White House Spokesman Sean Spicer has instituted a new tactic to ferret out potential leakers among the communications staff: subject them to to random phone checks.
After information from a planning meeting last week with communications staffers ended up in the press, Spicer reconvened the group:
Upon entering Spicer’s office for what one person briefed on the gathering described as “an emergency meeting,” 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.
Apparently, both government-issued and personal phones were checked— whatever staffers had with them at the meeting. Spicer also warned them about using texting apps (e.g., Confide) that immediately erase the text after sending, saying that such use would violate the Presidential Records Act. Will this concern for preserving official records extend to other White House communications that make Trump look bad?
But the best part has got to be this. HAHAHAHA.
Spicer also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media. It's not the first time that warnings about leaks have promptly leaked. The State Department's legal office issued a four-page memo warning of the dangers of leaks — that memo was immediately posted by the Washington Post.
I wonder what these “problems” could be. Apparently, communications staffers have an idea.
[W]ith mounting tension inside the West Wing over stories portraying an administration lurching between crises and simmering in dysfunction, aides are increasingly frustrated by the pressure-cooker environment and worried about their futures there.
The campaign to sniff out a series of damaging leaks, that Spicer is convinced originate from his communications department, has led to a tense environment in the West Wing. During meetings, the press secretary has repeatedly berated his aides, launching expletive-filled tirades in which he’s accused them of disclosing sensitive information to reporters and saying that they’ve disappointed him.
As word of the hunt has ripped through the office, talk has turned to the question of whether firings are to come.
Yep. It’s that time-honored management protocol: The beatings will continue until morale improves.