Week two of the Trump administration was dominated by fallout from last Friday’s ban on refugees and on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. The White House tried to downplay its impact: Press Secretary Sean Spicer claimed Monday that only 109 people were “slowed down” by the order. But Friday, a lawyer from the Department of Justice admitted in court that more than 100,000 people lost their visas.
The Trump administration made a number of other moves this week, from key appointments to the firing of the acting head of the DOJ. We’re tracking the most significant, concrete actions here, in our weekly recap.
Resurrecting torture-friendly officials at the CIA. Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick for second-in-command at the CIA, oversaw the torture of two detainees at a detention site in Thailand in the early years of the George W. Bush administration. One of the men was waterboarded more than 80 times in a single month, confined for hours in a small box, and slammed into walls. Later, Haspel helped to destroy video recordings of the torture sessions. Haspel’s appointment does not require Senate confirmation.
Putting a hard-right-winger on the Supreme Court. On Tuesday night, Trump unveiled his pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch, whom Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley described as “an extreme right-wing jurist who has ruled dozens of times for the powerful and against the less fortunate.” But his record is somewhat beside the point: As Ari Berman writes, that seat on the high court belongs to Merrick Garland. “It was unprecedented and outrageous that a judge as qualified and mainstream as Garland didn’t even get a hearing,” writes Berman. “And it’s more than a little ironic that a president who won 5 million more votes than his opponent in 2012 couldn’t make the selection but one who got 2.9 million fewer votes than his opponent can.”
The beginnings of a massive deregulatory push. Trump followed up on a campaign promise to cut regulations, signing an executive order that directs federal agencies that want to implement a new regulation to repeal two others in exchange. David Dayen writes that the order is mainly a gimmick, and he doubts it will actually lead to the withdrawal of a single rule, but is a clear message that a broad deregulatory push is coming.