The clock is ticking for the Trump team to establish a rapid-response "war room" to handle all things Russia, with former FBI Director James Comey set to testify on Thursday.
Trump associates reportedly are still laying the groundwork for such an operation to combat media reports and criticism on the Russia controversy, and key figures did not dispute these plans when asked by Fox News on Monday.
“This White House will continue to be on offense and on defense,” White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway told "Fox & Friends" on Monday.
As for what that would entail, she said: “In terms of a strategy to combat all the negative, the speculation, and what the Washington Post or someone this weekend referred to as a nothing burger, maybe it’s an outside group ... or inside.”
The Russia unit reportedly would include attorneys and communications specialists to reply to requests and inquiries related to Russia, in an effort to keep the Trump administration focused on policy and message.
The Comey testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee is likely to spur an influx of media requests and inquiries, and some think the administration is a little late setting up a response team. And the White House on Monday removed a potential hurdle to the fired FBI director's appearance, confirming that President Trump will not assert executive privilege to block testimony.
“I think they should have set up this unit the day they took office,” former Arkasas Gov. Mike Huckabee told Fox News. “I really believe it is critical to have an offensive and defensive unit on the field. You can’t win the game if you’re only playing defense—you need to play offense as well.”
Officially, the Trump administration has not confirmed many details. Questions are being referred to Trump’s outside counsel, his long-time attorney Marc Kasowitz -- but neither the White House nor Kasowitz’s New York-based law firm, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres LLP, has provided any specifics on the “war room.”
A spokesperson for Kasowitz told Fox News on Friday that she had “no information” on the unit and has not responded to Fox News’ request for comment since.
Conway, though, didn't deny the creation of a separate team. And neither did David Bossie, a former deputy Trump campaign manager whose name has been floated as a possible co-leader along with associates like Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager.
“I am honored and humbled by the president and his team wanting to talk to me about helping them out—I have been at the president’s side since he was a candidate, and even before he was a candidate,” Bossie said on “Fox & Friends” on Monday, when asked about the unit.
“I am wanting to help him through these tough times, and when I say tough times, I mean the media constantly grinding, Democrats being obstructionists, to try to break through so that we can lead for American people to bring back jobs, build our economy and strengthen us at home and abroad.”
Bossie added: “I want to help him, and whatever way that works out is yet to be seen.”
Comey on Thursday could fan the flames of the Russia controversy if he bolsters reports that Trump in any way pressured him to shutter part of the bureau's probe, especially with regard to ex-national security adviser Mike Flynn.
As for the possibility of an imminent war room, Huckabee touted Lewandowski for his “guerilla warfare politics” and called Bossie “a street-fighter.” He said White House figures like son-in-law Jared Kushner and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon should not be involved in the unit.
“The administration needs a separate team that can act independently of policy makers in the White House, and have to be able to have an unrestricted freedom,” Huckabee told Fox News.
Huckabee added: “To put it mildly, you’ve got to have some warriors at the tip of the sphere.”
Bossie told Fox News on Monday that he doesn't "know what the job will be," but is willing to help.
"I think you know I'm here to help him," Bossie said. "I am certainly open to whatever he wants to do."