Bannon was also pleased that his group had Trump’s ear. A rivalry had developed between Trump’s outside advisers and the White House political shop, and Bannon’s group was winning. “The war room should be done by the White House, but there’s no one there competent enough or hardworking enough to do it,” he told me. “You got the ‘hardcores’ on the outside who understand Trump’s message, understand Trump, understand the base and what got him here and what takes him to the next level.” In June, Trump ignored the advice of Stepien and DeStefano and gleefully plunged into G.O.P. primaries. Trump even tweeted that he was defying their counsel. “My political representatives didn’t want me to get involved in the Mark Sanford primary, thinking that Sanford would easily win,” he wrote on June 13. “Sanford was so bad, I had to give it a shot.” In late June, according to a source, Trump flew to South Carolina against Stepien and DeStefano’s wishes to campaign for South Carolina governor Henry McMaster, who was fending off a tough primary challenge. McMaster won.
In April 2018, Trump enacted a "zero tolerance" immigration policy that took adults irregularly entering the U.S. into custody for criminal prosecution and forcibly separated children from parents, eliminating the policy of previous administrations that made exceptions for families with children. By mid-June, more than 2,300 children had been placed in shelters, including "tender age" shelters for babies and toddlers, culminating in demands from Democrats, Republicans, Trump allies, and religious groups that the policy be rescinded. Trump falsely asserted that his administration was merely following the law. On June 20, Trump signed an executive order to end family separations at the U.S. border. On June 26 a federal judge in San Diego issued a preliminary injunction requiring the Trump administration to stop detaining immigrants parents separately from their minor children, and to reunite family groups that had been separated at the border.
Presidential approval ratings have shown Trump to be the least popular president in the history of modern opinion polling as of the start of his second year in office. Early polls have shown Trump trailing by a margin of 10–18 percent against several hypothetical Democratic candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand. In 2018, the presidential reelection effort and the Congressional midterms both drew presidential campaign attention.