As President Trump’s first 100 days in office conclude, we can all breathe a sigh of relief; the frenetic pace of executive actions will finally cease. Hopefully. Depending on one’s political bend, the first 100 days of the Trump administration was either ruinous for America and the world, or alternately an important course correction after the Obama years. Regardless, we can all agree that it has been anything but a smooth transition in Washington. Whether deliberately or due to inexperience, the first 100 days have been chaotic. Nearly every day has brought a new battle between the Trump White House  – either the President himself or his close advisors – and the media, Congress, the bureaucracy, jabs traded with foreign leaders, and marches on Washington and other major foreign capitals. No doubt the intensity of the criticism and mistrust between the new team and the Washington bureaucracy, as well as the countless leaks of major policy documents in early stages of deliberation, has fueled a bunker mentality at the White House. Moreover, President Trump has surrounded himself with people with vastly different political perspectives and backgrounds. He simultaneously has the least-educated and wealthiest Cabinet in American history; this mix is creating visible rifts on fundamental policy issues, ranging from America’s global engagement to tax policy. Perhaps what’s most difficult to discern is whether the chaos and misdirection is deliberate and brilliant, with the White House in full control of the narrative, or simply that the team is inexperienced.  

The Trump administration has relied heavily on executive authority to pursue deregulation and issue populist edicts on trade policy. Notably, the barrage of executive orders has led to few actual changes in policy; Trump has focused on the optics of delivering on campaign promises (pulling out of TPP, directing the building of a border wall with Mexico, banning Muslims, renegotiating NAFTA) by directing policy reviews rather than policy changes. It’s also notable that many major posts at agencies remain vacant (only 24 of the 556 possible appointments have been confirmed by the Senate.) The vacancies likely represent both a shallow bench for the administration to choose from in filling key roles and potentially a philosophical choice to limit the size and scope of agencies’ decision-making authority. Though Trump’s America First agenda suggests that foreign policy is secondary to domestic priorities, the president has authorized military action in Syria and Afghanistan, and has engaged in a nerve-racking escalation with North Korea. 

The first 100 days have made clear that candidate Trump was indeed serious, and should have been taken literally. Trump as President is following through on many campaign promises, reinventing his policy positions at every turn, and continues to be unabashed in his brashness.  

We invite you to take a closer look at the impact of the Trump administration's first 100 days and what comes next in the following areas:  

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Raisa Sheynberg

Raisa Sheynberg, is a director in APCO Worldwide’s Public Affairs practice based in the firm’s Washington office. Read More