Trump con­tem­plates White House over­haul

U.S. pres­i­dent re­turns from over­seas trip to find Rus­sian med­dling cri­sis wors­en­ing


WASHINGTON— U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is con­sid­er­ing over­haul­ing his White House staff and bring­ing back top cam­paign strate­gists, frus­trated by what he views as his team’s in­abil­ity to con­tain the bur­geon­ing cri­sis in­volv­ing al­leged Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion.

Ex­pand­ing teams of lawyers and ex­pe­ri­enced pub­lic re­la­tions hands are be­ing re­cruited to deal with the drum­beat of new rev­e­la­tions about Moscow’s in­ter­fer­ence and pos­si­ble im­proper deal­ings with the Trump cam­paign and as­so­ciates. The dis­clo­sures dogged the pres­i­dent dur­ing his first trip abroad since tak­ing of­fice and threaten to over­whelm and stall the agenda for his young ad­min­is­tra­tion.

As he mulls out­side re­in­force­ments to his op­er­a­tion, Trump re­turned late Satur­day from his nine-day jour­ney to a White House seem­ingly in cri­sis mode, with a bar­rage of re­ports hit­ting close to the Oval Of­fice and in­volv­ing Jared Kush­ner, his son-in-law and in­flu­en­tial ad­viser. A rally planned Thurs­day in Iowa was post­poned due to “an un­fore­seen change” in Trump’s sched­ule.

The lat­est re­ports in the Rus­sia mat­ter said Kush­ner spoke with Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador to the United States about set­ting up se­cret back-chan­nel com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Moscow dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion.

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly said Sun­day he didn’t know if the news re­ports were true, but de­scribed back-chan­nel com­mu­ni­ca­tions as a “good thing.”

He was echo­ing the sen­ti­ment of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser H.R. McMaster, who de­clined to ad­dress the con­tents of Kush­ner’s De­cem­ber meet­ing with the Rus­sian diplo­mat to re­porters in Si­cily over the week­end and sug­gested that back-chan­nel com­mu­ni­ca­tions were com­mon­place and not con­cern­ing.

“It’s both nor­mal, in my opin­ion, and ac­cept­able,” Kelly said. “Any way that you can com­mu­ni­cate with peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly or­ga­ni­za­tions that are maybe not par­tic­u­larly friendly to us is a good thing.” “I don’t see the big deal,” he added. As he mulls changes, Trump has en­ter­tained bring­ing his for­mer cam­paign man­ager, Corey Le­wandowski, and for­mer deputy cam­paign man­ager, David Bossie, for­mally back into the fold. Both Le­wandowski and Bossie dis­cussed the prospect with the pres­i­dent be­fore his trip, ac­cord­ing to one person told of the con­ver­sa­tions.

Le­wandowski’s re­turn would be a par­tic­u­larly no­table devel­op­ment, given the fact that he was fired by Trump af­ter clash­ing with staff and Trump’s adult chil­dren. Nonethe­less, Le­wandowski has the trust of the pres­i­dent — an ad­van­tage that many of Trump’s aides lack.


Don­ald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, al­legedly spoke with Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador about set­ting up se­cret back-chan­nel com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Moscow.

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