President Trump signed three executive actions on Saturday afternoon focusing on lobbying, a reorganization of the National Security Council and a plan to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The executive action caps off a busy first week as Trump issued a flurry of orders on ObamaCare repeal, withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and a ban on many refugees from the Middle East and Africa.
“People have been talking about this for a long time, like many years,” Trump said in front of cameras in the Oval Office as he signed a memorandum dealing with the National Security Council (NSC) and Homeland Security Council.
Text of the NSC memorandum, which was released after Trump signed it, justified changes to the council by stating that “security threats facing the United States in the 21st century transcend international boundaries.”
“Accordingly, the United States Government’s decision-making structures and processes to address these challenges must remain equally adaptive and transformative,” the memorandum stated.
Trump said that directive focused on “efficiency and I think a lot of additional safety.”
Trump also signed an executive order banning administration officials who leave government from lobbying those federal agencies for five years, fulfilling a campaign pledge. Former President Barack Obama had signed his own executive order barring political appointees from lobbying former coworkers for two years.
Trump’s order also includes a lifetime ban on administration officials working on behalf of a foreign government or political party.
His third directive signed Saturday was a memorandum giving military leaders 30 days to construct and present a report outlining the U.S. strategy for defeating ISIS.
“This is the plan to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I think it’s going to be very successful.”
His memorandum calls for a “comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS,” stating that “there can be no accommodation or negotiation” with the group.
The directive recommends “changes to any United States rules of engagement” and other policy restrictions, an exploration of alternative strategies to “isolate and delegitimize ISIS and its radical Islamist ideology,” a strengthening of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition and an exploration of methods to limit the group’s financial support.
It’s unclear how exactly the plan would depart from past approaches to the group. Saturday’s document mentioned public diplomacy, information operations and cyber strategies as alternative approaches for combating ISIS.
The directive also calls for “a detailed strategy to robustly fund” the plan and states that it should be submitted to the president by the secretary of Defense, James Mattis, though calls for several other Cabinet officials to collaborate in developing the plan.
Trump has repeatedly pledged to defeat ISIS and on the campaign trail criticized Obama and his Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton for not doing enough to push back against the terrorist group.
“OK, that’s big stuff,” Trump said after signing the three orders Saturday. “Have a good weekend.”
Trump signed the documents one day after signing an order barring Syrian refugees and halting the United States’ refugee resettlement program for four months, stirring backlash.
That order, handed down Friday, also denies entry for individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya – affecting roughly 134 million people.
Various Democratic lawmakers and civil-rights groups said the order targets Muslims, pointing to Trump’s admission in a Friday interview that he would prioritize Christian refugees for resettlement.
“Make no mistake – this is a Muslim ban,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in a statement Friday.
Trump insisted that the executive order he signed on Friday is “not a Muslim ban.”
“It’s working out very nicely,” Trump said, as reports indicated that officials were scrambling to implement the order.
“We’re going to have a very very strict ban and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”
Two refugees from Iraq were detained late Friday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, though one was released Saturday afternoon.
Updated: 7:18 p.m.