First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Ten unanswered questions for Trump and his new administration
Two weeks have now passed in the Trump presidency, and we've learned quite a lot. It turns out that you need to take him both seriously and literally; he's more than willing to pick fights to shake up the status quo (see Iran or even Australia); his administration will dig in its heels even when it's wrong (like calling that U.S. raid in Yemen a "success" when the facts don't back it up); and the president is still using his Android phone to tweet. But there's a lot else we don't know about Trump and the policies his administration will pursue, and so here's a list of 10 questions we don't have answers to:
- Will he keep the sanctions against Russia or scrap them?
- How will he pay for his border wall, both in the short term and long term?
- When will there be an Obamacare replacement plan? And what will it look like?
- Will Trump follow through on his call to investigate voter fraud in the 2016 election?
- Will Trump's administration halt Barack Obama's DACA program, which gives qualified "Dream Act" kids the ability to stay and work in the country.
- Will he support large-scale efforts to reform entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security?
- Is he going to follow through on the promise to guarantee six weeks of paid leave and incentives to reduce child-care costs?
- Will he pursue his idea to impose term limits on Congress?
- Will he push to "open" up libel laws?
- And will he move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem?
Recapping Trump's first two weeks as president
Because so much has transpired over the last two weeks, we continue to believe the best way to keep track of all of it is via a timeline. So here are the major headlines of the first 14 days of the Trump presidency:
- Friday, Jan. 20: Trump takes the oath as the nation's 45th president.
- Saturday, Jan. 21: Speaking at the CIA, Trump mischaracterizes his past statements about the intelligence community, misstates the size of his inaugural crowd, and repeats his claim that the United States should have "kept" Iraq's oil.
- Sunday, Jan. 22: Appearing on "Meet the Press," White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says, "Our press secretary gave alternative facts"-- about the size of the inaugural crowd.
- Monday, Jan. 23: In a meeting with congressional leaders, Trump repeats claim that 3-5 million "illegals" voted in the election, but there is no credible evidence from experts to back up that assertion. Trump also meets with union leaders.
- Tuesday, Jan. 24: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responds to Trump's voter-fraud claim, "He believes what he believes."
- Wednesday, Jan. 25: Trump signs border-wall and sanctuary-city executive actions.
- Thursday, Jan. 26: Mexico's president cancels visit to meet with Trump.
- Friday, Jan. 27: Trump signs his immigration/travel ban.
- Sunday, Jan. 29: Trump-ordered military raid in Yemen results in the death of one SEAL Team 6 member and the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki. "Almost everything went wrong," a senior military official told NBC News.
- Monday, Jan. 30: Trump fires the acting U.S. attorney general who directed Justice lawyers not to defend Trump's travel ban.
- Tuesday, Jan. 31: Trump unveils his Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch.
- Wednesday, Feb. 1: Trump administration puts Iran "on notice," as the Washington Post reports on a testy call the president has with Australia's prime minister.
- Thursday, Feb. 2: The Trump White House announces that the expansion of Israeli settlements "may not be helpful in achieving" Middle East peace, and that it will continue to study the issue.
Can everyone else endure as much pain and chaos as Trump can?
Given all of that activity, as well as all of the controversies and conflicts, the Huffington Post's Sam Stein raises a good question: Can everyone else (the media, his opponents, Congress) endure as much pain and chaos as Trump can? "Trump believes that toughness ― or, better put, the ability to endure more pain and discomfort than the competition ― is what begets his success, his aides said. It is the best explanation they have for his kinetic, chaotic first days in office," Stein writes. Then again, it's not like the American public has actually embraced the last two weeks, with Gallup showing Trump's approval rating at 43%, while a new CBS poll has it at 40%.
On "Meet" this Sunday
For this Sunday's "Meet the Press," NBC's Chuck Todd will interview Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
What were other presidents doing on February 3?
- Barack Obama nominee Tom Daschle withdraws from consideration to be HHS Secretary amid tax woes, and another nominee - to be deputy OMB director - also drops out of contention for the job
- George W. Bush makes his first visit to Camp David as president
Bill Clinton argues that the "economic elite" will be first to pay higher taxes as he preps Americans for a tax hike
- Barbara Bush makes waves when she says military assault rifles should be outlawed
- Ronald Reagan gets his controversial Labor Secretary, Ray Donovan, confirmed after questions about his ties to organized crime