Most of Trump's executive orders don't actually do anything — and many highlight his powerlessness: report
President Donald Trump signs the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A majority of President Donald Trump's executive orders have done almost nothing except provided a show for him, a new Los Angeles Times analysis revealed Wednesday.


"For a president who relishes pomp and shows of executive action, unchecked by Congress, signing ceremonies have become a hallmark, a way to convey accomplishment for a man who asserts he has done more than any president in history," the report revealed.

In a review of 101 Trump orders, the Times found that while "many were geared toward favored political constituencies," few did anything that "moved policy significantly."

"Generally," the report noted, "the orders created committees or task forces, demanded reports or pressed for enforcement of existing laws."

The Times added that Trump's "boldest" and most objectionable displays of unilateral power were not done via executive order.

Though he did "initially sign two executive orders to fulfill his campaign pledge to ban all Muslims from entering the country," both were struck down in courts. Trump's third "Muslim ban," which was "revised again to pass court muster," was issued as a proclamation and upheld by the Supreme Court.

"Trump’s recent effort to circumvent Congress to pay for a southern border wall, now the subject of another court challenge, is based on his Feb. 15 declaration of a national emergency," the report added.

The orders Trump regularly issues are "more modest" in comparison — but also are more often the subject of pomp and circumstance.

"You don’t really need an executive order for a lot of this stuff, but it makes for a good show,” Elaine Kamarck, a Clinton administration aide who now works at the Brookings Institution, told the Times. “He even gives out pens, which is really sort of ridiculous."

Past presidents, Kamarck added, only had such ceremonies for "momentous" orders like the Civil Rights Act.

In their analysis, Times reporters found that at least 18 Trump orders created task forces, councils or committees — many of which have since disbanded.

The analysis also found that at least 12 of the order "included language such as 'encourage' or 'to the extent permitted by law,' underscoring the president’s lack of authority to make sweeping change without help from Congress."

The Times also noted that Trump's 100th EO, which was signed last week in an Oval Office ceremony complete with a string quartet, is ostensibly supposed to "force colleges to support free speech" — but at least one White House aide appeared to struggle when asked how it was actually going to work.

"Experts who read the text afterward said the ultimate impact was uncertain, given that public universities already must follow the 1st Amendment and it simply instructed private colleges to comply with their existing policies," the report noted. "An official who briefed reporters beforehand struggled to explain the order and how the administration would enforce it."