Trump's biggest accomplishments and failures from his 1-term presidency

Though his accomplishments are not popular with his critics, Trump, for better or worse, has been a consequential president.

Trump's biggest accomplishments and failures from his 1-term presidency

President Trump speaks to members of the media following a Christmas Eve video teleconference with members of the military, at his Mar-a-Lago estate, in Palm Beach, Florida. Associated Press Former President Donald Trump entered 2020 as just the third commander-in-chief in US history to be impeached, and left office in 2021 as the only president to be impeached twice. With just a week left in office, Trump was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection at the US Capitol. During his final year as president, hundreds of thousands of Americans died from a pandemic that Trump deliberately downplayed to the public. Trump is just the 11th incumbent president who won their party's nomination but failed to win reelection. He was defeated by President Joe Biden in an election he baselessly wrote off as fraudulent.  To many, Trump has been the most controversial and divisive president in modern US history, but he still enjoyed a remarkably steady approval rating thanks to his staunchly loyal supporters. Even as polling repeatedly showed that most Americans disapprove of Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, his overall approval rating barely changed.That changed, however, in his waning days in office.

The January 6 Capitol siege saw Trump's approval hit a historic low, and the former president departed the White House in disgrace. Trump is running for president again in 2024, launching his campaign in mid-November. He maintains a strong following, despite his complex legacy and controversial tenure. That said, recent polling suggests that most Republicans want their party to nominate someone other than Trump in 2024, raising questions about his electability. Read more: Mass firings, frozen funding, and midnight rules: Inside the Democrats' operation to fight back against Trump going scorched-earth in a Biden transition Here are Trump's biggest accomplishments and failures as president, measured by their overall impact and taking into account the general response from Congress, the public, and the world.

Eric Thayer/Reuters Trump's most lasting impact on the country will be the reshaping of the federal judiciary.Trump installed three Supreme Court justices and 226 judges overall to the federal bench — all for lifetime appointments. Amy Coney Barrett became Trump's third Supreme Court justice on October 26, barely a week before Election Day.By December 2019, Trump nominees made up roughly 25% of all US circuit court judges, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.In just four years, Trump appointed 54 judges on the 13 US circuit courts. To put this in perspective, former President Barack Obama appointed 55 circuit judges in his two terms in the White House.The courts get the final say in US politics, setting precedents that can shape the country for years to come.Even though Trump was not reelected in 2020, his presidency will continue to have an influence on the direction of the US because of the sheer number of conservative federal judges he's installed.

Andrew Harnik/AP In signing a $738 billion defense spending bill just a few days before Christmas, Trump officially established the sixth branch of the US Armed Forces — the Space Force.The Space Force is the first new military service since the US Air Force was created in 1947.Despite its name, the new branch has not been established to protect the planet from extraterrestrial threats, but is tasked with protecting the US military's assets in space."This is not a farce. This is nationally critical," Gen. John Raymond, who Trump tapped to lead the Space Force, told reporters recently.

"We are elevating space commensurate with its importance to our national security and the security of our allies and partners."Many of the details surrounding the Space Force must still be ironed out. In many ways, the new branch is simply a more centralized version of military missions in space that already existed from the Air Force, Army, and Navy.Todd Harrison, who directs the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, recently told NPR: "It will create a centralized, unified chain of command that is responsible for space, because ultimately when responsibility is fragmented, no one's responsible." Associated Press ISIS shocked the world in 2014 when it took over a large swath of territory across Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.The terrorist group's territorial holdings were the basis for its so-called caliphate, and provided it will a major base of operations to conduct attacks across the world. After a five-year effort led by the US, ISIS's caliphate was finally defeated in March 2019.Trump at times falsely claimed that ISIS is totally defeated, embellishing the extent of the US military's success against the terrorist organization during his presidency. Though the terrorist group has lost its territory — its so-called caliphate — it's still estimated to have up to 18,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria.In late October, a US raid led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Baghdadi was the world's most wanted terrorist up to that point and his death represented a major blow to the terrorist group. "Last night, the United States brought the world's No.

1 terrorist leader to justice," Trump said at the time. "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.""Capturing or killing him has been the top national security priority of my administration," he added. Anthony Crider/Wikimedia Commons Trump's response to a deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was one of the most controversial moments in his presidency.It was emblematic of Trump's struggle to bring the country together after tragedies, and more generally.

His response also typified his controversial record on race relations and white supremacy.Trump blamed "many sides" for the violence at the rally, which resulted in the death of a counterprotester, Heather Heyer. He later said there were "very fine people on both sides."The former president was excoriated by Republicans and Democrats alike over his response and his failure to offer a swift and forceful condemnation of white-supremacist violence. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, often one of Trump's fiercest defenders in Congress, at the time said the former president's words were "dividing Americans, not healing them.""President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist, neo-Nazis and KKK members," Graham added.In the wake of the brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the nationwide protests that followed, Trump also failed to rise to the occasion.

He's done far more to divide the country than bring it together.The former president had peaceful protesters tear-gassed near the White House so he could pose for a photo with a Bible at a nearby church. He's consistently demonized anti-racism demonstrators, and controversially sent federal agents into US cities to squash unrest and intimidate the local population. Trump has elevated conspiracy theorists and people who've threatened protesters with guns.Historians have warned that Trump's tactics mirror those of authoritarian regimes. Trump has frequently employed racist rhetoric during his presidency, but especially during times of heightened racial tensions. Polling has shown that the vast majority of Black Americans view Trump as racist, and his approval rating with this demographic stood at 14% in late 2020, according to Gallup.

