What to make of Trump's mixed messages

Julianne Smith on how to deal with the US cabinet’s mixed messages on Nato and Russia

The World Today Published 9 February 2017 Updated 24 November 2020 3 minute READ

Julianne Smith

US Ambassador to NATO

It is not uncommon for US presidents to encounter situations where their cabinet members appear to be off-message. Yes, each president chooses his own cabinet with the aim of identifying people they believe will support and help implement their policy agenda. But as we have witnessed many times throughout our history, even the most loyal cabinet member can arrive in office with their own agenda.

As a result, cabinet members sometimes cross signals with the White House in speeches, Congressional testimony, or policy announcements. What is rare, however, is for such contradictions to become so apparent even before a president is sworn into office.

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