Donald Trump's first 100 days: what's in the in-tray?

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to introduce his wife Melania at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016.    REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein   - RTSIMHF

Image: REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Michael Hanley
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During the most bitter of campaigns, President-elect Donald Trump made commitments that will fundamentally change America’s idea of itself. They would also reshape the US’s relationships with the wider world in ways that we don’t yet fully understand.

These are the issues that will sit at the top of President Trump’s in-tray when he walks into the Oval Office on January 20th 2017.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2SPSD
Image: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri


Donald Trump has said his first hour in office will be spent on plans to radically reform America’s immigration system. His transition team, led by Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, will be fleshing out the details of these policies for him to quickly enact his plans.

During the campaign, Mr Trump promised to build a wall to prevent undocumented migrants crossing into the US via the Mexican border.

Even more controversially, the President-elect proposed banning all Muslims from travelling to the United States until border controls had been tightened. Later in the campaign he refined this policy pledge, suggesting only people from “terror prone areas” would be banned from travelling to the US. While it is unlikely that the US constitution will allow for the banning of travelers on the basis of their religion, it is perfectly possible to ban travelers from particular countries.


This area is central to Donald Trump’s pledge to “make America great again.”

President Trump will be bring a pledge to tear up "horrible" trade agreements. His campaign website lists his priorities for reshaping America’s trade agreements with the wider world. Number one on the list is to withdraw the US from the yet-to-be ratified Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The White House is pictured shortly after sunrise in Washington, August 1, 2007.       REUTERS/Jason Reed      (UNITED STATES) - RTR1SFN2
Image: REUTERS/Jason Reed

Mr Trump is also insisting partners in the NAFTA trading bloc immediately agree to renegotiate the agreement to give American workers a better deal. If there’s no new deal, Mr Trump says he will pull the US out of NAFTA.

China and its trade practices are in Mr Trump's cross hairs. His stated policies include a commitment “to use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes if China does not stop its illegal activities, including theft of trade secrets.” As President he will have the authority to impose tariffs on classes of goods from China, to pressure Congress to brand China a currency manipulator, and to withdraw from the World Trade Organisation if it disagrees with his actions.

Climate Change

Mr Trump has pledged to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement to limit the effects of climate change. The agreement has been signed by most countries and came into force just four days before Donald Trump’s election victory.

Trump has also pledged to cancel millions of dollars in payments to UN climate change programmes and lift restrictions on fracking. In September, he told a conference in Pittsburgh that he would restore the region’s coal mining industry to its former glory.

Foreign Policy

President Trump will be under pressure to reassure allies that America remains committed to their defense. They may not get the reassurance they are looking for. He has suggested NATO is no longer fit for purpose. In an interview with the New York Times in July he refused to commit to automatic military protection for members that come under attack from enemy forces.

 NATO member and partner countries
Image: NATO

The alliance was built on the principle that an attack against one member is an attack against them all. Moments after Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the election, Donald Trump used his victory speech to deliver a message that in the foreign policy arena, “American interests will always come first.”


The first 100 days of the Trump presidency is likely to see a systematic unpicking of Barack Obama’s legacy. Repealing Obamacare would strike at the heart of that legacy.

U.S. President Barack Obama departs the White House in Washington on his way to Orlando, Florida to meet with families of victims of the shooting June 16, 2016.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX2GLGX
Image: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

In August, Donald Trump gave an interview to Fox News in which he said of Barack Obama, “I think he’s the worst president, maybe, in the history of our country.”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to give it its full name, aims to widen access to affordable healthcare provision to some of America’s poorest people. It is the policy Barack Obama is most proud of. Donald Trump plans to replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts.

Unity or Division?

Donald Trump's campaign was criticised for being divisive, but his victory speech was more statesmanlike. He said, “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I'm reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”

To the global audience he sent a message of reconciliation, saying:

“I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America's interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone, with everyone. We will seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.”

As the rancour of one of the hardest fought and most emotionally charged election campaigns in history recedes into memory, people all around the world are hoping that he will keep these promises.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX2SPX6
Image: REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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