The mood inside the White House is about what you'd expect — tense, dark, with some paranoia for good measure, more than a dozen officials, outside advisers, and friends of President Trump told The Washington Post Tuesday.
The administration is dealing with the fallout from Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer in June 2016, who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump is furious that now his eldest son is involved in the Russia scandal, and even people who support Trump Jr. call the situation a "Category 5 hurricane." At the same time, two senior White House officials and an outside ally said Trump is being pushed by daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump, son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and first lady Melania Trump to replace Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, on the grounds there needs to be a staff shakeup; representatives for all three deny this, while friends told the Post Trump is hesitant to replace Priebus while Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
A constant question in the White House is, "Who's leaking information to the media?" and to change the narrative, some GOP operatives are planning on looking up old stories by journalists who write about the White House, finding any mistakes or perceived biases, then demanding corrections before blasting the stories on social media and conservative outlets, one person told the Post. Another admitted this might not work, since "the meeting happened. It's tough to go to war with the facts."
As for Trump Jr., people close to him say he has become defiant, and agreed to an interview Tuesday night with Trump friend Sean Hannity because, as the Post reports, he "saw the Hannity appearance as an opportunity to give his version of Richard Nixon's 'Checkers' speech, a 1952 address in which the then-vice-presidential candidate defended himself against accusations of financial improprieties." Some friends are distancing themselves from Trump Jr. as they wait to see what happens, and they say it's too bad he can't spend his days as he'd like: hunting and running the Trump Organization. "The kid is an honest kid," one friend of 39-year-old Trump Jr. said. "The White House should've never let that story go out on the president's son."