President Trump's first six months: by the numbers
Updated 10:09 AM ET, Thu July 20, 2017
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(CNN)On Thursday, President Donald Trump finishes his first six months -- yes, months -- in office.
It has been an uneven debut for the corporate executive and reality TV star turned commander-in-chief, marked most notably by clashes with political rivals and the press, a failed promise to repeal and replace Obamacare and the persistent drip of new details about Russian interference in the 2016 election.
But Trump scored high marks with the Republican conservative base with his Supreme Court pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and the party rank-and-file has stuck by his side through the early turbulence, many delighting in his constant attacks on the mainstream media. Still, the durability of their faith could be tested if the second half of the year passes without any major legislative achievements.
Here is the story of Trump's first six months, by the numbers.
Trump's approval ratings have flirted with and, more recently, crossed into historic lows. A recent Washington Post/ABC News survey put the number at 36%, with ABC News calling it "the lowest six-month approval rating of any president in polls dating back 70 years."
Two more polls released in the last few days show approval ratings of 40% (Bloomberg) and 39% (Monmouth) -- for an average slightly north of 38%.
But it's not all bad news for the White House.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that in counties Trump won in the 2016 election, he is still breaking even, with a 50% approval rating. (In counties where he outperformed 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney by at least 20 points, the number jumps to 56%.)
Campaign rallies or press conferences?
During his primary campaign, Trump not only held regular news conferences, he even took questions -- live and on camera -- from reporters on election nights. But it's been a different story since he became president. From January 20 on, he has held only one solo press conference.
According to the The American Presidency Project that puts him significantly behind the paces set by his predecessors. Obama gave 11 in his first year in office, George W. Bush held 5 and Bill Clinton did 12. What's more, the White House has all but ended the daily press briefing as an on-camera event.
Trump has been less hesitant to address his supporters. Since taking office, he has headlined five campaign style rallies, first in Florida, then Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Iowa -- all states he won in 2016.
How many bills signed into law?
Trump has signed dozens of executive actions and presidential proclamations. Some have fared better than others. His travel ban plan, for instance, first caused chaos and was effectively shut down by a series of legal challenges. But the second effort, which also faced a flurry of lawsuits, was ultimately allowed to take effect, on a limited basis, by the Supreme Court.
In all, Trump has signed 42 bills into law. Most notable is the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that makes it easier for the VA to fire bad employees and offer stronger safeguards for would-be whistleblowers.
But when it comes to big ticket items, like infrastructure, tax reform or a repeal and/or replacement of Obamacare, Trump is sitting on a goose egg -- zero. With health care seemingly on ice, tax reform is expected to be the big challenge Republicans take on.
International agreements the US has left
In keeping with campaign pledges, Trump has withdrawn the US from two major, multilateral agreements championed by the Obama administration.
On his first Monday in the Oval Office, Trump signed an executive action to remove the US from the negotiating process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.The decision was one of the rare decisions Trump has taken that won applause from portions of both parties. His other exit was not as warmly received.
Months later, Trump would -- after what was reported to be extended internal White House debate -- step out into the Rose Garden and announce that he was pulling the US out the Paris climate deal. As Democrats around the country protested, Trump declared, "I was elected by the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."
(Note: As Pittsburgh's Democratic mayor quickly reminded the President on Twitter, the city actually voted overwhelmingly for Clinton.)
It's been (almost) a minute with Macron
Trump has met with a handful of foreign leaders during his first six months on the job, but French President Emmanuel Macron has commanded a very specific kind of attention. Over the course of six interactions at meetings in Brussels and, more recently, Paris, the men have spent nearly a full minute shaking hands.
That's three relatively brief clasps, 12 seconds combined, in Belgium -- including that now famous white knuckle affair, which Macron later described to the Journal du Dimanche as "not innocent" and "a moment of truth."
