White House 'war room' taking shape

Story highlights

  • The war room would handle rapid response related to Russia matters
  • Next week's testimony by Comey could prove to be the most pivotal moment for Trump's administration

Washington (CNN)As the White House braces for fired FBI Director James Comey's Senate testimony next week, efforts continue to set up a so-called "war room" to handle questions about the investigation into Russian meddling in last year's presidential election, a senior administration official told CNN Saturday.

The war room would handle rapid response related to Russia matters -- for instance, by pulling and sharing press clips and videos with the media. Asked about recent reporting that the war room could take the shape of a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group, the official said that was possible and added that it was also possible that there could be several "war rooms" set up
The official suggested that coordination among the groups would not be necessary, since they would all be working on the same goal: defending the President.
    It's not year clear what the Republican National Committee's role is going to be.
    The White House has been buffeted by a series of negative headlines regarding the Russia investigation and whether associates of President Donald Trump colluded with Russia. Meanwhile, the administration faces an uphill battle over the President's legislative agenda in the Republican-controlled Congress, largely due to divisions within the president's own party.
    The intense focus on the Russia investigation has already been a distraction.
    Next week's testimony by Comey, who is expected to say the President asked him to end the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, could prove to be the most pivotal moment for Trump's young administration. Democrats are likely to press the former director on whether he viewed the President's comments as an effort to obstruct justice -- an impeachable offense -- and Republicans are likely to press Comey on why he did not make his concerns about his conversations with Trump known before he was fired.
    Comey kept detailed memos of his conversations with the President, a topic sure to come up during the hearing.
    A source with knowledge of Comey's thinking told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger the former director was "disturbed" by his interactions with the President but "thought he had the situation under control."
    In recent days, the White House has begun referring all questions regarding the Russia investigation to outside counsel Marc Kasowitz. Though Kasowitz was spotted at the White House with Ivanka Trump late last month, he has yet to speak publicly about the issue, though the official says he has been empowered by the White House to answer questions on the matter.