RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
President Trump begins his first full week in the White House today. He's made a lot of promises about what he plans to accomplish in his first few weeks in office. That didn't stop him and his staff from getting locked in a back-and-forth with reporters over the weekend, mainly over how big the crowds were at Trump's inauguration. Here's White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
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SEAN SPICER: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration - period.
MARTIN: That statement is not true. Spicer didn't take any questions. But photos and public transit figures make it clear his statement on inauguration attendance was false. For more on Trump's first week in office, we're joined by NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Good morning, Tam.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.
MARTIN: So Trump did try to get down to work in his first few days. He signed an executive order on rolling back the Affordable Care Act, which we'll talk about a little later. He reached out to Israel. He's going to meet with the president of Mexico to start negotiating over NAFTA. That was announced. So with all that, walk us through how the size of the inauguration crowds became such a big deal.
KEITH: Well, the president brought it up. He was delivering remarks at the CIA on Saturday. And he was there to mend fences, but he ended up spending a lot of time talking about the crowd at his inauguration, saying things that simply weren't true, like that the crowd extended all the way to the Washington Monument. It didn't. And then his press secretary came out and amplified his claims, adding evidence to back it up that was verifiably untrue, like the Metro ridership figures that just weren't accurate.
So then this became an issue of the president and his press secretary saying things that were not true about something that doesn't even really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. And why the crowds? Well, they've been a focus of Donald Trump since the very first day of his campaign. And even when he had huge crowds, he would often exaggerate the size. In part, it's an affirmation of this movement that he says, and he said in his inaugural address, that he is leading.
MARTIN: Let's talk about tax returns. This was a big issue on the campaign trail. Now people in the Trump camp in the administration suggesting Trump might not release them at all.
KEITH: That's right. All of this came up because of a petition on the White House website. Much of the White House website was completely scrubbed - you know, new people in office. But one thing that stayed up was this feature that allows people to create petitions. All the old petitions went away.
But as soon as new petitions went up, there was one that said that President Trump should release his tax returns and comply with the Emoluments Clause. Already, it has more than 250,000 signatures. The site says if it gets more than 100,000 it will get an official response. And Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to the president, was asked to respond on ABC yesterday.
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KELLYANNE CONWAY: The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care. They voted for him.
KEITH: Polls indicate a strong majority of Americans, including about half the people who voted for Donald Trump, want him to release his tax returns.
MARTIN: Lastly, I want to get back to the Affordable Care Act because President Trump did sign this executive order this weekend as an initial step toward making the repeal happen. Asking a lot of you in 30 seconds, Tam, but what did he do?
KEITH: Well, the order talks about easing the burden of the Affordable Care Act on individuals, insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, even medical device makers. How this plays out isn't entirely clear yet. But federal agencies enforce a lot of the Affordable Care Act, like minimum coverage requirements and also the mandate that people buy coverage. If that mandate weren't enforced, some experts say that it could destabilize the insurance market and Obamacare.
MARTIN: NPR's Tamara Keith. Thanks so much, Tamara.
KEITH: You're welcome.
MARTIN: And the president is expected to sign executive orders later this morning. So we will check back in with Tamara then. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.