Days ago, Donald Trump conducted a national security meeting fit for the situation room in an open terrace, full of diners and waiters, complete with cell phones and important papers just hanging about for anyone to oversee.
On Tuesday morning, Trump whined about leaks and seeming to claim it’s a matter of national security, “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?”
The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2017
The truth of the matter is Trump is concerned about leaks about his administration, not national security – which he has shown alarming disregard for and disinterest in, down to requesting one page briefings with drawings and maps.
This is why the President is considering an “Insider threat” program to monitor his staff.
The “Insider Threat” program is a way the Trump administration can monitor staff including their emails and phone conversations, to stop leaks, according to the New York Times. Staff has taken to using encrypted forms of communication. Three weeks in, and it’s “Because fear, no liberty.”
Leaks, it turns out, are the only way some Trump staffers find out what is going on.
A senior Pentagon staff found out about an executive order on prisoner treatment by media leaks and rumors. “A senior Pentagon official saw a draft executive order on prisoner treatment only through unofficial rumors and news media leaks. He called the White House to find out if it was real and said he had concerns but was not sure if he was authorized to make suggestions,” the New York Times continued.
If Trump was worried about leaks, he wouldn’t have conducted a top security meeting in the open, “dinner theater” style, to quote Leader Nancy Pelosi.
This picture by Obama White House photographer Pete Souza says it all, as he wrote, “When we were on the road, national security discussions and head of state phone calls were conducted in a private, secure location set up onsite.”
Which is sort of like in the open with waiters and paying club members and wedding guests wandering about, with cell phones being used to read important papers, only not.
Once again, Trump is trying to use national security to justify his paranoid move toward authoritarianism. It is the leaks in his own White House that Trump needs to worry about, and worry about them he is. He will silence them as he silenced the National Park Service.
While no one likes leaks, this is the man who asked the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton, so he doesn’t have a leg to stand on in being outraged over leaks.
No petty need to control his image is too small for Trump. He has all of the time in the world to devote to being fawned over and micromanaging his public image.
National security? Not so much. But speaking of leaks, this is the man who kept Mike Flynn on for a month after he knew Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians. So, the big leaks, the leaks to the Russians, the leaks that are really endangering our national security? Those are coming straight from Trump and his decisions. As a former NSA analyst reported, the Kremlin has ears in the Situation Room under Trump.
Donald Trump is spending Valentine’s Day steeped in paranoia, the dark, dangerous, dominating kind of paranoia we saw in Nixon.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.