White House officials did not expect a news conference in Trump Tower on Tuesday.
The president was slated to take no questions, but he "went rogue," a White House official told NBC News.
Instead of a brief statement about infrastructure, White House advisors saw their boss bicker with reporters and lay the blame on "both sides" for violence at a white nationalist rally. Trump claimed that not all participants in the rally were bad and were treated "unfairly" by the press.
White House aides, particularly chief of staff John Kelly, appeared uncomfortable during the exchanges.
The bizarre display will likely do little to stanch the bipartisan criticism heaped on Trump on Saturday after he condemned violence "on many sides." The White House attempted to limit the damage Monday, when Trump made a statement condemning neo-Nazis, white supremacists and KKK members.