Throughout this neverending Trump-Russia saga, President Trump has raged against the leak machine. His newly installed Treasury Secretary, Stephen Mnunchin, decided to follow his boss’ example and was promptly greeted by defiant resistance. Mnunchin issued a no-tolerance statement about leaks during an initial staff meeting, and naturally, someone immediately leaked that warning to Reuters.
Recently, Trump infamously (and cryptically) told the press, “The leaks are real, but the news is fake,” and still, no one knows what this means except that Trump wanted to link his favorite two phrases together. He’s never all that concerned when an administration member’s links to Russia surface, but instead, he’s been lashing out at the FBI and even Obama because to Trump, the leaks are the problem.
And Mnunchin’s effort to quell leaks didn’t go well:
Two sources familiar with Mnuchin’s first meeting with senior Treasury staff said he told them that their telephone calls and emails could be monitored to prevent leaks. One of the sources said that staff were told that monitoring could become policy.
Asked about Mnuchin’s comments to his senior staff, a Treasury spokesman said: “Secretary Mnuchin had a discussion with staff about confidential information not being shared with the media nor any other sources. In the course of that conversation, the idea of checking phones was not discussed.”
Asked in a follow-up email whether Mnuchin had raised the possibility of monitoring phones or emails as a matter of policy, the Treasury spokesman replied: “It was not discussed.”
Mnunchin’s plight is part of a not-so-flattering trend. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently told staffers to dump their phones on a table for random checks, and word of that tactic quickly spread. Oddly, Trump has distanced himself from the maneuver and told Fox and Friends that Spicer was a “fine person,” but “I would have done it differently.”
Well, Trump probably would have done it while offering up sorry-looking ham sammies, which would inspire people to share photos on Twitter rather than directly to the press. Leakers gonna leak, especially in this administration, as it turns out.
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