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- The White House has struggled to control the number of embarrassing leaks about the Trump administration.
- Officials reportedly discovered a junior aide was recording meetings with President Donald Trump to impress his friends.
- To limit leaks, officials have implemented procedures including leaving their phones in storage lockers, limiting the number of those attending daily communications meetings, and using a scanning device to look for nongovernment phones.
The White House has continued its communications crackdown to control the number of embarrassing leaks after a junior aide was reportedly discovered to have taped President Donald Trump’s meetings.
The aide was found to have played the recording to impress friends, several people familiar with the situation told The New York Times.
The crackdown followed a leak regarding Kelly Sadler, a communications aide, who reportedly made a disparaging comment regarding Sen. John McCain’s physical condition last week. The White House and Sadler did not deny the account.
As part of an effort to curb negative media coverage, officials have implemented sweeping changes to procedures, including leaving their phones in storage lockers, limiting the number of attendees at daily communications meetings, and using a scanning device to look for nongovernment phones, according to The Times.
One senior White House official justified some of the new procedures by tying them to operational security.
But aides were also wary that news surrounding Trump could have come from the president himself. Trump’s campaign aides privately called Trump the “leaker in chief” during the onset of his presidency, and advised others to reassess the information they were going to disclose, according to The Times.
After fallout from Sadler’s comments, a private meeting between the communications team in which the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lambasted aides over the story was also leaked.
“I am sure this conversation is going to leak, too,” a visibly upset Sanders said, according to a report from the news website Axios. “And that’s just disgusting.”
Senior White House officials, including Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, have launched a full-court press against the leaks and have declared them a “national security risk.”
“I’m determined to cut them down,” Bolton said to Fox News Radio on Wednesday. “The president has to have advisers around him who can have open candid discussions.”