Trumped! 12 times the president knocked big news off the front page

Trump's domination of the news cycle overshadowed a lot of significant news in 2018. Here are some of the other stories you might have missed.
Jim Young / Reuters file

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By Alex Johnson

President Donald Trump is a walking, talking breaking-news machine. At any moment, a new disclosure, tweet or tirade can hijack the nation's daily agenda.

Here are 12 times this year that news about the president overshadowed other notable stories, compiled from some of the most widely read Trump-related articles on in 2018:

'I just eat what I want to eat'

May 7

What happened in Trump world:

The adult film star Stormy Daniels sued Trump, saying he never signed a nondisclosure agreement about their alleged affair that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, had arranged with her.

What else happened that day:

Russian President Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for a fourth six-year term running the Kremlin (he has been either president or prime minister since New Year's Eve 1999), declaring that Russia's security and defense had been ensured, thereby freeing him to focus on domestic challenges.

Meanwhile, if the menu at your favorite fast-food restaurant seems longer and more detailed, it's because labeling rules almost eight years in the making went into effect requiring restaurants to post the calorie counts of their offerings. Now fans of the Cheesecake Factory could tuck in to their lunch order of fish and chips knowing it packs 1,830 calories — almost three-quarters the entire daily recommendation for a grown man.

Like? What about love?

May 1

What happened:

May 1 was an especially busy day for the president:

Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump's New York physician, told NBC News that he felt "raped, frightened and sad" when three men showed up at his office unannounced in 2017 and left with all of the president's medical records. Bornstein said he wasn't given a form authorizing the release of the records, which would make the intrusion a violation of patient privacy laws.

Meanwhile, Stormy Daniels filed a defamation suit against Trump for a tweet in which the president said a forensic sketch of a man who allegedly threatened her in 2011 was "a total con job." The case was dismissed, but Daniels has appealed the ruling.

What else happened:

Insisting that this time your data will be protected — really, truly, they mean it — Facebook announced that it planned to launch a dating feature. Joey Levin, chief executive of the company that owns Match, Tinder and other rival dating apps, retorted: "Come on in. The water's warm. Their product could be great for US/Russia relationships." (Facebook Dating launched in Colombia in September.)

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg announced a dating feature at Facebook Inc.'s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, on May 1.Stephen Lam / Reuters

Love hurts

Aug. 28

What happened:

NBC News reported that Trump told evangelical Christian leaders at a closed-door meeting at the White House that he had gotten "rid of" a law preventing churches and charitable organizations from endorsing political candidates. He didn't; the law, in fact, remains on the books after Congress declined to repeal it last year.

What else happened:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data reporting that after years of having ebbed and flowed, sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, had spiked in the last five years, hitting a record in 2017. "We haven’t seen anything like this for two decades," said Dr. Gail Bolan, the CDC's head of STD prevention.


Are you ready for some (more) football?

March 20

What happened:

Results of a 2011 polygraph test indicated a probability of more than 99 percent that Stormy Daniels was telling the truth when she says she and Trump had unprotected sex in 2006, according to a copy of the report that NBC News obtained.

What else happened:

The middle of college bowl season may not be the best time to suggest that what America needs is more pro football. But on March 20, the reality TV producer Charlie Ebersol announced that that is what America is getting. The Alliance of American Football will kick off a 10-week schedule after the Super Bowl in February, Ebersol said. Others involved in the venture include Ebersol's father, the legendary NBC Sports and Olympics producer Dick Ebersol; the retired Pittsburgh Steelers stars Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu; the retired New York Giants star Justin Tuck; the retired Minnesota Vikings star Jared Allen; and Bill Polian, the Hall of Fame NFL general manager.

Charlie Ebersol, founder and chief executive of the Alliance of American Football, promotes the new league at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium in San Diego on May 31.Mike Blake / Reuters file

Disorder in the court

Sept. 10

What happened:

Omarosa Manigault Newman, who resigned as a White House aide last year, released a secret recording in which Trump can be heard discussing Hillary Clinton and the Russia investigation during a White House meeting about tax reform.

What else happened:

National Security Adviser John Bolton launched a breathtaking attack on the international justice system, calling the International Criminal Court, or ICC, an "illegitimate" institution that "unacceptably threatens American sovereignty and U.S. national security interests."

"We will not cooperate with the ICC," Bolton said in a speech, adding, "For all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us."


