Aides think Trump, trying to fix the Comey media mess, made things worse with his NBC interview
The mood inside the White House is glum, with President Trump fuming over how the media is covering the firing of FBI Director James Comey and aides doing their best not to cross his path, several officials told Politico.
Several staffers thought it was a bad idea for him to schedule an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt, which aired Thursday — he ended up contradicting the White House's version of events regarding Comey's firing, saying he was going to fire him regardless of recommendations by the attorney general and deputy attorney general — but a person close to Trump said he was "fixated" on the news, thought the communications team wasn't doing its job, and he had to "take the situation into his own hands." He isn't alone in this thinking; son-in-law Jared Kushner also disapproves of how the press office is doing business, a person close to Trump told Politico, but other aides argue that the team wasn't given any direction or a game plan when Comey's firing was announced.
An outside adviser says that surrogates are not lining up to appear on television shows because Trump keeps making contradictory statements and they don't want to be publicly humiliated, and many aides agree that Trump's interview with Holt just made the Comey situation worse. In two of the funnier pieces of the puzzle, several aides immediately leaked to Politico that during a staff meeting on Thursday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary, lectured them about leaking to the media, saying it was bad for Trump, while White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is more bothered with The Washington Post reporting that he was hiding in some bushes than the coverage Trump is receiving. The Post corrected their report to say he was "among" bushes rather than "in" them, but that didn't stop Spicer from telling Politico Thursday night that the paper "falsely described the situation" and "grossly misstated the situation around our attempt to brief the press."