Trumpocracy: Tracking the Creeping Authoritarianism of the 45th President

Conspiracy theories, attacks on the press, praise for tyrants, and other troubling moves by the Trump administration.

Timothy L. Hale/ZUMA

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Week 26: Undermining the special counsel’s Russia investigation; sabotaging health care; more voter conspiracy theory; attacks on top US law enforcement leaders; more “fake news” invective and press blackouts (July 15 – July 21)

Day 183: In his first appearance as Trump’s new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci says there’s “probably some level of truth” to Trump’s baseless conspiracy theory that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. (July 21)

Day 182: The Washington Post reports that the Trump White House is exploring the theoretical possibility of Trump pardoning team and family members—and himself—for criminal activity. The Post and the New York Times further report that Trump lawyers and aides are working to dig up research that they might use to undermine the independent Justice Department-appointed investigation into Trump and Russia being led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

– A Daily Beast investigation details how the Trump administration has used taxpayer money for a campaign to undermine current federal health care law.

– Via social media and an animated video, the White House continues to actively undermine the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office over the health care issue. (July 20)

Day 181: In an extraordinary exchange with MSNBC’s Katy Tur, Kris Kobach, a leader of Trump’s so-called voter fraud commission, says “we may never know” whether Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote, which Clinton won by nearly 3 million votes.

– At a White House luncheon with GOP senators aimed at salvaging a disastrous effort on health care legislation, Trump jokes about Sen. Dean Heller potentially fearing for his job as a dissenter. “This is the one we were worried about,” Trump says, poking a thumb at Heller. “You weren’t there, but you’re going to be, you’re going to be.” Amid broad laughter in the room, Trump adds, “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”

– In a lengthy, jaw-dropping interview with New York Times reporters, Trump attacks top current and former US law enforcement leaders. He derides Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, threatens Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and again goes after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and ex-FBI director James Comey, whose testimony to Congress Trump says was “loaded up with lies.”

– With the White House press briefing, the Trump administration continues to impose a blackout on cameras

– A former top climate policy official at the US Department of Interior blows the whistle for being reassigned to an accounting job “with the intent to coerce me into leaving the federal government.” (July 19)

Day 180: In a pair of angry tweets about the revelation that he had a second meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 with no other Americans present, Trump blasts the “Fake News” media as “sick” and “more and more dishonest.” (He doesn’t actually address his private interaction with Putin, which the White House already confirmed.) His tweets attacking the American news media as phony now total 95 since he took office. (July 18)

Week 25: A phony Loretta Lynch conspiracy; Trump dynasty at the G20 (July 8 – July 14)

Day 175:  Defending his son Donald Jr. at a press conference in Paris amid revelations about a 2016 campaign meeting with Russians, Trump pushes a far-right conspiracy theory about former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. He alleges that Lynch granted a visa to the Russian lawyer who offered to bring dirt on Hillary Clinton to the meeting with is son. “Somebody said that her visa or her passport to come into the country was approved by Attorney General Lynch,” Trump says, standing alongside France’s President Emmanuel Macron. “Now, maybe that’s wrong. I just heard that a little while ago, but I was a little surprised to hear that. So she was here because of Lynch.” The conspiracy theory is quickly proven false—Lynch had no role, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which granted the visa to the Russian lawyer. (July 13)

Day 172:  Politico reports that the Trump administration pressured the White House Correspondents’ Association to single out a reporter and criticize an article. (The WHCA refused to do so. It later emerges that the reporter was Tara Palmeri, who is one of several female journalists previously attacked by Trump and his aides.) (July 10)

Day 170:  When President Trump leaves the G20 table, his daughter, in an unprecedented move, takes his place. (Historically a vice president or top cabinet member would fill in for the president.) Ivanka Trump—who has no official role in the US government, and who stated on Fox News less than two weeks ago, “I try to stay out of politics”—is seated among heads of state including China’s Xi Jinping, Britain’s Theresa May, and Germany’s Angela Merkel. A photo of Ivanka at the table, posted by self-described “Russian G20 Sherpa” Svetlana Lukash, is later removed from Lukash’s Twitter account.

– On Twitter, Trump vows to “fight the Fake News” alongside Andrzej Duda, underscoring his shared interest with Poland’s president in cracking down on the free press. (July 8)

Week 24: The doctored wrestling video and a sustained assault on CNN; mocking reporters with Putin (July 1 – July 7)

Day 169: Just hours before Trump is set to meet with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 in Germany, he attacks the American press yet again on Twitter while declaring he will “represent our country well” overseas. He also personally attacks John Podesta, pushing a muddled conspiracy theory about Podesta hindering an investigation into Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee (despite that Podesta chaired the Clinton campaign, not the DNC, and despite Trump’s continued attempts to sow doubt about Russia’s role). Trump implausibly claims that “everyone” at the G-20 is talking about Podesta. 

