President Trump has dismissed the artificial media-driven benchmark of his first 100 days in office as "not very meaningful" and a "ridiculous standard." But as the most media-obsessed commander-in-chief in American history, he's also keenly aware of the importance of crossing the threshold on Saturday: "No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days," he boasted earlier this month.
"As with so much else, Trump is a study in inconsistency," remarked Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, to The New York Times. "One minute he says his 100 days have been the best of any president, and the next minute he decries the idea of measuring a president by the 100 days."
In a series of interviews published just prior to Trump's 100th day in office, the president offered a surprisingly candid assessment of his own term to date. Ranging from the vague to the startlingly honest, here is Trump on his own progress and what he's learned since moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (And be sure to read the full interviews at the Washington Examiner, Reuters, CNN, and The Washington Post.)
1. Trump summarizes his accomplishments as "et cetera, et cetera."
Washington Examiner: I don't know if you've heard, but the first 100 days are coming up. Big milestone, you might not have heard.
Trump: I heard that, I heard that. Yeah, no that's good. I mean, I guess it's an indication of certain things. But, I think we've created some amazing, we've done some amazing things, and I think we've set some incredible foundations going onward, with relationships, with other countries, et cetera, et cetera. [Washington Examiner]
2. Being president, it turns out, is hard.
"I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier." [Reuters]
3. Another bummer about being president: You can't drive.
When the president leaves the White House, it is usually in a limousine or an SUV.
He said he missed being behind the wheel himself.
"I like to drive," he said. "I can't drive any more." [Reuters]
4. Trump wobbled on pulling out of NAFTA because he didn't think it would be friendly.
"In one way, I like the termination. In the other way, I like [Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto] — a lot, both of them. We have a very good relationship. And it's very hard when you have a relationship, it's very much something that would not be a nice act. It would not be exactly a friendly act." [The Washington Post]
5. Ultimately, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had to use a map of the U.S. to convince Trump not to pull out of NAFTA.
Perdue even brought along a prop to the Oval Office: A map of the United States that illustrated the areas that would be hardest hit, particularly from agriculture and manufacturing losses, and highlighting that many of those states and counties were "Trump country" communities that had voted for the president in November.
"It shows that I do have a very big farmer base, which is good," Trump recalled. "They like Trump, but I like them, and I'm going to help them." [The Washington Post]
6. Speaking of maps, Trump keeps a handout of the 2016 Electoral College map on his desk.
More than five months after his victory and two days shy of the 100-day mark of his presidency, the election is still on Trump's mind. Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.
"Here, you can take that, that's the final map of the numbers," the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. "It's pretty good, right? The red is obviously us." [Reuters]
here's a pic from reuters of Trump with the electoral maps he showed to reporters yesterday pic.twitter.com/1X3edpeJDQ
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) April 28, 2017
7. Trump laments the White House "cocoon."
"While I had very little privacy, in my old life because, you know, I've been famous for a long time. I really — this is much less privacy than I've seen before. This is, you know, something that's really amazing. You're really into your own little cocoon, because you have such massive protection that you really can't go anywhere." [CNN]
8. Trump seems impressed with Kim Jong Un.
"He's 27 years old, his father dies, took over a regime, so say what you want but that's not easy, especially at that age. You know you have plenty of generals in there and plenty of other people that would like to do what he's doing. So I've said this before and I've, I'm just telling you, and I'm not giving him credit or not giving him credit. I'm just saying that's a very hard thing to do." [Reuters]
9. But he warns that a "major, major conflict" with North Korea is possible.
"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea," Trump said in an interview at the Oval Office. "We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he said, describing North Korea as his biggest global challenge. [Reuters]
10. And he's mad at Saudi Arabia.
"Frankly, Saudi Arabia has not treated us fairly, because we are losing a tremendous amount of money in defending Saudi Arabia." [Reuters]
11. Trump gives himself an A. Sean Spicer gets a B.
Washington Examiner: This is an obligatory question, but if you had to give yourself a grade on your first 100 days, like in school, what grade do you give yourself?
So is that an A, then? Or a B?
Trump: I'd give us an A. I would say communication would be a little bit less than an A because I don't think we've gotten the word out what we've done because I think we're so busy getting it done that we're not talking about it. But I would give the administration, on the big picture, an A. I would say we haven't communicated the word out, so I'd give us a little bit less than that, but one of the reasons we haven't done that is, we're too busy working.
Washington Examiner: You hear that, Sean [Spicer]? You got a B.
Spicer: I heard. [The Washington Examiner]