President Donald Trump’s first month in office has been full of ridiculous stunts, from celebrity Twitter wars to contentious phone calls with world leaders. It’s safe to say we can expect the unexpected. Here’s what Donald Trump has been doing instead of learning how to be president.
He Screened Finding Dory at the White House
As thousands gathered to protest President Trump’s immigration ban outside the White House on Sunday, January 29th, Trump decided to host a screening at 3 p.m. to screen the Disney-Pixar animated feature Finding Dory inside the White House for staff and their families. Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer was quick to defend Trump, saying he did not attend the screening.
However, social media had a field day with the news, pointing out the irony of screening a movie about a family that travels an ocean in hopes of finding each other. Albert Brooks, who is the voice of Marlin in the film, tweeted, “Odd that Trump is watching Finding Dory today, a movie about reunited with family when he’s preventing it in real life.”
Ellen Responds to the Screening
Ellen DeGeneres starred in the animated film Finding Dory, and took the chance on her Monday show to point out the same irony in the White House screening. “I don’t get political so I’m not going to talk about the travel ban. I’m just going to talk about the very nonpolitical, family-friendly, People’s Choice Award–winning Finding Dory. Of course, Finding Dory is about a fish named Dory, and Dory lives in Australia […] Her parents […] live in America. I don’t know what religion they are, but her dad sounds a little Jewish—doesn’t matter. Dory arrives in America with her friends Marlin and Nemo, and she ends up at the Marine Life Institute behind a large wall. And they all have to get over the wall. And you won’t believe it, but that wall has almost no effect in keeping them out,” Ellen stated.
She continued, “Even though Dory gets into America, she ends up separated from her family. But the other animals help Dory—animals that don’t even need her, animals that don’t even have anything in common with her. They help her even though they’re completely different colors, because that’s what you do when you see someone in need. You help them.”
He Implied Frederick Douglass Was Still Alive
On February 1st, the first day of Black History Month, President Trump and press secretary Sean Spicer held a conference in which Trump didn’t seem to know exactly who the famous black abolitionist Frederick Douglass was, or that he is, in fact, dead.
“Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice,” said the president. It’s unclear whether President Trump just got sloppy with his verb tenses, or if he really wasn’t familiar with Douglass, who has been recognized as one of the most recognizable African-American abolitionists in American history for quite a while. Needless to say, the statement spawned hundreds of Twitter jokes at the president’s expense.
He Issued a Statement on the Holocaust Without Mentioning Jews
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the same day President Trump enacted a ban people from seven predominately Muslim countries, including Syria which is in the midst of a devastating civil war, from entering the country, he issued a statement that seemed a little incomplete. “It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, and heroes of the Holocaust,” Trump’s statement began.
While that may not seem like a bad start, critics were quick to point out that there was no mention in the rest of the speech of the six million Jewish people who died in the Holocaust, or the state-sponsored anti-Semitism that led to their internment and deaths. The White House said Jews had been omitted from the statement because other victims suffered and died in the Holocaust—which seemed to minimize the genocide of two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.
Response from the US Holocaust Museum
After President Trump’s statement, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. issued a statement that seemed to be in response to the White House’s statement, which made no mention of Jews or anti-Semitism. “The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. Nazi Ideology cast the world as a racial struggle, and the singular focus was the total destruction of every Jewish person was at its racist core,” the museum’s statement said.
“Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy.” The statement then quoted the late Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel: “Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.”
He Declared War on the American News Media
In a speech at the CIA Headquarters on January 21, 2017, President Trump ended his statement criticizing the “dishonest media.” “As you know,” Trump said, “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.”
Several journalists expressed their concern about the statement on social media. Mark Mazetti, a reporter with the New York Times, tweeted from the event, “The president just tried to rally CIA workforce around the idea that media is the enemy. Let that sink in.” Trump concluded his comments about the press by saying, “I love honesty. I like honest reporting.”
He Doubled Down on Fake News Claims on Twitter
On February 6, 2017, President Trump took to Twitter to blast recent polls suggesting he has one of the worst early approval ratings in American history, like the CNN/ORC International poll released Friday that put Trump’s approval rating at 44 percent.
“Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting,” the president wrote on Twitter. Critics have been quick to point out that President Trump often calls any reported stories he disagrees with or that portray him in a negative light “fake news,” despite substantial and vetted evidence to the contrary.
He Alienated One of Our Greatest Allies
On Saturday, transcripts of President Trump’s telephone conversations with leaders of Australia and Mexico were leaked. His combative call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia threatens to weaken the country’s seven-decade long alliance with the United States. The call became contentious after the Australian leader asked Trump to honor the agreement to accept 1,240 refugees into the United States.
After abruptly ending the call, President Trump once again took to Twitter to vent his frustration, writing, “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”
He Lied About His Inauguration Crowd Size
Donald Trump’s presidency got off to a strange start when he insisted the media lied about the size of his inaugural crowds. “I turn on of the networks, and they show an empty field,” Trump said at a January 21st speech to the CIA. “I’m like, wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people.”
“The rest of the 20-block area, all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed,” Trump claimed. Photographs of the event show the crowd thinning near the Washington Monument, and while the National Park Service no longer provides official inauguration crowd estimates, crowd scientists put the number of attendees between 250,000 to 600,000.
