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Donald Trump’s highly abnormal presidency: a running guide for January

Newly confirmed Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly — whose department would largely be in charge of enforcing the order — received his first full briefing on the refugee ban while President Trump signed it on television.

Donald Trump made it clear at the beginning of his campaign that he wasn’t going to follow the normal rules or tone of politics. And almost daily since winning the election in November, the businessman and former reality-TV star has continued to defy precedents set by the 44 Oval Office occupants who came before him.

We’re keeping track of all the ways Trump’s presidency veers from the norm, both in policy and in rhetoric, starting from Nov. 9, the day he became president-elect. We’re also highlighting the ways in which policymakers and pundits normalize Trump’s abnormal actions, words, and policies.


Below you’ll find a reverse-chronological list of everything not normal Trump has done in January. See earlier updates from November and December.

Day 11 — Jan. 30

The Homeland Security chief got his first briefing on the refugee ban while Trump signed it on TV

The Trump administration’s orders on refugees and travel from seven Muslim-majority countries did not go through regular vetting process, members of congress and media reports said over the weekend. Newly confirmed Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly — whose department would largely be in charge of enforcing the order — received his first full briefing on the refugee ban while President Trump signed it on television, the New York Times reported.

Republican members of congress also criticized the administration for not keeping them in the loop and failing to properly vet such a policy to avoid some of the chaos at airports. “In the future, such policy changes should be better coordinated with the agencies implementing them and with Congress to ensure we get it right—and don’t undermine our nation’s credibility while trying to restore it,” Texas Republican Rep. and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul told the Wall Street Journal.

Why it’s not normal: 

Consequential executive orders like the one Trump signed Friday often go through several rounds of vetting by the various agencies that will be affected and are shared with members of Congress. It’s not normal for a president to act so unilaterally, and as a result key portions of the orders were stayed by federal judges around the country the next day.


Day 8 — Jan. 27

Trump’s source on 3 million people voting “illegally” has yet to supply any evidence

President Donald Trump for the first time revealed a source for his dubious, unfounded claim that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

Gregg Phillips is the self-described founder of the voting-fraud reporting app VoteStand. Despite his claim in November that he has “verified more than 3 million votes cast by non-citizens,” Phillips has yet to produce any evidence of what would be the greatest incidence of voting fraud in American history. Trump has since repeatedly trumpeted the claim to explain his near 3 million popular vote loss to Hillary Clinton.

Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations.

We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens.

.@realDonaldTrump is accurate. Millions of illegal votes were cast.

Right-wing conspiracy website InfoWars notably cited Phillips’ tweets as a source for its claims of voter fraud.

Phillips told The Daily Beast this week that evidence is forthcoming but refused to give a timeline for public disclosure. VoteStand is applying an “enormous amount of analytic capacity to” 184 million records, he explained.

It’s unclear where those millions of records came from, however, since the VoteStand app has never ranked higher than than 374 among U.S. lifestyle apps in the iTunes app store, according to the mobile analytics service App Annie.


Why it’s not normal:

A new president wouldn’t publicly allege that millions of people voted illegally in an election he won, especially based on such a sketchy source.

White House confuses British prime minister with British porn star

For all the talk about closer ties between President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, the White House couldn’t get May’s name right in a press release and schedule sent out Thursday ahead of her visit to Washington, D.C.

The White House misspelled Theresa May, the first foreign leader to visit Trump as president, as “Teresa May” three times.

This is Teresa May.

Staff scrambled to correct the mistakes, releasing an updated version about 30 minutes later.

The visit, however, might not be as much of a stretch if Trump had remained a private citizen, considering his own appearance in a softcore Playboy porn video in 2000.

Trump personally called the director of the National Park Service about finding better inauguration photos

President Trump personally called the director of the National Park Service the day after his inauguration, the Washington Post reported. The reason: to find new aerial photos of his inauguration crowd that would disprove viral photos showing attendance at former President Obama’s swearing-in surpassed the crowd size at  Trump’s.

Sources also told the Post that Trump scolded the director over retweets from the agency’s Twitter account showing side-by-side photos of this year’s and 2009’s inauguration crowds.


Why it’s not normal:

White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the Post that Trump’s phone call demonstrated the president’s accessibility.

“He’s not somebody who sits around and waits. He takes action and gets things done,” Sanders said.

But the president doesn’t usually call and express anger at an agency about what they retweet. Despite a lack of evidence, Trump also continues to claim that he had the largest inauguration audience ever.

Day 7 — Jan. 26

Trump to Mexico’s president: You can’t dump me — I’m breaking up with you (but then Mexico did)

UPDATE: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled the meeting in a tweet Thursday morning.  

Translation: “This morning we informed the White House that we will not participate in the work meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the president.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing the construction of a “large physical barrier on the Southern border,” as Press Secretary Sean Spicer put it, adding that Mexico would pay for it “one way or another.”

