WASHINGTON — White House officials were scrambling Thursday to figure out how to counter the renewed Democratic impeachment push, with one source familiar with the situation describing a sense of “total panic” over the past week at the lack of a plan to address the new reality.
There appears to be rising “anxiety, unease, and concern” — as one person close to the White House described the mood in the West Wing — that the whistleblower’s allegations could seriously wound the president and some of those around him. “There’s not a lot of confidence that there’s no there there,” this person said.
White House officials remained unsure of how to proceed, not only because there is no apparent plan to deal with the situation, but because the allegations are so serious that the usual methods the president has used to successfully escape past controversies may not apply: “This doesn’t look like something that’s going to be overtaken by the next news cycle,” the person quipped.
Another person familiar with the discussions described the mood inside the White House as “shell-shocked,” with increasing wariness that, as this impeachment inquiry drags out, the likelihood increases that the president could respond erratically and become “unmanageable.”
That concern was echoed by another source, who said that some around the president anticipate he will engage in more “impulsive” behavior, with pressure expected to build on him daily during the impeachment inquiry.