After a tumultuous few weeks, in which acting Attorney General Sally Yates notified the White House that National-Security Adviser Michael Flynn had misled the FBI, Flynn stepped down from his post. In March, then-FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the bureau was investigating the Trump campaign’s links to the Kremlin, weeks after an intelligence report found that Russian hackers had intended to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump. Trump later alleged that President Obama had wiretapped him prior to the election: an effort to divert attention from his own administration, Peter Beinart wagered.
Trump’s Cabinet nominees were also garnering scrutiny: McKay Coppins called them a “motley, freewheeling crew of lieutenants and loyalists.” Alia Wong explained why America was playing close attention to Betsy DeVos’s nomination for education secretary. And when Trump appointed Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state, questions about the former ExxonMobil CEO’s ties to foreign governments surfaced. Tillerson and Trump would later clash over how to handle foreign-policy issues—and Eliot A. Cohen would dub Tillerson “The Worst Secretary of State in Living Memory.” Meanwhile, the significant number of retired generals in Trump’s Cabinet was at least providing “one of the few constraints” on the president, David A. Graham argued.
That Trump’s first address to Congress was “a subdued speech, even a little staid,” as Russell Berman qualified it, meant that “Republicans loved it all the more.” But lawmakers sought more direction on complicated policy measures like health care and tax reform.
House Republicans made their first legislative priority repealing and replacing Obamacare. Despite Trump trying to sell the plan with “gusto,” as Michelle Cottle reported, it eventually failed. David A. Graham wrote that when it did, the president “issued a crisp, definitive verdict: I didn’t do it.”
After a few months in office, Trump appeared to be learning that “Being President Is Hard,” wrote Michelle Cottle. It was clear that an “Education of Donald J. Trump” was necessary, especially after he told reporters he “never realized how big” the government was.
At the 100-day mark of Trump’s presidency, David A. Graham found that the president had “completed few of the items” on his long list of campaign promises, but noted that Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court was a “notable” accomplishment. Julian E. Zelizer and Morton Keller, meanwhile, argued that a president shouldn’t be graded on his first 100 days.
Trump’s firing of Comey in May was a pivotal moment. The White House claimed the reason for firing Comey was his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but David Frum didn’t buy it. (When he later testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said, “I was fired because of the Russia investigation.”) Adrienne LaFrance talked to historians, who said that while the moment was extraordinary, it was also reminiscent of at least one other—Richard Nixon’s dismissal of special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal. The firing only fueled questions about alleged collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein soon appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel in the Russia investigation. Then, in July, Donald Trump Jr. released an email exchange showing that during the 2016 presidential election, he arranged a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, who claimed to have potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton. Those in Trump’s inner circle maintained that the campaign team had done nothing wrong.