The month of July saw significant movement on Pres. Donald J. Trump’s agenda, notable successes and a significant shakeup within the administration. The anticipated change from White House press secretary from Sean Spicer to Sarah Huckabee-Sanders transpired. The administration disclosed Spicer would move into an expanded West Wing, off-camera role. However, the hiring of Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci as chief communications director prompted Spicer’s resignation. Even the stock market realized significant changes.
Following heated words in the media by Scaramucci, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus also resigned. Retired general and of Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has been sworn in as Priebus’ replacement. Beyond the internal changes with the Trump Administration, July saw several touchstone achievements, challenges and setbacks of the president’s agenda.
GDP Growth: On Friday, July 28, statistics on the second quarter’s gross domestic product were released that buttressed Pres. Trump’s economic rollout. The country enjoyed a 2.6 percent increase from April through June. From 2014-2016, that figure only increased from 2.1 to 2.6.
Jobs: Unemployment hit a 16-year low of 4.4 percent at the end of June and joblessness is expected to decrease further. The Trump Administration saw the best total jobs report in more than a decade as the economy also gained approximately 222,000 new positions.
Consumer Confidence Index: The index saw a March high of 124.9. It slumped, but saw a rebound that reached 121.1 by mid-July. The index has been steadily climbing since mid-June.
Stock Markets: The DOW Jones Industrial Average continues to hit new records. The index crossed the 21,900 mark in late July and has increased by more than 4,000 points since the November election. The S&P 500 also hit new peaks during July, closing out the month above 2,470, a gain of nearly 400 points since Pres. Trump was elected.
Trade Deficit Shrinks: Recent data about the U.S. trade deficit showed a decrease of $2.5 billion from May to June. Exports rose to $128.6 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion.
New FBI Chief: Pres. Trump nominated Christopher Wray as FBI director. The 50-year-old Wray has worked as a white-collar defense attorney and has Justice Department experience dating back to the Pres. George W. Bush administration. Most notably, he represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the “Bridgegate” controversy.
Medal of Honor: The White House announced the president will award the medal of Honor to Vietnam War hero James McCloughan. Serving as a private, the Michigan resident volunteered nine times to enter kill zones during the Battle of Hui Yon Hill and rescue injured comrades. He was wounded by an enemy grenade. This will mark Pres. Trump’s first Medal of Honor award.
Border Wall Money: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill that allots $1.6 billion to continue the creation of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. The measure has been a top priority for Pres. Trump. Nearly 700 miles of wall/fencing is currently in place.
Month of Challenges
Chicago Violence: Following through on a campaign promise, Pres. Trump sent federal assistance to Chicago in an effort to curb gun-related violence. During the Fourth of July weekend, more than 100 people were shot and 14 killed in Chicago. Pres. Trump deployed an additional 20 ATF agents to the embattled city.
ObamaCare Vote: The failure of GOP senators to repeal and replace ObamaCare saw a pair of defeats in July. The last vote, 51-49 against a “skinny repeal” prompted Pres. Trump to call for senators to forego the annual August recess. The repeal of ObamaCare is linked to the administration’s broader tax-reform agenda and a key campaign promise.
Trans Ban: Pres. Trump announced a ban on transgender Americans serving in the military. The move was reportedly based on cost and military readiness. Currently, there are transgender service members in the military.
President Trump did promise to shake things up when he got in office. He has certainly done that and it seems to have had an impact on everything from the White House staff to the stock market.