Fact Check: The truth behind Donald Trump's achievements

He claims he has already accomplished more in his short time in office than any other US President, but can his claim be justified?


Donald Trump yesterday launched a blistering attack against his critics in the media as he patted himself on the back for a job well done.

During an explosive press conference peppered with questionable claims, Trump insisted he had already accomplished more since taking office than any other US president.

"It certainly feels like an enormous amount of news has transpired in the brief time since Trump's inauguration," says Vox. But what has the president actually achieved?

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Who says what?

Trump claimed his team had made "incredible progress" in delivering his many campaign promises. "I don't think there's ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we've done," he told reporters.

Last week, senior policy advisor Stephen Miller made an even bolder claim, boasting the Republican "has done more in three weeks than most presidents have done in an entire administration."

What are the facts?

A flurry of executive orders came in Trump's first week in office, targeting the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, as well as trade deals and the protection of the US border. To date, President Trump has signed 12 executive orders, as well as dozens more presidential memoranda.

By comparison, Barack Obama had already issued 15 executive orders at this point in his presidency.

He had also signed off on several far-reaching bills, including the Fair Pay Act to prevent pay discrimination and the Recovery Act, the single largest economic stimulus bill since the Great Depression.

Trump's bills have been slightly more obscure. The first was issued to allow James Mattis to serve as defence secretary, while another repealed a rule requiring energy companies to disclose any payments they made abroad.

Who is right?

This is somewhat open to debate, but several analysts point out that the majority of Trump's executive orders have not – or cannot – yet be implemented.

Trademark campaign promises including his move to repeal and replace Obamacare and the building of a wall along the border with Mexico require action beyond the President's control.

"There is a wide gap, a chasm even, between what the administration has said and what it has done," says Politico's Zachary Karabell. "Almost none of these orders have mandated much action or clear change of current regulations."

Notable exceptions are Trump's order to withdraw from Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, as well as his highly contentious travel ban, both of which took effect immediately.

However, the travel ban, one of his most prized executive orders, cannot be counted as a success as it was quickly suspended and is now tied up in the courts. Trump has promised a replacement order soon.

Based purely on the number of executive orders issued to date, the President cannot claim more legislative accomplishments than his predecessor. The scope of legislation signed by Trump is also arguably less far-reaching than bills passed in the early days of the Obama administration.

And Miller's assertion that Trump has achieved more in three weeks than other presidents have in four years? It's completely bogus.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.