From 3 government shutdowns to Supreme Court Judge Kavanaugh, the highs and lows of Donald Trump’s 2018

Here’s a look at the major events — some high, some low — that have undoubtedly shaped Trump’s thinking heading into 2019.
For president Donald Trump, 2018 has been a year of perpetual motion. He has presided over near constant turmoil as he has increasingly relied on his own instincts.(Reuters Photo)
For president Donald Trump, 2018 has been a year of perpetual motion. He has presided over near constant turmoil as he has increasingly relied on his own instincts.(Reuters Photo)
Updated on Dec 23, 2018 07:29 PM IST
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The New York Times | ByThe New York Times

For president Donald Trump, 2018 has been a year of perpetual motion. He has presided over near constant turmoil as he has increasingly relied on his own instincts. In just the past week, the flurry of activity has rocked the government, the military and the markets.

Two of NYT’s White House correspondents write:

“At the midpoint of his term, Trump has grown more sure of his own judgment and more cut off from anyone else’s than at any point since taking office.”

Here’s a look at the major events — some high, some low — that have undoubtedly shaped Trump’s thinking heading into 2019.


— The government shut down for three days starting at 12:01 am on January 20.

— Days later, Trump delivered his first State of the Union address.

— Balking at an immigration deal, Trump asked lawmakers why there were so many people from “shithole countries” coming to the United States, rather than from places like Norway.


— Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, said that he had paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic-film actress who had claimed to have had an affair with Trump.

— A gunman opened fired at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people.

— House Republicans released a secret memo accusing the Russia investigators of bias.

— The government shut down again, this time for only a few hours.

— Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, told House investigators that her work for Trump had occasionally required her to tell white lies. A day later, she announced her resignation.


— Trump, defying opposition from his own party and protests from overseas, signed orders imposing stiff and sweeping tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

— Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired, to be replaced by Mike Pompeo, and HR McMaster, the president’s national security adviser, was forced out and replaced by John Bolton.

— The March for Our Lives rally, one of hundreds of protests held around the world, took place in Washington to call for action on gun violence.

— The special counsel, Robert Mueller, subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn over documents, including some related to Russia.

— John Dowd resigned as Trump’s lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation.


— Trump denied knowledge of hush payments to Stormy Daniels.

— The FBI raided Cohen’s office and hotel room. Trump called it “disgraceful.”

— The United States, Britain and France launched airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack.

— Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief, testified on data privacy and other issues before Congress.


— Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

— Trump revamped his legal team for the Russia investigation.

— The US Embassy in Israel was moved to Jerusalem. The same day, mass protests along the Gaza border raged anew.

— The Department of Homeland Security enacted a “zero tolerance” immigration policy, causing the forced separation of migrant families at the border.


— Outrage over the separation policy swept the country, prompting the administration to launch an aggressive defense.

— Under enormous political pressure, Trump signed an executive order meant to end family separation.

— Trump met with Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, in Singapore and discussed eliminating the North’s nuclear arsenal.


— The special counsel issued an indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton presidential campaign.

— During a news conference in Helsinki, Finland, Trump stood next to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and publicly challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

— Many Republicans were not pleased with the performance.

— Scott Pruitt, the EPA chief, resigned under a cloud of ethics scandals.

— Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.


— Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account.

— Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., died at 81. Trump was not invited to the funeral. While the president was absent from Washington National Cathedral, he was a clear point of contrast to the former senator.

— Cohen, pleading guilty to a litany of crimes, said in court that Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women — including Stormy Daniels — during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Trump. Federal prosectors affirmed this months later.


— After an initial round of confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh reappeared on Capitol Hill to testify about allegations of sexual misconduct. One accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, also delivered emotional testimony.

— Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court.

— The Trump administration, Mexico and Canada negotiated a new trade deal, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. It replaced NAFTA.

— A member of the Trump administration, identifying himself or herself as a senior official, wrote an opinion article for The New York Times, claiming to be a “member of the resistance” in the administration.

— Hurricane Florence thrashed the East Coast, particularly the Carolinas.


— Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was critical of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

— The US unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent.

— Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle.

— Eleven people were killed when a gunman, shouting anti-Semitic slurs, opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

— A man in Florida was arrested in connection with a wave of mail bombs that targeted people critical of Trump, including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert De Niro. CNN also was targeted.


— A wildfire in Northern California became the deadliest in the state’s history.

— Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress and said Trump had been more involved in discussions over a potential Russian business deal during the presidential campaign than was previously known.

— Democrats won control of the House, picking up 40 seats in the midterm elections.

— Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced out of his post. Matthew Whitaker stepped in as the acting attorney general. The next month, Trump nominated William Barr for the job.

— The 41st president, George Bush, died at age 94. Trump was invited to the funeral but did not speak.


— The First Step Act, a criminal justice overhaul, passed with bipartisan support.

— Days before the deadline for a new spending bill, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., greeted journalists in the Oval Office for a photo opportunity that morphed into an extraordinary on-camera policy debate.

— Trump announced that John Kelly, the chief of staff, would leave the administration. Mick Mulvaney, his budget director, would fill the post as acting chief of staff. Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, was also ousted.

— Trump abruptly ordered the removal of US troops from Syria and a drawdown of forces in Afghanistan.

— The next day, defence secretary Jim Mattis resigned, writing Trump a letter saying that the president deserved a defence secretary whose views were “better aligned” with his.

— Mirroring sharp declines in other stock markets, the tech-heavy Nasdaq entered bear territory, down almost 22 percent from its August peak.

— The government partly shut down for the third time this year after Trump made clear that he would not accept a spending bill that did not include $5 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border.

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