Trump’s coronavirus speech sparks "total chaos" in his own administration

The result was confusion. Another U.S. official said they received calls from their European counterparts asking for clarification on exactly what the president was restricting in regard to travel to and from European countries. As of Thursday night, U.S. officials abroad said they were still unclear exactly how Trump’s proclamation would be implemented in real-time. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had not updated embassies with any guidance or notes on preventive measures.

“I’m used to it with this administration that we wouldn’t know anything until the morning after,” another U.S. official said. “But now basically a full work day later? That’s surprising even for these times.”

That lack of clarity extended to within the walls of the White House. Shortly after President Trump’s speech on Wednesday, White House aides and administration officials were already scrambling to walk back, clarify, or straight-up correct key portions of his high-stakes Oval Office address, furiously communicating with one another and inquisitive media outlets trying to figure out what had just happened…

“We are wasting time playing mop-up on something we absolutely should not have to do right now,” said a senior Trump administration official working on the communications clean-up since Wednesday evening. “And it goes without say[ing] that we aren’t allowed to admit that any of it is the fault of the president.”