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto isn’t having it, and released a video statement on Twitter: “Mexico does not believe in walls. I’ve said it time and time again; Mexico will not pay for any wall.” Further, Mexican officials said president was already considering cancelling his plans to visit the White House, according to The New York Times.

But not to be canceled on first, President Trump took to Twitter to … threaten to cancel right back.


Why it’s not normal:

U.S. presidents don’t usually negotiate in public; nor do they engage in races to see who can cancel meetings first.

Day 6 — Jan. 25

Trump says he’s ordering investigation of massive voter fraud (that doesn’t exist in election he won) 

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he is ordering a “major investigation” into “VOTER FRAUD” in the United States. Trump repeated the widely debunked claim that three to five million people voted illegally in the last election during a meeting with congressional leaders Monday night. Soon after the election, the president blamed his loss to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote by nearly three million votes on the issue as well.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the president Tuesday, telling reporters that Trump “continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented him.”

Why it’s not normal:

Trump won the election, so it’s strange for him to claim massive voter fraud — especially based on demonstrably false information.

Reports do show millions of outdated voter registrations on file due to death or moving — something White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon found out this year when he was registered to vote inthree places. But there’s no evidence of massive fraud in votes cast.

Allegations of voter fraud have been perpetuated in recent years to justify various forms of voter ID laws, which 32 states currently have. But instances of voter impersonation or dead people voting are exceedingly rare and no evidence has been found of it happening by the millions.


Trump threatens federal intervention in Chicago

President Trump took to Twitter Tuesday night to threaten to “send in the Feds” if Chicago can’t fix its gun crime problem.

It isn’t clear whether Trump is threatening to send in the FBI, call the National Guard, impose martial law, or perhaps implement a Department of Justice consent decree as has been used in other cities such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore.

The New York Times noted Trump sent the tweet at 9:30 p.m., just after host Bill O’Reilly of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” called for federal intervention in high-crime areas, including calling in the National Guard or having federal authorities prosecute some criminal cases.

Chicago was already in the Department of Justice crosshairs: nearly two weeks ago, the agency released a damning 161-page report on how Chicago police officers routinely violate the civil rights of the city’s residents, which in turn had fostered the growing distrust between law enforcement and communities, particularly poor, minority communities.

The report set out a blueprint for how Chicago’s Police Department may enter into a consent-decree, which would bind it to adopt the reforms recommended by federal authorities. According to a press release published alongside the report, federal authorities had already been working with Chicago as part of the “Violence Reduction Network,” which provides technical assistance and training to help develop a strategic framework for reducing crime rates.


Not all members of law enforcement are sold on the idea that routine misconduct by police can contribute to rising crime rates. Chicago Police Board Chair Lori Lightfoot, during an interview with NPR ahead of the report’s release, said that the department lacked the support it needed to tackle crime, calling for federal reinforcement. “We need to have more federal gun prosecutions in Chicago,” Lightfoot said. “The FBI needs to be much more invested in this overall strategy. Chicago Police Department cannot tackle this issue by itself.”

Chicago’s police superintendent Eddie Johnson issued a statement in response to the President’s tweet saying that the Chicago Police Department is “more than willing to work with the federal government” and “boost federal prosecution rates for gun crimes in Chicago.”

Civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson also responded to the President’s tweet.

Why its not normal: The Department of Justice is already involved in Chicago and the president’s vague tweet made it seem like he’s not aware of that. Moreover, it sounded like martial law while local leaders want help controlling guns.

Day 5 — Jan. 23

Donald Trump is still lying about how he lost the popular vote

Donald Trump can’t seem to get over his loss in the popular vote.

In his first meeting with Congressional leaders Monday, Trump repeated a lie he spread as president-elect: that voter fraud from undocumented immigrants cost him the popular vote, The New York Times reported.


Although she lost the Electoral College vote, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote hit nearly three million — the largest margin in history. No evidence suggests, however, that undocumented immigrants handed her the victory.

In late November, conspiracy theories of at least three million undocumented immigrants voting in the U.S. election started floating around right-wing news sites, like InfoWars, prompting Trump to tweet.

Also, Trump reportedly can’t move on from reports of small crowds at his inauguration. After the meeting, Democratic Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer told CNN, “[Trump] didn’t change his point of view on the crowd size. It was, from his perspective, a very large crowd …. It was clear this was still on his mind.”

Why it’s not normal: Trump’s baseless accusations of voter fraud were already widely disproven the first time he levied them.

