Phones on table, hands in the air

Trump administration cracks down on staffers, subjects them to phone check with lawyers in room to plug leaks

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus walk down the West Wing Colonnade. Pic/AFP
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus walk down the West Wing Colonnade. Pic/AFP

Washington: Rattled by the unstoppable stream of leaks about Trump administration's private conversations and meetings, the White House chief of staff Reince Preibus has cracked down on staffers, going as far as checking their phones, according to a media report.

Quoting sources, Politico reported that last week, after US Press Secretary Sean 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, the report quoted sources as saying.

Staffers were also asked to dump their phones on a table for a "phone check", to prove they had nothing to hide. Spicer, who consulted with White House counsel Don McGahn before calling the meeting, was accompanied by White House lawyers in the room, the report said.

There, he explicitly warned staffers that using texting apps that automatically deletes texts after they are sent are a violation of the Presidential Records Act, it said.

The phone checks included whatever electronics staffers were carrying when they were summoned to the unexpected follow-up meeting, including government-issued and personal cellphones.

Incidentally, Spicer also warned the group of "more problems" if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was given to the media, the report said.

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