As has been the case since President Donald Trump took office, the White House staff had a hard time dealing with the aftermath of the bombshell report about the president disclosing highly classified information to Russian officials.
Only a day after Trump drew criticism for firing now-former FBI Director James Comey, the POTUS might have spilled sensitive state secrets to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak — a move that jeopardizes an important source of intelligence about Islamic State, The Washington Post reported.
The revelation instantly sent the White House into crisis mode, with top officials like National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster struggling to issue a complete — and convincing — denial of the report.
“The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false,” McMaster said on the White House lawn, following the Post’s disclosure.
However, McMaster was accused of “playing with words” by Greg Miller, one of the co-writers of the report. Also, the newspaper’s national editor Scott Wilson tweeted the NatSec adviser "had the opportunity to call the story 'false' before we published it (we quoted him on the record.) He did not."
Meanwhile, White House communications staff and other top officials were "hiding in offices," according to a senior Trump aide, who spoke to the Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity.
“Don’t ask me about how this looks, we all know how this looks,” the aide stated.
The situation at the White House escalated to the extent that senior Trump team members were heard screaming inside the Cabinet Room.
Reporters, including BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo, overheard “yelling” between Secretary Sean Spicer, chief White House counsel Steve Bannon, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House Communications Director Michale Dubke. In fact, the shouting was so intense that White House staffers had to turn the volume up on TVs to drown out their loud voices.
Per @TreyYingst, Bannon, Mike Dubke, Sarah Sanders and Spicer walked into cabinet room just now. They did not look happy.— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) May 15, 2017
Can now hear yelling coming from room where officials are. https://t.co/xh8LQ0paPM— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) May 15, 2017
WH comms staffers just put the TVs on super loud after we could hear yelling coming from room w/ Bannon, Spicer, Sanders— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) May 15, 2017
The White House was already having a bad week, following Comey’s abrupt dismissal, allegedly over the FBI’s investigation into links between Trump’s 2016 campaign associates and Russia.
However, it’s going to be an even more challenging task to defend the president potentially putting American national security at risk.