From the Left



Nobody knows what Trump is doing. Not even Trump.

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Paul Ryan could not have been more clear.

After meeting with his Republican caucus Wednesday morning on the first day back from their long summer break, he declared at a news conference that Democrats' call for a three-month extension of the government's borrowing limit was "ridiculous."

"That's ridiculous and disgraceful, that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment," he repeated. He called it "unworkable," said it would jeopardize hurricane response and called out Democratic leaders by name for promoting what "I don't think is a good idea."

About an hour later, Ryan and other GOP leaders sat in the White House with President Trump, who told them he wants ... a three-month increase of the debt ceiling, just as Democrats proposed.

Such chaos and confusion at the highest level of American government hadn't been seen since, well, the day before.

On Tuesday, even as the administration announced that it was ending protection from deportation for the 800,000 "dreamers" -- mostly young people who know no country but America -- there were signs that Trump had no idea what he was doing. "As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind," Michael Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis of the New York Times reported, citing an anonymous source.

Sure enough, Trump fired off a tweet Tuesday night that revised his position. He called on Congress to "legalize" the dreamers program and vowed to "revisit this issue" if Congress can't.

Even Trump's close advisers seem to have little knowledge of, much less control over, what he says and does.

Trump has signaled that he wants to end a free-trade deal with South Korea, even though his national security adviser, his defense secretary and the director of the National Economic Council all object. He and Defense Secretary James Mattis have contradicted each other about whether to talk with North Korea. Chief of Staff John Kelly's attempts to tone down Trump's antics have reportedly led Trump to escalate his attacks -- on Kelly. Trump has publicly criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions and repeatedly contradicted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner have let it leak that Trump ignored their advice on Charlottesville and other matters.

One imagines a future scene in the Situation Room:


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