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 Trump Aides Brutally Turn on Each Other in War on Leaks

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Join date : 2013-12-25

PostSubject: Trump Aides Brutally Turn on Each Other in War on Leaks   Wed May 30, 2018 10:34 am

Not long after news broke that White House communications aide Kelly Sadler had made a flippant comment about Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) impending death from brain cancer, President Donald Trump gathered a small group of staffers in the Oval Office.

The conversation included Sadler herself, chief of staff John Kelly, director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp, and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah, and the topic was, at least partially, the “leakers” terrorizing the Trump administration from within. Trump let it be known that he was displeased before asking Sadler whom she thought were prominent leakers in the ranks.

As first reported by Axios, Sadler shocked those in attendance by pointing to, among others, Schlapp.

What happened next, however, was equally dramatic and potentially far more critical for the future of an already frail White House communications staff. Schlapp recoiled in indignation, aghast that anyone would suggest she would betray the president—least of all a more junior aide whom she had given increasing responsibilities within the administration.

Trump sat behind the Resolute Desk, watching the drama unfold in real time. The meeting adjourned shortly after the tense—even for the Trump White House—exchange. But the drama didn’t end there. Two sources recounted that Schlapp remained heated, saying that in separate conversations detailing what happened in the Oval, she referred to Sadler as “a bitch.”

Schlapp vehemently denied saying the word and insinuated that any suggestion she had done so was, itself, a malicious leak designed to undermine her. “I have never used that word to describe anyone on the White House staff,” she said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “This smear by anonymous sources is not fit for print by any reputable news outlet. The leakers should be more concerned about promoting the president’s agenda than trying to take down fellow members of the team.”

Whether or not an epithet was used, for some inside the administration, is of secondary concern. Far more important was the chaos that the episode illuminated about the state of the president’s communications staff. After weeks of trying to patch together a coherent operation, the framework appears to be falling utterly apart. Leaks, chief among them the one involving Sadler’s McCain comments, have decimated morale. But factionalism was the real poison, with aides growing more and more convinced that enemies within are spreading gossip and innuendo to enhance their own standing.

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