President Donald Trump’s White House staff are living in dread that the hot-headed president will lash out at Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in ways that will only make the already complicated situation even more difficult.
One aide anonymously told The Daily Beast that staffers are most concerned that Trump will fire Mueller or fire other officials to pave the way for Mueller’s termination, thereby kicking off an “apocalyptic sh*storm.”
The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff, Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng interviewed multiple Trump administration officials and advisors. They painted a picture of a White House under siege, with staff praying the president can rein in his impulses and behave as Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election begins to cross over into Trump and his family’s personal financial dealings.
“Inside the White House, it’s not just the potential legal jeopardy that has officials concerned; it’s how President Trump might react to news that his and his family’s finances are under investigation — and the political and legal consequences that could ensue from a Trump backlash against the news,” said The Daily Beast.
“The worry is what the president does now,” said one official. “Whether he does something that’s gonna make everything else even more difficult.”
“Just keep him off the Twitter and on the teleprompter,” said another.
The greatest worry is that Trump will make a “Saturday Night Massacre”-style move and begin firing Justice Department officials until he finds someone willing to take Mueller off the investigation. The president can’t fire Mueller himself, but he can issue the order to the Justice Department.
Some officials said that they believe newly appointed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would check the president before allowing such a move, but Trump has shown himself to be deaf to advice and constructive criticism since he began his campaign.
The Daily Beast said, “For months, White House advisers have been urging the president — who has no qualms venting about Mueller and other top law-enforcement officials publicly — not to order the firing of Mueller, as aides generally recognize the ‘apocalyptic sh*tstorm,’ as one White House adviser put it, that would result.”
“[Trump] has gone up to the line of and flirted with the idea of firing [officials], including Sessions,” one Trump adviser said. “But we’re not at code red at all yet.”