As Putin and Trump meet, Trump appears to mock US reporters in the room at the prodding of a smiling Putin, under whose regime many journalists have been murdered. According to a tweet and video clip from journalist Dmitri Smirnov of Komsomolskaya Pravda, Putin asks Trump, “Are these the ones who insulted you?” As the reporters are being ushered out, Trump replies, “These are the ones.” As Putin laughs, Trump appears to add with a chuckle, “You’re right about that.” (July 7)

Day 168: Against a backdrop at home of far-right activists stalking, harassing, and leveling death threats against CNN journalists and executives, President Trump uses a press conference in Poland to continue to go off on CNN over the wrestling-video controversy. In his diatribe on foreign soil against the American news media, Trump jovially draws in Poland’s President Andrzej Duda—himself a proponent of press crackdowns—as he mocks CNN: “They have been fake news for a long time,” Trump says to a smiling Duda. “They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way. Do you have that also, by the way, Mr. President?” (It’s yet another Trump embrace of autocratic leadership.) Trump also attacks NBC, suggesting that network is ungrateful to him, despite his having enriched NBC with his successful reality TV show. His comments come on the heels of the White House floating the chilling prospect of using a proposed merger involving CNN’s parent company as leverage against the network. Here are Trump’s full remarks: (July 6)

I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them, as you know now they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They have been covering me in a very, very dishonest way. Do you have that also, by the way, Mr. President? With CNN and others, I mean, and others. NBC is equally as bad despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice, but they forgot that. But, I will say that CNN has really taken it too seriously and I think they’ve hurt themselves very badly—very, very badly. And, what we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free, but honest press. We want to see fair press. I think it’s a very important thing. We don’t want fake news. And, by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing. Very bad for our country.

Day 167:  The Associated Press confirms that Trump’s tweet with the video depicting the president assaulting CNN is his most-shared post on the social-media platform. Donald Trump, Jr. attacks CNN with multiple tweets riffing about “#CNNBlackmail” and Americans’ “hate” for the news media after CNN reports on the racist, anti-Semitic source behind the doctored video. (July 5)

Day 164:  Three days after White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserts that “the president in no way, form or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence,” the president tweets an old WWE wrestling video of himself that has been altered to depict Trump assaulting CNN.

The doctored video celebrating Trump’s war on the news media goes viral (with Trump also retweeting it from the official @POTUS account) amid rising concerns over violence against journalists, including a Republican congressman’s recent conviction for assaulting a reporter. The tweet also continues Trump’s long history of promoting social media accounts that traffic in virulently racist and anti-Semitic content. The Trump-CNN wrestling video was posted by a social media user called “HanAssholeSolo,” whose recent posts also included an image of CNN personnel stamped with Stars of David (a trope that Trump knows well by now) and various comments about crime and gun violence repeatedly using the term “nigger.” 

As Mother Jones has long since documented, Trump and his top advisers have courted racists, white nationalists and other bigots on social media since the start of Trump’s presidential campaign. (July 2)

Day 163: Trump suggests that there is a conspiracy among the many states refusing to comply with a White House call for the handing over of personal voter data. (Mississippi’s GOP secretary of state gave a particularly noteworthy response, including the suggestion that the Trump administration could “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.”) (July 1)

Week 23: Trump’s misogyny returns; a demand for voter data (June 24 – June 30)

Day 162: Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway endorses Trump’s social-media attacks on the press because much news coverage, she says, is unpatriotic. (June 30)

Day 161: Trump sets off a firestorm with a pair of tweets attacking “Morning Joe” cohosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, mocking Brzezinski as “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and alleging that she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a social gathering at Mar-a-Lago around New Year’s Eve. The couple joins a growing list of individuals personally targeted by Trump. (June 29)

Day 160: Kris Kobach, a leader of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity, calls for states to hand over personal voter data to the federal government, including names, party affiliations, birth dates, felony conviction records, voting histories for the past decade, and the last four digits of all voters’ Social Security numbers. The stated purpose is to help uncover voter fraud—which has been proven to be virtually nonexistent in the United States, despite Trump’s unfounded claims from the start of his presidency that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.

– CNN’s Brian Stelter notes three fresh examples of the Trump administration eroding press access, from the White House to the Pentagon and Justice Department. (June 28)

Day 159: After CNN retracts a story about an alleged investigation involving a Trump ally, the president renews his sweeping attacks on the press, declaring multiple television networks and top newspapers “all Fake News!” Trump’s deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, encourages Americans “across the country” to watch an anti-CNN video made by infamous right-wing fabricator James O’Keefe, “whether it’s accurate or not.” (June 27)

Week 22: Trump’s “tapes” bluff revealed; press briefing blackouts (June 17 – June 23)

Day 155: In an interview with “Fox & Friends,” Trump appears to further confirm that his bluff about the possible existence of secret Oval Office “tapes” was meant to intimidate James Comey ahead of the former FBI director’s sworn testimony to Congress. From the New York Times

When the Fox interviewer suggested that the possible existence of recordings might make sure Mr. Comey “stayed honest in those hearings,” Mr. Trump paused before responding, “Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that.”

Referring to Mr. Comey, the president said that “when he found out that I, you know, that there may be tapes out there whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else and who knows, I think his story may have changed.”

