In an investigative piece published this morning, POLITICO compiled nearly a dozen interviews with White House staffers to paint an unsettling picture of what really goes on in Donald Trump’s administration. Trump’s paranoia is consuming the government from the inside out by creating a culture of suspicion and terror.
The White House has broken down into a series of rival factions all competing to take one another down rather than, you know, actually run the government.
Trump’s deep rooted suspicions about a ‘deep state’ out to get him are most recently expressed through unsubstantiated claims that former President Barack Obama was wiretapping his campaign. The White House could not provide a shred of evidence to back up the outrageous claim.
There are fears among Trump’s inner circle that the White House has been infiltrated by spies from intelligence agencies. Some aides who aren’t privy to Trump and Steve Bannon’s latest conspiracy theories are even more terrified that they are being surveilled by military and intelligence services.
POLITICO reports, “Some rank-and-file White House aides, meanwhile, have become convinced that intelligence agents may be monitoring their phone calls, emails, and text messages. Those fears intensified last week when WikiLeaks released a trove of CIA documents outlining how the agency can break into phones and computers.”
One top Republican strategist is blown away by how secretive aides are with their phones, saying, “It’s always a, ’you never know who’s listening’ kind of thing. It’s a general concern that people have over there.”
According to POLITICO’s report,
“[Staffers are] turning off work-issued smartphones and putting them in drawers when they arrive home from work out of fear that they could be used to eavesdrop. … Many are using encrypted apps that automatically delete messages once they’ve been read, or are leaving their personal cell phones at home in case their bosses initiate phone checks.”
Many are beginning to use encrypted email apps so superiors can’t access their accounts.
White House issued phones cannot download these encryption apps, and using encryption on a personal phone is only legal if it is not used for official business. But in Trumps White House, apparently, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Some aides are fearful that the White House telephone system is being used to spy on their calls, although a long-time White House official says there is nothing new to the years-old phone system and those suspicions are outlandish.
Many staffers are too afraid to do their jobs. They refuse to speak during meetings in case something they say is leaked. One staffer describes suspicions that intelligence agencies are listening in, which compels them to stay silent:
“I’m paranoid. Anything significant seems to be on the front page the next day.”
One Republican who is in close communication with White House staffers – through encrypted phones apps – says, “I wouldn’t call it paranoia under the circumstances. It’s not paranoia if people really are out to get you, and everybody actually is out to get everyone else.”
POLITICO writes that one aide they talked to explained that “staffers have become almost obsessed by daily palace intrigue news accounts, spending hours dissecting in the office in hopes of deciphering who is dishing — and who is trying to hurt whom.”
This evidenced by another staffer who confessed that they spend their free time cataloguing co-workers’ social media posts who they suspect are anti-Trump and pose a threat to loyal staffers.
This culture of fear and suspicion is clearly unsustainable. Trump has thrown the entire White House into total chaos, replacing policy creation with conspiracy. The President is yet again proving he is totally unfit to run the government.
We need someone in the White House who knows what they are doing and understand the real world, not someone who is obsessed with conspiracy theories.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.