President Donald Trump took almost 24 hours to tweet about the news that his former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents, a delay that Trump's advisors say was not uncommon for the president, who often tweets after catching up with cable news.
Many Republicans at first saw the silence of the radio as a welcome sign of moderation.
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But by Sunday, the notoriously-headed president had already claimed that Flynn was fired earlier this year in part for lying to the FBI and went on to accuse the main police agency in the country to be "in tatters".
"The worst of the story, but do not fear, we'll give it back to greatness," he wrote on Twitter.
The tweets combined to rekindle fears among people close to Trump that the president did not take the special lawyer's investigation seriously and get bad advice from his legal team.
Trump supporters, former campaign advisers and former government officials are beginning to privately raise the alarm that the White House can not keep up with the president's tweets and does not have a coherent message strategy on the Russian research, according to interviews with half a dozen people close to the president.
People close to the president stressed that they are not worried about a special lawyer, Robert Mueller, catching the president or finding evidence of collusion. But, nevertheless, they fear that the almost daily revelations about the investigation will surpbad Trump's presidency.
"There is no field marshal, there is no strategy They are literally inventing as they go," said one of the people. "We are in very dangerous territory."
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
In New York this weekend, where the president led three fundraising events, Trump's tweets were a frequent topic of conversation, with some donors privately raising concerns that the investigation might divert attention of the tax reform, according to donors close to the administration.
"As a Trump supporter, I think the president tweeting about Mueller's research absolutely distracts his administration and the public from the mission in question, which is to do a tax reform before the end of the year," Houston said. Energy executive Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor. "His tweet certainly shows that he is not listening to the advice of a lawyer, who should be telling him not to say anything publicly or privately."
Senior White House officials, following the direction of Chief of Staff John Kelly, insist that they can not, and will not control, what the president does on social media. When asked at the beginning of this week what he does when Trump unleashes provocative tweets, a senior White House official said simply "ignore them."
Another senior administration official said efforts to exercise control over Trump's tweets were a "lost cause" and added that the aides also had little success in limiting the president's habit of watching television. "Television is what it is," said the official.
Trump's anger with Russian research is nothing new; He has called it "witch-hunts" and insisted since last year that there was no collusion between his team and Moscow.
But Trump's allies warn in public and in private that the impact of the investigation should not be underestimated.
Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a friend of Trump's who speaks to him frequently, said on ABC News' "This Week" that Mueller's investigation "poses an existential threat to the presidency of Trump. "
"Think there's nothing, and that says the collusion never took place," said Ruddy, who said he had not spoken to Trump this weekend, in an e-mail to POLITICO. "I think it's 100 percent correct, there was no collusion, but Mueller is looking for more than just collusion, the accusations and the pleas so far prove it."
White House attorney Ty Cobb has repeatedly pledged to President that Mueller's investigation will end soon, a promise that Trump's advisors are divorced. However, Trump has internalized Cobb's comments, telling his friends that he is not worried about the investigation.
During the last week, the president made a series of calls to friends and external advisors insisting that the investigation would end quickly, said two people familiar with the talks.
Trump's friends and allies warned the president against attacking Flynn and Mueller directly, rather than encouraging him to focus on Hillary Clinton, recent erroneous reports from Brian Ross of ABC News and the news that an FBI official who worked with Mueller was removed after sending anti-Trump text messages.
In fact, the tone of the president's tweets changed over the course of the weekend, from responding to Flynn's events to furious over Clinton, ABC and the FBI. Ross was suspended after incorrectly reporting that Flynn would testify that then-candidate Trump "directed him to contact the Russians."
"People who lost money when the stock market fell 350 points according to the false and dishonest report of Brian Ross @ABC News (has been suspended), should consider hiring a lawyer and sue ABC for the damage that this report It has caused: many millions of dollars! "Trump tweeted on Sunday.
On the same day, he shared an angry comment about the FBI's discipline on the agent badigned to the Russian investigation who had sent the anti-Trump texts and who previously worked on Clinton's email inquiry.
"Report:" ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE "Now Everything starts to make sense!" Trump tweeted.
But the president also retweeted a tweet from a conservative expert who asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to "clean the house" in the office, raising fears that Trump might have a wave of fire that could end in the overthrow of Mueller. Many of Trump's allies believe that such a measure would have disastrous consequences, further distancing him from Republicans in Congress and damaging his prospects for re-election.
And on Saturday, he sent a letter saying that "he had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the vice president and the FBI." The tweet immediately raised questions about whether Trump knew when he fired Flynn that the then counselor was lying to the FBI, a revelation that, if true, could raise the stakes in the investigation.
Trump's aides rushed to explain the tweet. Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, told POLITICO on Sunday that he wrote it, adding that he believed it was published online by social media director Dan Scavino. Dowd's confession received widespread skepticism from Democrats and some Republicans, who doubted that a White House attorney wrote such a potentially damaging tweet.
When asked if he believed the tweet could make the president vulnerable in Mueller's research, Dowd said: "No, not at all."
Some outside attorneys did not agree.
Peter Zeidenberg, who served on the special indictment of the Justice Department team during Valerie Plame Wilson's investigation of the George W. Bush era, said Trump's public tweets and statements "are extremely damaging to him and useful for the Mueller team. "
"The most difficult thing in bringing a case of obstruction is to demonstrate the defendant's state of mind," Zeidenberg said. "Trump makes it easier for them to work."
Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this story.