The complete lack of discipline starts at the top — and even veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove knows it.
Trump lashed out at leaks coming from “traitors and cowards” who lurk amidst his White House staff. But even veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove admits that Trump is the worst offender of them all.
“Who’s the biggest leaker in the White House?” Rove asked in an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday. “It’s the president of the United States who calls up media figures all of the time and tells them stuff that he shouldn’t be telling them.”
Rove, who served as chief of staff under President George W. Bush, also stressed that the leaks are harming the White House.
“I’ve never seen a White House leak as much against itself as this one and these are people putting their own personal agendas above those of the country and the president that they serve,” he noted.
“Frankly it’s ridiculous, it’s despicable, it’s reprehensible and it does not help anyone.”
Then again, this is a White House that functions with zero self-discipline, translating into a record-setting pace of departures.
And that culture comes from the top.
The White House itself admitted that Trump is often the one leaking stories they later deny. Indeed, he seems to love running a reality TV-style administration where players are pitted against each other.
The topic of leaks surged back into the headlines recently after anonymous sources confirmed that White House aide Kelly Sadler said Sen. John McCain’s opposition to prospective CIA director Gina Haspel didn’t matter because McCain, who has brain cancer, is “dying anyway.”
Trump may publicly denounce leaks that make his administration look bad. But his threats to “find out who [the leakers] are” ring fairly hollow.
Keep in mind that prior to running for president, he had a long history of leaking stories about himself to the press. He would call reporters pretending to be a fictitious public relations man, such as John Barron.
Meanwhile, the attempted crackdown on leaks has led to some Keystone Kop scenarios. The Daily Beast recently reported that former National Security Council official Ezra Cohen-Watnick set out to monitor the communications of White House colleagues to figure out which staffers were feeding information to reporters.
But perhaps he ought to be monitoring the Oval Office, as well.