President Donald Trump has announced plans to completely defund all forms of man-made climate change research, just hours after being sworn into office.
On Trump’s first evening at the White House, the President began the process of dismantling the climate change action plan set-up by former President Barack Obama.
Before leaving for a set of inaugural balls that capped his festive day, Trump also signed two executive orders confirming the appointments of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly; new Vice President Mike Pence later swore in both Cabinet members.
“Thank you, it’s a great day,” Trump said after the signings in the Oval Office, flanked by Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
In addition, Priebus issued a government-wide “regulatory freeze,” Spicer said, as Trump seeks to lift or change a series of federal rules in the weeks ahead.
Earlier in the day, as the president delivered his inaugural address Friday, Trump’s staff posted a variety of proposals ranging from an “American First Foreign Policy” to killing President Obama’s climate action plan — plans largely echoing his campaign website.
“For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule,” reads the top issue brief on the new president’s White House website. “New executive actions are expected later Friday as the nation’s 45th president begins his administration.”
The new administration’s first executive action, earlier in the day, involved canceling Obama-backed cuts in mortgage premiums.
The last executive order of the first day “directs the departments and the agencies to ease the burden of Obamacare as we transition to repeal and replace,” Spicer said. He did not provide details.
Trump also issued his first formal statement as president, thanking the Senate for confirming Mattis and Kelly, and added: “I call on members of the Senate to fulfill their constitutional obligation and swiftly confirm the remainder of my highly qualified cabinet nominees, so that we can get to work on behalf of the American people without further delay.”
After the inauguration ceremony, Trump went inside the U.S. Capitol, chatted with lawmakers and signed documents that included formal nominations of Cabinet members and a waiver that allows recently retired Marine general James Mattis to become secretary of Defense. The new president also signed a proclamation declaring a “national day of patriotism,” said spokesman Sean Spicer.
Shortly after Trump took the oath of office, the government switched over the White House website from Obama’s to Trump’s. (Obama’s is now frozen in time, archived by the National Archives and Records Administration under the Presidential Records Act.)
Trump also resumed tweeting within an hour of his swearing-in.
“We will bring back our jobs,” he said during a post-inaugural tweet storm. “We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth — and we will bring back our dreams!”
While the top issues on the Obama website were “Civil Rights,” “Climate Change,” “Economy” and “Education,” Trump’s site features different issues with more Trump-themed names: “America First Energy Plan,” “America First Foreign Policy,” “Bringing Back Jobs and Growth” and “Making Our Military Strong Again.”
Trump made no specific policy proposals during his inaugural address. So in the absence of any other kind of direction, something as basic as the content of a website became an important signal to interest groups about what issues would take priority in the Trump administration.
Various organizations expressed concern that, in wiping the Obama White House website nearly clean, the Trump team eliminated sections devoted to such issues as climate change, gay rights, and civil rights in general.
“The Department of Labor’s crucial report on worker rights has also disappeared,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “If President Trump truly believes in uniting the country, now is the time to make clear whether he will be an ally to the LGBTQ community in our struggle for full equality.”
Civil rights groups also criticized an opening move of the Department of Justice.
Within hours of Trump’s inauguration, the Department of Justice asked a federal district court in Texas to delay a hearing scheduled for next Tuesday on whether the state’s voter ID law was enacted with a discriminatory purpose.
Civil rights groups opposed to the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions as Trump’s attorney general have warned that the new administration could reverse President Obama’s on key voting rights issues, and viewed the 30-day delay request as an early example.
“Only hours after inauguration and we are already seeing signs that this new administration intends to delay important litigation or shift its position in critical cases,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This is not a good sign of things to come.”
Policy proposals on Trump’s revamped website ranged from increased cyber warfare capabilities to changing the terms of trade deals with other nations, issues the New York businessman discussed on the campaign trail.
Also notable: There are pages on the website for the release of White House visitor’s logs, ethics pledge waivers, financial disclosures and staff salaries, suggesting that some Obama-era transparency initiatives may remain in place.
And the White House “We the People” petition site also apparently survived the transition.
The new president has already taped another White House duty, the Saturday morning radio address to be broadcast tomorrow morning.
After an inaugural address saying that “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Trump had lunch with members of Congress and led the inaugural parade to his new home at the White House.
Throughout the day, Trump staff members began trickling into the West Wing, looking for their offices and trying to figure out how the phones and computers work. They included aides who bolstered Trump’s remarkable run to the presidency: Advisers Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, and Kellyanne Conway, as well as Spicer, the new White House press secretary.
The front page of the Trump-style White House website echoes his presidential campaign by proclaiming, “Let’s Make America Great Again, Together!” It also quotes his inaugural address: “The Movement Continues — The Work Begins.”