John Haltiwanger/INSIDER Trump in 2016 campaigned on reducing undocumented immigration, pledging to take a hardline approach.He made good on that promise when coming into office, but was accused of human-rights abuses and violating international law by the UN.The Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal border crossings led to the separations of at least 5,500 families and saw children placed in cages. The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics at the time described the practice as "nothing less than government-sanctioned child abuse."After widespread backlash, Trump issued an executive order in June 2018 to halt the family separations, and a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite all those it had separated. But the fallout from the separations is ongoing.Trump falsely blamed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for the policy that saw thousands of children separated from their parents.At least six migrant children died in US custody, leading to widespread condemnation of conditions in detention facilities.The UN human-rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, in July 2019 said she was "shocked" by the US government's treatment of migrant children and the conditions they faced in detention facilities after crossing the border from Mexico."As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of state, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate healthcare or food, and with poor sanitation conditions," Bachelet, the former president of Chile, stated. Michael Gruber/Getty Images; Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw the US from the 2015 nuclear deal in May 2018 has induced chaos throughout the Middle East.It remains one of Trump's most unpopular decisions in the global arena, and has been condemned by top US allies who were also signatories to the deal.The former president failed to thwart Iran's aggressive behavior in the region through a maximum pressure campaign, meant to squeeze Tehran into negotiating a more stringent version of the pact.After a series of incidents in the Persian Gulf region in 2019, tensions between Washington and Tehran reached historic heights and sparked fears of war.

These fears were exacerbated after Trump ordered a strike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, in early January 2020. The strike led Iran to retaliate and fire on US troops in the region, and dozens were seriously injured.Iran also abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal, which was designed to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.Trump's decision to pull US troops out of northern Syria in October 2019 was also among his most disastrous foreign policy moves. In doing so, Trump effectively abandoned US-allied Kurdish forces who bore the brunt of the US-led campaign against ISIS to a Turkish military invasion.The withdrawal induced a humanitarian crisis and created a security vacuum that Russia, Iran, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an accused war criminal, all benefited from.Trump repeatedly pledged to end "endless wars," zeroing in on Afghanistan.

He wanted to remove all US troops from Afghanistan by the November election, but that didn't happen. Meanwhile, The New York Times in June 2020 reported that US intelligence officials determined Russia paid bounties to Taliban-linked Afghan militants to kill US troops.The Trump administration didn't take any known responses. Though the White House claimed Trump was not initially briefed on the matter, reporting from multiple outlets suggests otherwise. Trump in a July 2020 interview said he had not confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter.

Associated Press Trump was impeached in the House of Representatives on December 18, 2019.The House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, one for abuse of power over his dealings with Ukraine and one for obstruction of Congress over his efforts to stonewall the impeachment inquiry.Trump urged Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals as he simultaneously withheld about $400 million in congressionally approved military aid from the country, which is fighting an ongoing war against pro-Russian separatists.The former president was acquitted in a Senate trial, but will still go down as just the third president in US history to be impeached. GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah also made history by voting to convict Trump, marking the first time ever that a senator voted to convict a president from their own party.On January 6, 2021, Trump provoked an attempted coup at the US Capitol in relation to his baseless claims of mass voter fraud and refusal to concede to Biden.

Five people were killed. Trump was impeached by the House for inciting a violent insurrection over the Capitol riot. He's the only president in US history to be impeached twice.  Jabin Botsford/Getty Images Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely go down as one of the biggest disasters in US history. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died, and millions are unemployed.On the day Trump left office, there had been more than 24.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US and over 405,000 reported fatalities.

The US has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world. As of January 20, the US COVID-19 death toll was on the verge of surpassing the total number of American service members killed during World War II.Despite this, Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus and contradicted top public-health experts, flouting recommendations from advisors on his own White House coronavirus task force.In March 2020, Trump privately admitted to veteran reporter Bob Woodward (on tape) that he was deliberately misleading the public on the dangers of the virus in an effort to avoid inducing panic.Public health experts have cited Trump's nonchalant approach to the virus and tendency to reject science as one of the primary factors in why the US emerged as the epicenter.Trump refused to accept responsibility for his failed response to the pandemic, blaming China instead. Tom Brenner/Reuters Trump often took credit for the robust US economy before the pandemic, ignoring that much of the growth began during the Obama administration.The US faced one of the worst economic crises in its history under Trump, which was intrinsically linked to his disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic.Coronavirus lockdowns in early 2020 and reduced consumer spending led to tens of millions of job losses as whole segments of the economy sputtered.

The economy has since begun adding back jobs, but is far from a full recovery as the US struggles to contain the coronavirus and Biden takes over. Roughly 22 million jobs were lost from February to April. Though nearly half of those jobs have been recovered, the unemployment rate is still at 7.9% (estimated to be about 12 million people). The pre-pandemic unemployment rate was 3.4%.As Trump left office, the US national debt was at the highest levels since World War II.

And US economic growth was set to average just above 0% for Trump's first term because of the pandemic recession, according to The Washington Post.Though the economy is still far from recovered, Trump also failed to bring Congress together to pass a second coronavirus stimulus package prior to Election Day as Americans across the country struggled to cover rent and other bills. The GOP-controlled Senate instead prioritized confirming Trump's Supreme Court nominee, essentially placing the economy and the livelihoods of Americans on the back-burner. As of Election Day 2020, Trump had not signed a coronavirus relief bill in roughly half a year. He finally signed a $900 billion relief package sh