President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he’s fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. “Meadows told me he was doing that,” said one former White House official. “I don’t know if it ever worked.”
Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he’s caught only one person, for a minor leak.
The big picture: Trump has made clear to Meadows that an important part of his job is to “find the leakers” — a wickedly difficult task that has plagued all three of Meadows’ predecessors.
- Trump is especially furious about two recent leaks of classified and sensitive information.
- As Politico first reported, the administration has interviewed people with access to the intelligence that the Russians were paying the Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers. A senior White House official confirmed Politico’s reporting that they have narrowed down the list of suspects to fewer than 10 people.
- Trump was also enraged when the New York Times reported that the Secret Service rushed him down to the bunker during the protests outside the White House.
- So far, Meadows has yet to deliver on either of these high-priority leak hunts. A source familiar with Meadows’ thinking said he is “focused on national security leaks and could care less about the palace intrigue stories.”
- On a recent podcast with Ted Cruz, however, Meadows said they tracked down and fired a federal employee who leaked information about a White House social media executive order.
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