Donald Trump’s eighth week in office was characterized by various attempts at the “deconstruction of the administrative state,” in the words of his strategist Stephen Bannon. In practice, apparently, what that means is gutting programs that help the poor and the elderly, and agencies that perform scientific research, protect human health, fund the arts, provide housing assistance, and conduct diplomacy. It was a better week for the military and immigration control, which would get an infusion of cash under Trump’s new budget proposal.
Here is everything you need to know about what the Trump administration did this past week.
Released a very skinny skinny budget. In a budget blueprint released this week, the Trump administration proposed deep cuts to almost every federal agency, with the exception of the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs. Agencies and programs dealing with the environment, foreign aid, the arts, science, health, and cities, in particular, would be gutted, and some— including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—completely demolished. The budget even calls for axing Meals on Wheels, the food-delivery service for the elderly, because it isn’t “showing any results,” according to budget director Mick Mulvaney.
Moved to loosen fracking rules. In a court filing this week the Trump administration revealed its intention to rescind a Bureau of Land Management rule meant to protect groundwater. The Obama-era rule requires more disclosure of the chemicals drilling operators use on federal lands, and sets higher standards for waste disposal.
Delayed chemical-safety regulations. At the request of the chemical industry, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt put a hold on rules intended to protect communities and workers from chemical-related accidents. The EPA issued the regulation after a fertilizer storage plant in West, Texas, exploded in 2013, killing 15 and leaving hundreds of others injured.
Fired 46 US Attorneys nationwide. Late last Friday, the Department of Justice sent a letter to 46 US Attorneys asking them to resign. Generally speaking, replacing US Attorneys is common in a new administration. But in the past, presidents gave the attorneys more time to transition out of the job, unlike Trump’s chaotic process—which came just on the heels of Fox News host and unofficial Trump adviser Sean Hannity’s urging the administration to clear out Obama holdovers in the federal government. Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, refused to resign, and was fired. Notably, Bharara had an open case against Fox News. News broke late Friday that Bharara had also been investigating HHS Secretary Tom Price.
Made a formal apology to United Kingdom over wild spying claims. Until Thursday, Donald Trump had a monopoly on making wild claims about wiretapping of the Trump campaign last year. But Press Secretary Sean Spicer speculated that the UK’s spy agency, the GCHQ, might have tapped Trump Tower, citing a conservative media report. The spy agency issued a rare statement calling Spicer’s allegation “nonsense, utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.” Spicer later apologized.
Put military action against North Korea on the table. On a trip to South Korea, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program had ended, and that military action was an “option.” It’s hard to get more information on Tillerson’s trip because in an extraordinary move, he did not bring a press pool—just one reporter from a conservative outlet, who as of this writing has not filed any reports nor even tweeted about the trip.