The sequel to President Donald Trump’s first year in office is opening with the lead player hamstrung by a government shutdown and hunkering down amid investigations, crises and political unease.
After 365 days in the Oval Office, Trump has found that his drive to deliver quickly on campaign promises has yielded to the sobering reality of governing — and the prospect of an electoral rebuke in November. Administration aides, outside allies and Republicans on Capitol Hill see the Trump White House continuing to face many of the same challenges it wrestled with last year, with fresh plot twists to boot.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election keeps moving ever closer to the Oval Office. The government shutdown highlights the legislative challenges that persist even with Republicans controlling the White House and both the House and Senate, and makes clear the administration’s need to more carefully target its political capital on specific agenda items. And the fall elections are shaping up as a referendum on Trump’s tenure.
“In the second year, you no longer are one-dimensional,” said Ari Fleischer, press secretary when George W. Bush was president. “There’s an inevitable pivot that every administration makes, and that is to recognize that it’s no longer about future events and promises, it’s now about defending and promoting last year’s accomplishments.”
No administration comes into office fully ready for the task of leading the government, and Trump’s team has taken disruption to a new extreme. Republicans outside the White House are now hoping the Trump administration will be more politically savvy. But the 71-year old president has proved set in his ways, trusting his instincts over the advice of his aides, and there is no reason to expect that won’t continue.
Yet Trump has been changed by the experiences of the past year, according to aides and outside advisers, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal dynamics. The president has grown more fearful of leaks. His inner circle of friends is smaller, most recently with the banishment of former chief strategist Steve Bannon. This smaller group of informal advisers has seen Trump favor those who tell him what he likes to hear, according to several people who talk to him regularly. And that, combined with chief of staff John Kelly’s determination not to manage the president, is furthering the Trump’s impulsive streak.
What comes next?
Personnel changes are afoot to streamline the West Wing political and legislative affairs teams in preparation for the November elections, and Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are preparing aggressive campaign and fundraising schedules.
Despite a booming economy, Trump’s approval rating is at historic lows for a first-year president, weighed down by partisan controversy and his own divisive actions and statements. The fall contests represent a make-or-break moment for Trump and could influence his pursuit of a second term, an effort that will begin in earnest next year.
GOP lawmakers frame the importance of keeping control of the House and Senate in self-serving terms for Trump: Democratic control would grant subpoena power to the president’s fiercest critics.
Wary of potentially losing the Senate, the White House plans to continue its aggressive push to appoint conservative judges before Congress breaks for campaign season.
For all the legislative ambition of the first year, Trump’s second stands to be a more muted affair.
Immigration, the sticking point in the current shutdown, stands as the most promising option after the president provoked a crisis by setting up the March 5 expiration of protections for roughly 700,000 young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children. He’s hoping to use it as leverage to pass his hard-line immigration priorities.
Before the State of the Union address Jan. 30, the White House has been preparing much-delayed policy proposals on infrastructure and welfare, but little progress is anticipated as lawmakers have begun turning their focus to their own re-elections.
White House officials said Trump is looking forward to spending much of the year promoting his achievements on judicial nominations, deregulation and passage of the tax overhaul.
“If year one is about tallying campaign promises,” said White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, “in year two, we can talk about results.”
Administration officials pointed to Trump’s speech Thursday in Pennsylvania, where he highlighted the benefits of his tax plan, as an example of his efforts to sell his first year to the public.
Overseas, many of the same challenges remain. The nuclear threat from North Korea occupies an ever-growing focus inside the West Wing. And while the Islamic State group’s foothold in Iraq and Syria has been diminished, Trump is facing new questions about the role of U.S. troops in the region.
Eric Hazlett had great expectations for Crest Sparkling White.
The Dickinson Township youth knew the toothpaste brand had a formula that strengthened enamel while leaving an after shine.
He was confident Crest would rise above the competition in an experiment to test the whitening effects of four products on the market.
“I thought it would be interesting,” said Hazlett, 13, a seventh-grader at the Saint Patrick School. “It would be more relevant to the daily life of people.”
He was one of the 530 students in grades 4-12 registered to participate this past weekend in the 61st annual Carlisle Area Science Advisory Committee’s science fair.
Each student had to come up with a project name and concept, a hypothesis on the outcome, a procedure to experiment and test their theory, and a display that used a cardboard screen to show their work.
About 50 volunteer judges reviewed the entries and graded the work based on how well the student followed the scientific method and kept a log detailing their steps, data, observations and findings.
“It gives students a chance to demonstrate what they know,” said Allison Thumma, acting assistant principal of Wilson Middle School and a former seventh-grade science teacher.
“We want to do whatever we can to promote science in them,” she said. “Hopefully, they will choose to take such courses.”
The students were from every school in the Carlisle Area and South Middleton school districts. There were also youths from the Christian School of Grace Baptist Church, Saint Patrick School and Carlisle Christian Academy. Though open to home-school students, there were no entries this year from that demographic, Thumma said.
There are three divisions of competition based on grade level: elementary, fourth and fifth grades; junior – sixth through eighth; and senior, ninth through 12th. Ribbons are given out for first-, second- and third-place finishers and for participation.
