This week in the white house

By Anna Landsverk

    The Trump administration is changing things at a rapid pace in these first few weeks of the presidency, and it is likely to keep at it through the famous “first 100 days.” To help you keep up, we will be running a “This week in the White House” series for each issue with the details of major political changes, controversies and stories over the past week.

Cabinet Appointments

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was confirmed in a nailbiting 50–50 U.S. Senate vote, with Vice President Michael Pence breaking the tie.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confirmed with a slightly more positive vote of 52–47, with Sessions abstaining. However, there was controversy when Republicans voted the night before the final vote to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for reading a Coretta Scott King letter condemning Sessions’ judicial record.
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was sworn in just hours after his confirmation on Friday, Feb. 10 with a vote of 52–47 along party lines, with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) abstaining. Price’s first goal is repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

International Affairs

  • Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, assuring the key economic and political alliance. Trump declared the U.S. would continue to protect Japanese territories as it had done in the past, and it would form some type of bilateral trade agreement to make up for pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
  • Trump had a phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first since a rather tense call in December regarding the “One China” policy. Trump affirmed that the U.S. would follow the policy, which establishes that there is only one China, meaning Taiwan is a part of the Chinese nation and not an independent state.
  • Iran’s annual celebrations of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, typically occasions for heavy anti-American sentiments, were tamer than past years. Many political analysts expected greater levels of American flag-burning, cries for attacks on the U.S. and shows of hatred towards American people due to Trump’s travel ban of citizens from Iran and six other countries. Instead, many Iranians thanked Americans who volunteered to help stranded passengers stuck on their way to the U.S. when the ban took effect.

Domestic Politics

  • A second court upheld the stay of Trump’s travel ban of citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations, meaning the case could go to the Supreme Court. After a federal judge in Seattle suspended the ban on issues of legality and confusion among TSA and customs officials, Trump fought back, sending the issue to an appeals court. That San Francisco court upheld the ruling suspending the ban, prompting Trump to suggest writing a new ban to circumvent what could be a long legal battle.
  • White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway received “counseling” from other White House officials for her plug of Trump’s daughter Ivanka’s clothing line. Trump had previously criticized Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka’s line, and in an appearance on the show “Fox and Friends,” Conway directly promoted Ivanka’s clothing, which is an ethics violation in her official capacity.

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