Leaks Springing From Trump White House Because Whistleblowers Fear For Nation’s Future
If there’s one thing that can be said about the Trump White House, it’s that it leaks more than a sinking boat. And while leaks are pretty normal in any presidential administration, the leaks flowing out of Trumpland are turning into gushers. In most cases leaks occur when one staffer wants to hamstring another, or when someone wants to expose an unpopular policy. Sometimes, it’s just good, ol’-fashioned gossip. But the leaks from the Trump administration are in a league all their own.
Huffington Post White House reporters Christina Wilkie and S.V. Date discovered:
“Trump’s two-week-old administration has had a third category: leaks from White House and agency officials alarmed by the President’s conduct,”
Wilkie and Date say they have been shown material from “individuals in executive agencies and in the White House itself,” who “spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.”
The two journalists published a number of the leaks on Tuesday night, but this one in particular seems pretty shocking — although this is the Trump administration, after all.
In this case, Trump apparently called his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and allegedly asked him if a strong or weak dollar is better for the national economy. Flynn “told Trump he didn’t know, that it wasn’t his area of expertise, that, perhaps Trump should ask an economist instead.”
Date and Wilkie also provided this information — Trump apparently dislikes long briefing memos, one White House aide told the journalists on the condition of anonymity. This means that memos can’t be more than one page long, and they must have bullet points, but no more than nine per page.
“Small things can provide him great joy or intense irritation,” the aide said.
Trump also apparently told The New York Times that he’s fascinated with the White House phone system. He’s also complained about the softness (or lack thereof) the hand towels on Air Force One.
We should all have such problems.
And other knowledgeable people are weighing in on this situation as well.
“I’ve been in this town for 26 years; I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department and National Security Council official under George W. Bush. “I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president.”
Trump obsessively watches the performances of his aides on cable TV, something that previous presidents generally didn’t do. It appears he’s even made this part of his routine, The New York Times reports. And Saturday Night Live is also part of his agenda since he gets shredded pretty often by Alec Baldwin and his now-famous Trump impersonation. In this case, Trump is at turns blasé or enraged. And Melissa McCarthy’s recent performance as press secretary Sean Spicer left him quite “rattled,” Newsweek reports.
Suggestions that Trump was temperamentally unfit for the presidency cropped up continually on the campaign trail, but now that he is president, these concerns have fulminated into real life-and-death scenarios as evidenced by the death of a U.S. Navy SEAL during a botched raid on Yemen late last month. The ill-fated raid was hatched by Trump and former Breitbart News Chair Steve Bannon, whose permanent inception into the National Security Council spawned a plethora of leaks and warnings from officials in the national security establishment, The Huffington Post reports.
“The intelligence community is desperately looking for a way to get some leverage in altering dangerous policies away from a catastrophic vector,” said Rick Wilson, a former Pentagon official who’s well-acquainted with intelligence issues. Wilson is also a vocal Trump critic.
But Randy Evans, a member of the Republican National Committee and a veteran of Newt Gingrich’s leaky House Speaker days during the 1990s, says the White House will have to clamp down on harmful leaks if they want to control the messages they hope to convey. He mentioned the time-honored “blue-dye test” in which a statement is leaked intentionally to various staffers to see what turns up in the news.
“If the administration gets serious about leaks, they’ll do the blue-dye test and find them,” he said.
Cohen, who now teaches at Johns Hopkins University’s School Of Advanced International Studies, the problem doesn’t sit with the leakers. It sits with Trump instead. He notes that Trump has shown neither respect or affection for anyone other than his family, and therefore he can’t expect this in return from his staff, Cohen noted.
“This is what happens when you have a narcissist as president,” he said.
So now, we have a president who becomes unhinged when Alec Baldwin’s Trump impersonation hits too close to home. We have a president who can’t handle a memo that’s longer than one page. We have a president who hopped on Twitter while smack in the middle of a national security briefing in the Oval Office to diss Nordstrom’s for dropping Ivanka Trump’s products.
The rest of us will be lucky if this leaky boat doesn’t sink. And take everyone down with it.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images