The White House has been anticipating for months that special counsel Robert Mueller would eventually file criminal charges in his Russia investigation.
But President Donald Trump, his lawyers and senior administration officials were all caught off guard by the news.
Two of Trump’s top lawyers were traveling out of town when the first report broke Friday night that a federal grand jury had approved the first indictment in the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
One of Trump’s personal attorneys, Ty Cobb, was relaxing on his deck in South Carolina, while the entire team was still working to confirm the veracity of the CNN report over the weekend.
The lack of information, on a case that could have major ramifications for the president, left many current and former Trump advisers livid, focusing their rage on how the information leaked and on a forever target: Hillary Clinton.
“It is unusual for prosecutors to file indictments under seal and then have it leak out,” said Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, noting that the only people in the loop would be the prosecutors and agents on Mueller’s team, the grand jurors and the judge. “This was an ill-advised leak of information,” Corallo added. “I’m disgusted by the tactics of the prosecutors to leak the information.”
That leak, he said, left the White House in an uncomfortable position. “All you can do is wait and see,” he said.