President Donald Trump’s White House has a severe leaking problem, which is ironic, given that the commander-in-chief appears to have an issue disclosing even the most important details – like his tax returns, for instance.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter how small the meetings are or how many people are aware of some covert policy change, things discussed in the White House don’t remain obscured for too long. Unnamed sources have been providing the reporters constant fodder since the former reality TV star won the 2016 presidential election.
At one point, the Trump administration reportedly even considered banning staffers from using personal phones while at work, raising questions regarding their obsession with putting an end to leaks.
In fact, just recently, Press Secretary reportedly scolded the communications team for leaking White House aide Kelly Sadler’s remarks mocking Arizona Sen. John McCain’s ailing health. However, as soon as the meeting was over, at least five staffers reached out to different media outlets to leak Huckabee Sanders’ comments about the leak.
“I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too. And that’s just disgusting,” the press secretary had told the aides, anticipating the leak.
The question is what compels White House officials, who are privy to such sensitive information, to leak?
“The most common substantive leaks are the result of someone losing an internal policy debate. By leaking the decision, the loser gets one last chance to kill it with blowback from the public, Congress or even the president,” a senior administration official told the Axios. “Otherwise, you have to realize that working here is kind of like being in a never-ending ‘Mexican Standoff.’ Everyone has guns (leaks) pointed at each other and it's only a matter of time before someone shoots. There's rarely a peaceful conclusion so you might as well shoot first.”
Wondering what these staffers do to cover their tracks?
“To cover my tracks, I usually pay attention to other staffers' idioms and use that in my background quotes,” an official explained. “That throws the scent off me.”
Apparently, that technique is not uncommon among the White House leakers.
There have been multiple WH officials both current and former who have said some version of this strategy to me, and I’m sure a bunch of other reporters. https://t.co/ibZ1huIR6i— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) May 13, 2018
The official also explained their reasoning behind the leaks while speaking to the publication, which termed these staffers “the Trump administration’s most prolific leakers.”
“To be honest, it probably falls into a couple of categories,” the official added. “The first is personal vendettas. And two is to make sure there's an accurate record of what's really going on in the White House.”
Meanwhile, a former administration official suggested Trump’s leadership left them with a little choice.
“Any time I leaked, it was out of frustration with incompetent or tone-deaf leadership,” they told Axios. “Bad managers almost always breed an unhappy workplace, which ultimately results in pervasive leaking. And there has been plenty of all those things inside this White House. Some people use leaking to settle personal scores, or even worse to attack the president, but for me it was always to make a point about something that I felt was being unjustly ignored by others.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Leah Millis