Day 4 — Jan. 23

Trump started his presidency with the lowest approval rating in at least 70 years

Only three days into his presidency, Trump made history, earning the lowest approval rating for a new president (45 percent) in at least 70 years, according to a Gallup poll conducted between Friday, Jan. 20, and Sunday. Those numbers put Trump 21 percentage points below the average first approval rating — 66 percent — of a new president, according to FiveThirtyEight, and makes him the first president in at least 70 years not to breach 50 percent upon entering office.


The 45 percent disapproval rating is particularly notable, nearly doubling the previous record holder at this time into his presidency. Before Trump took office, George W. Bush held the record with a 25 percent disapproval rating upon taking office in 2001, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Trump is facing an ethics lawsuit four days into his presidency

Update 1/23/17 1:47 p.m. E.T.: When asked by a reporter in the Oval Office, Donald Trump called the lawsuit “totally without merit,” The Hill reported. 

Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) plans to file a lawsuit Monday alleging that foreign payments made to the president’s hotels and other businesses violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The group includes prominent constitutional scholars, Supreme Court litigators, and former White House ethics lawyers.

The Emoluments Clause states that no person holding U.S. government office can accept “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever” from a foreign entity over concerns of domestic influence or control, otherwise known as bribery. The lawyers bringing the case against the president argue payments made to Trump’s foreign businesses violate the Emoluments Clause — although when announcing last week that he would not divest or place his assets in a blind trust, Trump’s lawyer Sheri Dillon argued the opposite.


“The so-called Emoluments Clause has never been interpreted, however, to apply to fair value exchanges that have absolutely nothing to do with an office holder,” she said.

Even before the lawsuit, constitutional scholars largely disagreed with her view.

Why it’s not normal:

Trump’s ethics issues and conflicts of interest are unprecedented, and presidents do not often face lawsuits — especially within a few days of taking the oath of office.

Trump’s senior adviser can’t make up her mind about whether Trump will release his tax returns

Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway announced Sunday that the president would not release his tax returns — but then she took it back.

After Trump and his team repeatedly said during the campaign that the president couldn’t release his tax returns while under audit from the IRS (although that’s not true, and it’s not clear that an audit is even underway), Conway said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that Trump wouldn’t release them at all.

“The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns,” she said. “People didn’t care.”

In an apparent denial of her previous statement, Conway tweeted Monday that nothing had changed and Trump wouldn’t release his returns until after that infamous audit.

Why it’s not normal:

Since the early ’70s, most presidents have released their tax returns, and Conway continues to give misleading and conflicting statements on whether Trump will follow suit.


A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll also shows that three-quarters of Americans want Trump’s tax returns released and 4 in 10 respondents said they care “a lot” about seeing them.

Day 3 — Jan. 22

Trump’s press secretary spreads lies — but his senior adviser called them “alternative facts”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer falsely accused the media of falsehoods — and then made several of his own.

In his first briefing, Spicer said the media manufactured Donald Trump’s antagonization of the intelligence community as well as gave several inaccurate facts to support his message that a record number of people watched Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

First, Trump repeatedly tweeted about the intelligence community’s “witch hunt” against Russia for its role in swaying the election in his favor. Most recently, he equated the leak of a memo of Russian “kompromat” and other allegations of Trump’s ties to the country, which Buzzfeed published in full, to “living in Nazi Germany.”

Second, the numbers reveal that fewer people attended Trump’s inauguration than did for former President Barack Obama’s. Aerial photos also show empty space on the National Mall, although Spicer said they were “intentionally framed” to downplay the crowd. Fewer television viewers in the U.S. watched than did during both Obama and Ronald Reagan’s inaugurations, according to Nielsen ratings, as highlighted by the New York Times.


Among other untruths, Spicer also noted that the D.C. Metro experienced a higher volume of passengers on Jan. 20 than it did during Obama’s inauguration.

“We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used to for President Obama’s last inaugural,” he said Saturday.

Officials number from the transit system paint a different picture, according to the Washington Post. There were 570,557 entries onto the Metro Friday, compared with 782,000 on Inauguration Day in 2013.

When confronted by Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway contended that Spicer’s comments were not falsehoods but “alternative facts.”

After sparring with Todd for several minutes and unsuccessfully trying to move on from the question, Conway finally said: “I’ll answer it this way: Think about what you just said to your viewers. That’s why we feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there.”

Why it’s not normal:

The job of the White House press secretary is to act as the spokesperson of the president and his administration and inform the public. They often face criticism for omitting or spinning information, but they rarely give blatant misinformation, especially during a straightforward first interaction with the press corps with no national security concerns.

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted that the presser left him “uncomfortable and concerned.”


Day 1* — Jan. 20

Trump’s inauguration will include an unusual display of military weapons

In a clear show of military force consistent with his campaign themes, Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday will feature military flyovers — and the inclusion of tanks was reportedly discussed.

