On March 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would recuse himself “from matters with the Trump campaign,” including investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The announcement came after news reports that Sessions had spoken with the Russian ambassador at least twice during the campaign. Sessions had testified during his confirmation hearings that he had no contact with Russian officials during the campaign.
On March 6, Trump issued a new executive order to restrict immigration from majority-Muslim countries. The intent of the new order was to avoid the legal objections that had blocked his January 27 order. The new order dropped Iraq from the January order’s list of seven countries targeted for immigration restrictions and exempted US visa holders from the ban. The new order also dropped the explicit preference for religious minorities.
On March 24, Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the Republican health care plan (the American Health Care Act) bill from the floor because there were not enough Republican votes to pass it, primarily due to lack of support from the so-called Freedom Caucus. According to a CBO analysis, the Republican plan, if enacted, would result in loss of health insurance coverage for 24 million people. The plan would give a $274 billion tax cut to high-income taxpayers over the next decade while lower-income, older and more rural people would receive less help buying insurance.
On February 3 in Seattle, US District Judge James L. Robart issued a restraining order blocking enforcement of the Trump executive order issued in January that barred immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.
On February 13, Trump’s National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn, resigned amid questions regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition.
On February 15, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination when it became clear that he had lost support from as many as 12 Senate Republicans. Opposition to Puzder came, in part, from right-wing Republicans who complained that Puzder supported higher levels of legal immigration.
On February 21, Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued memoranda declaring policies on immigration enforcement, including hiring 15,000 new border patrol and immigration enforcement agents, creating a new office within DHS to work with the victims of crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants, and expediting deportation of unauthorized immigrants.