Trump has a history of threatening his perceived adversaries with recordings that may or may not exist. Watch the full segment from “Fox & Friends” (which was recorded on June 22 and aired on June 23):

– For the third time in a week, the Trump administration continues an unprecedented policy of forbidding reporters from using cameras during a White House press briefing—an instruction it tells the press is “not reportable.” CNN sends its Supreme Court sketch artist to document the briefing. (June 23)

Day 154: More than a month after threatening fired FBI director James Comey with the possibility of secretly recorded Oval Office “tapes,” Trump announces that he does not know of or possess any tapes. He says in a pair of tweets: “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

Just days after Trump’s personal legal team insisted that the president is not under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for obstruction of justice, top surrogates suggest that Trump carried out the “tapes” charade to intimidate a witness who was preparing to give sworn testimony before the US Senate. Trump was “instinctively trying to rattle Comey,” says former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “He’s not a professional politician. He doesn’t come back and think about Nixon and Watergate. His instinct is: ‘I’ll outbluff you.’” An unnamed source tells Bloomberg that Trump raised the possibility of the tapes strategically to ensure that Comey told the truth.

For the second time in four days, the Trump administration bars cameras from the White House press briefing room, preventing any live broadcasting of a Trump spokesperson’s responses to reporters’ questions on a big news day. (June 22)

Day 152: In contrast with Trump’s ceaseless attacks on most of the media as “fake news,” the president continues his mutual lovefest with Fox News, personally thanking the network for hailing him over the GOP’s win in Georgia’s congressional special election. (June 20)

Day 151: The Trump administration continues to undermine the press corps, prohibiting reporters from recording any images or audio during a White House briefing.

CNN’s Jim Acosta makes a subversive move, photographing…the White House briefing room:

CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller notes that the White House hasn’t had an on-camera briefing for more than a week. Acosta further reports that Press Secretary Sean Spicer took a question from a Russian reporter but not from CNN. (June 19)

Week 21: Trump’s growing list of personal targets; a bizarrely fawning cabinet meeting (June 10 – June 16)

Day 148: Trump attacks Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, for leading a “witch hunt” against him, adding Rosenstein to the list of Trump’s personal targets. The president also retweets Fox News’ Sean Hannity promoting a segment about a “Deep State” conspiracy against the Trump White House. (June 16)

Day 147: Decrying what he calls “the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history,” Trump appears to add special counsel Robert Mueller and his deputies to the growing list of individuals he has personally attacked as president, insinuating that they are “very bad and conflicted people.” (June 15)

Day 145: Trump escalates his attacks against the press on Twitter with some conspicuously debasing language and hyperbole: The “Fake News Media,” he says, has “an agenda of hate” and “has never been so wrong or so dirty.” He also declares that “Fake News is at an all time high” and demands that the media apologize to him. His invective against the press on Twitter alone now totals 73 attacks since he was sworn into office. (June 13)

Day 144: At a televised cabinet meeting, Trump elicits and then beams through a round of personal praise for him from numerous secretaries and top aides.

Trump presides over his fawning cabinet, June 12, 2017
Screen shot

His chief of staff Reince Priebus gushes, “On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda.”

Not long after a display seen as highly unusual by many veteran White House observers, Sen. Chuck Schumer ridicules Trump with his own version of the spectacle: “You have great hair,” cracks an aide, “nobody has better hair than you.”  (June 12)

Day 143: Trump attacks James Comey personally for the fifth time since firing him on May 9, describing Comey’s “leaks” about their interactions in the White House as “very ‘cowardly!'” (June 11)

Day 142: Interviewed on Fox News by longtime Trump family friend Jeanine Pirro, Donald Trump Jr. adds to his father’s ongoing personal attacks against James Comey. “I think he’s proven himself to be a liar in all of this,” Trump Jr. says of the ex-FBI director. “I think he’s proven himself to be a dishonest man of bad character.” (June 10)

Week 20: attacks on the ex-FBI director and the London mayor (June 3 – June 9)

Day 141: The morning after James Comey’s historic, gripping testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his troubling interactions with the president, Trump returns to Twitter to personally attack the former FBI director. He appears to accuse Comey of participating in “so many false statements and lies,” which would constitute a serious crime under oath. He also mocks him as a “leaker,” apparently in reference to Comey testifying about sharing his personal written notes—unclassified, and as a private citizen—with the news media.

Comey testifying on June 8.

Andrew Harnik / AP

It is the fourth time since he fired Comey on May 9 that Trump has personally threatened and disparaged the former FBI director; previously he warned Comey that he should fear secret Oval Office “tapes” of their interactions, declared to NBC’s Lester Holt that Comey was a “showboat” and “grandstander,” and told top Russian officials that Comey was “crazy, a real a nutjob.” 

The attacks on Comey continue a disturbing pattern of Trump using the power of his political platform—first as a Republican candidate and nominee, and then as president—to target individual Americans whose actions or politics he disliked, including federal judges, a NFL quarterback, and a union leader. (June 9)

Day 137: In a series of tweets responding to the Saturday night terrorist attack at London Bridge, Trump derides opponents of his executive order to shut down immigration from majority-Muslim countries and again undermines the US judicial system. “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” Oddly, he also seems to misunderstand that as president he is ultimately in charge of the US Department of Justice: “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” And he rebukes the courts for being “slow and political!