A source involved with the planning told the Huffington Post that the idea of tanks and missile launchers came up, but the Department of Defense wouldn’t allow them. While the department wouldn’t officially comment, an unnamed source cited structural issues.

But the military didn’t shoot down all of Trump’s requests: Each of the five branches of the military will conduct flyovers during the inaugural parade. While the weather will affect the exact number of aircraft flown, each branch has planned multiple flights, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Jamie Davis told the Huffington Post.

  • Air Force: F-35, an F-16, and F-22, and an F-15E
  • Navy: four F/A-18 combat jets
  • Army: four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters
  • Marines: four V-22 Ospreys
  • Coast Guard: four MH-65 rescue helicopters

Why it’s not normal:

While the armed forces often contribute color guards and other honors, weaponry doesn’t usually have a place at presidential inaugurations. In fact, no inauguration since Harry Truman’s, in 1949, has included military flyovers.

*The count restarted on Trump’s inauguration to mark the first day of his presidency.

Day 72 — Jan. 19

Every Cabinet since Reagan’s has included a Latino — Trump just changed that

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture, the final Cabinet-level position without a nominee.

If Perdue and the rest of Trump’s nominees are confirmed, his Cabinet will easily be the richest in history and more white and male than any administration since Ronald Reagan’s. It will also be the first Cabinet since the ’80s to not have a single Latino member.


Why it’s not normal: 

Reagan appointed the first Latino to a Cabinet-level position when he named Lauro Cavazos Secretary of Education in 1988. Since then, each successive administration has taken pains to reflect some gender and racial diversity in the Cabinet and have always included one member of America’s largest minority.

Day 70 — Jan. 17

Trump’s team is using Facebook to advertise inauguration ticket sales

Donald Trump’s team is now promoting Facebook ads selling tickets to his inauguration, as Gothamist reported.

The video ads, which come from the official Facebook pages of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, invite people to attend the inauguration ceremony and concert and offers a “limited edition, commemorative ticket as a keepsake to frame and remember this historic event.” Per a tweet from Jimmy Fallon’s Director of Digital Marina Cockenberg, clicking on the “About this Facebook ad” link explains that the Donald J. Trump Facebook account “wants to reach people ages 27 and older who live in New York.”

Trump has been particularly touchy about his inauguration ceremony, tweeting about it repeatedly amid his transition team and inaugural committee’s struggle to book talent for the event. Representatives for the Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Why it’s not normal:

At the last inauguration in January 2009 for President Obama, the social media ad business was still in its infancy, but the Obama team didn’t really need to market the ceremony anyway. An estimated 1.8 million people showed up, and ticket reseller services like Stubhub and eBay said that they wouldn’t sell inauguration tickets to prevent a scalping bonanza.


This time around, various government agencies are preparing for between 700,000 and 900,000 people to come to Washington for Trump’s swearing-in (which is roughly what Bill Clinton pulled in 1993). In a highly unusual set of circumstances, scalpers are reportedly losing money on this year’s ceremony, having severely overestimated the demand for tickets.

Democrats are staging one of their biggest inauguration boycotts ever

Scores of Democratic lawmakers announced over the weekend that they will not attend Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday. With over 40 House Democrats actively boycotting — as opposed to quietly not showing up — the protest is their largest of a presidential inauguration in recent memory.

Many Democrats joined the boycott over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend as Trump feuded with civil rights icon and Democratic Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who announced he wouldn’t attend the inauguration. Now, more than 20 percent of the 194 House Democrats will be elsewhere Friday. While most cited principle, at least one also cited comfort. “[Trump] hasn’t proved himself to me at all yet, so I respectfully decline to freeze my ass out there in the cold for this particular ceremony,” Democratic Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader said. Others not attending include California Rep. Barbara Lee, New York Rep. Yvette Clarke, and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

Lewis said on a “Meet the Press” segment released Friday that he didn’t believe Trump was a “legitimate” president in light of Russia’s alleged interference in the election. Trump responded on Twitter that Lewis’ middle-class district was “crime infested” and that Lewis was all “talk, talk, talk — no action, or results.”


Why it’s not normal:

The sheer number of Democrats publicly announcing they won’t attend Trump’s inauguration demonstrates the depth of the resistance the new president will face come Jan. 20. It is normal, however, for some members of one party to boycott the inauguration of a president from another, as some Democrats, including Lewis, did in 2001. Many lawmakers also don’t attend but don’t make a public fuss about it either.

Day 68 — Jan. 15

Trump insults civil rights hero and cancels MLK Day plans

President-elect Donald Trump has cancelled plans to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, ABC News reported, citing transition sources. The scheduling flip-flop comes as Trump is under fire for comments he made on Twitter criticizing civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.

Senior transition sources told ABC that a scheduling conflict arose to prevent Trump from visiting the newly opened museum, and that the president-elect would observe MLK Day in some other fashion, but they did not provide more detail.

