IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Tracking President Trump's Flip-Flops

NBC News is tracking Trump's new policy pronouncements. Here are the issues that he's flip-flopped on.
Image: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump
President-elect Donald Trump arrives at the the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Nov. 19.MIKE SEGAR / Reuters

When it comes to James Comey, President Donald Trump has flipped and flopped and flipped yet again on the former FBI director.

Overall, Trump has taken 32 new stances on 13 different issues since his election. The president’s shifting agenda has established him as one of the most unpredictable American leaders in modern history.

Call it the post-platform era: The president-elect ran and won a campaign in which he took 141 policy positions on 23 issues over the course of 510 days. Trump defended this as being "flexible" and unpredictable, something he argued would make him a better leader.

Most recently, the abrupt firing of the director of the FBI was bungled when the president contradicted the White House's official explanation of the surprising decision.

In order to better understand the president, we've tracked Trump's new policy pronouncements and flip flops on big issues from Election Day forward.

FBI Director James Comey's Performance and Firing

Where Trump Stood During the Election

As a candidate, Trump's view on Comey's performance centered around whether opponent Hillary Clinton was under investigation at the time. When Comey wasn't recommending charges, Trump lashed out, saying the system was "rigged"; when Comey was investigating Clinton, Trump was far friendlier and expressed respect and support for the FBI for targeting his political adversary.

After the Election

1. 'I respect him'

Asked after the election if he'd want to keep Comey along, Trump demurred but noted that he respected the FBI head. "I respect him a lot. I respect the FBI a lot," he said on CBS News days after his victory. Two days after inauguration, he quipped at a reception that Comey had become "more famous than me."

2. FBI can't find the leakers

3. It's not too late to fire him, but 'I have confidence in him'

Weeks after Comey first confirmed the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, Trump again expressed confidence in the FBI director but teased that it might change.

"It's not too late [to ask Comey to step down], but, you know, I have confidence in him. We'll see what happens, you know, it's going to be interesting," Trump said.

4. Comey gave Clinton 'free pass'

Trump began lashing out at the former FBI director on May 2nd, alleging in a two-part tweet exchange that Comey gave Clinton a "free pass" and "was the best thing that ever happened" to her.

5. On May 9, Trump fired Comey

Comey was learning of his own dismissal while working at a Los Angeles FBI field office. White House Communications Director Sean Spicer said "accepted the recommendation of the attorney general and the deputy attorney general regarding the dismissal."

6. Would have fired him anyway

In an explosive NBC News exclusive, Trump said that he made the decision himself to fire Comey and would have done so regardless of any recommendations, while arguing that the FBI director had let Clinton off too easy and condemning the FBI investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Current position: Trump made the decision himself, despite Vice President Pence and Trump aides initially saying that it was a team effort and based on advice the president had received from top officials.

Health Care

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

Repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Opposed to cuts to Medicaid and Medicare. For the most part, he promised to cover everyone though his proposals did not.

After the Election

1. Some parts of Obamacare could stay

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal three days after the election, Trump indicated that he wanted to keep the protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, and the measure that allows parents to keep their children insured until age 26.

2. "Proud to endorse" a House bill that doesn't fully repeal Obamacare, cuts Medicaid and would cause millions to lose insurance

In March, Trump supported the health care bill House Republicans put together, even though it broke his own promises on health care. Republicans on the right mostly opposed the bill for not fully repealing Obamacare, while Democrats and moderate Republicans opposed it because it sharply cut Medicaid funding.

When it became clear it would not pass the Republican-controlled House, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill before it reached a vote.

Current position: While still maintaining that Obamacare must go, Trump was last heard supporting a health care bill that cut Medicaid and would kick millions off their health care, a partial reversal of his pre-election stance.

Immigration Reform, Enforcement

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

During the campaign, Trump promised to overhaul the immigration system, but he and his surrogates took a variety of positions on the issue. Trump at various times said there would or wouldn't be a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. He also vowed to deport the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants repeatedly throughout his bid, and while he shifted on the issue repeatedly, he never disavowed this initial plan.

After the Election

1. Start with the criminals, decide on the rest later

Making good on his campaign promises to start with criminal immigrants, Trump told "60 Minutes" that they'd start with immigrants before deciding on others.

"What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million,” he said in the interview, citing debunked math. “We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we're getting them out of our country, they're here illegally. After the border is secured and after everything gets normalized, we're going to make a determination on the people that you’re talking about who are terrific people.”

2. Open to compromise on reform, as well as a pathway to citizenship

In a White House event with television anchors, he signaled his openness to compromise and a pathway to citizenship.

“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” he told them, in remarks that were later reported by several outlets.