Trump also rips London Mayor Sadiq Khan for the second time since the terrorist attack, continuing to mislead the public about Khan’s remarks and suggesting that there is a media conspiracy to defend London’s first Muslim mayor:

On the TODAY show, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway downplays Trump’s frequent use of social media to broadcast his political and policy ideas to hundreds of millions of people. She derides the media’s “obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as president.”

In a surreal twist, Conway’s own husband—who recently took himself out of the running for a top Justice Department position—tweets to say that Trump’s tweets are likely to damage the administration’s case at the Supreme Court. (June 5)

Week 19: the CBO’s health care bill “conspiracy”; more attacks on the press (May 27 – June 2)

Day 132: White House Office of Management Director Mick Mulvaney attacks the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, suggesting there is a conspiracy behind the institution’s sobering assessment of the GOP health care bill. “It’s almost as if they went into it and said, ‘Okay, we need this score to look bad. How do we do it?'” he remarks in an interview with the Washington Examiner. The authority of the long-standing CBO, Mulvaney says, “has probably come and gone.” (May 31) 

Day 131: With FBI scrutiny intensifying on Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner over his peculiar involvement with top Russian officials, the president returns to vilifying the press. His invective against the “fake news media” on Twitter alone now totals 68 attacks since he was sworn into office. The latest barrage follows on the heels of Trump’s first overseas trip as president, where he reportedly kept American media conspicuously at a distance. (May 30)

Week 18: praise for murderous dictators and iron-fisted regimes (May 20 – May 26)

Day 124: The Washington Post reports that during a call on April 29 with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, President Trump praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”—an effort involving thousands of extrajudicial killings by Duterte’s regime. “Many countries have the problem, we have the problem,” Trump said, according to a transcript of the call obtained by the Post, “but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.” The details of the call add to the picture of Trump’s various praise for authoritarians and tyrants. (May 23)

Day 122: In Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson excludes American news media from a press conference; only foreign media reportedly are present. The State Department suggests it was a mistake due to logistical challenges—but it’s the third time in three months that Tillerson has ditched the US media while representing the Trump administration overseas, and occurs on the heels of a now infamous Oval Office meeting between Trump and top Russian officials where US media was barred and only a Russian state-sponsored photographer was allowed in.

In an interview with CNBC the following day, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expresses approval for a total lack of political protest during the Trump visit: “There was not a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there,” Ross says, “not one guy with a bad placard.” After the CNBC anchor interjects to suggest that may have been because the Saudi rulers “control people and don’t allow them to come and express their feelings quite the same way we do here,” Ross responds, “In theory that could be true, but boy, there was certainly no sign of it, there was not a single effort at any incursion—there wasn’t anything. The mood was a genuinely good mood.” (May 21)

Week 17: silence on Erdogan’s violent thugs in DC; pressure to jail reporters (May 13 – May 19)

Day 118: NBC News confirms that bodyguards for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan beat protesters the previous day outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, injuring nine people, including some who Erdogan’s men kicked in the face. After Trump’s meeting with Erdogan—whose recent consolidation of power Trump congratulated him for—the White House remains silent on the altercation, drawing sharp criticism from top US foreign policy experts. (May 17)

Screen shot from @VOATurkish video

Day 117: Following the stunning revelation from the Washington Post that Trump shared highly classified information with top Russian officials in the Oval Office—which Trump then acknowledged after three of his own top officials denied it—the New York Times reports that the Russian Foreign Ministry has joined the White House in attacking US media institutions as “fake.” RFM spokeswoman Maria Zakharova calls the bombshell news “the latest fake,” and says, “Guys, you are again reading American newspapers? You should not read them. They can be used in various ways, but there’s no need to read them—lately, this is not only harmful, but dangerous.”

With the Times‘ own latest bombshell—the revelation that Trump pressured James Comey to shut down the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn—the Times also reports that Trump pushed the FBI director to focus on putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information. The Washington Post‘s executive editor Marty Baron responds that Trump’s notion of prosecuting journalists “is very menacing, and I think that’s exactly what they intend. It’s an act of intimidation.” (May 16)

Week 16: the firing of FBI Director James Comey; multiple attacks on the media (May 6 – May 12)

Day 113: In a morning tweet storm, Trump attacks the “Fake Mediayet again, including suggesting that, because “it is not possible” for his spokespeople to brief reporters with “perfect accuracy,” maybe the White House should cancel all future press briefings and simply hand out written responses. The president also appears to personally threaten the FBI director he fired three days earlier: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Trump’s threat against Comey draws a stark reaction from Sen. Dick Durbin: “I think we ought to get to the bottom line here—President Trump is dangerous. Dangerous because he may be obstructing justice in terms of the investigation that really goes to the heart of our democracy: the accountability of the president and the people around him to the rule of law, protecting our democracy from an invasion by the Russians.” Durbin adds: “His credibility has been destroyed.” (May 12)

