President Trump has been flooding the zone at the end of his first 100 days in office, generating a final burst of activity meant to send signal a vibrant White House.
Trump has signed a flurry of new executive orders while sending policy signals on trade, taxes and North Korea.
The president conducted a string of interviews with major publications and his top aides have summoned small groups of reporters for evening briefings in the West Wing and Eisenhower Executive Office Building to push their 100-day narrative.
Journalists were bombarded with fact sheets boasting of Trump’s accomplishments, such as passing 13 measures rolling back Obama-era regulations and confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Speaking to a gathering of reporters in his office this week, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus touted the 28 pieces of legislation Trump has signed, though most were small-scale measures that appoint personnel or modify existing programs.
“I think the narrative that somehow or another a signature piece of legislation must be brought out of the House and Senate is a ridiculous standard,” he said.
He will end his 100th day in office Saturday by staging a campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, Pa., his third such event during his first three months in office.
The frenetic pace of action is meant to generate momentum for Trump’s agenda, but it’s not clear it will have the desired effect.
The White House pushed House Republicans to hold a vote on ObamaCare repeal legislation before Saturday, but that possibility was ruled out late Thursday when it became apparent the measure still lacked the support to pass.
The administration released a massive tax cut proposal that is likely to dominate its next 100 days, but was criticized for a lack of detail that some suspected was the result of the plan being rushed.
And Trump teased the possibility of withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), only to say the same day he had decided instead to renegotiate the pact because he learned withdrawing would have caused too big of a “shock to the system.”
Trump has downplayed the 100-day benchmark, which has traditionally been used to measure the early success of presidents, as “ridiculous,” even though he reportedly exerted heavy pressure on his staff to show progress ahead of the milestone.
“I don’t think there’s ever been anything like this. It's a false standard, 100 days, but I have to tell you, I don't think anybody has done what we we've been able to do in 100 days. So we’re very happy,” Trump said Friday.
Trump and his aides have also acknowledged it was perhaps too ambitious to accomplish all of Trump’s promises in the first 100 days and that he is still finding his sea legs in the biggest job he has ever held.
In a candid moment during an interview with Reuters, Trump said the presidency is harder than he expected.
"I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump said. "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier."
Still, it was clear that the White House's No. 1 imperative of the week was to maintain a constant hum of activity.
Trump approved five executive actions this week: one designed to help farmers and ranchers, a second to kick-start an overhaul of education guidelines, a third to strengthen protections for whistleblowers at the Veterans Affairs department and a pair that review rules that closed off lands and waters to development and oil and gas exploration.
The image-conscious president made sure he signed each one at ceremonies in the Oval Office and Cabinet departments that resembled bill signings.
Trump also hosted a briefing on North Korea for nearly every member of the Senate at the White House complex, then personally stopped by to assure senators he is confronting the nuclear threat.
“I know there’s narratives out there that say otherwise, but we look at it and see a president who is working at breakneck speed and somebody who is doing, as fast as he can, in the confines of the law, running through that punch list of promises that he made during the campaign,” Priebus said.
Critics say the frenzy of activity sends a mixed message about the expectations Trump has for himself and what standard the public should hold him to.
Brandon Rottinghaus, a presidential historian at the University of Houston, said presidents who notched major legislative victories in their first 100 days, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTop nuclear policy appointee removed from Pentagon post: report Prosecutors face legal challenges over obstruction charge in Capitol riot cases Biden makes early gains eroding Trump's environmental legacy MORE, are the exception rather than the rule.
“The White House looks a little desperate in trying to push all these policies,” Rottingahus said. “It all looks like they are grasping for some kind of victory while trying to tamp down expectations that there should be a victory.”
The president is also facing pressure to boost his standing with the public. Gallup’s daily tracking poll showed Trump’s approval rating at 43 percent heading into his 100th day in office. It could be an uphill battle, as presidents tend to lose, not gain, political capital over time.
But Trump’s core supporters appear to be firmly behind him, despite some of his campaign-trail promises remaining unfulfilled.
Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of State who served on Trump’s transition team, likened the president’s first 100 days to a Marine Corps boot camp.
“It’s a way to think about the way the president approaches these things, he’s a classic overloader, and he’s preparing in a way folks would prepare to go to battle to get things done,” he said.