WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's abrupt change in tone on family separations this week exhibited a rare public capitulation for a president who never apologizes, never backs down and never admits he was wrong.
But in another sense, Trump's handling of the controversy was all so very Trumpian, marked by bombastic attacks, inconsistent messaging, sudden policy changes and chaotic implementations.
The fast-moving series of events recalled the hectic early days of the Trump administration, when Trump signed an executive order barring people from entering the country from seven predominately Muslim countries. More than 700 travelers already in flight were detained at airports as agencies scrambled to understand and implement the hastily drafted order.
A recap of how the week unfolded:
Fathers Day protests at detention centers set the tone for the week, as activists, immigrants and Democratic lawmakers converged on detention centers across the country.
“What I saw in there is inhumane," said Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J., at a protest in Elizabeth, N.J. "I see the politics of this administration and it turns my stomach, because I know what this country stands for."
Past and present first ladies began to speak out, too. Melania Trump's office released a statement: "Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."
A Quinnipiac University National Poll poll showed that voters opposed the family separation policy 66 percent to 27 percent. But Republican voters supported it, 55 percent to 35 percent.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders delayed a daily briefing nearly four hours as she waited for Nielsen to get back from New Orleans to answer reporters' questions. As they waited, reporters listened to a covert recording of children in a detention center obtained by the nonprofit news organization Pro Publica.
Trump started the day on Twitter by attacking Democrats. "They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13."
Later, at a small business event, Trump insisted that he had no choice: Either arrest everyone who crosses the border illegally, or allow "totally open borders."
"What I'm asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year — the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit," he said. "This is the only solution to the border crisis."
The Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that 2,342 children had been separated from their families since May. The Associated Press reported that even infants had been taken from their mothers and housed at so-called "tender-age" shelters.
As pressure mounted, Trump went to Capitol Hill to meet with House Republican leaders to find a way out. But he failed to give a clear endorsement to either of the two main bills being considered.
Neilson was confronted by protesters at a Mexican restaurant in Washington.
After weeks of insisting that only Congress could address the issue of family separations, Trump announced that he would sign an executive order.
Trump said first lady Melania and daughter Ivanka helped bring about the change of heart.
"if you're weak, which people would like you to be — if you're really, really pathetically weak, the country is going to be overrun with millions of people," Trump said before signing the order Wednesday. "And if you're strong, then you don't have any heart. That's a tough dilemma. Perhaps I'd rather be strong, but that's a tough dilemma."
The executive order created immediate confusion, as federal agencies give different accounts of how it will impact children already separated from their parents.
In a memo to the Pentagon, the Department of Health and Human Services asked military officials prepare to house up to 20,000 immigrants at posts scattered throughout Texas and Arkansas.
The House of Representatives voted down a restrictive immigration bill put forward by conservatives, 193 to 231. At the same time, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled from the schedule a vote on a more moderate plan, suggesting he didn't have the votes to pass that, either.
First Lady Melania Trump made an unannounced trip to the border to visit a migrant children's center. But it was her choice of apparel that made headlines: Boarding the plane outside Washington, she was seen wearing a green jacket with large, white lettering on the back. It read, "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?."
USA TODAY reported that thousands of criminal cases of illegal border crossing were resolved by a misdemeanor conviction, $10 in court costs and no additional jail time.
Time Magazine sparked controversy when it published a cover showing Trump facing down a 2-year-old Honduran girl who had become the emblem of separated children. But the girl's father said the girl was only temporarily separated from her mother after crossing the border — and the photographer confirmed that mother and daughter departed in the same van.
Trump reversed his strategy on legislation, telling Republicans in Congress they should "stop wasting their time" on immigration bills and instead wait until after the midterm elections in November.
And in an event on the White House campus, Trump met with families of victims killed by undocumented immigrants — castigating Democrats and the media for not focusing more on "the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones."
"The word you have to think about is 'permanently," he said.