Donald Trump’s Day 1 To-Do List

On the morning of Jan. 21, 2017, his first full day in office, President Donald J. Trump will take a minute to settle behind the 19th-century Resolute desk, first used in the Oval Office by John F. Kennedy.

Then he will get very busy — if he follows through on his campaign promises for what he will do on his first day in office.

On Day 1, Mr. Trump has promised, he will redirect immigration enforcement, alter trade relations with China and other nations, relax restrictions on energy production, impose new rules on lobbyists, halt efforts to combat global warming, lift curbs on guns, push for congressional term limits and demand a new strategy for defeating the Islamic State. He may face some legal and procedural hurdles, but most of his Day 1 pledges involve issuing presidential directives, executive orders or memorandums that do not need legislative approval.

Although Mr. Trump and his top advisers have appeared to moderate some of his broader campaign pledges — they have suggested he might keep parts of the Affordable Care Act, delay building a wall along the border with Mexico and not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s emails — Mr. Trump has said nothing to indicate that he will not make good on his explicit Day 1 promises, many of which he delivered in his “Contract With the American Voter” during a speech in late October in Gettysburg, Pa.

Moving quickly is, after all, a modern presidential tradition. On his first day in office, President Obama imposed lobbying rules, closed secret interrogation facilities, banned torture and ordered the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed (an order that Congress has blocked to this day). Bowing to conservatives, on his first day, President George W. Bush ended funding of overseas clinics that provided abortion services.

Here is what Mr. Trump has said he will do:


Nowhere has Mr. Trump been more specific than in his desire to deal with immigration on his first day. During a campaign rally on Aug. 31 in Phoenix, he told the crowd that he would instruct his administration to begin deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records immediately.


An undocumented immigrant boarding an Immigration and Customs Enforcement jet in Mesa, Ariz., before being deported, Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

“We will begin moving them out, Day 1,” he said. “My first hour in office, those people are gone.”

In fact, immigration enforcement agents at the Department of Homeland Security are already under a mandate from Mr. Obama to deport criminals. The executive actions the president took in late 2014 order officials to focus on deporting “national security threats, convicted felons, gang members and illegal entrants apprehended at the border.”

But Mr. Trump does have wide latitude to direct an even more aggressive deportation effort, and he appears determined to do so quickly. He has said he will immediately end Mr. Obama’s program that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children. But it is unclear whether Mr. Trump will seek to quickly deport the 700,000 or so people who signed up for the program, or merely refuse to accept new applicants.

He has said he also plans on Day 1 to suspend immigration from “terror-prone” countries, and to impose “extreme vetting” on others. And he has said he will immediately inform sanctuary cities — about two dozen American cities where officials have pledged not to prosecute people solely for being undocumented — that they will lose federal funding.

Economy and Trade

Much of Mr. Trump’s campaign was built on a promise to help struggling American workers who are frustrated by the loss of jobs, especially in the heartland.


A brokerage house in Shanghai day after the election, President-elect Trump promised to tell his Treasury secretary to label china a currency manipulator, Photo: Aly Song/Reuters

The president-elect has said he intends to take several actions to pursue those policies on his first day, including announcing his intention to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and to stop pursuing adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Both actions are well within Mr. Trump’s powers as president.

He has promised to pick up the phone and order his Treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator, and to tell his commerce secretary to begin identifying foreign trade abuses.

He has also said he will call chief executives of major companies who have announced plans to move jobs overseas to warn them that he will impose 35 percent tariffs if they proceed. That promise may be difficult to keep: Tariffs require congressional approval, and the Constitution bans the imposition of taxes or tariffs specifically aimed at a single company.

The Environment

The president-elect has taken direct aim at Mr. Obama’s actions on the environment and climate.


Gascoyne, N.D., where pipes for the planned Keystone XL pipeline were stored in 2014. President Obama rejected construction of the pipeline, but President-elect Trump has said he will approve it, Photo: Andrew Cullen/Reuters

Mr. Trump has said that on his first day in office, he will lift Obama-era rules that restrict where oil drilling and other energy production are done, although Mr. Trump may find it harder to change those plans than he thinks. In July, for example, Mr. Obama’s administration issued regulations making it harder to drill for oil in the Arctic by requiring extensive plans for containing spills. Undoing final regulations like the Arctic drilling rules would require a long legal process.

It may be easier to reconsider Mr. Obama’s ruling against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring petroleum from Canada’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries. Mr. Trump has said he will indicate on his first day his desire to approve the pipeline. And he has promised to call United Nations officials the same day to inform them he is canceling United States’ financial commitments to United Nations climate change programs.

Other Day 1 Promises

At some point that day, Mr. Trump has said, he will convene a meeting of senior Pentagon officials to discuss the threat posed by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. “I am also going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction: They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for defeating ISIS,” as the Islamic State is also known, Mr. Trump said in Greenville, N.C., during the campaign.

The president-elect has also promised to act to get rid of gun-free zones around schools and other facilities, a nod to Second Amendment supporters. “My first day, it gets signed, O.K.?” he said at a January rally. “My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.”

But that may be a tough promise to keep. Gun-free zones are a result of a 1990 law proposed by Joseph R. Biden Jr., then a senator, and ending them would require legislation that Congress is unlikely to pass on Mr. Trump’s first day in office.

It will be easier to make good on his promises to attack corruption in Washington. He has said he will propose term limits for members of Congress, impose restrictions on the creation of new regulations, and limit the lobbying activities of White House and congressional officials after they leave office.