Day 112: The New York Times and CNN each report via sources close to James Comey that part of President Trump’s motivation for firing Comey was the FBI director’s refusal to swear political loyalty to the president. The Times details a conversation between Trump and Comey during a one-on-one dinner that took place at the White House on Jan. 27—just one day after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the Trump White House that then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by the Kremlin. Three days before the dinner, on Jan. 24, Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. In the conversation with Yates the day before the Comey dinner, White House Counsel Don McGahn asked Yates for information on Flynn’s FBI interview, and Yates declined to answer. (May 11)

Day 111: Fallout continues from Trump’s extraordinary firing of FBI Director James Comey:

CNN’s Jim Sciutto reports that the US media is barred from Trump’s talks in the Oval Office with Russia’s ambassador and foreign minister; photos of the meeting are distributed solely via the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A source close to Comey tells CNN’s Jake Tapper that there were two reasons for the firing: Comey never assured Trump of his personal loyalty to the president—and the Russia investigation was accelerating.

(May 10)

Day 110: In a stunning development, President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey, who was leading a widening investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russian interference in the 2016 election. In his letter firing Comey, Trump cites the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions—who previously recused himself from involvement in the Russia investigation. “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Trump says in the letter. The move quickly draws intense criticism from many quarters:

Reporting from NBC News, the New York Times and others quickly raises questions about the motive and process behind Comey’s firing:

Meanwhile, a West Virginia journalist is arrested for “yelling questions” at senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Price later commends the police for “doing what they thought was appropriate” and declines to say whether the treatement of the reporter was proper.

– Earlier in the day, the Trump campaign relaunches its website with a focus on circumventing the news media: “Providing a unique experience for online visitors,” the campaign says, “the website will include: facts the mainstream media is hiding about policy positions and actions by President Trump; compelling, never-before-seen photos from recent campaign rallies and events featuring President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence; news announcements from Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; and other materials that you won’t find anywhere else in the media.”

The homepage includes a selection of recent tweets from the president—all four of which are attacks on “fake news.” (May 9)

Screen shot from

Week 15: downgrading human rights; embracing autocrats, pushing a “fake news” ad (April 29 – May 5)

Day 106: Trump brings his total number of Twitter attacks as president on the “Fake News media” to 49. (May 5)

Day 105: Two GOP congressional leaders, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, warn Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about a memo sent to HHS employees that restricts employees’ communications with Congress; they call the memo “potentially illegal and unconstitutional” and note that it could have a chilling effect on whistleblowers. (May 4)

Day 104: The Trump Justice Department wins a criminal conviction against an activist for a disruption that apparently stemmed from laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings in January.

Mother Jones’ David Corn reports that the administration has dropped “human rights” from the title of a high-level White House job previously dedicated to advancing human rights around the world. (May 3)

Day 103: President Trump’s reelection campaign (“Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.”) attacks CNN for declining to run an ad praising Trump’s first 100 days and declaring CNN and other mainstream news networks “FAKE NEWS.” “It’s clear that CNN is trying to silence our voice and censor our free speech because it doesn’t fit their narrative,” says the campaign’s executive director, apparently without irony.

Screen shot from Trump reelection campaign’s “First 100 Days”

CNN responds that the network requested the removal of the misleading graphic: “The mainstream media is not fake news, and therefore the ad is false and per policy will be accepted only if that graphic is deleted.” (May 2)

Day 101: On the Sunday morning news circuit, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus warns that cracking down on the media by changing libel laws is “something we’ve looked at,” repeating a threat Trump himself has voiced. Priebus says that “newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news.” The comments come on the heels of Trump using one of his biggest presidential platforms to attack the “fake” media for the 46th time.

In an interview also aired Sunday, Trump praises murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as “a pretty smart cookie,” adding to the growing list of authoritarians and tyrants Trump has celebrated, including:

The White House defends Trump’s embrace of Duterte, saying that he is crucial to dealing with North Korea given the location of the Philippines—which also happens to be home to the recently completed Trump Tower Manila, a deal Trump did with Jose E.B. Antonio, Duterte’s new trade envoy to the US. (April 30)

Day 100: As promised, Trump snubs the White House Correspondents Association by ditching its annual dinner in Washington for a campaign-style rally in Pennsylvania. He again goes off on the media at length, continuing his long-running campaign of demonizing journalists from podiums and on social media.

With an invitation to President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines to visit the White House, Trump continues a pattern of warmly embracing iron-fisted autocrats. (April 29)

Week 14: attacking the US courts; promoting Trump’s private club (April 22 – April 28)

Day 97: President Trump takes to Twitter to continue attacking the federal judiciary for blocking his policy aimed at defunding “sanctuary cities.” He slams the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, even though the order was handed down by a federal district court judge.

