White House aides and senior staffers admit that former FBI Director James Comey's revelations on Tuesday are probably going to be the hull breach that sinks Donald Trump's presidency.
"I don't see how Trump isn't completely f*cked," said one senior official to The Daily Beast on Tuesday, referring to Comey's announcement that he has kept notes of his conversations with Pres. Trump regarding requests Trump made asking Comey to back off on the investigation of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
"The former FBI director—who President Donald Trump fired and then later threatened on Twitter last week—reportedly kept notes of their conversations, and some of those details are now making their way into public view. According to one of those memos, first reported by The New York Times on Tuesday, the president urged Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser," wrote the Beast's Lachlan Makay, Asawin Suebsaeng and Jana Winter.
“The obstruction of justice articles of impeachment counts are stacking up, it seems,” said one FBI agent to the Daily Beast. The agent said that firing Director Comey was a “big gamble" on Trump's part. "You’ve got to kill him, metaphorically. You can’t just wound him.”
The White House is reportedly in an anarchic state of crisis, with Trump sulking in the residence -- becoming "increasingly isolated and agitated" and turning on some of his closest advisers -- while his staff struggle to contain the damage, all the while living in dread of what their boss may say next on Twitter.
The Daily Beast spoke with nine current and former Trump administration and law enforcement officials for the story, which paints a funereal picture of life in the beleaguered White House.
"I feel like running down the hallway with a fire extinguisher,” said one White House adviser who asked not to be named.
The week began badly enough with the administration being forced to admit that Trump gave away classified intel during his Oval Office visit with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. -- and reputed Kremlin spy-master -- Sergey Kislyak.
Monday night, even before news of the Comey memo broke, a Trump staffer told Daily Beast reporters, "Every time I feel like we’re getting a handle on the last Russia fiasco, a new one pops."
The next day, after the Comey news, the official revised their previous statement to say, "We can’t even wrap up one Russia fiasco before we’re on to the next one.”
Another White House staffer who worked on the Trump 2016 campaign said, "I don’t see how Trump isn’t completely fucked.”
National security attorney Brad Moss told the Beast that Trump has stepped far over the line, in spite of what his defenders say.
"Even if there is some legal nuance that the President could rely upon to save himself here from an obstruction charge, the allegation (if true) is politically devastating," Moss said. "The President didn’t just walk up to the line, he stepped over it without a moment’s hesitation and threw aside decades of institutional precedent separating the FBI from the White House.”
The Beast quoted former FBI Special Agent Clint Watts, who said, “This is now a consistent pattern of obstruction [of justice] by the President... The loyalty oath dinner, the request to squash the Flynn investigation and Comey’s firing over Russia all point to a President Trump who has no respect for the rule of law, and doesn’t realize that he should not run the country the way he ran his businesses.”
Members of the House and Senate investigations of the Trump campaign's interactions with Russian officials during the presidential race say that they are preparing subpoenas to obtain Comey's memos, which apparently the former FBI director has made a habit of keeping whenever he has come up against politically sensitive matters during his career in Washington.