By impulsively announcing a policy, Trump often harms his chances of actually seeing it brought to life, given a directive’s typical lack of vetting. But because so much of the news cycle is driven by Trump’s off-the-cuff statements and tweets—and not necessarily the follow-through—his supporters are often left with the image of a president who has, in fact, slashed aid to Central America, even if the money is still flowing into the three countries in question. (It is.) As one senior Trump-campaign official told me last week, the president’s appeal is about “the fight,” not “the resolution.”

Since assuming office, Trump has issued many private demands to aides that have either been slow-walked or altogether ignored. But when the president dictates those spontaneous orders publicly, officials are suddenly accountable to a much broader audience—at least in theory—to make them a reality…

But for law-enforcement agencies to actually probe the Smollett case, or examine Pelosi’s interactions with Russian officials—well, it’s likely that was never really Trump’s point. As with the president’s claim that the U.S. had ended all aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, Trump’s exhilaration stemmed from his projection of toughness, not necessarily the fine print. As one of the former White House officials put it to me, Trump’s fitful orders are more about “venting” and “public messaging” than goal-setting. “Although he wishes the ‘demands’ would come true,” the source explained, “that’s secondary and perhaps not even expected.”