Trump also tells the conservative Washington Examiner that he is “absolutely” in favor of a plan to break up the court that he apparently believes just ruled against him. “There are many people that want to break up the Ninth Circuit,” he says. “It’s outrageous.” (April 26)

Day 96: After a US district court blocks a Trump administration directive to withhold federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities for failure to comply with an immigration crackdown, the White House renews its attack on the judiciary, blasting the decision as “egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge.” (April 25)

Day 95: On Twitter, President Trump continues to reiterate that “much of the media is FAKE,” including polls produced by ABC News and NBC News.

The discovery that the US State Department and at least two US embassies have been touting Trump’s for-profit club, Mar-a-Lago, provokes sharp criticism. “Why are taxpayer $$ promoting the President’s private country club?” tweets Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, pointing to what he describes as “the full post in its kleptocratic glory.”

(The State Department-run Share America site soon pulls down the content, stating: “The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders. We regret any misperception and have removed the post.”) (April 24)

Week 13: threats against “sanctuary cities” and dissenting Congress members; secret White House waivers (April 15 – April 21)

Day 92: Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatens to withhold federal funding from eight cities and counties and the state of California if they fail to cooperate with the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown. (April 21)

Day 91: President Trump continues his Twitter campaign aimed at delegitimizing the New York Times, declaring that the “failing” news outlet “just got caught in a big lie.” (April 20)

Day 90: An Associated Press report sheds further light on the entwining of US foreign policy and enrichment of the Trump family:

On April 6, Ivanka Trump’s company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world’s second-largest economy. That night, the first daughter and her husband sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

Weighing in on the ongoing legal battle over the president’s immigration ban, Attorney General Jeff Sessions undermines a federal judge—and, seemingly, the state of Hawaii—by saying he is “amazed” that a judge “sitting on an island in the Pacific” could halt Trump’s executive order. (April 19)

Day 89: In his first lengthy public remarks as Trump’s head of the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary John Kelly says members of Congress who disagree with the president’s immigration crackdown should either change the laws or “shut up” and support the work of DHS, which is subject to congressional oversight. (Sound familiar?) (April 18)

Day 88: Turkish media, Reuters, and other news outlets report that President Trump called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to congratulate him on winning a referendum greatly expanding his political powers, a development that appears to put the pivotal Middle Eastern country on a fast track to dictatorship. (Notably, Russia’s state-sponsored Sputnik International is among the first to post the news.) Trump’s phone call (subsequently confirmed by the White House) comes even as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe blasts the Turkish election process as conspicuously tilted in Erdogan’s favor and “inadequate for the holding of a genuine democratic process.”

The move comes not long after Trump lauds Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi—who rose to power after a 2013 military coup and presided over an authoritarian crackdown—for doing a “fantastic job.” (April 17)

Day 87: The New York Times reports that potential conflicts of interest inside the Trump administration have become even more difficult to scrutinize because the White House has secretly been issuing waivers to sidestep regulations. In at least two cases, the Times reports, this may have already led to violations by Trump appointees of the administration’s own ethics rules. (April 16)

Week 12: concealing White House visitors; handing over Tillerson coverage to the Kremlin (April 8 – April 14)

Day 85: The Trump administration announces it will discard its predecessor’s policy and not disclose who visits the White House, citing “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.” (April 14)

Day 83: In an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, President Trump continues attacking former national security adviser Susan Rice, alleging without any evidence that Rice broke the law, an assertion since debunked by top US intelligence officials and congressional leaders from both parties. With the FBI investigation continuing into Trump campaign ties to Russia, the president also goes after FBI Director James Comey—declaring that Comey helped Hillary Clinton during the election. (To the contrary, there is evidence that Comey’s actions on the Clinton email investigation did major damage to her presidential campaign.) Trump suggests Clinton is a criminal—but was rescued by Comey. “When Jim Comey came out, he saved Hillary Clinton—he saved her life,” Trump says in the interview. “Director Comey was very, very good to Hillary Clinton. If he weren’t, she would be right now going to trial.” Trump adds that he kept Comey in his job “because I want to give everybody a good, fair chance.”

In July 2016, Comey rebuked Clinton for being “extremely careless.” Carlos Barria/Zuma

In Moscow, Rex Tillerson—who famously barred American reporters from his first trip to Asia as secretary of state—ditches his press pool for his meeting with Vladimir Putin, leaving direct coverage in the hands of the Kremlin. (April 12)

Week 11: seeking to unmask a Trump critic; baseless charges against Susan Rice (April 1 – April 7)

Day 77: Twitter sues the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security for trying to force the social media company to unmask an account with alleged ties to a federal agency that is critical of Trump policies. (DHS quickly withdraws its summons after Twitter files the suit.) (April 6)

Day 76: Citing no evidence, President Trump accuses former national security adviser Susan Rice of committing a crime concerning the use of classified US intelligence. “I think it’s a massive, massive story,” he says. “It’s a bigger story than you know.” In the same Oval Office interview with two New York Times reporters, Trump repeats that “the Russia story is a total hoax.” (April 5)

Day 74: Trump tweets four more times in 24 hours in defiance of the congressional and FBI Russia investigations, citing Fox News and trying to change the focus to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and alleged surveillance of his own presidential campaign. (Notably, in one of the tweets he tags the FBI, though it’s unclear why.) He has now tweeted about the widening Russia scandal 16 times in two weeks. Mitch McConnell joins the chorus of political leaders confirming that there is zero evidence to support Trump’s claims about being surveilled by the Obama administration. Though it is now five months after the election, Trump also tweets a question about whether Clinton “ever apologized for receiving answers to the debate.”