The president-elect unleashed his tweetstorm in response to remarks made by Lewis on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he said, “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.”

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected,” Lewis said, “And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”


Clips from the segment, which aired Sunday, got under the president-elect’s skin, and he fired off a series of tweets accusing Lewis of being “all talk, talk, talk” and “no action.”

Many on social media, including lawmakers, were quick to point out that Trump’s comments were particularly egregious considering that he made them on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, which honors the courageous actions taken by Lewis and others in the struggle for civil rights and an end to legal racial segregation.

Lewis was one of the “Big Six” leaders — which included King — who organized the 1963 March on Washington. As a Democratic congressman, Lewis has served as Chief Deputy Whip since 1991 and Senior Chief Deputy Whip since 2003. Since 1987, Lewis has represented Georgia’s 5th District, a majority African-American district that encompasses almost three-quarters of Atlanta.

Trump said that Lewis should spend more time “fixing and helping his district,” which he described as being in “horrible shape” and “crime infested.” Crime data suggests otherwise; in September, Atlanta officials celebrated a 30 percent drop in crime in the city since 2009. Lewis told NBC he would not attend the inauguration — he also didn’t attend the Bush inaugural event in 2001. Trump’s comments about Lewis sparked a backlash from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Since Lewis’ comments and Trump’s response, sales of two of the Georgia lawmakers’ books, “Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement” and “March,” a graphic-novel trilogy about the civil rights movement, have gone through the roof, spiking by more than 100,000 percent, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported. As of Sunday morning, both were listed as temporarily out of stock by Amazon.


Day 66 — Jan. 13

Trump’s cybersecurity adviser Rudy Giuliani can’t even put together a decent website

Within hours of Donald Trump naming Rudy Giuliani as his administration’s cybersecurity adviser on Thursday, experts and developers in the industry started roasting the former New York City mayor for his company’s apparently archaic and insecure website, as The Register pointed out.

Joomla! is a free content management system that, according to Gizmodo, has experienced more than a dozen vulnerabilities in the four years since Giuliani’s site started using it. Even worse, the login to the CMS and remote access are public, making them easier targets for hackers.

As part of his position, Giuliani will meet with companies that have experienced security vulnerabilities or hacks for their perspectives on addressing the challenges, according to a statement released by the transition team.

Why it’s not normal:

Trump made cybersecurity a key campaign issue, but as VICE’s Motherboard reported Thursday, Giuliani’s experience in the field is unclear.

His consulting firm and its subsidiary, Giuliani Partners and Giuliani Safety and Security, respectively, focus more on navigating legal liability for clients whose security was compromised than preventing such risks with increased security features like encryption. The companies also don’t publish white papers on hacks, as is typical for cybersecurity firms.


Trump’s Cabinet so far is the most white and male since Reagan’s

If all of Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees are confirmed, women and minorities will hold just five of 21 Cabinet or Cabinet-level positions, according to an analysis by the New York Times.

Why it’s not normal:

That’s fewer women and minorities than the Cabinets of both President Bushes, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama and almost as few as Ronald Reagan.

 Day 64 — Jan. 11

Trump’s pick to run Veterans Affairs would be the first non-veteran

When Sarah Palin was rumored to be under consideration to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, much of the concern focused on her being the first non-veteran in the post. The same is true of Trump’s official nominee, announced at a press conference Wednesday, current Undersecretary of Health at the VA David Shulkin.

Shulkin, named to his current post in 2015 by President Obama, has never served in the military. He would also be the first member of the Obama administration to be tapped by Trump.

Why it’s not normal:

Not just an unprecedented nomination, Trump’s pick of Shulkin raises questions about how someone who has never served in the military can understand the difficulties and needs of outcoming veterans. At the press conference Wednesday as well as repeatedly throughout his campaign, Trump had promised to take care of the community and nominate a secretary who would make that the first priority.


Trump brags about refusing $2 billion Dubai deal as proof he’ll avoid conflicts of interest

During his surreal press conference Wednesday morning — his first since July — Trump boasted that he turned down a $2 billion offer “to do a deal in Dubai over the weekend.”

“I turned it down. I didn’t have to turn it down,” Trump said of his own volition, not in response to a question from media.

Trump pointed to his refusal as a way to show that he had no problem separating himself from his business interests as he prepares to assume the office of the president. He said he was acting out of a sense of propriety and didn’t legally need to separate himself from the Trump Organization or its dealings while acting as president.

“I could actually run my business and run government at the same time,” he said. “I don’t like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to.”

Why it’s not normal: 

Trump’s insistence that he could continue to operate his sprawling business, often with foreign entities, from the Oval Office is up for debate. The Emoluments Clause in the Constitution prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting gifts or money from foreign entities to prevent a possible situation of bribery.

