President Donald Trump has maintained a relative calm in the face of the Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort drama, but aides are worried that he will inflict further damage on himself through angry tweets, and that his associates’ legal issues will lend credence to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
According to a Wednesday Washington Post report, Trump gathered his top lieutenants — Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, counselor Kellyanne Conway and Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Shine — to give him a damage assessment.
Since then, his surrogates have hewed closely to talking points that the Manafort conviction is separate from Trump and that the Cohen plea deal does not set anything in stone—and that overall, neither of the cases are related to Russia collusion.
Sanders reeled off those points repeatedly at her press briefing Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s the atomic bomb that others have suggested,” Republican strategist Josh Holmes told the Washington Post. “I don’t think anybody who is a Trump supporter has been sitting around for the past six months banking their support on the president’s denial of his relationship with Stormy Daniels.”
Staffers have been trying to distract Trump with his favorite activities like golfing and campaign rallies, to keep him from watching TV.
Nevertheless, many feel that Trump’s composure and two sentences of talking points can only last so long.
“This Cohen stuff is an earthquake,” Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and Trump supporter, told the Washington Post. “Cohen is admitting that Trump told him to commit a crime. A lot of people in Trump world have been spinning and spinning. How do you spin a fact?”