On the conflict-of-interest front, ProPublica reports that an obscure change made to Trump’s trust in February allows the president to draw money from his more than 400 businesses, at any time, without disclosing it. (April 3)

Day 72: In a Saturday morning flurry of tweets, President Trump yet again seeks to discredit the multiple Russia probes; he has now tweeted about the matter a dozen times in less than two weeks. He adds “phony” and “total scam” to a list of retorts already including “fake news,” “witch hunt,” “made up by Democrats,” “totally biased,” and “a hoax.” (April 1)

Week 10: ridiculing female journalists; threatening to roll back press rights (March 25 – March 31)

Day 71: President Trump continues trying to discredit widening Russia probes by two congressional intelligence committees and the FBI, calling the investigations a “witch hunt.” Press secretary Sean Spicer reiterates to reporters that “politically motivated” surveillance took place against Trump’s presidential campaign; the Obama administration did “very, very bad things,” he tells the White House press corps, citing no evidence. (March 31)

Day 70: President Trump tweets a New York Post writer’s rant about the “ongoing dishonesty” of the New York Times—for the second time in three days—repeating a legal threat he’s leveled against the media many times. (March 30)

Day 68: The Trump administration’s attack on the media continues apace, with press secretary Sean Spicer singling out two female reporters for ridicule. During a White House briefing, Spicer berates correspondent April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks over a question, telling her to “stop shaking your head.” In a story in Breitbart News the same day, Spicer attacks Politico correspondent Tara Palmeri for a tweet in which she reported that chief of staff Reince Preibus’ job might be in jeopardy. “She is an idiot with no real sources,” Spicer responds.

Meanwhile, the administration says that none of its staff will attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April, out of “solidarity” with President Trump.

With the RussiaGate investigation continuing to widen, Trump takes to Twitter again to declare the growing scandal “Fake News.” It is the eighth time in just over a week that he tweets about it, also denouncing the scandal as “made up by Democrats,” “totally biased…such dishonesty,” and “a hoax.” (March 28)

Day 66: Nepotism watch: The administration announces that Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will helm a new White House Office of American Innovation, whose mission will be to overhaul the workings of the federal government. Kushner suggests that American citizens are “customers” rather than the owners of their elected government. “The government should be run like a great American company,” he tells the Washington Post. “Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.” The announcement follows the news of Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, getting an office in the coveted West Wing, despite her having no official position in her father’s administration. (March 26)

Stephen Colbert further explains Kushner’s big White House portfolio:

Week 9: “I’m president and you’re not”; denying Russian interference; attacking a NFL star (March 18 – March 24)

Day 62: TIME Magazine’s Michael Scherer interviews President Trump about numerous false statements Trump has made on subjects ranging from voter fraud to wiretapping. After a series of rambling responses, in which Trump offers neither any evidence nor apologies for his claims, he concludes: “Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.” (March 22)

Day 60: As the House Intelligence Committee conducts hearings on the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the official Twitter account of the president of the United States spins FBI Director James Comey’s testimony, saying that Comey “refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia.”

A subsequent tweet from @POTUS asserts that the FBI and NSA concluded that Russia “did not influence” the US elections, twisting comments from Comey and NSA director Mike Rogers out of context. Asked about the president’s tweet by the committee a couple of hours later (a remarkable development of its own), Comey makes clear that this tweet from the president’s official account is inaccurate.

Another tweet from @POTUS focuses on attacking leaks in the media.

The Atlantic‘s McCay Coppins likens the White House’s live-tweeting of the hearing to “something akin to a state-run media outlet—deliberately misreporting, in real time, what was happening on Capitol Hill.”

Over on his personal Twitter account, Trump pits “Fake News CNN” against Fox News, which he lauds as having “much higher ratings.”

At an evening rally in Louisville, Kentucky, the president mocks San Francisco 49ers quarterback and political protester Colin Kaepernick, crediting Kaepernick’s unemployment in the NFL to the prospect that Trump might personally attack him. NFL team owners “don’t want to pick him up,” Trump declares as the crowd roars, “because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump!” (March 20)

Day 59: The Washington Post reports (via records obtained by ProPublica) that the Trump White House has installed a “shadow government” of at least 16 senior political aides inside various federal agencies, in an “unusual” effort to monitor the loyalty of Trump’s cabinet secretaries. (March 19)

Week 8: more sketchy wiretap claims; threatening a US circuit court (March 11 – March 17)

Day 57: Citing right-wing pundits and zero evidence, the White House doubles down on Trump’s claim that British intelligence helped President Obama spy on Trump before the election. In a rare public statement, Britain’s GCHQ calls the claim “utterly ridiculous.” In a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump jokes about the matter. (March 17)

Day 55: Attorney General Jeff Sessions follows on the heels of GOP House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes in stating that there is no evidence to support Trump’s explosive claim about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower before the election. (Nunes also said that the media was taking Trump’s tweet “too literally.”) Trump subsequently fine-tunes his claim in an interview on Fox News, saying that “wiretap covers a lot of different things.