Trump's Paris visit, for Bastille Day, was less tense but more tactile. He first greeted Macron with an 8-second shake, then embraced him twice during a joint press conference, for 3 and 7 seconds, before engaging in their marathon adieu last Friday -- 29 seconds of manual contortions as they strolled down the Champs-Élysées.
It might seem flip to concentrate on a thing like handshakes, but there's a valuable subtext here. Trump is learning on the fly that the diplomacy part of being president is very different from the politicking he did on the campaign trail. And he's got a laundry list of world crises and standoffs to deal with -- everything from the nuclear issues in Iran and North Korea, to ISIS and souring relations with Russia. (To say nothing of his contentious decisions to pull the US out of those major climate and trade deals.)
Been tweeting about...
From the moment Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20, the @realDonaldTrump account has, at press time Tuesday, tweeted 991 times.
Here are a few rough counts of what he has discussed in those posts. (And here is the very handy tool you can use to do your own analysis.)
"Fake" news, media or stories have been mentioned 82 times. If you add in "Jobs" have popped up on 46 occasions, a little more than double "Hillary Clinton," who has been called out in 22 tweets.
Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama has been named 36 times. "Obamacare" has featured in 45 posts.
How he's spending his weekends
When Barack Obama was in office, Trump regularly complained on Twitter about how he spent his leisure time.
In February 2012, he even assessed it by the numbers, citing a (now dead) Washington Examiner link and tweeting, "Michelle Obama's weekend ski trip to Aspen makes it 16 times that Obamas have gone on vacation in 3 years. Insensitive."
A couple years later, he called out his predecessor for watching "(basketball)" while "Putin is scheming and beaming on how to take over the World."
And even into the heart of the presidential campaign, he kept note of Obama's time on the links.
"While our wonderful president was out playing golf all day," he tweeted on May 21, 2016, "the TSA is falling apart, just like our government! Airports a total disaster!"
So how does Trump compare?
By our count, he has spent 21 of his first 26 weekends in office at properties bearing his name.
And he has spent 40 days at Trump brand golf properties.
States visited since taking office -- compared to Presidents Obama and Bush
Trump has spent much of his time as president either at the White House or his residence at Mar-a-Lago, in Florida. He has also spent time at Bedminster, New Jersey, home to the Trump National Golf Club, but only one trip to New York City.
Taken together, Trump has visited 16 states (counting the District of Columbia as his primary residence) in the past six months. They include: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, South Carolina, Maryland, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio and Iowa. If you're keeping count, that's 10 states he won and six that voted for Hillary Clinton.
By comparison, Obama had by the end of June of his first term traveled to 14 states. His predecessor, George W. Bush, was the most active, visiting 32 states over the same time period. (One that Obama and Bush hit that Trump, unsurprisingly, has skipped: California.)
Number of walls built with Mexico's money
Zero -- and none coming anytime soon.
Trump has spoken at some length recently about what the wall will and won't look like -- and why people need to be able to see through it. He has also suggested that it be clad with solar panels, an idea pitched by design companies, as a means of paying for its construction.
While he maintains that Mexico will eventually foot the bill -- they will "be very happy to pay," he said in May -- there is no indication it is a working possibility, nor any apparent plan to change the state of play.
Still, the House Appropriations Committee released its homeland security bill last week and it included the full $1.6 billion requested by the administration to begin construction. Whether that plan survives House and Senate votes is an open question -- and potential fodder for another round of government shutdown drama.
Number of special counsels appointed and FBI directors fired
One each -- the scandal surrounding allegations of collusion by members of his campaign staff with Russians bent on influencing the election has, at turns, led Trump to fire his National Security Advisor (for lying) and his FBI director (for showboating).
It also led his Attorney General to recuse himself from any investigations related to 2016 and Russia and, ultimately, to the appointment of a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller. No president wants to hears the words "special counsel," and most certainly not in the opening months of an administration. Trump has dismissed and bristled at the constant glare of scrutiny on his staff, his family and himself where it comes to Russia.
CORRECTION: This post has been updated to reflect that Trump did not visit Trump Tower on a trip to New York.