There are reports that White House spokesman Sean Spicer is trying to tamp down the leaks coming from his own office:
Press Secretary Sean Spicer is cracking down on leaks coming out of the West Wing, with increased security measures including phone checks for White House staffers overseen by White House attorneys.
The push to snuff out leaks to the press comes after a week in which President Donald Trump expressed growing frustration with the media and the unauthorized sharing of information by individuals in his administration.
Last week, after Spicer became aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting with about a dozen of his communications staffers, he reconvened the group in his office to express his frustration over the number of private conversations and meetings that were showing up in unflattering news stories, according to sources in the room.
Upon entering Spicer’s second floor office, staffers were told to dump their phones on a table for a “phone check,” to prove they had nothing to hide.
Spicer, who consulted with White House counsel Don McGahn before calling the meeting, was accompanied by White House lawyers in the room, according to multiple sources. There, he explicitly warned staffers that using texting apps like Confide — an encrypted and screenshot-protected messaging app that automatically deletes texts after they are sent — and Signal, another encrypted messaging system, was a violation of the Federal Records Act, according to multiple sources in the room.
Leaking in government is the equivalent of girl’s bathroom gossip in high school. It’s done for any number of reasons, some of them understandable but virtually none of them good. Often people on the losing end of a policy disagreement will make that disagreement public to try to win the fight in the media. Sometimes people leak to try to damage or eliminate a rival. Most leakers leak to prove to themselves just how in-the-know that they are and like the rush of seeing their leak appear in print. (Confession: I’ve been the source of more than one leak, though mine have only been high minded and never petty and self-serving.)
Spicer is in a tough position as his staff has a mix of Trump loyalists and RNC connected people who, quite possibly, don’t like each other a whole lot. So both sides have a vested interest in leaking to hurt the opposing faction and in the meantime only succeed in hurting the White House, in general, and Spicer, in particular. Because if Spicer’s bosses can’t trust his shop to not leak, they will stop trusting Spicer with information.
All in all, this is not a good situation. And unless Spicer really cracks down on his office being the source of leaks, he’s never going to be any more effective than he is today.
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