But Trump and his lawyer, Sheri Dillon, made a big to-do at the press conference Wednesday that everyone has expanded the definition of “emoluments” from what the Framers intended and thus doesn’t apply to Trump. Many legal scholars and constitutional experts, however, have interpreted the Emoluments Clause to mean the opposite.


If Trump continued to accept cash payments from foreign entities, such as the $2 billion deal from Dubai, that could violate the Constitution.

Still, Dillon insisted that Trump would take “extraordinary steps” to “ensure the Trump Organization continues to operate in accordance with the highest and legal ethics standards.”

Trump compares unverified leak about him to “living in Nazi Germany”

Donald Trump responded angrily — on Twitter, as usual — to the leak of an unverified memo alleging that the Kremlin holds a dossier ofcompromising material on him. Trump called the situation “FAKE NEWS,” while going on to invoke Godwin’s Law with a comparison about “living in Nazi Germany.”

Trump is poised to give his first press conference in 168 days Wednesday, and reporters will have some big questions for him. BuzzFeed published the unverified memo compiled by an ex-British spy Tuesday, which allegedly includes a video of the president-elect in a comprising sexual situation.

The memo also alleges that Trump’s team and Russian officials colluded to swap intel on the Democrats and other political rivals. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohan is also alleged to have met Russian officials in Prague last August to discuss “the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership,” according to the document. Cohen, however, claims he has never been to Prague. The FBI has also found no evidence he traveled there, the Wall Street Journal reported.


Read more about the memo here.

Why it’s not normal: 

Where to start? BuzzFeed’s release of the memo breaks with typical media policy and has earned the publication both scorn and praise. While the information remains unverified, the intelligence community briefed both Trump and President Obama on it last week. The allegations will also likely drown out Trump’s unprecedented attempt to avoid the media, while frequently tweeting his disdain for the intelligence community and his support of Russia.

Day 63 — Jan. 10

176 retired military officers tell Trump waterboarding doesn’t work

One hundred seventy-six retired military officers, including 33 four-star generals and admirals, sent Donald Trump a letter urging him to leave the torture tactic of waterboarding in America’s past.

Prominent names such as Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command, and Adm. William McRaven, who lead the 2010 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, signed the letter to the president-elect, sent Jan. 6 and recently obtained by the The New York Times. Citing “six thousand years” of combined military experience, they call waterboarding “unnecessary,” “counterproductive,” and a violation of “our core values as a nation.”

Why it’s not normal:

Trump repeatedly called torture, including waterboarding, effective during his campaign and promised to reinstate the policy if elected. After the Senate Intelligence Committee delivered a report in 2014 detailing the brutality of torture used by the CIA, however, many members of the defense community, as well as former prisoner of war Sen. John McCain, denounced the practice.


Day  62 — Jan. 9

Trump to appoint son-in-law to top White House post, not worried about nepotism law

Donald Trump will appoint his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to be the senior adviser to the president, one of the top positions in the White House, according to a report by NBC News Monday.

Kushner, 35, has been one of the most influential members of Trump’s inner circle since well before he won the presidency, and his appointment doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. He and wife Ivanka, Trump’s daughter, are reportedly planning to move from New York with their three children into a $5.5 million Washington, D.C., house once Trump takes office.

Why it’s not normal:

Kushner’s formal appointment to a high-level government position brings up a number of ethical and legal issues. Chief among them: the 1967 anti-nepotism law that prohibits federal officials from appointing their civilian relatives to government positions in agencies they oversee. But neither Kushner or Trump seems troubled by that. “Mr. Kushner is committed to complying with federal ethics laws, and we have been consulting with the Office of Government Ethics regarding the steps he would take,” Kushner’s lawyer told NBC News.

Kushner will resign as chief executive of his real estate corporation, Kushner Companies, in an attempt to disentangle himself from thorny conflict-of-interest questions, according to the New York Times. Kushner’s legal team and Trump’s advisers said that Kushner plans to put his various financial holdings into a blind trust, which they hope will relieve him of any possible violations of nepotism laws.


Day  62 — Jan. 9

Trump insults Meryl Streep after she criticized him at the Golden Globes

Donald Trump attacked Meryl Streep Monday after the actress excoriated the president-elect in her Golden Globes speech the previous night.

To start, the president-elect fired off a series of tweets around 6:30 a.m. E.T. calling Streep “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood” and a “Hillary flunky who lost big.”

During her emotional acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, Streep defended press freedom and called out Trump for infamously mocking a disabled reporter.

“It was that moment, when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country, imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to right back,” Streep said Sunday evening. That moment “stunned me” and “kind of broke my heart,” she continued, on the verge of tears.

Streep’s speech prompted a standing ovation from the Hollywood audience and quickly went viral online, with many in the industry showing support for the renowned actress.

