White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is cracking down on his staff for the persistent stream of leaks that have come from his department. Last week Spicer summoned White House press office staff to his office, where he expressed his frustration with them for being behind a number of embarrassing leaks. He is reported to have informed them that using encrypted messaging apps such as Signal and Confide was in violation of the Federal Records Act.
Spicer then demanded they place their government issued and private mobile phones on his desk so that he could check they had nothing to hide and weren’t using said apps to privately talk with journalists. This was supposedly overseen by White House lawyers, and Spicer followed up on this check with the threat that there would be “more problems” if anyone leaked this phone check to the media.
Well, now there are definitely “more problems” as Spicer’s disgruntled staff leaked this development to the press. Twitter is, naturally, having a field day:
Spicer wants to ferret out leaks, according to aids who leaked meeting in which he asked them to stop leaking: https://t.co/KBRNiq60eQ
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) February 26, 2017
I'm nowhere near the first to point this out, but the "Spicer checks phones for leaks" story leaking immediately is effing hilarious.
— JD (@thejd44) February 26, 2017
Spicer Piqued Over Leaked Leak Leak.
— Daniel Schell (@thedanielschell) February 26, 2017
Crackdowns on leaks always leak. Always. https://t.co/6FhAJWzAdd
— Ben Pershing (@benpershing) February 26, 2017
Spicer checks staffers devices for Signal and Confide, orders staffers not to leak about device check.
— emptywheel (@emptywheel) February 26, 2017
— Lynn Berenbaum (@lynnlovestennis) February 26, 2017
Heh, “Spicer declined to comment.” https://t.co/eqqY69tq0h
— Mike Olkin (@MikeOlkin) February 26, 2017
— Bryn Behrenshausen
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) February 26, 2017
Spicer warned WH officials not to leak his personal leak investigation to the media. It was then, of course, promptly leaked. pic.twitter.com/gvY6hMh2rp
— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) February 26, 2017
Sean Spicer trying to plug "leaks" reminds me of Lucy trying to keep up with the chocolate conveyor belt…
— Scott Leyes (@ScottLeyes) February 26, 2017
Spicer is clearly distrustful of his staff, and to be honest who can really blame him? The defining aspect of the Trump administration’s mismanagement is perhaps how much insider information gets out. There’s even an official White House leaker Twitter handle![email protected] POTUS Staff even had their own comment on the matter, shooting down Spicer’s justification for invading his staff’s privacy:
Also, the Fed Records Actapplies to official comms, not personal comms from personal devices. And it doesn't cover leaking, either. Go fish.
— Rogue POTUS Staff (@RoguePOTUSStaff) February 26, 2017
Trump has recently been transfixed by his administration’s tendency to spew information left, right and center. The irony is that, during the election campaign, Trump often cited information published by Wikileaks on Hillary Clinton and constantly used the phrase “people are saying” to preface an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory. If the Trump team truly wants to stop leaks, they should stop doing and saying unconscionable things. Right now they are giving decent people no choice but to risk their careers to speak out.