3. Deport undocumented immigrants, regardless of whether they've committed a crime

Despite his promise to focus on criminals, more than twice the number of immigrants without criminal records were arrested this year under Trump compared to the same time last year, according to data obtained by the Washington Post. One so-called DREAMer, a protected undocumented immigrant who was brought to the U.S. as a child, has also been deported.

Current position: Deport undocumented immigrants with or without criminal records, but potentially open to compromise on immigration reform.

Entitlement Programs

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

Trump promised repeatedly not to touch entitlements. "I'm not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid," he told The Daily Signal in May, in an article the Trump team put on their own website under the headline, "Why Donald Trump Won't Touch Your Entitlements."

After the Election

1. Reform Medicaid and Medicare

Trump's transition website has launched and now promises reforms to the program, including modernizing Medicare and offering "flexibility" to states administering Medicaid for "innovative" solutions. These are vague references at reform, but hint at the kind of reforms the rest of his party — and particularly House Speaker Paul Ryan — has long championed.

2. Cut Medicaid by 25 percent

The Trump-supported GOP healthcare bill cut Medicaid spending by $880 billion by 2026, a quarter less than its current spending. The CBO estimated that 14 million Medicaid patients would lose coverage in that time. The bill failed to reach a vote in the House, in part because some felt the cuts to Medicaid were too harsh.

Current position: "Reform" entitlements and cut Medicaid.

LGBTQ Rights

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

During the Republican primary, Trump said he supported “traditional” marriage and said he opposed the Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage and would consider appointing justices to the Supreme Court who would favor reversing the decision.

During the campaign, he also said he'd be comfortable with Caitlyn Jenner using whichever bathroom she preferred in Trump Tower, speaking out against the North Carolina bill that barred people from using public bathrooms that didn't correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate.

After the Election

1. “Fine” with marriage equality

Trump said days after his election in a 60 Minutes interview that he’s “fine” with gay marriage now that it’s been "settled" by the Supreme Court.

2. No need to count LGBTQ people in the Census

Questions counting LGBTQ people in the 2020 Census draft were quickly removed from an early draft. The Department of Commerce called the inclusion of LGBTQ Americans an "error," saying there was "no federal data need" to count LGBTQ Americans.

3. Reversing Obama-era protections of transgender students

Trump's administration reversed an Obama-era protection for transgender students that allowed them to use the bathroom that corresponded to their gender identity in public schools.

Current position: He's "fine" with gay marriage, but how his administration will approach other issues concerning LGBTQ Americans is unclear


Where Trump Stood Before the Election

Trump labeled the military alliance "obsolete" and said he might not honor the treaty if other member nations do not pay what he thought they should.

After the Election

1. Honor NATO, but other members must pay more

Trump affirmed his support for the organization in February, saying “we strongly support NATO."

“We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing. Many of them have not been even close,” he said.

2. NATO is "no longer obsolete"

“The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism,” Trump said April 12 at a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism.”

Trump’s claim that NATO changed its policies because of his complaints is not new, but it is false, according to PolitiFact.

Current position: NATO is no longer obsolete, and the United States will not withdraw from the longstanding alliance.

Intervention in Syria

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

As a candidate, Trump spoke out against intervening in foreign governments and America's conflicts in the Middle East. He publicly dismissed the views of his own vice presidential pick after Mike Pence supported a tougher stance on Syria's brutal government in his debate.

“Syria is fighting ISIS,” he said in October, noting that he and Pence "disagree" on the issue. Later that month, Trump told The Guardian that “what we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria.”

After the Election

1. Strike the Syrian regime

As a private citizen, Trump advocated strenuously that his predecessor not attack Syria. But after international onlookers determined that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime had once more used banned chemical weapons on its own citizens, Trump — reportedly influenced by daughter Ivanka —decided to act. The U.S. fired 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian air base determined to be involved in the attacks.

2. Assad's role is "uncertain"

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Syrian leader's future was "uncertain" less than a week after the administration said it acknowledged the "political reality" that Assad was in control of the nation.

Current position: Trump struck Syria for its use of chemical weapons. It's unclear yet whether this is an outlier based on the circumstances, or a significant shift in policy on Syria.

Special Interests in Government, "Drain the Swamp"

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

Trump promised ethics and lobbying reform in October, vowing to institute a five-year ban on executive branch officials taking lobbying roles after they leave government service, and encourage Congress to do the same. “It’s time to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C,” Trump said then, vowing to make government “honest once again.”

After the Election

1. Lobbyists can be part of the White House transition

On November 13, in his first televised post-election interview, Trump defended his decision to include a slew of lobbyists in his transition team by arguing that “everyone down there” is a lobbyist and that he’d “phase it out.”

2. Lobbyists can't be part of the transition

On November 15, Vice President-elect Mike Pence ordered a removal of all lobbyists from the transition. It's unclear if all the registered lobbyists, of which there are at least nine, have left their positions. On Nov. 17, the transition announced that candidates being vetted for high posts in the administration must prove that they are no longer a lobbyist.

