Instead of trying to stop the leaks that have been plaguing his administration, President Donald Trump might be better off determining why the leaks are occurring in the first place, an expert said Wednesday.
Matthew Bunn, who co-edited the book “Insider Threat,” told the Hill the White House effort to crack down on leakers by monitoring their phones could wind up producing more leaks as unhappy staffers become more disgruntled.
Stories have surfaced in recent weeks about chaos in the White House as various factions vie for power. During last week’s Conservative Public Action Conference, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief White House political strategist Stephen Bannon tried to knock down reports they were at odds, saying they work well together and share a suite of offices.
Trump also has railed against leaks from the FBI and intelligence agencies on alleged ties between his presidential campaign and Russian officials, as well as the release of a 50-page dossier compiled by a former British spy with unsubstantiated allegations on Trump’s business dealings in Russia and his sexual escapades.
Trump was especially incensed by the revelations that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. Flynn was forced to resign when it became clear he had misrepresented the contact to Vice President Mike Pence.
“The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” Bunn said
“If people think secret work they are doing is important and worthwhile, they are usually able to keep a secret. When you see this amount of leaking, it suggests that a lot of people are concerned.“
Washington leaks are nothing new. During the Obama administration, Edward Snowden stole files from the National Security Agency where he worked as a contractor, and Chelsea Manning downloaded thousands of State Department cables when she was an Army private working in military intelligence. The information wound up on WikiLeaks.
Perhaps one of the most famous leaks was the Pentagon Papers, a secret assessment of U.S. political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971 during the height of the Vietnam War. Ellsberg worked as a military analyst, who unlike Snowden and Manning, tried to go through the proper channels before turning the information over to the New York Times, Washington Post and other newspapers.