He Slammed Arnold Schwarzenegger on Twitter
Donald Trump took time out of his busy schedule as POTUS to slam Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new host of The Apprentice on Twitter. The feud started before Trump took office with Trump slamming Schwarzenegger’s ratings, comparing them to his own ratings.
He took to Twitter again on February 3rd to write, “Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger did a really bad job as Governor of California and even worse on the Apprentice…but at least he tried hard!” Arnold has been a vocal opponent of Trump and shot back at the president by simply linking to a 2006 article about how Schwarzenegger released his tax returns.
He Compared His Own Intelligence Agencies to Nazi Germany
In a series of tweets as PEOTUS, Donald Trump lashed out at reporting on allegations about his ties to Russia, and accused intelligence agencies of leaking the information. In one tweet on January 11th, he wrote, “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
He also defended his win by tweeting, “I win an election easily, a great ‘movement’ is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!” His comparison of the U.S. intelligence community to Nazi Germany was quickly rebuked by the Anti-Defamation League who called the comparison inappropriate, glib, and offensive.
He Knocked Meryl Streep on Twitter
After accepting a Golden Globe award for a lifetime of notable work, Meryl Streep used six minutes on stage to denounce Trump’s campaign rhetoric without once mentioning him by name. She also highlighted the importance of embracing outsiders and foreigners in American culture. “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts,” said Streep.
Streep also referenced an incident at a November 2015 rally when Trump imitated disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a condition that affects his joint movements. Trump was apparently also watching the Golden Globes, because he took to Twitter early on the morning of January 9th to knock Steep.
Trump’s Rant About Streep’s Speech
In an early morning Twitter rant on January 9th, Trump dissed Meryl Streep and her Golden Globes speech. “Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes,” he wrote. “She is a Hillary flunky who lost big.”
He went on to defend himself regarding the disabled reporter he insists he never mocked. “I never ‘mocked’ a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him ‘groveling’ when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!”
He Took Some Time Out of His Schedule to Endorse L.L.Bean
In what might be an unprecedented move for a president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump took to Twitter on January 12th to endorse the outdoor clothing and recreation equipment company L.L.Bean.
Linda Bean, the granddaughter of the company’s founder is a supporter of Donald Trump, and gave $60,000 to the Making American Great PAC. This move prompted an anti-Trump group Grab Your Wallet which boycotts retailers who support or carry Trump products to call for a boycott of L.L.Bean. Trump wrote, “Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean.”
He Threatened to Invade Chicago
Trump has a long-running feud with Rahm Emanuel, mayor of the sanctuary city Chicago, and Chicago has often been a city President Trump has pointed to when talking about urban crime. On January 24th, shortly after he took office, he tweeted about his unclear plan.
“If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” It’s unclear exactly what sending in the feds would look like, and Emanuel has stated in the past that he welcomed the idea of greater federal assistance to address crime in Chicago.
He Pretended to Write His Inaugural Address
On January 18th, Donald Trump posted a photo holding a sharpie and large pad of paper on Twitter with the caption, “Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday.”
Others on social media were quick to pull up photos of the desk during other times of the year, pointing out it usually seemed to be occupied by a receptionist or concierge, and was located in a public hall at Mar-a-Lago, not in a private office. The Wall Street Journal also later reported that a White House official said Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller penned President Trump’s inaugural address.
He’s Still Keeping His Tax Returns Private
Shortly after his inauguration, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told ABC’s “This Week” that President Trump had no intention of releasing his tax returns, going back on Trump’s previous assertion that he would release them once the Internal Revenue Service audit was complete. “The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns,” said Conway.
Trump was the first major party presidential nominee in more than 40 years to not release his tax returns, and will be the first president since the early 1970s to refuse to release a summary or a full or partial tax return.
He’s Using Twitter to Blast The New York Times
Trump has a longstanding feud with The New York Times. He insists the paper is “nasty” in their coverage of him. On February 6th, he took to Twitter to say, “The failing @nytimes writes total fiction concerning me. They have gotten it wrong for two years now and are making up stories & sources!”
Shortly after his election, Trump canceled a scheduled interview with New York Times reporters after complaining conditions of the meeting were changed before tweeting, “The meeting with @nytimes is back on at 12:30 today. Look forward to it!” on November 22nd.
He Tweeted About Fidel Castro’s Death
In one of his first tweets as PEOTUS, Donald Trump used a tone some thought wasn’t very presidential. Before issuing a longer statement condemning Fidel Castro as a “brutal dictator,” Trump issued a four-word statement on Twitter on November 26th that simply read, “Fidel Castro is dead!”
Trump came under scrutiny in September 2016 following allegations that he knowingly violated the U.S. embargo on Cuba in the 1990s when Trump was reportedly exploring whether to open a casino in Cuba. Trump vehemently denied those allegations.
He Compared Himself to Abraham Lincoln
In an interview with ABC, his first after taking office, Donald Trump told ABC News’ David Muir, “I don’t want to change too much. I can be the most presidential person ever, other than possible the great Abe Lincoln. But I may not be able to do the job nearly as well if I do that.”
Considering some of the unprecedented (or “unpresidented”) moves Donald Trump has made since his election, it’s unlikely the behavior of former United States presidents can tell us what to expect, and it also seems unlikely Trump is taking too many lessons from past presidents, including Abraham Lincoln.