The top three first-place finishers in each age category were named the grand champions during an award ceremony Saturday afternoon. Participating students were not present at the fair during judging Friday evening.
They set up their displays Friday afternoon either in the cafeteria or the gymnasium of the Swartz building of Carlisle High School. It was Eric Hazlett’s second time participating in as many years.
For his experiment titled “Sensational Smiles,” Hazlett soaked white porous tiles four 12 hours in four liquids: black coffee, red Kool-Aid, grape juice and Mountain Dew.
He then dried the stained tiles for about an hour before brushing each for a full minute using Crest Sparkling White, Colgate, Aquafresh or Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. He then rinsed off each tile and allowed it to air dry overnight.
Sure enough, with the exception of Colgate and grape juice, Crest was the top brand in getting rid of stains. Hazlett thought that Mountain Dew would produce the worst stains because the formula used in the soda was acidic to tooth enamel. Instead, black coffee produced the darkest stains.
Nearby, Alana McWilliams, a Carlisle High School sophomore, was putting the finishing touches on her display titled “Get the Lead Out.”
Like Hazlett, she tested the advertising claims of products on the market. In this case, the ability of Pur, Brita and Zero Water filter paper to remove lead from a solution of lead nitrate.
Last year, McWilliams did a similar experiment involving the ability of those products to filter out chlorine and heavy metals. Then as now, the Pur paper filter delivered the best results.
“I love science,” McWilliams said. “I want to be a microbiologist. I like putting in the effort for science fairs.”
Sam Benson, 10, a fifth-grader at LeTort Elementary School, experimented with the effects of colored light on plant growth. He took three similar sized Camille plants. He placed one in a cardboard box under a red light, one in a box under a blue light and a third under normal light as a control.
He allowed the three plants to grow for two weeks taking measurements every other day. The plant under the blue light grew three inches while the plant under the red light grew only an inch. The plant under normal sunlight grew 1.5 inches.
The experiments covered a broad range of topics from the lung capacity of athletes to how plant life affects water quality in LeTort Creek to how felines of different ages respond to the euphoric effects of catnip.
South Middleton Township’s planning commission Tuesday approved plans for a Dunkin’ Donuts to be built off Alexander Spring Road and Dunwoody Drive, near construction of the new state police barracks.
The area is zoned commercial general, so the plan will not need to fulfill any conditional use plans before the development goes before the township board of supervisors for approval on Feb. 8.
The development plan calls for a 2,000-square-foot store sitting on 0.828 acres at the corner of Alexander Spring Road and Dunwoody Drive. The Dunkin’ Donuts will feature a drive-thru, 22 parking spaces and seating for 18 people.
The proposed plan calls for an entrance and exit on Dunwoody Drive. There will be no entrance on Alexander Spring Road.
If the plan is approved, the Dunkin’ Donuts could be finished by the end of summer.
The eatery will sit on the lot in front of the new state police barracks, which is under construction.
The new barracks will replace the old one in the township at 1500 Commerce Ave. Construction was temporarily delayed because of cold temperatures, but is expected to be completed by June or July.
Raabia Hashmi is missing her senior year, at least in the traditional sense of what a senior year can be with homecoming, sports and all those extracurricular activities.
“I’m much more happy here, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity I got. I wouldn’t trade it,” she said.
That opportunity took Hashmi, the daughter of Haroon Rashid and Fazia Hashmi, from the halls of Cedar Cliff High School to working alongside graduate students and scientists at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Hashmi said she had completed an internship in epidemiology at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center during her junior year. During that internship, she learned how to use software in the lab, quantified and processed genetic information for epidemiological studies and prepared, cataloged and processed biological specimens for storage.
Those activities weren’t quite enough. Hashmi wanted to do an internship that involved more hands-on work in the laboratory. Her sister, who works in dermatology, connected her with someone at Thomas Jefferson University. Despite the initial shock that a high school student was applying for an internship, the school saw that Hashmi was willing to work hard and take a chance, so they accepted her.
Hashmi still had to deal with the reality of completing the credits she needed to graduate from high school. She had planned to attend Harrisburg Area Community College full-time for her senior year, so she asked her guidance counselor if that agreement would work for any community college. Having received an affirmative response, Hashmi enrolled in Montgomery County Community College for the necessary credits.
With that piece in place, Hashmi now lives with her sister in King of Prussia and commutes via train to her internship at the university lab in the city two days a week.
From about 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on those days, she helps the scientists with their experiments and performs testing for Mycoplasma, a difficult-to-detect bacteria that requires cell cultures to be screened regularly to prevent contamination.
“I’ve definitely learned how to live on your own. I have my sister here with me, but it definitely teaches me a lot,” she said.
The work is preparing her for a career as a scientist. Hashmi said she enjoys cancer research and the environment of the laboratory where people collaborate and continually ask questions to push their experiments forward.
“Everyone is so forward thinking. Everyone is trying to figure out the next best thing. It’s a very motivational environment,” Hashmi said.
Hashmi will graduate from Cedar Cliff High School, and after that plans to major in biochemistry. She has been accepted at Temple University, Drexel University and Thomas Jefferson University, but is waiting to hear from one of her top choices, Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York.