We're starting to freely get Trump regime "bunker mode" stories again, which is a fair indication that the people behind the scenes with Trump realize that when the hurricane hits, every one of them will be tossed in the path of the storm by Trump in order for him to survive.
In private, President Trump spent much of the past week brooding, as he often does. He has been anxious about the Russia investigation’s widening fallout, with his former campaign chairman standing trial. And he has fretted that he is failing to accrue enough political credit for what he claims as triumphs.
At rare moments of introspection for the famously self-centered president, Trump has also expressed to confidants lingering unease about how some in his orbit — including his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — are ensnared in the Russia probe, in his assessment simply because of their connection to him.
Yet in public, Trump is a man roaring. The president, more than ever, is channeling his internal frustration and fear into a ravenous maw of grievance and invective. He is churning out false statements with greater frequency and attacking his perceived enemies with intensifying fury. A fresh broadside came on Twitter at 11:37 p.m. Friday, mocking basketball superstar LeBron James and calling CNN’s Don Lemon “the dumbest man on television.”
This is the new, uneasy reality for Trump at an especially precarious moment of his presidency, with the Republican Party struggling to keep control of Congress, where a Democratic takeover brings with it the specter of impeachment, and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s grip seeming to tighten on the president and his circle.
Trump, who has decamped to his New Jersey golf estate for an 11-day working vacation, is at a critical juncture in the Russia investigation as he decides in coming days whether to sit for an interview with Mueller or defy investigators and risk being issued a subpoena.
“He’s more definitive than ever: This investigation should end now, and Mueller should put out what he has,” said Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney. “He doesn’t think they have anything, and he wants the country to move on.”
This portrait of Trump behind the scenes is based on interviews with 14 administration officials, presidential friends and outside advisers to the White House, many of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity to share candid assessments.
Trump appeared to stand in conflict with his own government when he blasted the “Russian hoax” just hours after his national security team gathered at the White House on Thursday in a rare show of force to warn that Russia is yet again trying to interfere in U.S. elections. But a White House spokesman said Trump instructed them to hold the news conference and was adamant that they explain what the administration is doing to safeguard the midterm elections.
The frequency of the president’s mistruths has picked up, as well. The Washington Post Fact Checker found last week that Trump has now made 4,229 false or misleading claims so far in his presidency — an average of nearly 7.6 such claims per day, and an increase of 978 in just two months.
They still refuse to use the word "lie" and "liar" for Trump and what he does, but this is the closest they've come yet to fully describing the trainwreck stage that this is rapidly becoming. The post-Helsinki distancing of Trump's national security team from Trump's own actions would have been unthinkable even thirty days ago, but the twin pressures of Mueller and the midterms are serving as hammer-and-anvil to the GOP and they know it.
Trump could care less about Manafort, really. But Don Junior, well, that's a different story.
President Donald Trump is concerned about whether his son Donald Trump Jr. might have exposure in the special counsel's Russia investigation, leading to his increasingly frenzied public agitation over Robert Mueller, sources close to the White House tell CNN.
Trump has been concerned for months now that the Mueller probe could reach his family, and potentially his son-in-law Jared Kushner, but his focus has turned to his namesake in recent weeks, one person who speaks with Trump frequently tells CNN. This is one of several reasons Trump has upped his public attacks on Mueller, because he doesn't want him touching his family, the person adds.
Trump Jr. and his attorney have insisted he has always told the truth. But his claims publicly and to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he never told his father about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian attorney promising dirt on Hillary Clinton have been contradicted by others in Trump's orbit. Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime attorney and former fixer, is said to be prepared to testify that the President knew about the Trump Tower meeting ahead of time sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN. Trump has denied knowing about the meeting before it happened.
Others who have been close to the President -- including his former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon — have suggested the President at the very least knew shortly after the fact.
Asked about CNN's latest reporting on the President's mindset, a source close to Trump Jr. said he's not concerned and maintains he did nothing wrong.
Earlier this week, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, told CNN, "If he misled the committee, he's lying to Congress. That's a crime. And that'd be up to the prosecutors, not me."
We'll see what happens. As I said earlier today, the hammer of justice is coming.