Turbulent Trump presidency shows no signs of let-up

(CNN)America, and the world, should buckle up since Donald Trump is making clear there will be no let-up in the chaotic ride of his presidency after one of the most turbulent and jarring weeks of his term so far.

In a pair of speeches and a string of tweets over the weekend, Trump gave the impression that while much of Washington and the rest of the globe is reeling from his behavior, he is in his element.
It almost felt -- amid the West Wing backbiting and staff turmoil, and with multiple scandals and accusations battering the White House -- that Trump was making the point that he has actually seized control of his own presidency.
"I am accomplishing a lot in Washington and have never had a better time doing something, and especially since this is for the American People!" Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter, apparently keen to dispel reports by multiple media organizations that he is isolated, angry and veering out of control.
    Meanwhile, the President continues to stand by his steel and aluminum tariffs -- which have sparked fears of a trade war that could tip the global economy into turmoil -- though he left open the possibility Monday morning that he could lift them if NAFTA is renegotiated.
    "We are on the losing side of almost all trade deals. Our friends and enemies have taken advantage of the U.S. for many years. Our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it's time for a change! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" Trump wrote Sunday.
    The tweet was revealing because it showed the extent to which the President's worldview of winners and losers and a policy approach mirroring the binary outcomes of a real estate deal is driving vital government action.
    The President's off-the-cuff announcement of the tariffs last week came as a surprise because there was no immediate policy detail to back it up.
    But it should not come as a shock that the President had decided to side with the protectionists over the globalists in his administration. After all, he's been preaching his trade message for 30 years and it helped him carve a route through Midwestern swing states to the White House.
    White House trade guru Peter Navarro made clear on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that despite the fury and threats of retaliation from some of America's closest allies, it was full steam ahead.
    "At this point in time, there will be no country exclusions," he said, adding that once all the legal requirements have been worked out, that Trump could sign an order ushering in the tariffs this week or next.
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    The suddenness of Trump's demand for tariffs fueled fears among some of his allies that his presidency was beginning to unravel as he fumed at his subordinates and endured a run of bad news stories that has few parallels in modern times. Just last week:
    • Trump's confidante Hope Hicks resigned, a day after admitting to a congressional panel that she told white lies for her boss.
    • A volley of reports about his son-in-law Jared Kushner's business dealings while acting as a top adviser shuddered in to the West Wing.
    • Trump publicly feuded with his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and it became clear that special counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing multiple strands of inquiry leading into the White House.
    • Trump's chief of staff John Kelly suggested God had punished him by landing him in his job, while Anthony Scaramucci, the President's short-lived communications director, said White House morale was as bad as it's ever been.
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    Trump's extraordinary White House meeting on school violence -- in which he repudiated conservative orthodoxy on gun control in front of Vice President Mike Pence and a bipartisan group of lawmakers -- bolstered the impression that Trump was actually enjoying going rogue, free of political constraints.
    But it also raised questions about the President's consistency, because after demanding a "comprehensive" gun law reform bill, he sat down with top National Rifle Association leaders in the Oval Office.
    Trump seemed unchained again Saturday, when he addressed a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
    He lashed out at his predecessors in the White House, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats as they prep their 2018 election assault. But the most stunning remarks came when the President lauded Chinese President Xi Jinping for his power grab that could see him be the most powerful man in China for life, and effectively become a repressive dictator.
    "I think it's great. Maybe we'll give that a shot someday," the President said, according to an audio of the speech obtained by CNN.
    Trump's comic timing was well judged. But the comment was shocking nonetheless. It represented a wrenching reversal of nearly half a century of American foreign policy. And there have been plenty of signs that in temperament, if not action, Trump has a streak of authoritarianism in his political soul.
    On Saturday night at the Gridiron Club's annual dinner, the President made a rare attempt at self-mockery. But so raw is the political debate in Washington, and so tense his relations with the press, that many of his remarks had an undercurrent of malice.
    "So many people have been leaving the White House. It's actually been really exciting and invigorating 'cause you want new thought. So, I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good."