Editorial

Trump’s Biggest Wins Of 2019

Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Amber Athey White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump’s third year in office is coming to a close after a very eventful 2019.

While impeachment dominated the news headlines over the past several months, the administration also managed many accomplishment throughout the year. To wrap up the year, we’ve created a list of Trump’s biggest wins of 2019.

JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS 

President Trump has managed to reshape the judiciary branch in his image by nominating an unprecedented number of federal judges to the bench. The Senate has confirmed 187 Trump-nominated judges in just under three years. This means 20% of the federal judiciary is now made up of Trump appointments.

Much of the administration’s success can be credited to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose unparalleled focus on judicial appointments has ensured that nominees don’t sit very long before being confirmed. While members of the House debated the rules for impeaching the president several weeks ago, McConnell pushed 13 nominated judges through the Senate.

THE MUELLER REPORT

Special counsel Robert Mueller released a report stemming from his two-year long investigation into Russian collusion this past April. Mueller was unable to establish that Trump or his campaign participated in a conspiracy to work with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election. (RELATED: AG Barr: ‘Bottom Line’ From Mueller Report Is ‘No Collusion’)

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 29: Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives to make a statement about the Russia investigation on May 29, 2019 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Mueller said that he is stepping down as special counsel and that the report he gave to the attorney general is his last words on the subject. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 29: Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives to make a statement about the Russia investigation on May 29, 2019 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Mueller said that he is stepping down as special counsel and that the report he gave to the attorney general is his last words on the subject. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mueller did not reach a conclusion on whether or not the president obstructed justice, compelling Attorney General Bill Barr to announce that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would not pursue that angle against the president.

The report appeared to knock down years of speculation that Trump colluded with Russia to get elected, clearing a major cloud that hung over his presidency since his inauguration.

WATCH:

KILLING AL-BAGHDADI

Trump green-lighted a U.S. Special Forces raid in late October that led to the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists. Al-Baghdadi was reportedly chased into a dead-end tunnel by a special forces canine, where the ISIS leader is believed to have detonated a suicide vest that killed himself and three children.

Shortly after that raid, Trump announced that the U.S. had also killed al-Baghdadi’s replacement. (RELATED: President Trump Announces Death Of Another ISIS Leader)

‘PHASE ONE’ TRADE DEAL WITH CHINA

The U.S. and China are set to sign a “phase one” trade deal next week in early January, the result of pressure from tariffs and negotiations between the two countries. Trump made standing up to China one of the main components of his presidency, promising American farmers that he would work out a better deal for them. The “phase one” deal includes some tariff relief, more Chinese purchases of American agricultural goods, and further protections on intellectual property.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 11: Chinese Vice Premier Liu He presents U.S. President Donald Trump with a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping after Trump announced a "phase one" trade agreement with China in the Oval Office at the White House October 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. China and the United States have slapped each other with hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs since the current trade war began between the world’s two largest national economies in 2018. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 11: Chinese Vice Premier Liu He presents U.S. President Donald Trump with a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping after Trump announced a “phase one” trade agreement with China in the Oval Office at the White House October 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. China and the United States have slapped each other with hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs since the current trade war began between the world’s two largest national economies in 2018. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

SPACE FORCE

Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act into law Dec. 20, which formally created the U.S. Space Force. The Space Force became the 6th independent branch of the military, and was the first new military service to be created in more than 70 years.

Along with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, Trump has redoubled American efforts to be the leader in space exploration and defense.

USMCA TRADE DEAL 

The Democratic-controlled House overwhelmingly passed Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in mid-December, handing the president a major win on trade. USMCA, which was negotiated as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), requires automobiles to be 75% manufactured in the U.S., provides more labor protections for Mexican workers, and adjusts the trade balances between the three countries.

RECORD STOCK MARKET GAINS

2019 was another banner year for the economy, with Trump presiding over record stock market gains. The Nasdaq topped 9,000 for the first time ever Dec. 26, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 28,621.39. The S&P 500 marked its 34th record close, hitting 3,239.91 last Thursday, Dec. 26. The stocks continue to bring good news for investors throughout the Trump presidency.