3. Deregistered lobbyists are OK

Individuals who wished to work with the transition team were permitted to deregister as lobbyists before securing employment.

4. Staff the White House with ex-Goldman Sachs executives

Trump appointed three high-powered, wealthy alums of the investment bank — Steve Bannon, Gary Cohn, and Steve Mnuchin — to top positions within his White House, after decrying Wall Street and in particular Goldman's influence in politics throughout the campaign. It sent stock for the firm surging.

5. Make it easier for lobbyists to join the administration, make it harder for staffers to lobby after leaving the White House

As president, Trump signed an executive order mandating executive branch staffers to pledge to never lobby on behalf of foreign govern

ments, and refrain from lobbying domestically for five years after leaving the White House.

But he made it easier for lobbyists to work in his White House, weakening an Obama-era restriction that barred past lobbyists from working in the agencies they sought to change for two years.

6. Let some former lobbyists work on the issues they’d lobbied on

Trump added a restriction that former lobbyists joining his White House couldn’t work on specific matters they’d lobbied on, but ProPublica found at least three people working on the very issues they’d lobbied the past White House on, noting that the White House could have issued waivers to exempt these hires from the ethics rulings but the public would not know, because the White House had also stopped disclosing such waivers.

Current position: Replace the swamp.


Where Trump Stood Before the Election

During the campaign, Trump derided China as a currency manipulator, arguing that they are “raping our country” with their trade policy. He vowed to designate China a currency manipulator on day one in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, later making the same promise for the first 100 days in his Contract with the American Voter.

After the Election

1. China is not a currency manipulator

On April 12, Trump changed course on China entirely, telling the Wall Street Journal that he wouldn’t label China a currency manipulator in an upcoming report because they weren’t currently manipulating their currency and he felt it would jeopardize his talks with the nation over North Korea.

“They’re not currency manipulators,” the president said.

Current position: Completely reversed his stance on China, Trump does not want to blame the country for killing jobs and hampering American workers as he did during the campaign.

Low Interest Rates

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

Trump flip-flopped on interest rates repeatedly during the campaign. The Wall Street Journal captured his vacillating views on the issue, with the then-candidate suggesting at various times that the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin was keeping rates “artificially low” to boost President Barack Obama and that it was creating a “very false a economy,” while other times saying he supported low interest rates.

After the Election

1. Low interest rates are good

As president, Trump staked out a less conspiratorial view in April, saying the U.S. dollar “is getting too strong” and he’d prefer the Reserve keep interest rates low.

Current position: Low interest rates are good.

Removing Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair

Where Trump Stood During the Election

Trump slammed Yellen as “highly political” and said he’d probably replace her when her term was over. “I would imagine that we would put a Republican in that position,” he said last May.

After the Election

1. She’s “not toast”

Asked if Yellen was “toast” at the end of her 2018 term, Trump said “no, not toast.”

“I like her, I respect her,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “It’s very early.”

Current position: Yellen may still have a job at the end of her term

Export-Import Bank

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

During the campaign, Trump slammed the Ex-Im bank as "featherbedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it." He insisted he was against the bank that helps foreign buyers buy American exports.

After the Election

1. "Actually, it’s a very good thing"

“Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing,’” Trump told the Wall Street Journal, arguing that smaller companies are also aided by the bank and that because other countries do it, the U.S. should too. “But actually, it’s a very good thing. And it actually makes money, it could make a lot of money."

2. Appointed an Ex-Im bank critic to run it

Despite supporting the bank, Trump appointed two former Republican representatives to its board, including former Rep. Scott Garrett, who said in 2015 that the bank "turns the economy into a biased actor that uses your taxpayer dollars to tilt the scales in favor of its friends."

Current position: Support it in the press, but appoint a major critic to run it.

Golfing While President

Where Trump Stood Before the Election

As a candidate and as a public figure before he ran, Trump argued repeatedly that President Barack Obama shouldn't play golf.

"I love golf, but if I were in the White House? I don't think I'd ever see Turnberry again, I don't think I'd ever see Doral again," he said in New Hampshire ahead of their primary. "I'd just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off and make great deals."

Obama played golf on average every 8.8 days, according to the Washington Post, something Trump complained showed a poor work ethic and a president who wasn't working hard enough for the American people.

"Because I'm going to be working for you, i'm not going to have time to play golf. Believe me," Trump told a Virginia crowd in August 2016.

After the Election

1. It's OK for me to play golf while president

Trump, as president, routinely takes time — and his security detail — to Trump-branded golf courses. He's visited a golf club at least 19 times in his first 100 days, according to a website tracking it.

By the Washington Post's math, he's played golf ever 5.5 days so far.

Current position: Do as I say (and tweet), not as I do.