’Alternative Facts’ and a Crowd-Size Controversy: 6 Things to Know About Trump’s Rocky Start in Office
Six key things that have happened during President Donald Trump's first days in office
It’s been a little more than 72 hours since President Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States — but a lot can happen in 72 hours.
From contentious executive orders to a crowd-size controversy, here are six key things that have happened during Trump’s first days in office.
1. Press Secretary Sean Spicer disputed reports on the inauguration crowd sizes — and Kellyanne Conway coined the term “alternative facts”
The first press briefing came on Saturday afternoon, when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer accused members of the media of “deliberately” deflating the number of people who attended the inauguration on Friday — and later drew harsh criticism for his own claim that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”
During the press conference, Spicer made misstatements regarding D.C. Metro ridership on Trump’s Inauguration Day, citing figures that contradicted those reported by the D.C. metro authority itself and insisting that Metro ridership was higher for Trump’s inaugural than for former President Barack Obama’s 2013 inaugural. Actually, there were 200,000 more Metro rides taken in 2013 versus 2017, according to CNN.
Then, Trump’s counselor and former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was asked about Spicer’s controversial statements during an appearance on Meet the Press. She told Chuck Todd, “You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts.” Todd responded by saying, “Alternative facts aren’t facts, they are falsehoods.”
The Internet seemed to agree — including Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.
2. Trump gave a speech in front of the CIA’s wall of fallen heroes
The president echoed Spicer’s claims himself during a visit to the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Saturday. In front of the agency’s wall of fallen heroes, which is dotted with stars to represent CIA agents who were killed on the job, Trump accused news organizations of lying about the size of the crowds at his inaugural proceedings. He also labeled journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” Trump also accused the media of creating a faux feud between himself and the intelligence community and told the gathered employees, “I just want to let you know, I am so behind you.” This was a departure from his previous comments, including one he made on Twitter invoking Nazi Germany.
Many weren’t pleased with the tone of Trump’s speech, including Former CIA Director John Brennan. “Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” Nick Shapiro, a former aide to John Brennan at CIA, told NBC.
One person who was pleased with Trump’s visit to the CIA headquarters was former President (and CIA Director) George H.W. Bush. A Bush family spokesman, Jim McGrath, said that the Bushes were “very happy” that Trump went to speak to the CIA.
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3. The crowd at the Women’s March on Washington dwarfed that of the president’s inauguration
Elsewhere in Washington, D.C. — and around the world — millions of people reacted to Trump’s inauguration by taking to the streets for various women’s marches. The central event took place in Washington D.C., on the National Mall — the same site of Trump’s inauguration just 24 hours prior — but there were “sister marches” in locations from New York City to London to even as far away as Antarctica. Crowd scientists told The New York Times that the Women’s March on Washington drew three times as many people as Trump’s inauguration.
4. Trump took to Twitter to weigh in on the Women’s March on Washington
Trump’s first series of tweets as president came on Sunday following the women’s marches. He criticized celebrities, who he said “hurt the cause badly,” and questioned why those attending the marches “didn’t vote.”
Then, another tweet came — this one markedly different in tone.
5. He signed several executive actions
Trump’s Day-One executive order pertaining to the promised repeal of Obamacare was the first, but other executive actions and orders followed. He withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, The New York Times reported; imposed a hiring freeze for civilian agencies, USA Today reported; and reinstated the global gag rule, according to The Hill, which prohibits federal funding for international family planning organizations.
6. He was hit with his first lawsuit as president
On Monday morning, Trump faced his first lawsuit while in office, from a liberal-leaning ethics watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The suit alleged that Trump was a “walking, talking violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution” because he continues to own hotels and companies that do business with foreign governments, NPR reports.
“Trump does business with countries like China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, and now that he is President, his company’s acceptance of any benefits from the governments of those countries violates the Constitution,” a CREW statement said. “When Trump the president sits down to negotiate trade deals with these countries, the American people will have no way of knowing whether he will also be thinking about the profits of Trump the businessman.”