Trump spent his first weekend in office lying about crowd sizes. Biden used it to quietly enact major reforms

On this day four years ago, the former president was engaged in a burgeoning feud with the media about the size of his inauguration crowd

Chris Riotta
New York
Sunday 24 January 2021 17:46 GMT
Related video: Sean Hannity denounces Biden’s first week as ‘disastrous’ before the president completed a full day of work

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


A new president will typically use their first days in office to set the tone for their administration, carefully laying out goals and policy initiatives they plan to enact over the next four years.

This could be seen on Wednesday when President Joe Biden was sworn in at noon during the inaugural ceremonies, then just hours later signed 17 executive orders focusing on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and undoing his predecessor’s legacy on issues like immigration and foreign relations.  

By Friday, the new administration announced at least 75 significant actions it had either already taken or was preparing to in the weeks ahead. As work quietly continued behind the scenes, Mr Biden spent the weekend meeting with advisers in the Oval Office, receiving briefings and mapping out his first 100 days.

It was quite the difference from Donald Trump’s first weekend in office: sworn in on a Friday afternoon, the former president spent his first days as commander-in-chief lying about his Inauguration Day crowd sizes, attacking members of the media as being “among the most dishonest human beings on Earth” and, of course, posting his stream of consciousness to social media in the form of endless tweets.

In a controversial visit to the CIA headquarters the day after his inauguration, Mr Trump sought to showcase his supposedly positive relationship with the agency after spending months along the campaign trail discrediting the US Intelligence Community for its assertion that Russia was interfering in the election.

Instead, the former president drew criticism for turning the visit into what essentially became a campaign stop. Mr Trump raised eyebrows at one point when, speaking in front of the revered wall of 117 stars in the CIA lobby, he said: “I have a running war with the media, they are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth – they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. The reason you are the number one stop is exactly the opposite.”

Of course, Mr Trump did sign several of his own executive orders upon entering office: those targeted the Affordable Care Act, a landmark legislative achievement by Barack Obama, which he failed to rescind while in office.

But he was mostly focused on a feud over his crowd sizes as reports indicated the Women’s March – held the day after his inauguration – was the largest protest in global history. Mr Trump sent out his White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on his first full day in office to argue with the media about its coverage of the events.

“Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimise the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” Mr Spicer said from behind the White House briefing room podium, blaming everything from floor coverings that “had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing”, to security fencing, which he claimed prevented “hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the mall as quickly as they had in years past".

Mr Biden conducted a remote swearing in ceremony for nearly 1,000 White House staffers on Wednesday night over Zoom, warning they’d be fired “on the spot” if they were found to treat anyone with disrespect while serving in their roles.

He also wasn’t tweeting nearly as much as Mr Trump: in fact, the president posted just one tweet on Saturday recapping his first week in office.

“We’re facing a historic moment in our nation’s history – one that requires bold and swift action,” Mr Biden said. “That’s why this week, I took historic action to deliver relief to American families and address the challenges we face.”

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