The leaks are continuing to pour out of the Trump White House. But some may be intentionally fake in an attempt to catch staffers with their mouths open and their pants down.
In the latest leak, provided by two anonymous White House sources, the Huffington Post reports that President Donald Trump called his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, at 3am to ask whether a strong U.S. dollar is a good thing or a bad thing for America. (For the record, the answer is complicated.)
Flynn is not, of course, an economist or an expert in the U.S. economy. He’s a counterterrorism expert. Nor has anyone confirmed on the record that this exchange actually happened—although that’s by no means surprising, given the nature of the allegation.
The alleged 3am dollar call is just the latest tidbit in a string of anonymous leaks from inside the nascent Trump administration, which earlier this week included details of Trump wandering the halls of the White House in his bathrobe and watching too much cable news. (Trump said the New York Times made the whole thing up, while White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied Trump even owns a bathrobe, sending the internet on a photo scavenger hunt.)
Every administration has leaks, but they rarely come so soon and in such volume. Many of the leaks have been relatively trivial anecdotes, while others include the drafts of forthcoming executive orders. None, as you might imagine, make President Trump look particularly presidential. As Huffington Post characterized it in its headline, Trump’s team is “alarmed by his conduct.”
Deep into the Huffington Post story, however, you’ll find this key bit of information, provided by Republican National Committee member Ryan Evans, who worked for Newt Gingrich during his time as House speaker in the 1990s:
Evans said at some point the White House will have to get serious about harmful leaks if they want to control their message, just as Gingrich’s office had to two decades ago. He described the method of intentionally releasing tidbits to various staffers to see what turned up in print. “If the administration gets serious about leaks, they’ll do the blue-dye test and find them,” Evans said.
This aligns with a new report from Axios, which ironically cites an unnamed “West Wing insider” as saying the Trump administration is reaching out to previous White House staffers for advice on how to reduce the chaos and alleged power struggles within the Trump team.
So, what does this all mean for vigilant citizens attempting to make sense of the baffling daily news? Well, if the Trump White House does start manufacturing fake leaks to go along with the real leaks, it’s unlikely the chaos will subside for America anytime soon.