“The messaging has just been horrible,” said David Lapan, a former Department of Homeland Security spokesman early in the Trump administration who is now at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “It’s just been all over the map. At a time when you have something so serious, you need clear communication and instead what we got was contradictory, confusing communication from an administration that already has a trust deficit.”

With Trump, so much of his presidency is situational — he careens like a bumper car from one crisis to another, many of them self-created, rarely pausing to set a straight-ahead course but never lacking for energy and always willing to ram into other vehicles. No matter how much aides try to impose an orderly process, he still prefers seat-of-the-pants governance, leaving advisers scrambling to adjust.

Trump has long said that he likes to be unpredictable and sees that as a strength, meaning he can take enemies by surprise, as he did in taking out perhaps the second-most important figure in Iran, one with much American blood on his hands. But it leaves allies guessing just as much as adversaries, making it a challenge to build support for Trump’s decisions.