Trump Struggles To Stay On Message — Contradicts Advisers On Three Policy Issues In A Week

President Donald Trump confounded his advisers and has appeared to directly contradict the official White House stance in three distinct policy arenas, generating widespread confusion among political allies and enemies alike.

Trump seemed to stray from official administration orthodoxy on three prominent issues of the day: the legislative fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the reauthorization of the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the viability of funding a nationwide infrastructure overhaul through public-private partnerships. The apparent political missteps all occurred within days of each other.

Trump criticized public-private partnerships — a combination of government funding and private investment — as a realistic avenue to fund infrastructure projects. Trump cast doubt on the approach Friday night at Camp David, hours before White House adviser Gary Cohn gave a presentation emphasizing public-private partnerships as the primary funding mechanism for infrastructure overhaul, according to The Washington Post.

The White House pushed back on WaPo’s reporting, telling The Daily Caller News Foundation that there is no disconnect between Trump and Cohn’s respective visions regarding infrastructure, and insisted that any suggestion to the contrary emerges from a simplistic understanding of the policy area. A White House spokesperson further explained the White House intends on presenting an infrastructure framework that relies on $200 billion in government spending, but is agnostic as to whether state and local governments burden the public with any shortfall through user fees, or rely on private investment to make up the difference.

The confusion continued unabated following Trump’s return from Camp David during a televised Tuesday meeting focused on the ongoing Congressional immigration negotiations. The meeting –televised to ward off continuing speculation surrounding Trump’s mental facilities — ultimately revealed Trump’s limited understanding of terms relevant to the debate.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California coaxed Trump into conceding that he would sign off on a “clean” DACA bill — a bill with no additional border security measures appended to it — in a stark departure from the official position long espoused by the White House and GOP leadership. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy quickly interceded after Trump answered in the affirmative when asked if he would agree to a clean bill, reiterating that Republicans will only agree to a legislative fix for Dreamers if Democrats concede funding for security measures like a border wall.

The reversals continued Thursday when Trump contradicted the official White House position regarding the reauthorization of an element of the FISA law that entitles intelligence agencies to collect the communications of foreigners abroad without a warrant. Trump criticized the program and suggested it played a role in the surveillance of officials on his presidential campaign after the point was made on “Fox and Friends.” He walked back a tweet roughly two hours later after speaking with House Speaker Paul Ryan, drawing a distinction between “unmasking” — a term used to denote the practice of revealing the identity of Americans who communicate with foreign surveillance targets — and the surveillance of “foreign bad guys.”

Trump tweeted hours after White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders clarified the White House’s opposition to increased privacy protections Wednesday night, telling reporters the amendment “would re-establish the walls between intelligence and law enforcement that our country knocked down following the attacks of 9/11 in order to increase information sharing and improve our national security.”

The FISA reauthorization vote passed the House Thursday afternoon — absent the privacy protecting amendment Trump appeared to endorse.

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