REMAIN IN MEXICO PROGRAM 

Trump has implemented a number of new immigration policies since taking office to try to combat the national security and humanitarian crisis on the southern border, but arguably the most successful in the administration’s perspective has been the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

MATAMOROS, MEXICO - DECEMBER 09: Asylum seekers (R), and Mexican citizens, (L) wait on the international bridge from Mexico to the United States on December 09, 2019 next to the border town of Matamoros, Mexico. They asylum seekers were waiting to be taken across by U.S. officials to immigration court in Brownsville, Texas. More than 1,000 Central American and Mexican asylum seekers have been staying, many for months, in a squalid camp, located next to the bridge in Matamoros, Mexico. Immigrant families seeking asylum are now required by the U.S. government to stay in Mexico as part of the Trump Administration's "Remain in Mexico" process for people legally seeking political asylum in the United States. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

MATAMOROS, MEXICO – DECEMBER 09: Asylum seekers (R), and Mexican citizens, (L) wait on the international bridge from Mexico to the United States on December 09, 2019 next to the border town of Matamoros, Mexico. They asylum seekers were waiting to be taken across by U.S. officials to immigration court in Brownsville, Texas.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The MPP program requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed in the U.S., clearing some of the overcrowding from U.S. detention centers. In September, nearly 50,000 asylum seekers were held in Mexico under the program. Just 11 of those individuals ultimately qualified for asylum.

WATCH:

HOSTAGE NEGOTIATIONS

The Trump administration managed to negotiate the release of more American hostages this year, including Kevin King, 63, who was held in Afghanistan for three years, and American graduate student Xiyue Wang, who was held in Iran for three years.

In Wang’s case, the administration claimed that they gave up little to Iran in exchange for his release. (RELATED: Iran Releases American Student Held Since 2016 In Prisoner Swap)

“No sanctions relief. No pallets of cash. No change in policy,” a State Department official told the Daily Caller.

The administration, led by Robert O’Brien, also notably negotiated rapper A$AP Rocky’s release from a Swedish prison after he was convicted of assault.

RECORD-LOW UNEMPLOYMENT 

The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% several times this year, the lowest rate on record since December 1969. Job gains also routinely outpaced economist predictions this year. For example, the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in November, while economists guessed just 187,000 jobs would be added.

Black and hispanic unemployment have been at their lowest levels since the U.S. started recording those categories. In September, the black unemployment rate hit 5.5% while the hispanic unemployment rate hit 3.9%.

DEREGULATION

Trump has outperformed his own promise to cut two regulations for every new one implemented since he took office. According to the White House, the administration has actually cut 8 and a half regulations for every new rule.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - FEBRUARY 28: President Donald Trump speaks before signing an Executive Order to begin the roll-back of environmental regulations put in place by the Obama administration February 28, 2017 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. The Clean Water Rule, also known as WOTUS, the Waters of the U.S. rule, has been unpopular with some farmers, housing developers and energy companies. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – FEBRUARY 28: President Donald Trump speaks before signing an Executive Order to begin the roll-back of environmental regulations put in place by the Obama administration February 28, 2017 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. The Clean Water Rule, also known as WOTUS, the Waters of the U.S. rule, has been unpopular with some farmers, housing developers and energy companies. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

Perhaps the administration’s most talked-about deregulatory efforts have been related to the environment.

In September, for example, Trump rolled back the Obama administration’s “Waters of the US” rule, which saw farmers facing jail time and significant fines for being unable to comply with the rule. In one case, a 77-year-old Navy veteran served 18 months in prison after digging ponds around his property to keep wildfires at bay; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that the ponds were too close to “navigable water” and thus the veteran needed a permit for them.

Trump similarly got rid of Obama-era rules that banned certain types of lightbulbs, forcing American consumers to buy more expensive energy-efficient bulbs. (RELATED: Trump Admin To Undo ‘Oppressive’ Obama-Era Water Regulation)

‘SALUTE TO AMERICA’

Trump managed to unite Americans for at least one day on the Fourth of July with his “Salute to America” parade, a demonstration of patriotism, military might, and American exceptionalism. The parade featured military flyovers, the U.S. Army Band, and a fireworks display. (RELATED: Trump Delivers ‘Salute To America’ As Americans Brave Pouring Rain On The National Mall)

Thousands of Americans lined up on the National Mall to watch the president deliver a speech honoring U.S. history and the military, despite the fact that it rained most of the day.