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Trump’s baptism of fire: New president hit with setback after setback

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In more than three turbulent weeks at the White House, President Donald Trump has moved quickly to take a string of controversial initiatives.

However, he has suffered some stinging setbacks, from a court block of his bar on entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries to the resignation of his national security adviser.

A snapshot:

– Travel ban shot down –

On January 27 Trump issued a decree summarily denying entry to all refugees for 120 days, and travelers from Muslim-majority Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.

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The measures triggered chaos at US airports and worldwide condemnation.

However, the decree was stayed by a court on February 3, a decision upheld on February 9 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

– Mexican wall –

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Trump, who during his presidential campaign charged that some Mexican immigrants were “criminals” and “rapists,” signed an executive order on January 25 to set in motion the building of a wall along the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) US-Mexico border.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelled a January 31 trip to Washington over Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for what he called his “big, beautiful” wall.

– Russia: Flynn falls –

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In a first stunning departure from the president’s inner circle, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned on February 13 amid controversy over his contacts with the Russian government.

The White House said Trump had accepted Flynn’s resignation amid allegations the retired three star general did not tell the truth about conversations he had about US sanctions against Russia with its ambassador to Washington before Trump took office.

The White House said on February 14 that it was informed in late January by the Justice Department of Flynn’s inaccurate account of his conversations. Still, Flynn was allowed to keep his job for weeks.

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The sanctions in this case were imposed against Russia for allegedly trying to sway the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor by hacking emails of top officials of his rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

– New Iran tensions –

Trump has toughened the rhetoric against Iran considerably since coming to office and on February 3 introduced sanctions after an Iranian missile test.

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Relations between Tehran and Washington had improved during the previous Barack Obama administration amid the historic accord on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned on February 10 that those using “threatening language” against Tehran would regret it.

– China u-turn –

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On February 9 Trump pledged in a telephone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to honor a decades-old position that effectively acknowledges Taiwan is not separate from China.

He had angered Beijing by suggesting a few weeks ago that he might jettison the “One China” policy, a major plank of Sino-US relations for decades.

– Obamacare targeted –

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The day he took office, on January 20, Trump signed an executive order that sets the stage for limiting the Obamacare health law, Obama’s signature domestic achievement, which Trump and the Republican majority in Congress have vowed to repeal.

In the Republicans’ view Obamacare — which aimed to ensure healthcare for the millions of Americans who are not covered — marked a costly drift toward socialized, European-style medical care.

– Abortion hindered –

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Abortion also has come under the axe. Trump signed on January 23 a decree barring US federal funding for foreign NGOs that support the practice.

In addition, he nominated to the Supreme Court conservative judge Neil Gorsuch, whom pro-choice groups fear might come out against abortion. Gorsuch’s record on the issue so far is thin.

– Conflict of interest –

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Amid growing concern in Washington over the president’s potential conflict of interest, Trump’s sons are to inaugurate a branded golf course in Dubai on February 18, the first public launch for the business empire since Trump took office.

Since his November 8 victory, Trump has said he will remove himself from running his business empire and transfer corporate control to his two adult sons.

But the president has resisted divesting despite calls by ethics organizations.

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– Standoff with media –

Since Trump came to office relations between the media and the White House have been at what some see as an all-time low.

After some news organizations called out Trump for “lies” on a variety of topics, the president disparaged journalists on his first day in office as “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”


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