What Is Driving the Current Trump-Induced Chaos?

The word “chaos” is once again being employed to describe the Trump administration. Apparently the president has put white nationalist Stephen Miller in charge of immigration policy and empowered him to implement a purge of top-level staff at the Department of Homeland Security.

According to Jake Tapper, it all started a little over two weeks ago.

Two Thursdays ago, in a meeting at the Oval Office with top officials — including Nielsen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, top aides Jared Kushner, Mercedes Schlapp and Dan Scavino, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and more — the President, according to one attendee, was “ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue.”

Senior administration officials say that Trump then ordered Nielsen and Pompeo to shut down the port of El Paso the next day, Friday, March 22, at noon. The plan was that in subsequent days the Trump administration would shut down other ports…

Last Friday, the President visited Calexico, California, where he said, “We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple.”

Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”

In other words, the president told border agents to break the law. Tapper goes on to report that when Trump left, their leaders had the unenviable task of telling the agents that they must follow the law and ignore what the president told them to do. During an era in which we are flooded daily with examples of how Trump is unfit for office, encouraging law enforcement officers to break the law heads to the top of the list.

While it is true that Trump has often raged about immigration, the current level of chaos is indicative of the fact that he is in the midst of taking this issue to a whole new level. That could be because his policies are failing miserably and he continues to find his moves stymied by the courts. Faced with that kind of defeat, this president doesn’t re-evaluate—he doubles down.

But it’s also interesting to note what was happening a little over two weeks ago when this Trump-induced chaos began. The day he was ranting and raving in the Oval office was the day before Mueller gave his final report to Attorney General William Barr. It’s clear that the president knew it was coming. Then, on the day he wanted Nielsen and Pompeo to shut down the El Paso port, it was delivered to the Justice Department.

Lest anyone is tempted to believe that this was some grand strategy dreamed up in the White House to distract the media, take a look at how Trump biographer, Timothy O’Brien, reacted to the idea that the president’s management style is based on a “hub and spokes model.”

Lest it’s lost on anyone by now, Donald Trump is not some Peter Drucker-style organisational guru. He doesn’t have a management “theory” at all, much less any coherent “hub and spokes model” deployed with purpose to achieve substantive policy goals…There were no hubs and spokes at the Trump Organization for most of its existence. There was just a hub. The White House is the same and anyone who wants to use consultant speak to parse Trumpian chaos, staff turnover and bumbling is (no doubt intentionally) kidding themselves.

The “hub” in the White House is a deeply disturbed individual who lashes out to lie, distract, and blame whenever he feels threatened. Between the findings in the Mueller report and other investigations that are still ongoing, Trump has never been more threatened by the consequences of his illegal and unethical activities than he is right now. As the heat turns up, things will only get worse.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.