Trump team preps ‘war room’ to defend against Russia probe
The White House is preparing to establish an internal, war room-like operation aimed at developing a rapid-response and communications strategy in an attempt to keep up with the special counsel’s Russia investigation.
Throughout the highest levels of the White House, there are mounting concerns the West Wing is not adequately responding to the non-stop, 24-hour news cycle generated by the probe.
“This is the reality of the world we live in now,” a White House official said.
Axios was the first to report the war room planning.
Chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon have been involved in the discussions, which began before the two officials returned from the President’s overseas trip. But a White House official noted many more staffers are now involved.
“A lot of conversations,” the official said, describing the war room-like preparations as being in the early stages. “Everyone realizes we have to bolster our efforts and it’s still (to be decided) what that means.”
President Donald Trump would still have to sign off on any final war room plans, the official cautioned.
“There’s got to be a stronger rapid response and communications effort overall,” the official said. “Whether it’s the crisis of the moment or long term, it’s got to improve. That’s the discussion — how does that take shape.”
The internal White House war room may be aided by an outside rapid response operation, staffed by Trump loyalists who have remained outside the administration. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and ex-top campaign official David Bossie have been mentioned repeatedly in those conversations.
Lewandowski and Bossie have been spotted several times at the White House paying high-level visits in recent weeks, CNN has previously reported.
“I don’t think it should be any surprise that Corey wants to be involved in the White House,” this official said, hinting Lewandowski may even land a White House staff position. “I think you could see a scenario where he comes in, in some capacity.”
White House staffers took note of White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s missed opportunity to visit with Pope Francis during the President’s trip, fueling speculation that the embattled spokesman may be shifted into another role in the coming weeks.
A source close to the White House described Spicer’s absence during the papal visit as a “slight” from the President and his entourage.
“Spicer became a sympathetic figure in the media overnight,” a White House official quipped.