Donald Trump’s reign begins with Obamacare rollback

45th president of the United States vows to ‘put only America first’

Highlights from Donald J. Trump's inauguration.


Donald Trump has begun his presidency with a series of seismic policy interventions, starting the repeal of Barack Obama’s healthcare policies.

He has also initiated a new US missile defence system and ushered in a new period of American protectionism.

The 45th president of the United States, who was sworn into office on Friday, began his four-year term of office with a series of executive orders that will set the tone for his government. It was, he said, a government that would “put only America first”.

Before attending a series of inaugural balls around Washington DC, the Republican sat down to sign an executive order aimed at undermining Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, known as Obamacare.

The order notes that Mr Trump plans to seek the “prompt repeal” of the law. In the meantime, it allows the Health and Human Services Department and other federal agencies to delay implementing any piece of the law that might impose any economic cost.

Using similar orders, the new president also signed into law a new national day of patriotism and signalled plans to build a new missile defence system to protect against perceived threats from Iran and North Korea.

The Trump White House stripped the official website of all mention of Mr Obama’s key policy agendas, including climate change and LGBT rights along with the civil rights history section.

The various subsections of the White House website were replaced with just six; energy, foreign policy, jobs and growth, military, law enforcement and trade deals.

Nationalistic vision

In his inaugural speech, Mr Trump put forward a nationalistic vision for the country. “The American carnage stops right here, right now,” he said. “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first. America first.”

Interactive: compare the crowds

Use slider to compare photographs of crowds at Obama and Trump inaugurations and the Women's March in Washington

Obama inauguration in 2009 and Trump in 2017. The photographs were taken as the ceremonies began. Photographs: Reuters
Trump inauguration (L), taken as ceremony began at 12.09pm on Friday, and the Women's March at noon on Saturday, one hour before the official start. Photographs: National Park Service EarthCam

He later said: “We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American.” This caused some British politicians to wonder what kind of trade deal the UK can realistically expect.

But in an interview with the Financial Times, British prime minister Theresa May said: “I’m confident we can look at areas even in advance of being able to sign a formal trade deal. Perhaps we could look at barriers to trade at the moment and remove some of those barriers to open up that new trading relationship.”

Putin congratulations

Although not expected to make her first official visit to the US until the spring, the prime minister is reportedly set to fly out to meet Mr Trump next week, which would make her the first foreign leader to hold talks with the new US president.

Mr Trump will have to wait a bit longer to meet Vladimir Putin. The Russian president was ready to meet Mr Trump, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Tass news agency, but preparations for the possible meeting may take months, not weeks.

“This will not be in coming weeks. Let’s hope for the best - that the meeting will happen in the coming months,” Mr Peskov told the BBC, according to Tass.

He said Mr Putin would call Mr Trump in the coming days to congratulate him on taking office. He also told Tass that it was impossible to resolve Syria crisis in a constructive way without US involvement.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of women are expected to march on Washington in a protest that looks set to comfortably outsize Mr Trump’s inaugural crowd. Millions of others will follow suit in cities across the US and across the world, including Ireland. Marches in Australia and New Zealand have already taken place.

Shortly after taking office, Trump sent his cabinet nominations to the Senate. He signed a waiver to allow the retired General James Mattis to serve as defence secretary, even though he left the military less than the required seven years ago.

Mr Mattis, whose appointment has been approved by the Senate, was later sworn in by the vice-president, Mike Pence. Mr Pence also swore in John Kelly as head of homeland security.

National day of patriotism

In a separate step on Friday, the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, issued a memo directing an immediate “regulatory freeze” to prevent federal agencies from issuing any new regulations.

This echoed Mr Trump’s pledge to repeal two existing regulations for new government regulation imposed by his administration. Mr Trump also signed a proclamation declaring a national day of patriotism.

At his inauguration balls, Mr Trump brought his signature style to the task of governing, sprinkling his comments at three inaugural balls with references to “phony polls”, campaign victories and social media.

“Let me ask you: should I keep the Twitter going?” he asked a cheering crowd of supporters before dancing with his wife, Melania, to My Way at the second of three inaugural balls. “The enemies keep saying: ‘Oh that’s terrible,’ but it’s a way of bypassing dishonest media.’”

Asked about his first day, Trump said: “It was busy but good - a beautiful day.’’

Mr Trump is expected to visit the CIA on Saturday, meeting members of the nation’s intelligence community. The visit may be fraught with tension.

Mr Trump has sharply criticised the nation’s top intelligence officials for their assertions about Russian hacking and leaks about his briefings in the weeks before he was sworn in.

Guardian Service