On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that his son was "open, transparent and innocent"
Donald Trump Jr. campaigns for his father, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Gilbert, Arizona. photo: AP/Matt York, photo: AP/Matt York
12 of July 2017 12:11:09
WASHINGTON – The snowballing revelations about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer during last year's presidential campaign have broadsided the White House, distracting from its agenda as aides grapple with a crisis involving the president's family.The public has not laid eyes on the president since his return from Europe Saturday. But in private, Trump has raged against the latest Russia development, with most of his ire directed at the media, not his son, according to people who have spoken to him in recent days.On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that his son was "open, transparent and innocent," again referring to the investigation as "the greatest Witch Hunt in political history." The president also questioned the sources of the media reporting on the story, despite the fact that his son personally released four pages of emails in which he communicates with an associate claiming to be arranging a meeting with a Russian government lawyer.
The bombshell revelation that Trump Jr. was eager to accept information from Moscow landed hard on weary White House aides. While staffers have grown accustomed to a good news cycle being overshadowed by the Russia investigations, Trump aides and outside advisers privately acknowledged that this week's developments felt more serious.In the emails, the intermediary says the attorney has negative information about Democrat Hillary Clinton that is part of the Russian government's efforts to help Trump in the campaign. The then-candidate's son responds: "I love it."This new setback raises new questions about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow during the election, a charge the president has denied for months. And it points those questions more directly at the inner circle of Trump's own family.As has been the pattern for Trump's White House, the controversy has sparked a new round of recriminations among the president's team. Nearly a dozen White House officials and outside advisers spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the mood in the West Wing.The president, in conversations with confidants, has questioned the quality of advice he has received from senior staff, including chief of staff Reince Priebus. However, Priebus has been a frequent target of criticism for months and even those taking aim at him now said it did not appear as though a shakeup was on the horizon.There has also been a difference of opinion within the West Wing as to how to handle the crisis, with some aides favoring more transparency than others. Some of the unhappiness centers on Trump's legal team, which is led by New York attorney Marc Kasowitz.An unusual statement Saturday night from the legal team's spokesman Mark Corallo appeared to claim Trump Jr., Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort were duped into meeting with the Russian lawyer, and was viewed as particularly unhelpful by senior White House officials.
Donald Trump Jr.'s emails have produced the kind of solid evidence the Russia connection story had been lacking. https://t.co/m062aWYcga— NPR (@NPR) July 12, 2017
JONATHAN LEMIREJULIE PACE