Signs point to increasing tension within the West Wing, a new report from Politico says.
Last week, Press Secretary Sean Spicer ordered White House staff to attend a closed-door meeting where he demanded staffers turn over their phones and electronic devices, warning them of leaking information to the press, the outlet reports.
The news comes as President Trump and his administration engage in an ongoing continuous battle with the press–calling forth discussions of the first amendment, anonymous sources and undisclosed information.
Last week several news organizations were barred from entering a West Wing press gaggle with Secretary Spicer.
“Last week, after Spicer became aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting with about a dozen of his communications staffers, he reconvened the group in his office to express his frustration over the number of private conversations and meetings that were showing up in unflattering news stories, according to sources in the room.
Upon entering Spicer’s office for what one person briefed on the gathering described as “an emergency meeting,” staffers were told to dump their phones on a table for a “phone check,” to prove they had nothing to hide.”
Spicer reportedly spoke with White House Counsel Don McGahn before ordering the meeting. Lawyers on McGahn’s staff were in attendance at the meeting, the outlet reports.
According to Politico who spoke with an unnamed source, Spicer also warned staff against using encrypted messaging systems Confide and Signal. Both systems delete information after it’s sent.
Sources who had information regarding the meeting told Politico that Spicer has grown increasingly irritated–oftentimes yelling at his press staff with expletives, voicing disappointment and directly accusing staffers of leaking information.
A separate source alluded to an overwhelmed and overworked press staff who put in over 12 hours each day from 6 a.m. until midnight.
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