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Photo:John Taggart/Bloomberg

Obama to Trump: Time to get serious

Get serious or get played, President Barack Obama told President-elect Donald Trump here Thursday  warning his successor that he’ll lose elections and people will die if he doesn’t shape up.

As impressive as the campaign he ran was, that won’t translate to governing, Obama said he told Trump in their long private post-election Oval Office meeting last week.

He insisted that Trump had agreed, though that’s not something Trump has told the public. On the contrary, he’s said he doesn’t think his rhetoric went too far, telling The Wall Street Journal last week, “I won.”

Obama’s not the only skeptic. The outgoing president’s last European stop on his last foreign trip was to see German Chancellor Angela Merkel, his closest international partner. Among the things the current U.S.-German alliance agrees on is not being overly impressed with the man who’ll be president in five weeks.

Obama said he told Trump in their private meeting that “what may work in generating enthusiasm or passion during elections may be different in terms of what will work in terms of unifying the country and gaining the trust of even those who don’t support him.”

“I think the president-elect is going to see fairly quickly that the demands and responsibilities of a U.S. president are not ones that you can treat casually,” Obama said.

Then a warning shot: “If you’re not serious about the job, then you probably won’t be there very long, because it will expose problems.”

Merkel, who’ll have to work with Trump at least through her own elections next fall, took a softer approach. But her affection and admiration for Obama were apparent, as was her skepticism about what’s coming — “I am absolutely certain that one day we will come back to what we achieved and build on it,” she said to the president in her opening remarks, while pledging to work with the incoming administration.

“There are a lot of people who are looking for simplistic solutions, who are preaching unfriendly policies,” she warned at one point, while acknowledging, “We have to find new ways of addressing people.”

That mirrored a thought Obama had just voiced. “It’s easier to make negative attacks and simplistic slogans than it is to communicate complex policies — but we’ll figure it out,” he said.

Obama said he’s “cautiously optimistic” Trump will learn that there will be a “shift from campaign mode to governance [because] there’s something about the solemn responsibilities of that office.” But he’s clearly far from confident.

And, Obama argued, a lot more than just politics is at stake, when going up against someone like Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose praise Trump said on the campaign trail he appreciated and whose Kremlin gave an account of a very cozy congratulatory conversation that the president-elect’s transition team made no effort to dispute.

“I don’t expect that the president-elect will follow exactly our blueprint or our approach, but my hope is that he does not simply take a realpolitik approach and suggest that, you know, if we just cut some deals with Russia, even if it hurts people or even if it violates international norms, or even if it leaves smaller countries vulnerable or creates long-term problems in regions like Syria, that we just do whatever is convenient at the time,” Obama said. “And that will be something that I think we’ll learn more about as the president-elect puts his team together.”

This trip was conceived under very different circumstances and an assumption that Hillary Clinton — whom Merkel had expressed hope that she’d get to work with — would be the president-elect. It was to be a nostalgic farewell to Merkel that might even have included a stop at the site where Obama gave his 2008 speech here to more than 100,000 Germans at the height of his campaign, and of the promise he held for many Americans and Europeans about movement to a new era.

After years of tension with the George W. Bush administration over the Iraq War, Germans were early believers in Obama and his message of hope and change.

Instead, Obama’s had to spend his farewell tour, first in Greece and now here, explaining to the world what happened back home. He’s been arguing, without any public affirmation from Trump, that the president-elect isn’t sticking to any of his rhetoric about NATO or rethinking other international partnerships.

And Obama’s been pushing back on the idea presented to him on Thursday by a German reporter: that Trump represents his failing as a president and world leader.

Merkel and Obama didn’t hit it off immediately. Their early encounters were awkward, the conversation stilted. To Merkel and her entourage, Obama seemed cool and uninterested in Europe. He and his aides made no secret of their conviction that the U.S. needed to devote more attention to Asia and less to Europe.

A confluence of international crises, including the civil war in Syria and Russia’s incursion into Ukraine forced a change in Washington’s calculus. And then the crisis in relations over the spying, including the tapping of Merkel’s cellphone, revealed by some of the documents released by Edward Snowden, led Obama to commit to rebuilding trust, including in giving her the lead in negotiations with Moscow and the European Union over the invasion of Crimea and subsequent joint sanctions.

For many in Berlin, Obama’s description of Merkel as his “closest international partner” this week hit home just how important the relationship had become for both sides.

The German public has also rediscovered its affection for Obama. According to a poll by one German daily, Obama is now as popular in Germany as John F. Kennedy, whose “Berliner” speech in June 1963 — though it sounded to Germans like he was saying, “I am a jelly donut” — won him icon status in the country. The German media Thursday was full of nostalgic, even wistful reports on Obama’s tenure.

That’s because for Germany, Obama’s farewell also offered a reminder what many fear will be turbulent times ahead.

On central questions of international policy, whether global warming, free trade or Russia, Berlin worries it could find itself in conflict with a President Trump.

Meanwhile, Merkel’s got to deal with negotiating the Brexit, along with the rise of nationalism in other European countries and in her own elections, coming up in less than a year.

Pressed to formally declare her candidacy on Thursday, Merkel deflected.

Obama wasn’t nearly as shy when asked whether he’d endorse her, though the lessons of the 2016 election, and his all-out campaign for Clinton, were obviously on his mind.

“If I were here, and I were German, I had a vote, I might support her,” Obama said. “I don’t know whether that hurts or helps.”

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