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First immigration, then guns, now tariffs: Policy chaos defines Trump's White House

Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

On Thursday, Trump returned briefly to the subject of how to respond to mass shootings such as the killings in Parkland, by hosting a closed-door roundtable on violent video games and whether those are a factor in motivating mass shooters. Critics complained that, by turning his attention to video games, Trump was distracting from proposals to limit guns such as the AR-15 assault rifle used in the Florida massacre and past shootings.

A day earlier, the president likewise was back on the subject of immigration and Dreamers, briefly, but only to blame Democrats for the legislative impasse in a speech to a conservative Latino business group.

Long before his political career, Trump disclosed his love of chaos in his 1987 book, "The Art of the Deal."

"I keep a lot of balls in the air," he wrote, "because most deals fall out."

His friends defend the president, and point to the legal troubles that vex him. Eric Bolling, a friend who talks to Trump regularly, said it is hard to move forward when dealing with the "constant overhang" of a special counsel's inquiry, which is investigating the Trump campaign's possible coordination with Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

"Lawyers chew up so much of your valuable time, especially when they're talking to every person," Bolling said. "I'm surprised he has gotten this much accomplished."

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Lately, Trump has also been dogged by allegations from an adult-film star, Stormy Daniels, who says she had an affair with Trump. She was paid $130,000 by Trump's lawyer to remain silent before the 2016 election. She reportedly is preparing to speak publicly about the matter soon.

Also exacerbating Trump's ability to make and push policies that advance his agenda, or respond to unexpected crises, is the unusually high turnover in his White House and the administration more broadly, and the vacancies that remain in many essential offices, including ambassadorships.

Trump often has refused to appoint people who spoke out against him during the campaign, leaving a large pool of experienced Republicans and policy experts on the sidelines. Now, more than a year into his presidency, the perceived dysfunction and Trump's record of publicly humiliating top advisers has made some potential recruits unwilling to enter his administration.

Trump nonetheless lauded his practice of pitting advisers against each other at an appearance this week alongside Sweden's prime minister.


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