In his tweetstorm Monday, Trump denied that he’d made fun of the reporter and insisted he only imitated the reporter’s “groveling” and blamed “just more very dishonest media” for “making him look bad.” Trump then told the New York Times that while he had not seen Streep’s speech, he was “not surprised” that “liberal movie people” would criticize him.


Trump’s senior adviser and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was busy doing damage control Monday morning on various cable news shows.

“I’m concerned that somebody with a platform like Meryl Streep’s is inciting people’s worst instincts,” Conway said on “Fox and Friends.” Later in the morning, on CNN’s “New Day,” shecriticized journalists for reporting what Trump was saying rather than “what was in his heart.”

Why it’s not normal:

Actors and actresses often use their fame to voice their political views or further causes. Presidents-elect, however, don’t usually respond on Twitter with insults and name-calling.

Day  59 — Jan. 6

Trump calls focus on Russian hacking a “political witch hunt” in latest jab at U.S. intelligence

Donald Trump continued to antagonize the intelligence community during an interview with the New York Times Friday morning when he accused his political opponents of carrying out a “political witch hunt” in ongoing efforts to prove Russia’s role in the U.S. election.

The conversation occurred three hours before intelligence officials would brief the president-elect on a classified report about the hacking. NBC, however, released details of the report ahead of the meeting on Thursday, based on two unnamed top intelligence sources, drawing further ire from Trump.

By midday Friday, Trump had started a hunt of his own: to find NBC’s sources.

Following Friday’s briefing with top U.S. intelligence officials, Trump acknowledged that Russia, China and other countries are “consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee.” But he was reluctant to put the blame on Russia and maintained the hacks had no impact on the outcome of the election.


Why it’s not normal:

The president-elect continued his very public rift with the intelligence community on Friday, to the dismay of many top officials. Trump’s latest round of criticism once again pitted the incoming president against an intelligence apparatus he’ll soon oversee, raising questions about the sort of role and relationship these powerful agencies will have in his administration.

Trump is kicking out Obama’s ambassadors without the usual grace period to find new jobs and homes

U.S. ambassadors appointed by President Obama and currently stationed around the world recently received a rude awakening from President-elect Trump’s incoming administration.

In a precedent-defying move, Trump’s transition team notified all of the politically appointed ambassadors that their last day on the job would be Jan. 20, without exceptions, The New York Times reported. The decision denies the ambassadors a grace period traditionally granted to them between transitioning administrations.

Why it’s not normal:
There’s reason for this tradition: the grace period affords ambassadors and their families time to sort out new employment and living conditions and to serve as diplomatic stop-gaps while the new administration searches for their replacements. Trump’s decision to break with the tradition means that many critical diplomatic outposts could sit without an ambassador for months while the new administration searches for replacements.


Trump confuses Toyota plants in Mexico, still negatively impacts the company’s stock

Donald Trump took aim at Toyota on Thursday for the Japanese auto giant’s long-known plans to build its Corolla sedan in a plant in Mexico. The news elicited a simple “No way,” and a promise from the incoming president: “Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.”

Trump’s tough talk instantly had a negative effect on the company’s stock price and sent other Japanese automakers scrambling.

Within five minutes, Toyota’s stock dropped $1.2 billion, and other carmakers’ market caps, like Honda and Nissan, also fell on the Tokyo exchange Friday, contributing to a decrease in the Nikkei share average. Perhaps in an attempt to ease the tension, the head of Toyota signaled a willingness to work with Trump just hours later.

Trump, however, confused Toyota’s existing plant in Baja with one in Guanajuato, which, when completed, will shift production from Canada — not the U.S., as the Associated Press noted. Construction began on the plant shortly after the November election.

“We don’t have any plan to move existing plants in the U.S. to Mexico or any other countries,” Japanese Trade Minister Horoshige Seko told reporters Friday.

However misinformed, the tweet marked the first time the president-elect has taken aim at a foreign company for its stated intentions to move jobs overseas.

Why it’s not normal:

Incoming president’s normally don’t tweet out potential punitive measure intended for  foreign company’s seeking to move business to another country. This is especially true when they level such threats based on misinformation.


“Ratings machine DJT” calls out Arnold Schwarzenegger for dwindling “Celebrity Apprentice” ratings

Donald Trump usually reserves nicknames for his political opponents. But in a series of tweets Friday morning disparaging Arnold Schwarzenegger’s success (or lack thereof) in “The Celebrity Apprentice,” the president-elect gave himself one: “ratings machine DJT.”

Trump, who maintains the title of executive producer on the show, clearly isn’t happy with its new lead. Schwarzenegger replaced the show’s iconic catchphrase with some flair from a previous franchise: “You’re terminated.”

Why it’s not normal:

Presidents-elect don’t typically engage in petty social media fights with celebrities.

