According to a Comey memo of a private conversation on February 14, 2017, Trump said he "hoped" Comey would drop the investigation into National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.In March and April, Trump had told Comey the ongoing suspicions formed a "cloud" impairing his presidency, and asked him to publicly state that he was not personally under investigation. He also asked intelligence chiefs Dan Coats and Michael Rogers to issue statements saying there was no evidence that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. Both refused, considering this an inappropriate request, although not illegal. Comey eventually testified on June 8 that, while he was director, the FBI investigations had not targeted Trump himself.
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.More Info
Trump has supported the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on December 6, 2017, despite criticism and warnings from world leaders. He subsequently opened a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in May 2018. The United Nations General Assembly condemned the move, adopting a resolution that "calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem". In March 2019, Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy by recognizing Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, a move condemned by the European Union and the Arab League.More Info
Trump's cabinet nominations included U.S. senator from Alabama Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, financier Steve Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury, retired Marine Corps general James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. Trump also brought on board politicians who had opposed him during the presidential campaign, such as neurosurgeon Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations.More Info
Trump has repeatedly praised Russian president Vladimir Putin; criticism of Putin by Trump was uncommon. As a presidential candidate, Trump continually reiterated that Putin is a strong leader. When Putin in August 2017 expelled over half of the staff of the American embassy in Russia in retaliation for Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which imposed new sanctions on Russia, President Trump responded by thanking Putin, saying "We'll save a lot of money," instead of criticizing him. After Trump met Putin at the Helsinki Summit on July 16, 2018, Trump drew bipartisan criticism for siding with Putin's denial of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, rather than accepting the findings of the United States intelligence community.More Info
Two of Trump's 15 original cabinet members were gone within 15 months: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to resign in September 2017 due to excessive use of private charter jets and military aircraft, and Trump replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo in March 2018 over disagreements on foreign policy. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018 amidst multiple investigations into his conduct, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned five months later as he also faced multiple investigations.More Info
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