Aug. 22

What happened:

Trump — who singlehandedly made the phrase "took to Twitter" a cliché — took to Twitter to attack Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney, who had just pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations. "If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen!" Trump wrote.

What else happened:

The stock market became the longest-running bull market in American history on Aug. 22, the 3,453rd day since the S&P 500 hit its low on March 9, 2009. It rose by almost 325 percent in that time. The president also took to Twitter to celebrate that, to significantly less notice.

The Wall Street bull in New York's financial district.Brendan McDermid / Reuters file

The beginning of the end?

Sept. 11

What happened:

Trump marked the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by tweeting about the FBI, claims of collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia, and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

What else happened:

Members of the U.S.-backed coalition announced that they had begun the final offensive to eradicate ISIS from Syria, more than four years after ISIS declared a caliphate.

Syrian civilians flee reported regime air strikes in the rebel-held town of Jisreen in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, on Feb. 8.Abdulmonam Eassa / AFP - Getty Images file

'Curling? Really?'

Feb. 19

What happened:

Trump ended a seemingly stream-of-conscious series of 16 tweets on Feb. 18 by again denying that his campaign colluded with Russia. He also called Oprah Winfrey "biased," "slanted" and "insecure."

What else happened:

It might look like there's little strenuous about the ice sport of curling — contestants, after all, literally carry and use brooms — but the Court for Arbitration in Sport announced that Olympic bronze medalist Alexander Krushelnitsckii failed a preliminary drug test and was suspected of doping, an allegation more commonly associated with weightlifters, cyclists and field athletes. (Krushelnitsckii and his wife, Anastasia Bryzgalova, were stripped of their bronze in the mixed doubles four days later.)

Russian curler Alexander Krushelnitckii competes in a mixed-doubles match at the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, on Feb. 13.Cathal McNaughton / Reuters

On the road, finally

June 24

What happened:

Trump called for deporting migrants immediately and without trial. "Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order," he said on Twitter.

What else happened:

Saudi Arabia lifted its longstanding controversial ban on allowing women to drive, sending women drivers onto the kingdom's streets in droves. "I'm speechless. I'm so excited it's actually happening," said Hessah al-Ajaji, who for the first time drove her family's Lexus down a busy street in Riyadh, the capital.

A woman tests a car during a car show only for women in Riyadh on May 13, about a month before women were allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.EPA


Dec. 7

What happened:

In another vintage tweetstorm, Trump blasted the Russia investigation and promised to produce a "Counter Report to the Mueller Report." The president managed to squeeze mentions of special counsel Robert Mueller, "Leakin' Lyin' James Comey," the right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi and the Clinton Foundation into one particularly vitriolic tweet.

What else happened:

William Barr, who was attorney general during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, would return to the job 25 years later if the Senate confirms his planned nomination, which Trump revealed on Dec. 7.

Meanwhile, James Alex Fields Jr., 21, was convicted of murder in the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed when he plowed his car into a group of counterprotesters at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. He could be sentenced to as long as life in prison.

Tearing down borders

July 21

What happened:

Trump again claimed that he did nothing wrong after reports surfaced that Michael Cohen secretly recorded him shortly before the 2016 election talking about buying the rights to the story of the former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, who alleged that she had an affair with Trump. It's "inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal," the president tweeted.

What else happened:

After 20 years of war that killed tens of thousands of people, Ethiopia and Eritrea sealed their peace when Eritrea appointed its first ambassador to Ethiopia in two decades.

Relatives embrace after meeting at Asmara International Airport on July 18 after the first commercial flight from Ethiopia to Eritrea landed in Asmara in 20 years.Tiksa Negeri / Reuters file

You don't need to know that

Aug. 10

What happened:

In excerpts of her new book, "Unhinged," which NBC News obtained on Aug. 10, Omarosa Manigault Newman says Trump is a "racist" who used the N-word and tried to silence her with money and legal threats. "Using the N-word was not just the way he talks but, more disturbing, it was how he thought of me and African-Americans as a whole," she wrote.

What else happened:

The Education Department proposed to repeal rules that penalize for-profit colleges that leave graduates with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and no job prospects. The proposal, one of several Obama-era rules targeted by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, was promoted as a way to be fair to all types of colleges.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at a meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety in Washington on Aug. 16.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images file