The week of wild policymaking has left lawmakers on Capitol Hill, investors on Wall Street and leaders around the world trying to make sense of it all. Republicans in Congress are wondering if Mr. Trump really intends to defy one of the party’s most valued and powerful constituencies to push for gun restrictions that they say will never go anywhere in Congress. Corporate executives and foreign governments were guessing whether Mr. Trump will really follow through on his unscripted vow to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum and, if so, what that might mean.
“Many people voted for Trump in order to throw a hand grenade into national politics,” said former Representative Timothy J. Roemer, Democrat of Indiana. “It seems he has done the same thing to Capitol Hill, and no one knows from a tweet to an exchange in an Oval Office meeting what’s next.”
Struggling to explain his evolving positions, Mr. Trump’s aides chose to emphasize his flexibility. “At least this president is holding forth for everyone to see in a listening session,” Kellyanne Conway, his counselor, said on Fox Business Network after conservatives expressed uncertainty about his publicly televised session on gun control. “This is what leaders do so everyone can see how the conversation is unfolding.”