biggest news stories to the most provocative tweets. See all of our coverage here.

WASHINGTON — President Trump has presided over an extraordinary first 100 days in office marked by the aggressive use of executive power and a freewheeling leadership style, shattering the norms of the presidency and the traditions of Washington. 

While his attention-grabbing statements and actions have produced very few of the concrete policy changes he had promised as a candidate, there is little doubt that Mr. Trump has moved to set the nation on a radically different course. Here is a look at his record to date.

Jobs and the Economy

Carrier employees watched as President-elect Donald J. Trump toured a the plant in Indianapolis in December. CreditA J Mast for The New York Times

• Released a proposal for deep tax cuts, including slashing the rate for large and small companies to 15 percent and collapsing the seven individual income tax brackets into three: 10, 25 and 35 percent.

• Approved construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and reversed the Obama administration’s blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline.

• Issued executive orders to chisel away at Obama-era financial regulations, including a rule intended to protect consumers from bad investment advice.

• Signed 13 bills to wipe out Obama-era regulations using the Congressional Review Act and ordered agency reviews of regulations across the government.

The regulatory reversals may have been Mr. Trump’s most concrete economic steps so far. He has offered few details on the tax package, which is at least months away from being drafted into legislative form. The pipelines will take years to build. The financial regulations targeted by executive orders will remain in place during a lengthy review process.

Mr. Trump has taken credit for job announcements by companies, including a plan by Carrier to retain 1,110 jobs in Indiana, but critics say that they were in the works long before he took office, and that the economic trends that send jobs abroad remain in place. Mr. Trump has done nothing to press the $1 trillion infrastructure spending package he promised during the campaign. Still, the stock markets have reacted positively to his push to cut regulations and taxes.

Health Care

A patient who received Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

• Signed an executive order to scale back as many parts of the Affordable Care Act as possible.

• Announced rule changes to cut the annual open enrollment periodunder the Affordable Care Act.

• Made a late pitch for passage of legislation to repeal and replace thehealth law.

Mr. Trump has made little progress on his promise to quickly repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a system Republicans say would provide greater access to care and more affordable coverage. Divisions among the party scuttled one bill, and a vote on a revised version has been put off. Mr. Trump has failed to offer his own plan.

The president has made few changes to the Affordable Care Act, despite the executive order. He has yet to follow through on a threat to withhold subsidies paid to insurance companies so they can reduce costs for low-income consumers — a bargaining tactic to force Democrats to work with him on an overhaul.


President Trump signed legislation nullifying the Stream Protection Rule in February. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

• Signed executive orders directing the Environmental Protection Agency to begin the legal process of repealing President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

• Signed an executive order directing the E.P.A. to begin limiting the scope of the Waters of the United States rule, an Obama-era regulation intended to protect rivers, streams and wetlands.

• Signed directives that aim to open parts of some national monuments to drilling, mining and logging, and to roll back Mr. Obama’s bans on future offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans.

• Signed legislation to lift an Interior Department regulation completed in the last days of the Obama administration to block coal companies from dumping mining debris into streams.

Mr. Trump has taken a number of actions, mostly in the form of executive orders, aimed at reversing his predecessor’s environmental legacy and restoring jobs in coal mining and oil drilling. But efforts to dismantle most of Mr. Obama’s climate change and clean water rules could take several years. And economists note that the decline in coal jobs and offshore oil drilling has been driven more by market forces than regulations.

The president’s proposal to slash the E.P.A.’s budget by 31 percent, more than any other agency, has been met with resistance even by some Republicans in Congress.


Protesters cheered as Hameed Khalid Darweesh, center, an Iraqi immigrant who had worked with the United States military and government, was released from detention on Saturday, Jan. 26, at Kennedy International Airport in New York. CreditVictor J. Blue for The New York Times

• Signed an executive order to ban travel from six predominantly Muslim countries that are considered “terror prone” and to temporarily halt refugee resettlement.

• Signed an order calling for the construction of a wall on the southern border and the addition of thousands of border agents. Threatened to revoke federal funding from jurisdictions that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

• Increased arrests of undocumented immigrants, detaining 22,000 from January through mid-March, a 38 percent increase over the same period in 2016. Doubled the number of noncriminal immigrants arrested.

Mr. Trump has yet to accomplish any of the most ambitious goals he laid out on illegal immigration, including beginning construction of a border wall paid for by Mexico and defunding “sanctuary cities,” and he has not overhauled the refugee admission process. A revised travel ban and the sanctuary city order are tied up in the courts.

But amid the uptick in immigration arrests, especially of people who have not committed serious crimes, the number of undocumented immigrants caught along the Southwest border has fallen precipitously since the president took office.