At an evening rally in Nashville, after a federal judge blocks a revised executive order from the president banning refugees and immigrants, a visibly irritated Trump tells the crowd: “I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.” (A statement that could potentially hurt the White House’s case in further court proceedings.) He also suggests that the appeals court that ruled against him should be disbanded: “People are screaming, ‘Break up the Ninth Circuit!'” (March 15)

Day 53:  After the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the GOP’s American Health Care Act will result in 24 million people losing coverage, the Trump adminstration attacks the CBO as “just not believable.” As the New York Times’ David Leonhardt notes, this continues a pattern of seeking to delegitimize independent sources of information seen as unfriendly to Trump. (March 13)

Week 7: the explosive Obama “wiretapping” claim; traction with demonizing the media (March 4 – March 10)

Day 47: A Quinnipac University poll shows that nearly 40 percent of Americans—and 81 percent of Republicans—agree with President Trump’s statements that certain news organizations “are the enemy of the American people.” (March 7)

Day 44 – 45: Citing no evidence, Trump seizes on a conspiracy theory pushed by a right-wing radio host and Breitbart News, accusing former President Barack Obama of illegally wiretapping Trump Tower during the election. FBI Director James Comey subsequently asks the Justice Department to publicly reject the extraordinary claim as false; the Trump White House then raises the stakes even further, signaling opposition to Comey on the matter. (March 4 and March 5)

Week 6: vilifying the New York Times; (February 25 – March 3)

Day 39: In an Oval Office interview with Breitbart News—the far-right media platform formerly run by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon—Trump describes the “intent” of reporting by the New York Times as “so evil and so bad.” (February 27)

Trump interviewed by Breitbart News White House photo

Week 5: shutting out the press; tarring the media as the “enemy of the people” (February 17 – February 24)

Day 36: Press secretary Sean Spicer bars the New York Times, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, and BuzzFeed from an untelevised West Wing press briefing. (February 24)

Day 36: At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Trump reiterates that the media is the “enemy of the people.” (February 24)

Week 4: “The powers of the president to protect our country will not be questioned” (February 10 – February 16)

Day 28: In a lengthy White House press conference, Trump works to pivot attention away from leaks within his administration to blaming the media, saying that “the leaks are real…The news is fake.” During the same presser, Trump responds to a Jewish reporter’s question about a wave of threats to Jewish centers by expressing his personal offense at the question (apparently construing it as a suggestion that he is anti-Semitic) and telling the reporter to “sit down.” (February 16)

(Screen shot from White House video)

Day 24: White House senior adviser Steven Miller tells John Dickerson of Face the Nation that “the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” (February 12)

Week 3: personally attacking a federal judge; mocking a state senator (February 3 – February 9)

Day 19: During a meeting, Trump hears about a Texas state senator who wanted to limit asset forfeiture. Trump quips, “Want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.” (February 7)

Day 18: Trump tweets that “any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election.” (February 6)

Day 16: After District Judge James Robart in Seattle issues a stay on Trump’s immigration order, Trump tweets, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” (February 4)

Week 2: threatening to defund a university; politicizing the National Security Council (January 27 – February 2)

Day 14: After violent protests at the University of California-Berkley prevent Breitbart News provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking, Trump suggests that the university should lose federal funding. (February 2)

Day 10: The president reorganizes the National Security Council, downgrading the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the CIA director, and gives chief strategist Steve Bannon a permanent seat on the NSC’s principals committee. (January 29)

Day 8: Trump signs an executive order barring Syrian refugees, immigrants and other visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries, even those with green cards and legal visas. The order includes what amounts to a religious test for Muslims. (January 27)

Week 1: telling the media to “keep its mouth shut”; a massive voter-fraud conspiracy; “alternative facts” (January 20 – January 26)

Day 7: Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon says the media should “keep its mouth shut,” and describes the media as “the opposition party.” (January 26)

Day 6: Trump issues an executive order on immigration mandating the Department of Homeland Security to “make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens” published weekly, and threatens to defund sanctuary cities. (January 25)

Day 4: In a meeting with congressional leaders, Trump ramps up his claim—supported by no evidence—that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton. (January 23)

Day 3: Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway says the White House is using “alternative facts” in reference to the inauguration crowd size on NBC’s Meet the Press. She threatens that the administration may have to “rethink the relationship” with the news media. (January 22)

Day 2: Press secretary Sean Spicer falsely claims that Trump’s inauguration had the largest audience ever, angrily stating that “we’re going to hold the press accountable” and refusing to take questions. (January 21)

Day 1: In his inaugural speech, Trump depicts a ravaged, dystopian America, with echoes of his message at the GOP national convention that “I alone can fix it”: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now…From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.” (January 20)

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