The Trump administration has been characterized by high turnover, particularly among White House staff. By the end of Trump's first year in office, 34 percent of his original staff had resigned, been fired, or been reassigned. As of early July 2018, 61 percent of Trump's senior aides had left and 141 staffers had left in the past year. Both figures set a record for recent presidents – more change in the first 13 months than his four immediate predecessors saw in their first two years. Notable early departures included National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (after just 25 days in office), Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, replaced by retired Marine general John F. Kelly on July 28, 2017, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Close personal aides to Trump such as Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, John McEntee and Keith Schiller, have quit or been forced out. Some, like Hicks and McEntee, later returned to the White House in different posts. Trump has disparaged several of his former top officials as incompetent, stupid, or crazy.
In December 2018, Trump declared "we have won against ISIS," and ordered the withdrawal of all troops from Syria, contradicting Department of Defense assessments. Mattis resigned the next day over disagreements in foreign policy, calling this decision an abandonment of Kurd allies who had played a key role in fighting ISIS. One week after his announcement, Trump said he would not approve any extension of the American deployment in Syria. On January 6, 2019, national security advisor John Bolton announced America would remain in Syria until ISIS is eradicated and Turkey guarantees it will not strike America's Kurdish allies.More Info
Following Iran's missile tests on January 29, 2017, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 25 Iranian individuals and entities in February 2017. Trump reportedly lobbied "dozens" of European officials against doing business with Iran during the May 2017 Brussels summit; this likely violated the terms of the JCPOA, under which the U.S. may not pursue "any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran". The Trump administration certified in July 2017 that Iran had upheld its end of the agreement. On August 2, 2017, Trump signed into law the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that grouped together sanctions against Iran, Russia, and North Korea. On May 18, 2018, Trump announced the United States' unilateral departure from the JCPOA.More Info
On January 2, 2020, Trump ordered a targeted U.S. airstrike, which killed Iranian Major General and IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, as well as eight other people. Trump publicly threatened to attack Iranian cultural sites, or react "in a disproportionate manner" if Iran retaliated; though such attacks by the U.S. would violate international law as war crimes. On January 8, Iran retaliated by launching airstrikes on Al Asad Air Base in Iraq; initially the Trump administration claimed no Americans suffered injuries, then Trump said injuries were not "very serious", but by February 2020, more than a hundred traumatic brain injuries were diagnosed in U.S. troops. Iran issues an arrest warrant for 36 U.S. political and military officials, including President Trump, for their role in the assassination of Qasem Soleimani.More Info
In August 2017, Trump pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was awaiting sentencing for contempt of court in a class action that alleged racial profiling. In March 2018, he pardoned former Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, who had been found guilty of taking classified photographs of a submarine. In April 2018 he pardoned Scooter Libby, a political aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby had been convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements to the FBI. In May 2018 he granted a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, a black boxer who had been convicted in 1913 for traveling across state lines with his white girlfriend. In June 2018 he pardoned conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza, who had made illegal political campaign contributions. That month he also commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a non-violent drug trafficking offender, following a request by celebrity Kim Kardashian. In February 2020, Trump pardoned white-collar criminals Michael Milken, Bernard Kerik, and Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., and commuted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's 14-year corruption sentence.More Info
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