Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele said during an interview Monday on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that he is “very concerned” over leaks coming from within President Donald Trump’s transition team and new administration.
Steele, a political analyst for MSNBC and the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, addressed the issue of the Trump staffer, or staffers, who turned source for a New York Times article titled “Rocky First Weekend for Trump Troubles Even His Top Aides.” The authors of the piece referred to sources from the Trump White House who reportedly are “troubled” by his “lack of discipline” and the president’s decision to listen to the advice of “other aides.”
“Somebody in that West Wing is trying to dump on Sean Spicer. Why would they do that in the first 48 hours of governing? I find that to be really disturbing.”
“I am very concerned about it because again this is one more tool that will be used against this administration that is trying to get its footing,” Steele told LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham.
The Trump administration came off its first weekend in office with several moves that caused significant backlash among the mainstream media. While Trump visited the CIA headquarters in Virginia Saturday, he made a point of lambasting the “dishonest” media for harping on the crowd size at his inauguration and spreading a false report concerning the removal of a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. Following Trump’s speech, White House press secretary Sean Spicer used his first briefing Saturday to scold the media for its negative coverage.
“I think they need to be a little bit more careful tactically about how they talk about things, knowing that the press now is going to basically look for any opportunity to call it all a lie,” Steele said, noting the media were very willing to focus on petty matters.
But in The Times article, reporter Maggie Haberman’s internal sources spoke of tensions within Trump’s staff and administration concerning Spicer’s strategy and Trump’s approach to handling the media.
“While Mr. Trump was eager to counterattack, several senior advisers urged him to move on and focus on the responsibilities of office during his first full day as president,” the article read. “Some of the president’s supporters found the first weekend troubling.”
Ingraham noted that throughout Trump’s presidential campaign, a few people continuously leaked information to “this Maggie Haberman” and spoke with her off the record.
“And, you know, people who do this when you’re in governing, when you’re actually governing — that has a corrosive effect on the team and on the movement forward,” Ingraham said. “Somebody in that West Wing is trying to dump on Sean Spicer. Why would they do that in the first 48 hours of governing? I find that to be really disturbing.”
Byron York, the chief political correspondent at the Washington Examiner, said that both Trump and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus “should be very disturbed” about the Spicer-focused leaks. As the Trump administration moves forward and turns its attention toward fulfilling the president’s agenda, York and Ingraham emphasized the importance of internal unity and focus.
“Trump and Reince Priebus should be very disturbed about this because, you’re right — what it showed is that it took less than 48 hours in office for officials inside the Trump White House to start talking to newspaper people, media people, and pointing fingers at each other. And that is a really bad sign,” York said.
“I think this could be a pattern if Trump doesn’t do something rather dramatic internally to stop it,” York continued. “Everybody is out to get him, and he has to have a staff that does not leak about it.”
Ingraham agreed, saying, “The leaking has got to stop. Period.”