First son Donald Trump Jr. dominated headlines on July 11 after he revealed emails that showed he expressed interest in meeting a Russian government-affiliated lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, who purportedly had damaging information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
In the emails, Rob Goldstone, a friend of Donald Trump Jr., offered to set up a meeting between him and a "Russian government attorney" who could provide a "very high level and sensitive information" as "part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump."
One White House aide told The Daily Beast: "This is sum of all fears stuff. It’s what we’ve all been dreading."
A senior White House official and a Trump campaign aide separately referred to Trump Jr. as an "idiot."
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the president's outside legal team, tried to distance the president from Donald Trump Jr.'s June 9, 2016, meeting with Veselnitskaya: "The President was not aware of and did not attend the meeting."
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a brief statement from the president on Donald Trump Jr.: "My son is a high quality person and I applaud his transparency."
That "transparency" only came after The New York Times reported on July 10 about Donald Trump Jr. meeting Veselnitskaya.
Marc Lotter, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, also released a statement, which was tweeted by NBC News reporter Kasie Hunt:
The vice president is working every day to advance the president's agenda. He was not aware of the meeting. He is also not focusing on stories about the campaign -- especially those pertaining to the time before he joined the campaign.
Former Trump campaign staff members and current White House officials told The Daily Beast in a separate report that Donald Trump Jr. was seen as a consistent problem during his father's campaign. One official described him as the "opposite of political savvy."
Some in the president's inner circle have reportedly called Donald Trump Jr. "Fredo," a reference to the incompetent son in "The Godfather" movies who consistently put the mob family in trouble.
A former member of the campaign team told the news site that he "didn’t have any issues with [Trump Jr.], [but] he’s definitely got a 'you work for me' attitude."
MSNBC reporter Kristen Welker described the White House's reaction to Donald Trump Jr.'s emails on July 11:
This is a White House that is now in full damage control mode, there's no doubt about that. This complicates the narrative even further that we have heard consistently -- from the president, from the vice president, from his top officials on down -- saying that no one from his campaign met with or knew about Russia's efforts to try to intervene in the 2016 race, or to try to collude with them.