Day  58 — Jan. 5

Trump says he doesn’t agree with Julian Assange, but his tweets say otherwise

President-elect Donald Trump attempted to clarify Thursday morning that his retweets do not equal endorsements of comments WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange made about Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election.

A day earlier, Trump retweeted a Fox News tweet that included a quote from Assange calling the American media “very dishonest.” Trump also tweeted several other comments Assange made to Fox’s Sean Hannity during an interview.

Several publications interpreted the tweets as Trump agreeing with Assange’s comments, which bolstered the president-elect’s own skepticism about Russia’s role in the election. For example, The New York Times characterized Trump and Assange as “an unlikely pair” who “unite to sow hacking.” And CNN noted that Trump had flip-flopped on Assange since 2010, when he suggested Assange should face “the death penalty or something.”


Why this isn’t normal:

A president-elect doesn’t usually enter into a pedantic debate about whether his retweets do or do not equal endorsements of the head of a whistleblowing website who’s been exiled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Trump calls Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer a “clown”

Trump unveiled his latest moniker for a political rival Thursday morning: head clown Chuck Schumer.

This latest name-calling follows several pithy titles Trump has attached to opponents, including (but not limited to): Crooked Hillary, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Crazy Bernie, and Goofy Elizabeth Warren.

Why it’s not normal:

Presidents-elect do not usually descend into public name-calling of the Senate Minority Leader.

Day  57 — Jan. 4

Trump cites WikiLeaks’ Assange when mocking U.S. intelligence officials

President-elect Donald Trump claimed Tuesday night — in a tweet complete with mocking scare quotes —  that the “intelligence” community had delayed his briefing on the “so-called Russian hacking” and speculated officials may have needed more time to “build a case.” Trump continued his assault with a series of tweets Wednesday morning, citing comments Wikileaks’ Julian Assange made to conservative commentator Sean Hannity.

The White House rebutted the president-elect and said his briefing with the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Director of National Intelligence had always been scheduled for Friday. Trump and his transition team have repeatedly refused to accept media reports that the intelligence community believes Russia hacked into senior Democratic officials with the intent of aiding the Republican’s candidacy.

While the FBI and Department of Homeland Security released a vague report in mid-December, a more detailed report from every branch of the intelligence community is forthcoming later this week. Trump, however, is raising doubts about its conclusions before they have been presented to him.

Why this isn’t normal: 

Presidents, let alone presidents-elect, don’t refute, let alone mock, the intelligence community so publicly. Presidents have fumed at and battled with such agencies (JFK for example) but always behind the closed doors of the Oval Office.

Day  56 — Jan. 3

Trump scolds House Republicans on first day of new Congress

The first day of a Republican Congress that will soon enjoy a Republican president started with discord when President-elect Donald Trump publicly criticized House Republicans for attempting to defang the body’s independent ethics watchdog.

In a surprise move on Monday, Republicans had voted to strip the Office of Congressional Ethics of much of its independence and authority. The Republican House Leadership, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, reportedly opposed the change — but they were ignored by many of their Republican members.

Those members seemingly were not as willing to go against Trump, however, reversing the vote hours after he posted his tweets.

Why this isn’t normal:
Presidents-elect don’t typically clash publicly with their own party on the first day of a new Congress. And they certainly don’t typically do it on Twitter.

Trump threatens GM over Mexico-made Chevys

President-elect Donald Trump threatened General Motors Tuesday morning with a “big” tax if it did not start manufacturing its Chevy Cruze cars in the United States. In a tweet, Trump claimed GM was building the car in Mexico and then selling it to Americans after shipping it across the border “tax-free.”

General Motors responded later Tuesday morning that only a small number of Chevy Cruze hatchbacks were manufactured in Mexico and then sold in the U.S. All Cruze sedans sold in the U.S. are made in Lordstown, Ohio, the company said. GM did not address its November announcement to cut production significantly at the Lordstown plant in early 2017.

It’s unclear what prompted Trump’s tweet, but it might also be a warning to other American car manufacturers who build all or parts of automobiles in Mexico before selling them domestically. Last fall, Ford announced it was moving all small-car production south of the border. Car companies are able to do this without incurring large penalties because of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has called one of the worst deals in history.

Why this isn’t normal: 

It’s not normal for a president, let alone a president-elect, to publicly single out a company and threaten it with government action. It’s especially abnormal for a Republican to interfere so directly in the free market, further demonstrating the ideological transformation happening to the party. Trump has also personally intervened with Carrier to save jobs in Indiana and with SoftBank, which owns a controlling stake in Sprint, to create 50,000 jobs in the United States.

VICE News will file regular updates on just how not normal Trump’s presidency is. Check back for more and see our earlier updates from November and December.

Alex Thompson contributed to this report.