President Donald Trump may have been publicly claiming to be unconcerned about the Robert Mueller indictments, but new reports indicate that he is privately livid that they happened and apprehensive about what will happen next.
"The walls are closing in. Everyone is freaking out," one senior Republican told The Washington Post. Trump was reported to be personally upset at the possibility that the Mueller probe will start look into his private financial matters and was generally annoyed that the focus on the investigation distracted public attention from his policy initiatives like tax reform.
Even Trump's temporary sense of vindication that the indictments against former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his former business associate Rick Gates involved matters predating the campaign was short-lived. The Trump White House became concerned when they found out George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign unpaid foreign policy adviser, had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI about trying to cultivate a relationship between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
To deflect from this, Trump has focused on Manafort and has come up with various ways of downplaying the charges against Trump's former aide, according to the Associated Press. He's reportedly been telling aides that Manafort, the man once in charge of his campaign, was only a "part-timer," and that he hired someone who was merely politically corrupt.
One common theme among White House staffers and Trump himself was relief that Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, was not among those indicted.
"[Manafort] is further removed because he wasn't here when Trump was elected . . . because it's Manafort it's purely a campaign matter," a White House source told Axios. "Nobody internal will be weighing in. That's the holding position."
At the same time, the White House's insistence that the indictment of Manafort and Gates couldn't possibly hurt them does not ring true.
"If there's any blowback it's going to be because Gates was not completely cut off," a former Trump campaign official told Axios.