While the news was breaking of the Donald Trump Jr. revelation that the campaign was so desperate for “dirt” on Hillary Clinton they were willing to collude with Russia, President Donald Trump was “raging” behind closed doors.
According to an Associated Press report, the president is furious at the media for what he tweeted was “the greatest political witch hunt in history.” However, even CNN’s Chris Cuomo noted that unless Trump Jr. made up the email, it isn’t a witch hunt.
At the same time, Trump has railed about Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to confidants and the former RNC chair has been a target of criticism for months with constant speculation that a shakeup could happen.
During a Tuesday panel discussion, MSNBC’s Kristen Welker revealed a grim outlook of a White House desperately scrambling to come up with ways to spin the email from Trump Jr.’s email that proves he was willing to collude with the Russian government.
“This is now a White House that is in full damage control,” she explained. “This complicates the narrative even further that we have heard consistently — from the president, from the vice president, from his top officials on down — saying that no one from his campaign met with or knew about Russia’s efforts to try to intervene with Russia’s efforts to intervene in the 2016 race, or to try to collude with them.”
At the same time, White House staffers are terrified of having anything to do with Russian policies because they might end up as part of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“The White House has been thrust into chaos after days of ever-worsening revelations about a meeting between Donald Trump Jr,” The Washington Post reported. “One White House official went so far as to stop communicating with the president’s embattled son.”
At the same time, the legal teams seem to be confused with how to advocate for their individual clients without throwing another staffer or family member under the bus.
Legal team spokesman Mark Corallo spent Saturday night trying to claim that Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort had no idea what they were getting into and were somehow duped into meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Just days later, Trump Jr. revealed the spin was a lie and he was eager to meet.
“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer,” he wrote to publicist Rob Goldstone.
Meanwhile, the president has seemingly been in hiding. After an intense trip at the G-20 in which Trump was forced to let his daughter serve as a stand-in for him, Trump hasn’t surfaced to do anything other than Tweet. The White House has also refused to do any on-camera briefings.
According to TIME, Trump Jr, spent the day with friends and close business associates once the stories began to respond to his emails. His mood shifted from worry to defiance over the hours, confidants say. He has told friends that he understands the optics are bad but that the media has overblown the meeting and has vowed to fight back, which some allies are cautioning against.
The president leaves Wednesday evening for another international trip and won’t be seen publicly before the departure.