Foreign Policy

President Trump with President Xi Jinping of China during dinner at Mar-a-Lago in Florida this month. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

• Moved to reset the American approach to China, initially threatening to upend the decades-old “One China” policy. Tied the trade relationship with China to cooperation on North Korea.

• Withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and signed orders aimed at combating foreign trade abuses. Began inquiries into whether steel and aluminum imports were hurting American producers.

• Imposed tariffs on Canadian lumber and criticized Canada’s high tariffs on dairy products, while threatening to withdraw from Nafta if it could not be sufficiently renegotiated.

The White House has argued that Mr. Trump has strengthened the standing of the United States in the world, renewing relationships that Mr. Obama had allowed to languish and reasserting American power. He has questioned long-held precepts of foreign policy, including the One China policy, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the usefulness of NATO, and the importance of multilateral trade agreements.

But Mr. Trump has not yet made big changes in most of those areas. He reversed himself on NATO and dropped his re-evaluation of the One China policy. A new strategy on the Middle East has yet to emerge. Mr. Trump has taken a more personal approach to diplomacy with leaders like Shinzo Abe of Japan and Xi Jinping of China, but it is not yet clear whether the charm offensive will yield strong relationships or diplomatic gains.

Military and Intelligence

The guided-missile destroyer U.S.S. Porter conducted strike operations against Syria while in the Mediterranean Sea this month. CreditMC3 Ford Williams/United States Navy

• Fired 59 cruise missiles into Syria after the regime’s use of chemical weapons and imposed sanctions on 271 Syrian officials.

• Approved a raid against Qaeda militants in Yemen during which an American commando was killed.

• Delegated more authority to his combatant commanders to carry out military operations.

• Dropped the “mother of all bombs,” the most powerful conventional weapon in the American arsenal, on an Islamic State cave in Afghanistan.

• Imposed financial sanctions on 25 Iranians and companies that officials said had assisted in Tehran’s ballistic missile program and supported terrorist groups.

Mr. Trump in some ways has made good on his promise to be tougher than his predecessor, firing missiles into Syria when Mr. Obama had not, and empowering the military to act quickly abroad. But his budget request for a $54 billion increase in military spending is likely to go nowhere. And while he has used bombastic language toward Iran and North Korea, he has done almost nothing to shift America’s military posture toward those nations.

Social Issues and the Courts

The swearing-in ceremony for Justice Neil M. Gorsuch in the Rose Garden at the White House this month. CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

• Nominated and won confirmation of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

• Reinstated the “global gag rule,” which bars American aid for family planning organizations around the world that counsel patients on abortion.

• Signed legislation to allow states to deny funding to Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health organizations that offer abortion services.

• Rescinded an Obama administration policy that said transgender students in public schools had to be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice.

Mr. Trump prioritized the swift selection and confirmation of Justice Gorsuch, in line with his campaign promise to name a conservative who opposed abortion rights. Though he once called himself “pro-choice,” Mr. Trump has moved aggressively to clamp down on access to abortions. Still, he has not followed through on threats to roll back workplace protections for gay men and lesbians.


Ivanka Trump arriving in West Palm Beach, Fla., with her husband Jared Kushner and three children. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

• Nominated 71 individuals to fill the top ranks of his administration. By the same date, Mr. Obama had named 190.

• Promised a radical restructuring of the government, leaving positions in key agencies, including 200 at the State Department, unfilled or occupied by holdovers from the Obama administration.

• Hired family members and people with no government experience to serve in several top roles.

Mr. Trump’s chaotic transition left him extraordinarily far behind in the process of staffing his administration. 556 crucial positions that require Senate confirmation, Mr. Trump has filled only 465, according to the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service The result has been a lack of direction at crucial agencies and fewer officials to help execute Mr. Trump’s agenda.

Norms of the Presidency

A Secret Service agent at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida resort. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

• Upended the way a president communicates with the public, using Twitter to talk directly to Americans.

• Refused to release his tax returns and declined to divest from his multibillion-dollar real estate empire.

• Imposed a five-year ban on lobbying by administration officials, but shut down disclosure of White House visitor logs.

• Used his exclusive Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., as his “winter White House” and played golf frequently at clubs he owns.

Mr. Trump has shattered the protocols and customs of the presidency, with his unvarnished commentary on Twitter, his seat-of-the-pants approach to policy moves and statements, and his penchant for mixing the official with the commercial. He has called the news media the “the enemy of the people.”

But Mr. Trump has also made himself much more accessible than his predecessors, routinely popping his head into the press cabin on Air Force One for brief on-the-record chats and granting interviews with a wide range of reporters. He has made the White House, once a bastion of stiff decorum, into a more freewheeling place, where surprises are common and abrupt changes are the norm.

Coral Davenport and Ron Nixon contributed reporting.