Trump’s White House may just be the leakiest White House in history, according to Axios. They report that this White House probably has so many leaks because of a lot of personal vendettas or because of people losing interval policy debates.
It seems like anything will be leaked from the Trump White House. Small leaks, real-time leaks, weaponized leaks, historical leaks, Sensitive Oval Office conversations have leaked, and so have talks in cabinet meetings and the Situation Room. You name it, they leak it.
One reporter who has been covering the White House for 20 years says that they learn more about what’s going inside the Trump White House in a week, more than they did in a year of the George W. Bush presidency.
“This White House leaks so much that meetings called to bemoan leaks begin with acknowledgment the bemoaning will be leaked, which is promptly leaked…by several leakers in a smallish room,” Axios says.
There are some different theories floating around as to why there are so many leaks.
“To be honest, it probably falls into a couple of categories,” one current White House official tells me. “The first is personal vendettas. And two is to make sure there’s an accurate record of what’s really going on in the White House.”
“To cover my tracks, I usually pay attention to other staffers’ idioms and use that in my background quotes. That throws the scent off me,” the current White House official added.
“The most common substantive leaks are the result of someone losing an internal policy debate,” a current senior administration official told me. “By leaking the decision, the loser gets one last chance to kill it with blowback from the public, Congress or even the President.”
“Otherwise,” the official added, “you have to realize that working here is kind of like being in a never-ending ‘Mexican Standoff.’ Everyone has guns (leaks) pointed at each other and it’s only a matter of time before someone shoots. There’s rarely a peaceful conclusion so you might as well shoot first.”
A former senior White House official who turned leaking into an art form made a slightly more nuanced defense of the practice.
“Leaking is information warfare; it’s strategic and tactical — strategic to drive narrative, tactical to settle scores,” the source said.
Another former administration official said grudges have a lot to do with it. “Any time I leaked, it was out of frustration with incompetent or tone-deaf leadership,” the former official said.
“Bad managers almost always breed an unhappy workplace, which ultimately results in pervasive leaking,” the former official added. “And there has been plenty of all those things inside this White House. Some people use leaking to settle personal scores, or even worse to attack the President, but for me it was always to make a point about something that I felt was being unjustly ignored by others.”
But President Trump is not taking this lying down. He lashed out against these leakers on Twitter, vowing they would be caught:
The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible. With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018